Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why I choose to stand....

This week has brought a lot of tears.  Some of them due to the fact that I am an emotional wreck on week's like this.  Others because of my actions or the actions of those around me.  The thing is that I could easily find myself hiding in my room away from everyone and everything.  Just going out into the world when I had work or stop by the store for this or that.  I could keep quiet when I see posts being made that I don't agree with.  I could live my life not impacting anyone or anything, just going through the motions day in and day out.

That's not how I believe that I was meant to live my life.  That is not what I believe that I was created for.  I see so much hate in this world.  I see so much making fun of this or that.  Labeling all republicans this or all democrats that.... and it makes my heart hurt.  Labeling all people with certain skin color one way, and all people with certain skin color another way.  People sharing posts that are talking about how great the confederacy was.  How the confederate flag was a Christian symbol.  I just can't do it anymore.  I can't sit on my computer and be okay with all of the hate.

Here's the thing you don't have to agree with everyone.  We won't actually ever all agree.  But to claim that people need to just be okay with how things are in the world, that a statue is history, and tearing down a statue is going to somehow damage that history?  What?  Claiming that black people shouldn't be upset because of a confederate flag or statue.  Frankly you are wrong if you think that.  And here's why....

There was a time not too long ago in our country when white people thought they were superior.  Do you know what?  There are actually still people who feel that way.  There are also black people that have had to deal with the bruises, and damages done by their ancestors having spent so many years enslaved just because of their skin color.  The statues of confederate men, mean nothing but making a hero out of someone that believed owning another human being was okay.

Are we really going to teach the generation coming up that we can't take down statues of people that should not be heroes, because it is going to ruin our history?  Are we really going to teach them that our white history is more important than the good of our country.

Our country is bleeding.  There are people so angry right now that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get their voices heard.  You know why that it?  Because we haven't been listening.  We are stuck in whatever world we think we live in, only trying to take care of ourselves.  I'm done letting my country bleed, letting my neighbor feel like nothing.

Do I think that there are people of every color with hate in their hearts?  Ofcourse!  But you know what, there are also people of every color with love.  There are also people of every color waiting to be heard, waiting for you to reach out a neighborly hand and listen to how they feel.

My goal is to be a neighbor.....and to not get on FB as much.  It's just breaking my heart to see the hate that people don't realize they have.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Passions and Surviving...

Have you ever gotten in a place where you are happy, yet you know that there is more to your life than just going to work, going home feeling exhausted, and going to sleep.  Sometimes I find myself in this zombie-type existence.  I feel like I am watching my life slip right out of my hands, not really doing what I feel called to do, and wanting my passion and zeal for life back.  I took a new job that is completely different from anything I've ever done before.  It was overwhelming at first, as most jobs are.  But it is also really easy.  There is not a whole lot that I can do to mess up as far as ruining anyone's life.  Yes, I could definitely make a mistake that might impact someone, but most of the mistakes I make could be fixed and I am able to pass the "tough" calls to people that get paid more than I do to handle those situations.  But it is not my passion.  I am thankful for it beyond words and the people that I work with, but I know that it is temporary. 

Sometimes I think we feel like we have to be stuck where we are because it is scary to step out of the box that we have taped shut.  It is scary because we oftentimes feel uncomfortable, and unsure of ourselves when we are in a new environment.  That is what starting this new job was like.  It was scary, it was hard, but it was necessary.  I may not have my passion and zeal back, but I am building up who I am again, and who I want to be.  I don't have to worry about people criticizing every single thing that I do.  Sure I have certain numbers for my calls that I have to meet, and expectations that are put on me.  But, I don't go home every day feeling like I have failed.  I don't go home every day wondering what person is going to email me or call me to tell me how horrible I am.  Maybe it seems like I might be exaggerating, but I don't feel like I am.  Take a moment to tell the people that help you out, thank you.  I have never been thanked more in my life than I am being thanked on a daily basis, for simply answering people's questions about their financial aid.  What if we would thank our doctors, our teachers, our police officers, our mailwomen/men, our cashiers, our electricians with the same kind of thanks that we prefer?  What if? 

Are you ever just in the surviving mode?  I feel like that is where I was last year.  I just had to survive the year. I couldn't think about next steps, or what I really felt passionate about because I just had to make it through.  I just had to get through the horrible moments of feeling so sad that I didn't want to be around anyone.  I had to work through the words that were said to me, and the way that those words made me feel.  Sometimes we just have to survive.  Sometimes life isn't about thriving, it is just about making it through moment by moment.  

As I ponder over events that took place throughout the YEAR of 35...I am so thankful that I have come out on top.  I feel like the YEAR of 35 almost broke me.  I was an emotional wreck most days.  I took things way too seriously and sensitively.  I got jealous easily, and I managed to take words to heart way to often.  I wouldn't change anything that happened in the YEAR of 35 except maybe one thing, which doesn't need to be broadcasted to the entire internet.  But that one thing was a mistake that I made in trusting someone I shouldn't have trusted.  But even that taught me something. 

I am a better person because of this year.  I am more loving, and kind.  I am also taking things a lot less sensitively than I used to.  Sure I still have my moments, because everyone does... but I have figured out that my life can't be based on others.  Looking to others for what they think about my life choices or even just me as a person isn't going to do anyone any good.  I have to be me.  Either take me for all of my faults, and quirks, or don't.  I will never pretend to be perfect, but I also will never stab someone in the back.  That's not the person that I am, and not the person that I ever want to be.  I don't want to be someone that constantly needs to be the center of attention.  Or who has to put down one friend in order to be accepted by another. 

We are all on a journey.  Sometimes that journey takes us to places that bring out our passions, and sometimes that journey takes us to places that help us realize what are passions truly are.  Life is about the journey.  The uphill battles, the moments in time that make you understand exactly how much strength and endurance you have.  The journey isn't supposed to be easy.  Some days it will be hot, and sweaty, and you will feel like dying.  Other days it will be breezy and cool and just right for walking up a windy trail.  But every single day counts.  Every single day is a new opportunity to discover the passions that have been planted inside. 

So this year.... the YEAR of 36 is for passion, life, and finding a place to live with joy.  It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. 

40 before 40 update....

It seems like quite a while since I last posted anything, and in fact it kind of has been a long time.  I have found myself with a lot of new things happening in my life the last few months.... new job, new boyfriend, new apartment (almost), new almost other job.  That's a lot of change, a lot of transition, and a lot of adventure.  I'm going to write another blog about all of that, but this one is for my 40 before 40 list.  It is always good to look over a list that has been made and ponder if it is still applicable.  A lot of the things on my list, are in fact things that I still want to do, while some of the things on my list aren't really as important to me as they were at this time last year.  So I am going to change them up a little.  I'm also going to check off the ones that are complete!  Yay! 

#1  Attend a Renaissance Festival 

#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! 

#4  Go Skydiving

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

#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'm changing this one)   #11   Go a spa for a whole weekend  (seems more doable)

#12  Go to an Art Museum once a year (Yikes, I need to get on this one for this year!)

#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)

#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!!!)

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

#20  Read every book by C.S. Lewis  (I need to make my list)

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

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

#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  Build my business

Really I have not done very many from my list... so looks like I better get crackin'!  Look for more blogs this YEAR OF 36!  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Moving Forward....but looking back

I always think it is a good idea when leaving a place to reflect upon that part of the journey. I am sure that there will be things that have happened in the last 3 years that I won't fully understand for many years, but I am thankful for each moment.  It has been a hard 3 years.  I have had to undergo some major criticism as a person and teacher.  I have had some hard things come about that I will always look back on and wonder why they had to happen in that way.  Maybe one day I will completely understand, but for now I just try to let them go.

When I stepped into these halls 3 years ago in August I was arriving back to the states from overseas.  It had not been the experience I had expected, and I was more broken then when I went in the first place.  I was also hopeful.  I was hopeful that I had finally found a place where I could settle.  There was hope of a previous relationship happening again, and a new job that I would be able to excel in.  These hopes led to optimism about this new place.  That everything would just fall into place, and I would have the perfect job, perfect life, and perfect everything at my finger tips.  Ha! Like that ever happens! 

I wish I could say that all those things worked out, but they didn't.  The last 3 years have been like doing a through hike on the PCT.  Trying to get ahead of all that was said.  Trying to mend from the brokenness that was laid down at my feet because of unknown expectations that I was supposed to meet that I didn't even know about.  Working through past events that impacted my current situation.

Teaching isn't for the weak.  It isn't something that you go into for the money, or the summers off.  I know there are still people that think that way.  Teaching requires a thick skin, because you have about a million people that want you to meet the expectations for their own individual child, and when you don't they are disappointed.  I think sometimes it is good to be in a place that helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses.  I will say these last 3 years both personally and professionally have done just that.

Here's the thing though, I feel like when we are at our lowest is when God works and moves to bring us up.  I would say the last 3 months have been a bringing up time in my life.  Applying for new jobs, unsure of exactly where He was leading me.  Preparing myself to move away despite the fact that I love my church, a new community that I am part of, and all of my volunteer experiences.  Preparing to start over again, because there has been so much loss, and most times it is easier to deal with loss if you just leave it behind.

You know what though?  That's not His plan.  For the first time in my life I am staying.  I am building friendships that are made of people that want to build me up instead of bring me down.  I am rocking my volunteer opportunities and meeting so many amazing people that love and value me.  Do you know how great it feels to be loved and valued?  Pretty stinking amazing.  I am getting to know people that want me in their lives.  Not just to talk about me behind my back, but truly enjoy spending time with me.

Sometimes we have to be taken to the depths of despair before we can understand what we were meant to do, and where we were meant to be.

I am leaving teaching, maybe I will go back to it one day, or maybe it will be in a different capacity.  I will always be thankful for these 3 years, in the states teaching.  I am a better listener, encourager, crafter, and teacher because of the moments in time I have spent inside these 4 walls.  I am thankful for team meetings that went outside of these 4 walls.  I am thankful for field days, field trips, staff prayer, science experiments, parent volunteers, but mostly I am thankful for students.  Everyday was a challenge in one way or another, but they impacted me.  They led well. They opened my eyes to see the creative ways that God shows His character in each of us. 

There is no way to know exactly how we have impacted another person.  We cross paths with people every single day.  Sometimes the impact is great, and other times it is so small it seems nonexistent.  It is there though.  Our lives touch those around us, we plant seeds.  Those seeds will move mountains one day.  Those seeds will be our legacy.  God's legacy.  I am thankful that even if I feel like I did nothing, He moved in me to do everything that was needed during my time in this place.

So, I pack up my bags.  I close the door, and walk down the hallway.  I put away the curriculum books, the expo markers, and I look ahead to new norms.  I look up, finish strong, and know that God's plans or so much bigger than my own.  That this little stop on my journey has changed me and others in ways that only He knows.  I don't say good-bye, I say see you later.  Because although this chapter is over, there are so many more left to write, and live.  The hike isn't over....because just over the next hill there is another one to climb. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

K is for Knowledge #atozchallenge #kisforknowledge

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life!

K is for Knowledge. 

When I think of knowledge it often doesn't really make me think of risks.  It took me awhile to come up with this blog post.  Mostly because I kept getting stuck on words that I chose.  I would choose a word and then change it, then go back to the original word.  I am not even sure now why knowledge has stuck, but it did. 

I guess I feel like with knowledge comes risk.  The more you know about this world, the people in it, and the way to communicate the great risks you want to take in order to love them more.  At least that is what I feel for myself.  Before I stepped foot in India I really had no idea what it meant to risk.  I had never had to risk anything for a hot meal, or a warm bed.  I had never had to risk anything for what I believed in.  There was little risk involved in my life. 

Then I went to another country, where I met people that risked their lives EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I was floored by the amount of risk it took for them just to live every day.  Mothers that would risk their lives, and the lives of their kids for a decent meal. Families that risked never seeing members of their household in order to put a roof over their kid's heads.  Those were the stories of risk. 

That knowledge made me a better person.  Those experiences of seeing poverty, and self-sacrifice allowed me to view my risks as minor compared to what I could be risking.  I learned from that journey that I wanted my own to be bigger, harder, and more meaningful.  The only way that I could do that was to apply the knowledge that I had come across and let my life be impacted from the inside out. 

Have you gained knowledge about a subject or situation that has opened your eyes to risk a little bit more? 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J is for Jump In #atozchallenge #jisforjumpin

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life!

Jump, that four letter word that means to lift your feet off the air and go.  Where have you jumped in your life?  What risks did it take to lift those feet?

Some of my jumps have been huge, more like leaps into the unknown.  Others have been small little hops.

It occurs to me that there are some tasks I jump into without any sort of hesitation!

You know like.... sitting down to watch a full season of my favorite tv show.  Or going and taking a hike instead of cleaning.  Those kinds of jumps are easy.  It doesn't take much thought or preparation, and most of the time I end up learning something, if nothing else how to spend time just being.

Then there are the jumps that involve others.  Like the jumps into new community, or the jumps into asking that person that you just met to go have coffee in hopes of building a friendship that spans continents and decades.  Those kind of jumps take a lot more risk and time.  Those kind of jumps require a little hand movement for balance.  When you jump in to a new community you risk losing a part of yourself.  This happened to me a couple of years ago.

I have a hard time with trust (as do most people). I had been wanting a true community for awhile.  Been praying for it, contemplating what it might look like, and I walked into something that I thought finally fit that idea.  When I got to that community I jumped in. I was open and honest.  I let my guard down.  I had deep conversations with people that I wouldn't normally have had before.  I asked people to lunches, dinners, and movies.  I spent time with people even though I didn't necessarily always leave feeling the greatest about myself.  That jump was hard, it was a risk.  It helped me in a lot of ways, and it hurt me in others.  I lost a little of myself in that jump, but I gained other parts of myself back that I had thought were forever gone.  I wouldn't take the jump back, it was worth it.

That jump is preparing me for my next jump.  I am not sure what kind of jump it is going to be, or what awaits me on the other side, but I know that it is worth it.  I know that people are worth it.  No matter if it is only for a year or two, those moments, those memories they will always be a part of my journey.  I will always know that I tried my very best to risk all that I had to make that jump into a community that I thought worthy of jumping for.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I is for Inadequacy #atozchallenge #iisforinadequcy

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life!

I is for Inadequacy.  This is probably a confusing one to fit with my theme.  I somewhat just needed an I word, and then also thought about the result of risks.  Inadequacy came up.  Sometimes I don't risk because I don't feel like I can do it.  Whatever the dream, goal, or situation is I feel like I am not good enough to accomplish it.  I feel pretty inadequate. 

I used to think that I was the only one who felt this way.  Why I was so naive to think that is beyond me, but I sure did.  I thought that I was the only one who doubted myself and my choices. 

We often have to risk feeling inadequate to live a more adventure-filled life.  Letting down those walls, being willing to risk not knowing everything.  We live in a society that is driven by success.  Driven by social media accounts that claim perfect lives.  When in reality for one moment if we all just allowed our inadequacies to be seen, the world would connect in so many more real and deep ways.

To risk inadequacy means to understand ourselves and those around us a little bit more.  We will never be perfect, but our imperfections are what makes us needed and loved.

Monday, April 10, 2017

H is for Hiking #atozchallenge #hisforhiking

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life!

H is for hiking!  I absolutely LOVE hiking!  It is the BEST for thinking and contemplating risks!  There is also a certain risk that happens when setting out on that trail.  What will you encounter?  Will the trail really take as along as the guide says?  Are there steps along the way that will bring an unknown adventure?

I have hiked many trails that were unknown by me.  Sometimes with others and a lot of times on my own.  The worst risk I took was when I decided to go hiking in 100 degree weather at noon with only 1 bottle of water, on a trail that wasn't marked very clearly.

I risked my life that day.  I had to jump into the creek in order to cool off, and ended up getting minor heat stroke, which still affects me on very hot days.  It was not the smartest decision I have ever made, and looking back I think that I was once again just trying to prove something to myself.  Do you ever think that you take risks because you are trying to prove something?  Maybe that is in fact what risks are mostly about.  Trying to prove that you can do it.  That no matter what you can succeed.  Not every risk is worth it.  That trail was beautiful, but not worth my life.

There is another trail that I hike, it is by far my favorite trail.  I know it by heart.  I know that when I get to certain points along the way I am getting closer to the end.  I know the turns in the trail, the way that it winds through the woods.  I know the random cars that have been left abandoned on the hills of the trail.  I know that the risk isn't that high.  So, often I take that trail.  The familiar is necessary sometimes, for in the familiar I can do my best thinking.  I am not worried about what is going to be around the next corner, I can just focus on the long term goals ahead.

These are the thoughts that I have when hiking.  My brain has time to process, learn, grow, and look forward to the future!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

G is for Goals #atozchallenge #gisforgoals

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life!

Sometimes I make goals for my life that I know are a huge risk.  Do you have goals that you have yet to accomplish.  Last year before I turned 35, I made 40 goals of things to do before I turned 40.  So, I thought.... hey why not include those in this post?

 #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   ( I did this last August... yay!) 

#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  ( I kind of did this)  Loom Knitting, counts! 

#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

So... some of these require pretty big risk!  Some don't... but regardless making goals and accomplishing them is a big part of who I am.

I actually love it.  Do you have any goals that you have set?  Are they risky goals?

Friday, April 7, 2017

F is for Failure #atozchallenge #fisforfailure

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life!

F is for failure!  There is no doubt that we all have failed, and if you are anything like me I fail pretty much what seems like 5 billion times every single day!  I used to view my failures in a very negative way.  From early on I never seemed to live up to anyone's idea of who I should be.  I think that is one of the worse things about being the oldest child is the need to be the best at everything, and prove yourself worthy of all the hopes and dreams your parents had for their firstborn.  When I would fail, whether it was missing points on a test, not remembering to pick up my room in a timely manner, or talking just a little too sassy to others... I would analyze it for the next few weeks.  I mean seriously analyze it.  I would go through every second of that failure and basically told my self what a horrible person I was.

Enough years of this failure self talk and I began to think that I wasn't worth anything.  The risks I had taken resulted in an utter loss of who I was made to be.  I got caught up in thinking about my view as a failure instead of all the good things that I was doing or had accomplished!

So... failing as an adult looks a little different.  I know that I will fail.  There will be things that I don't do perfectly.  But theses failures comes with a new knowledge.  Knowledge that everyone fails.  Knowledge that my failures along the way have made me stronger, and better.  Knowledge that failure doesn't mean less risk, it means risk more. With every risk that turns into a failure I learn a little bit more about who I am, and a little bit more about my contributions and part in this crazy, beautiful world.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

E is for Educational Risks #atozchallenge #eisforeducationalrisk

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life!

E is for Educational risks.  I think that as we grow up our first role besides being someone's daughter/son is as a student.  We spend much of our time in a classroom setting of some kind learning.  It is there that we first learn the risks that are taken during the learning processes.

This week my students are taking the SAT test.  As I walk around the room it occurs to me that there are a lot of risks being taken during these testing moments.  Choosing one answer over the other, skipping a question in hopes that going back to it later will enable them to make the right choice.  The risk of being the last one finished with the test.  All of these risks are ones that will determine the educational risks that are to come.

When I think about my own education I am forced to acknowledge risks that I took.  I risked going to one college over another.  I risked getting my Masters degree right after my B.S. degree because I needed it to teach (or so I thought).

Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you had gone to a different college?  Maybe for some of you that did happen.  Maybe you started at one college and then left it for another.  If you did that, do you think that changed the way you view risk?

I stayed at my same college all 4 1/2 years.  I know that it was exactly where I was supposed to be.  The risk for me wasn't in leaving it was in staying.  It was probably the one time in my life post high school graduation that I have been in the same place for 4 years, and even then my summers were spent away.  That says a lot about that place, and the people that were there.  It was enough for me.  It was a good fit for me, even if it wasn't perfect.  I grew, I learned, and expanded who I was during that time of staying risk. 

Do you ever regret risks?

I think my Masters degree is a risk I regret.  It cost a lot of money, and even though I want to say that I needed it to do the things I have done, and go the places I have gone....well I am not really sure that I did in fact need it.   I think that it was a pressure that I put on myself.  Something that I felt would make me more successful, and the quicker I could complete it the better it would be!  No matter what the cost.  I also think 10 years ago when I was beginning my Masters there was a definite push for people to do that right away.  And now....

Well I kind of feel like people are pushing to take the risk to enjoy life.  Education is important, but so is seeing the world, isn't it? 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D is for Decisions #atozchallenge #decisions #risk

This month I am posting about risk, and words that contribute to the risks I take in my life! 

D is for Decisions....

Every single day we make thousands of decisions.  What to eat for breakfast, how many cups of coffee to have before 7:00 am, whether to get up and work out or hit snooze for the 1 millionth time!  Then there are the decisions that are a little more complex, do we write back to that person that just trolled us on social media or keep quiet?  What friends do we invest our time in?  How do we get across to that student that just doesn't seem to be present for any of the daily learning?  So many decisions every single day. 

I feel like every decision I make involves some sort of risk.  Will me dancing around like a crazy person make people judge me?  Will me choosing this job over that job lead to success and happiness?  The people I put my time and energy into, that is a decision that takes risk.  My heart faces risk daily.  Some decisions have broken my heart, while other decisions have helped to heal my heart. 

How do I decide what is worth the risk?  That is a decision in itself, right? 

I think that whatever is going to help me to live the best life I can.....that is worth the risk.

Investing time and energy into those that are going to build me up and teach me, that is worth the risk. 

What decisions are worth the risk for you? 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

C is for Change #atozchallenge #change

This blogging challenge is all about Risk!  My word for the year! 

C is for Change.  There is so much change in this world.  Everyday I am bombarded with change as I scroll through social media, or talk to friends.  We are all constantly going through changes. 

Most change involves risk.  The risk of friends, and family.  The risk of money, the risk of reputation.  The risk of rejection, acceptance.  All of these things are involved in change. 

I love change.  I love experiencing new places, meeting new people, and utilizing new skills at jobs I take on.  I have risked a lot in my life due to the changes I have taken part of. 

Moving overseas, going to school to get my B.S. and M.A.  Opening up to people, getting involved in community.  All of these have been changes in my life. 

Can you think of the biggest change you have ever gone through?  I think for me it was recently.  I had a couple of friends that I had been hanging out with quite a bit all of a sudden just leave my life.  When you lose people you get used to hanging out with, it feels like you risked part of yourself for no reason.  It is also a big change.  You try to fill the void with other things, but there is still that void. 

To change something is to risk.  I think that we have to change.  If we don't then our life turns into something that is boring and not worth it.  To change means to risk. 

What changes have you made, and what were the risks?

Monday, April 3, 2017

B is for Being Brave #atozchallenge #2017 #bisforbrave

This year's challenge my theme is risk.   There is so much in this world to risk, and so much that we have to understand about it. 

The letter B blog post is for Being Brave!  Have you ever had a time when you knew that you were going to have to be brave in order to take a risk?  Are we born with bravery or is it something that we learn?  Do you think that we are braver as children, or adults? 

When I think back over my life I think the greatest risks I have taken are those when I was my bravest.  Moving to a new country where I literally knew no one and had to figure out how to get  groceries, make it to my job on time, and live in a place that was very different from my own. 

I have had to be brave over this past year as I said good-bye to a few friends that weren't adding to my life.  That kind of bravery is a risk.  I had to ask myself if it was worth it to say good-bye or to keep going in a pattern of self destruction. 

For some bravery is getting out of bed in the mornings.  For others it is taking a step into an unknown land.  Bravery is the mother who gets up at 5:00 am in the morning to feed her 3 month old that slept most of the night.  Bravery is sitting down and having a conversation with a person you run into on the train.  Bravery is the single parent who is working 2 jobs to feed the kids a decent meal every night.  Bravery is the single person that doesn't give up on love, kids, and a family to call their own.  Bravery is the single person that doesn't give in to the standards that the world has set, and is willing to do it alone.  Bravery is getting older, and still impacting the world around you.  Bravery comes in so many shapes and forms.  The most important part of bravery is to live it out, every single day. 

Risk through bravery.  It is the only way to live, don't you think? 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A is for Authenticity #atozchallenge #2017 #authenticrisk

When I think about the journey of authenticity it amazes me at just how thankful I am to be on this journey.  There is so much that I could say has transpired over the last few years, but the best one is that I am more of who I feel like I was created to be.  My A post is for authenticity in risk.   All of us have risked things in life, some more than others. 

What makes a risk authentic?

I think that when you can genuinely look at the risk from every angle possible, and you go for it anyways.  When you know what you have to lose, and gain...and you jump off that cliff without looking back.

Maybe that means paying $500 for a plane ticket to go to a job interview that you are not sure you are going to get, but you want so badly.

Maybe that means telling that person what they mean to you.

Maybe that means speaking up for yourself when you believe something differently than everyone sitting on the same side of the table.

Maybe that kind of risk means giving every last ounce of energy, time, and compassion you have in order to make another person's life 5% of what yours is.

Maybe authentic risk just means that you don't weigh the pros and cons, but instead you just do it.  You make it happen, and you live in the moment.  Maybe that is authentic risk?

What does it mean to take an authentic risk?  

Friday, March 31, 2017

Reveal Post #atozchallenge

Oh my goodness!  What a crazy month it has been.  I feel a little behind with my reveal, and theme... but I am writing this up real quick to get my feet wet a little bit.  Whew!  Is it really almost April?  How quickly this past year went! 

My theme for this year's A to Z challenge is going to be Risk.  I am not sure exactly what this will evolve into.  It might be risks I have taken in my life, or risks that have inspired me that others have taken.  Whatever it turns into I am excited to dive into this year's theme!  Now.... I better get writing! 

Hope you will stop by and read some of my posts! 

Here's a list of the dates for the blogs....

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

California Dreamin'

If you have read my last post you know that I am switching up my career.  In doing this I started applying to camp jobs all across the United States.  I have had Skype interviews for camps in Ohio, California, New Mexico, Wyoming, Washington and Alaska.  Basically I am open to wherever I am supposed to go.  As I started this process, I had really no intention or thought that I might end up back in Southern California. 

Until now...

I am leaving next weekend to head to California to interview in person for one of two jobs.  One is with Girl Scouts- San Diego, and the other is a potential interview for a camp in the LA area. 

As I ponder the process that has taken me to this point, I honestly am kind of overwhelmed at how God works.  You see I started my journey in California.  I spent many years there.  It was the first place that I experienced true community outside of my hometown.  I was 19 years old when I first set foot in California.  A shy, insecure 19 year old.  I walked into life at camp, and my world was changed.  When I think about that girl compared to who I am now, I am pretty amazed at all the changes and experiences I have had since then. 

I left California in 2008, packed up my car... drove to Missouri with my sister, and moved to Bangkok, Thailand.  I wasn't ever planning on returning there to live.  California had been a place where I learned about love, loss, God, community, sacrifice, and forgiveness.  It was a place I planned on visiting often, but not a place I thought about "settling." 

So here I am... almost 9 years later pondering what it would mean to move back. 

All I can feel is ecstatic.  Ecstatic for the fact that I was asked to come interview in person.  Ecstatic that I have people I know there that love me, and would do anything to help me out if I needed them to.  Ecstatic that there is potential for me to live in a place that I love so much!  Ecstatic for the potential of leading people, and using the skills I have developed in a new way! 

Moving back to California would be a big change.  When I left to go to Thailand in some ways I was running from some things.  I was running from a dream that I had that didn't go like I thought.  I was running from this idea that I had of community that didn't work out the way I thought it would.  California is a place that I call home.  It is a place that holds a lot of my friends, and friends that turned into family. 

My prayer  is that one of these jobs works out. My prayer is that I get to be in a place where I can use my gifts and talents in a year-round full-time camp job.  I am excited about the possibilities.  I am excited to see what is going to happen. 

Sometimes we have to take risks. It is super risky for me to jump on a plane in 7 days and go interview for a job that I might not get.  It is super risky for me to think about leaving behind a life that I have made for myself these past 3 years.  It is super risky to think about starting over again.  This year is about risk.  If I don't try, if I don't go for something because I am scared, then I am not really living what I have been called to. 

I don't want to just live a mediocre life.  I want to live a life that is full of adventure, risk, and using my gifts and talents the best way I can.  I was created for more than this.  

So I dream of California.  I pray, I ponder, and I hope! 

Why I am leaving teaching....

For the past few years I have been pondering changing my career.  It is not because I don't love what I do.  I love it!  I love teaching.  I love creating lessons, implementing them, and interacting with kids on a daily basis to encourage them to learn in unique ways.  But, I have been broken.  I am not going to blame a person or place.  I have just been broken.  It took awhile for me to realize just how broken I am.  But I finally realized it, and understand that I have to step a way for a little while.  It is not stepping away for good, and it is not stepping away from working with kids...for it is not the kids that put the pressure on adults... it is adults that put pressure on other adults.  In this fast paced, techno-savvy world it is hard to be what everyone wants you to be.  It is hard to let go of what has been said to your face, but most of all hard to let go of what has been said behind your back. 

So, I am pursuing a different path, one in which I am familiar.  One that has taught me so much about myself, and my strengths.  One in which I found my first family outside of my own.  I am going back to the camping world.  I feel like the camp world is one in which I feel the most happy.  It uses my strengths, helps me in my weaknesses, and is a way for me to not be stuck inside four walls of a classroom. 

I love camp.  I love what camp does in the lives of kids.  I love what it does in camp staff.  I love how camp unites people, brings them together.  I love how camp blurs the lines.  Camp is what this world needs right now. Camp takes a shy kid and lets them explore life from a different view.  Camp takes an energetic, leader and allows them experiences where they are unsure and look to others to lead.  Camp changes lives.

Don't get me, schools... they change lives too.  In fact every single person that is alive has been impacted by education in some way or another.  I love that I have been a small part of that for a handful of students across the world.  I love that I know names of students studying in just about every country in Europe and Asia.  I love that the impact of the classroom is fierce, and is making a difference in this world. 

I don't love how I have been made to feel.  I don't love that I do not feel valued or wanted.  I don't love how I have been made to doubt myself and what I know to be true about who God created me to be.  I don't love any of those things. 

So... I am taking a step back.  I don't see it as a failure, because every single experience I have had has led me to where I am today.  Every single experience has allowed me to meet people, students, parents, administrators that have impacted my life in great ways.  Some of those ways I will take as moments in time that have shown me what I need to improve on, and some of those moments I will take as moments that have shown me my worth.  No matter what I am thankful.  I am thankful for the gifts I have been given.  I am thankful for the journey that is my life so far.  Mostly I am thankful that God knew even before I did what my life was going to look like. 

I am still a teacher.  In my heart I will always be a teacher.  Once you are called to teach, you never stop teaching.  My teaching will just look a little bit differently.  I am learning to embrace the different.  I am learning to go after things that might be stretching me beyond what I think I am capable of.  But I will never lose who I am.  My brokenness is made new by grace.  Every single day I am piece by piece put back together by words, encouragement, and the knowledge that it's okay to be a little broken.  For the most beautiful of broken vases, is the one that is chipped cracked, and created into something new. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

When Rejection gets the Best of You

I am reading the book Uninvited, it has proved to be the perfect book for me to be reading at this time.  There has been a lot of rejection felt in this past year.  It has brought back so many feelings from the past that I have sunk into this pit that I am unable to get out of.  It is so different from last year.  I felt so at home last year, like at last I had found a community of people that loved me, and wanted to hang out with me.  I was ready to settle in, and live life in this community.  I had prayed so hard for so long for this thing called community, and then I woke up one day and it was gone. 

Maybe it wasn't ever there in the first place?  Maybe I had placed myself in this situation where I thought that I was surrounded by people that would always love me and be there for me, but really they weren't. 

And thus begins the cycle of rejection.  I have learned a lot already from this book... and if you struggle like I do with rejection... you should read it to. 

I think that I thought I was the only one who ever felt this way, but it seems like a lot of us struggle with it.  We struggle with people leaving us, and taking that personally.  We struggle with putting all our worth and value in what others think.  We struggle with fitting in with groups of people that have known each other for awhile.  We struggle with social media perfection.  We all struggle. 

I have had someone look at me and say... you just look at everything in a negative way.  Maybe I do.  Maybe that's for a reason though.  When you have been traded in for someone else more times than you can count, it is hard not to see things, relationships, community in a negative light.  It is hard not to think that there is something wrong with you.  When you are constantly feeling alone, and not being invited by the people that you thought were your "community."  It is hard to not feel negative. 

I think that rejection has gotten the best of me.  I have allowed my value and worth to be put into the community of people instead of looking above for it. 

What do you do when you realize that you traded in some really great friendships for some that you thought were good, but in reality you were rejected yet again?  What do you do when you realize that you gave your heart and soul into people that don't really even care if you are around or not?  What do you do when you feel like you could be dropped at a moment's notice?  Or that you have in fact been dropped and you are only being "tolerated." 

It doesn't really feel like I have this rejection stuff under control.... but it is getting better.  This past year I have been dropped by 4 people that were a huge part of my life.  In some ways I think it has been coming for awhile, but in other ways it has been a huge loss for me.  The thing is that we have people in our lives for different reasons.  I am thankful for my family because even though we are all so different I know that I can always count on them to be there for me.  I know that any one of them would drop whatever they were doing to help me out.  We have people in our lives for seasons.  Some of them stay for long seasons, some of them stay for short seasons, and some are only there for brief moments. 

What I am working on is not allowing the short seasons to get me down.  I am working on not letting the words that people say or the favorites that people have be something that digs deep in my soul. 

I am far from perfect, but I am still worthy of community.  One day I am going to find it.  One day this amazing community is going to open up for me, and those people are going to love me so hard that all the broken pieces are put back together.  I won't want to run away, I won't doubt my value or worth.  They will push me closer to God.   That's the kind of community I long for.  Maybe I won't find it for a really long time, but maybe it is just around the corner. 

Until then....I search out ways to not live in a state of rejection.  I seek out people that lift me up, and I spend a lot of time in prayer, and focusing on the good.  I don't let myself get deep into the state of rejection that so easily wants to grab a hold of my heart.  I try to understand the truth, instead of living in the lies...and I feel thankful for the time that I have had with the community of people that I have been around. I feel thankful for what they have taught me, for the moments of laughter we have shared, and the moments of walls of fear that have been broken.  I feel thankful for the value that we at one time placed in each other, and I move forward.  Looking ahead to the next community I get to be a part of, and hoping that the cycle of rejection can at some time be broken!  

For now...I wait. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Marriage and Mom Life

I can't really blame them.  I mean, it is a natural part of life that people get married and have kids. So, when you are going through 1 Peter, you are going to naturally talk about marriage and roles and all that jazz.  It totally makes sense.  Here's the thing though.... I loathe it. 

I don't loathe it in the same way I loathe coming across a spider in my shower, or a snake along the trail I am hiking.  I loathe it in the same way that I loathe ice cream, or pizza.  It is that I long for it, but I know that I shouldn't partake in it kind of loathing.  Now, don't misunderstand I totally want to be married and have kids one day.... but unfortunately the closer I get to 40, the less likely I think that is going to happen. 

So I literally cringed when the email came that said for our singles monthly gathering we would be talking about marriage, dating, and 1 Peter 3. 

Now I will say this..... it was one of the best talks I have heard in regards to this.  Was there any new information.... maybe... but most of it is stuff that I have heard before. 

Here's the thing...I completely (okay well...mostly) understand what 1 Peter 3 talks about in regards to married men/women.  What I don't understand though is the "weaker" talk and how it applies to me as someone who isn't married, and doesn't have any prospects lined up around the corner? 

I feel like I was kind of content with my singleness once again until last night came and brought up those natural desires that are rooted deep in my soul for a husband and kids.  So... how do I go back to being content, and waiting patiently? 

I love the "God's timing" stuff. Especially when I hear it from friends that have been through it and hated when people used to say that to them.  Ofcourse it is God's timing, right?  Ofcourse!  But if you are the one waiting it sure does stink in the midst of it. 

I think the worst part for me is getting to see everyone else hashtag   #wifey #momlife #myboys #momofboys, knowing and accepting (most days) that might not be a role I ever get to hold. 

In a world full of couples and parents, how do I not place my value and worth in that?  In a world where people want to match you up with anyone at the slightest thought that you have anything in common, how do you keep having standards and boundaries? 

We were made for connection and community.  We were made for relationships.  Yet, I find myself feeling pretty lonely and abnormal a lot of the time.  I am trying my hardest not to.  I am trying my hardest not to just give in and settle for someone that is truly not worth settling for, but the more friends that leave me to get married and have babies...the easier it is to just want to choose the next decent guy that comes around. 

So for now I don't really know how to correctly live single in a world where singleness is frowned upon and seen by many as "not living up to your potential."  I am not sure what the right answer is.  I do know this....if I ever do get married and have kids I will not leave my single friends behind.  I will not do it.  I refuse to be that person, because it sucks to be on the other side of that.  It sucks to feel less than because you are not married, or don't have kids. 

I choose to continue to seek the way to live fulfilled in a world where fulfillment is often measured in our relationships and families.  I choose to continue to seek to live with raw authenticity about my feelings.  This is one of those posts.  I am not feeling sorry for myself... it is more of a quest for my role, and how to live the best I can in the role I have been given. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Shepherd vs. Fisherman

Don't you love how you hear things at the perfect time?   The past week has brought me contemplating a LOT of things!  Sometimes I just think how thankful I am that my life is never boring.  I have never lived a boring existence in my 35 years on this earth, and I am so thankful for that.  I think I was created with gypsy blood, and I used to hate that part of me.  Instead I have finally learned to embrace it!  I am not alone in this world of gypsies, there are actually a lot more of us on this planet than what you might think.  I think it is the gypsy persona that allows me to grab a hold of just about every adventure-filled opportunity I am given. 

So what does this have to do with shepherds and fishermen?  Well.... I promise it does!  Somehow!  Let me just work my way there....

I am going through the study "Finding I Am" by Lysa TerKeurst.  I was actually supposed to finish it 2 weeks, ago but you know I just don't like sticking to the schedule that most studies go by.  I like moving at my own pace.   So, I am still in like week 3 or something.  Anyway today's study was all about shepherds.  More specifically about shepherd's roles in the Bible.  When I think about a shepherd I think of someone who cares about sheep.  Someone who risks their life for sheep, someone who is willing to sacrifice a lot in order to keep those sheep safe.  Fishermen on the other hand....well I thought that Lysa did a good job of explaining how fisherman don't really have that same nurturing type with fish.  I mean when you think about it fishermen basically just catch the fish, throw the ones back they don't want...and then cut the ones they want.  There is not really much caring that goes along with that. 

As I read through this tonight, it got me thinking about some things.  I think up to this point I have honestly thought that I was willing and had risked everything for God.  I think that I saw my experiences as risking a lot actually.  I mean I have lived in places all over the world where I was the minority, where I have been called names, whistled at, felt unsafe, and maybe even been a little damaged.  Isn't that risking?  Isn't that what we are called to do? Doesn't that count?  But what if, those experiences, and that risk was more of my fisherman moments, instead of my shepherd moments?  What if those fisherman moments were just preparing me for the shepherding that God wants me to be doing in the near future? 

I made this year about risk.  I made this year a year to step outside of the box that I have allowed my life to be put in, and grow and learn through experiences that will stretch and grow me.  What if I am supposed to really be taking a leap instead of a tiptoe?  What if there is something so huge that I am supposed to be doing that the longer I remain in the safety zone the more I am hurting my shepherding skills instead of defining them? 

I am not sure that I even know or understand what all of this means.  I just know that tonight as I was reading through Ezekiel 34, I realized that God says that He will take care of His sheep.  He says that He will go after His sheep, to all the places that they wander.  What if shepherding His sheep doesn't  just mean staying in the safe zone?  What if it means going some place and doing something completely unsafe and dangerous?  What if it means that I am literally willing to risk my life for the sake of His sheep? 

Isn't that what it should be about?  Shouldn't my life be about finding His sheep, and leading them?  Shouldn't I be willing to risk what is comfortable, and safe in order to live out what I have been called to?  Isn't love about risk?  Isn't love about giving up whatever I can to give someone a chance to live a better life?  Isn't that what it is about?  If I am constantly in fear that I will be hurt, damaged, or taken then what faith do I have in God?  What faith do I have in myself?  What faith do I have in love? 

I don't want to be a fisherman anymore.  I want to be a shepherd.  I want to care for those that have been lost, I want to listen to the voice of my own shepherd, and I want to risk whatever I can to help bring the flock back to the green pasture.  There is no sheep that is not worth the risk.  Every single one is important, every single one benefits from hearing the shepherd's voice. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why we Risk....

Do you ever wonder if you are living the life you are supposed to?  Do you ever wonder if you are just going through the motions, day in and day out without real acknowledgement of what is actually driving you?  Do you ever wish that you could just be all that you were meant to be??? 

I had a conversation the other day with someone, and I was given information that made me so sad.  The information was that the church where I grew up.... some people there would rather split apart and make the "young" people go somewhere else, than to try to come together as a community of believers and compromise.  It makes my heart hurt, because do you know what happens to a church if you force all of the "young" people to leave?  IT DIES!  There will be no church.  You may not agree with everything those so called "young" people are doing or saying, but you know what?  God probably does! 

The thing is we get so caught up in being right that we forget to be human.  We forget to love each other, listen to each other, and be thankful for those in our lives.  How in the world do you ever expect anyone to want to get to know Jesus if you are pushing everyone away with your judgement and ridicule? 

They won't.  I guarantee you they won't.  It is time to stop looking at drinking, sex, homosexuality, and drugs as the worse stuff you can do.  Honestly I think it is far worse to think you are so righteous that you don't need to love others.  So righteous that you look down on those around you because they aren't living lives that you think they should live.  So righteous that you can't even step outside of your box, and give a meal or a kind word to someone that is living a life completely different from your own?  How is that even close to being like Jesus? 

We aren't called to be more righteous than our neighbor.  We aren't called to sit in our little houses watching TV, reading our books, and waiting for someone to come knocking at our door so we can tell them exactly what to believe and why. We aren't called to place ourselves in only Christian communities where everyone thinks, dresses, and acts exactly how we do.   That's not what we are called to. 

We are called to worship, to love, to be people that put others before ourselves.  We are called to make a difference.  How can we make a difference if we aren't willing to hold conversations, to change the way we think, to meet a friend that is so different from us?  It doesn't mean that I have to agree with everyone I call friend.  But isn't it going to be easier to have tough conversations with those that I make connections with, than those that I turn away and condemn? 

My job is to risk everything to be kind, compassionate, and loving.  It makes me so angry when people that I know and love are anything but that.  When they are so focused on the rules, or being right that they forget that there is such a thing as grace. 

We can't divide ourselves by age, by sex, by political party.  If we do that, then there are going to be a lot of empty families, and churches. 

We have to stop putting people in boxes based on what we THINK they believe or because they align themselves with one party or another.  Did you know that it is possible to think that Gandhi had some amazing words to give us without following every single thing that he said?  Did you know that I can agree and disagree with my Uncle who is super conservative without us getting into fights?  Did you know that someone can have a completely different political party alignment than I do, and I don't have to think they are a complete idiot?  It's all so true!  We have become so box based that we forget there is more than one way to get up the same mountain.  

There has to be grace, love and compassion.  There has to be open-mindedness.  There has to be a time when you tear down the walls that you have built up, and let God move you and change you.  There has to be a time when you truly start seeing people, ALL people as created beings.  As people that love, and need to belong. 

Don't push people away just because you don't agree with them, or you don't want to do things the way they are doing them.  If you push them away, you just might be pushing away your chance to love them like Jesus. 

This was the message I took away this past weekend.  A message that was so real to me, as I am on the cusp of some pretty awesome changes.  But it was also a message that led me to once again wonder if I am doing what I should be.  I wonder if I am being called for something more....

What am I being called to let go of and risk? My thoughts for today...

True/False 2017

I can't believe another year of True/False is over!  It makes me sad how quickly time seems to be going.  True/False is the best weekend in Columbia.  Just walking around downtown during this time, meeting people, seeing smiling faces.  It is truly an awesome experience.  I love it.  I love the community that is True/False.  I love volunteering, and having conversations with people that I otherwise would never have met.   That I never would have been able to get to know, and understand.  Community is about loving others, looking outside ourselves, and questioning the things that we believe are true.  Not questioning them in a doubt kind of way, but in a why do I believe this kind of way, and how can my belief impact the way I deal with others. 

I ALWAYS love the T/F films.  ALWAYS.  There are always ways that the films themselves, and the conversations I have impact me. 

This year I spent more time focusing on volunteering, than I did on seeing every film I possibly could.  It was a time when I realized that being a part of something like this film fest is exactly what I love about my life, Columbia, and impacting my community for good. 

Here's some of my film highlights:

Miss Kiet's Children-  This film followed a teacher in the Netherlands.  She taught refugee children from Syria.  I loved this story so much.  It is my top film for the weekend.  It tugged at my heartstrings to go back overseas again, and do something crazy!  If only I didn't need to get paid...I would go in a second.  If you have the chance to see this film, watch it!  It's a very beautiful story. 

Quest- The True Life Fund film!  I LOVED this film.  I loved the story of this family.  They truly are a family to look to for community and love.  I am amazed by the amount of time this film took, and the perseverance that the film maker had.  What a great way to tell their story! If you are wanting to see life from another person's  perspective, or maybe even get encouragement yourself...this is the film to see. 

Dina- One of the first films that I have laughed and cried.  This film was about an autistic couple who meet, fall in love, and get married.  It is a brilliant story.  I think that sometimes we forget to look at the uniqueness of relationships and love.  I loved Dina!  I loved everything about this couple.  They are so real with each other.  What a beautiful story of life. 

I Am Not Your Negro- I can't put into words how much I loved this film.  Not in a make me feel good way.  I loved this film in a make me think, and examine life kind of way.  This film broke me, it made me mad, and it led me to a deeper understanding of how much we need to change in this world.  I think every single person in our country, and even those not in our country need to go see this film.  It is a film that is going to make people mad.  It is a film that is going to spark great conversations if we let it.  This film has the potential to change the world. 

STEP- This film gets my #5 in the top five for this year.  It is a brilliant film.  It shows adversity, hard times, but it also shows what you can do through those hard times.  I loved watching the young ladies in this film reach their goals, even through disappointment.  I loved seeing them persevere even when they couldn't see the light.  What an impact these ladies are going to make in our world! 

Other films I got to see this weekend....

Railway Sleepers- I liked seeing all the different people.  I connected with it because of Thailand, but it was too long for me. 

SS Xenon- Good film!  That's all I can say about that!

SS Argon- Thought-provoking film! 

Stranger in Paradise- I liked how this film showed the European side to the influx of refugees.  It still tugged at my heart, and parts of it made me angry.  It also opened my eyes to some things I hadn't thought of before in terms of refugees. 

Whose Streets- This was a well done film, and definitely gave me more to think about in terms of Ferguson, and all that took place in Mike Brown's death. 

Recreations- This film was interesting.  I am glad that it was only 45 minutes, but the teacher in me basically cringed through the whole thing.  I couldn't stay for the Q & A, but I wish I would have been able to!  

Films I would like to see.....let's hope they come to Ragtag....

The Force
The Graduation
The Road Movie
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Casting JonBenet
Brimstone & Glory
The Cage Fighter

True/False is more than just a film festival.  It is a community event.  It takes 900+ volunteers to pull off this festival.  To me that is something worth being a part of.  I am so thankful to see the same people every year.  I am so thankful that this is a place that I have been able to make a part of my community, and story.  We meet people everyday, it is up to us if we let them impact us in mighty ways!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

When the Answer is No

I find myself wanting the answer to always be YES!  Yes to anything and everything.  That type of lifestyle doesn't work well because there is no way to always say yes.  It is actually pretty impossible to do.  I especially love to say yes to things when they are safe.  When it is the safe job, the safe group of people, (you know the ones that are going to tell me what I want to hear), the safe feeling.  I love to say yes when I am in control, and when it means everything going the way I want it to go. 

No is a hard word for me.  I put a lot of weight in how other people feel.  It is actually one of the things I say in a job interview for something that I need to work on.  I feel things deeply.  I analyze people's reactions, and I don't let go when I should.  No is hard for me because it seems personal, even when it isn't.  I hate disappointing people, I hate letting people down.  I want to please, for the world to be a peaceful place, and for everything to have the Yes answer. 

Sometimes the answer has to be no.  It isn't the right fit, or right time.  Sometimes the answer is no because it is something that I shouldn't engage in.  Sometimes the answer is no because I need to take a risk. 

Something happened this week, and I had to give a no answer.  It was such a wrestling match in my heart and soul.  I cried, I prayed, and I came to terms with the fact that my heart just wasn't in it at this moment.  The reason I stressed out so much was because it felt like if I said no I was going to be disappointing people.  It felt like if I said no then I was making a definite decision that was going to impact some major things in the near future. 

Yet, I said no.  I said no because I am in a great place in life.  I am single, available, and ready for big things.  My life isn't limited anymore by the hopes of this or that.  I know my worth, I know what I want from life, and that means saying no sometimes.  That means saying no despite the risks.  It means saying no in the midst of uncertainty.  It means staying true to myself.  I am so thankful that sometimes God makes it a No. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lent 2017

I can't believe that Lent is here, so soon!  I feel like it was just Christmas, and now here we are at the peak of the Easter season!  Next week marks the beginning of Lent.  I find myself loving this season, mostly because it is a time for me to stop and reflect.  A time for me to stop, breathe, pray, think, and change some habits in my life.  A time for me to recommit myself to the closeness I long to feel with God.  A time to give up something that takes a lot more of my time, then it should. 

So, as I ponder and think about what takes the most of my time..... I decided to not watch Netflix, and Hulu during Lent!  Even the thought of it makes me cringe a little.  So, it looks like I will get a lot more reading in, and watching of documentaries.... films that will help me think and ponder more of life. 

Here's to this coming up season of meditation, prayer, and greater focus on things above. 

When Pain Makes us Stronger

This world is so broken.  Every corner I turn to, everywhere I look I find myself bombarded with brokenness.  In my own life too.  I find myself constantly in a state of grieving for a world where people build each other up, instead of tearing down.  I find myself wishing that I could see everyone the way Jesus does.  I find myself longing for a place where we all agree, where guns aren't necessary, where fighting ceases to exist, and where I never have to worry about others judging me or accepting me. 

That's not this world though, I have to wait.  How do I live while I wait?  Facing pain on a daily basis.  Uncertain of the future sometimes, of where I am going.... or what diseases the future may hold.  Tragedy strikes us at a moment's notice.  How do I stop from just letting it overwhelm me? 

In these last few weeks, I have heard a lot about sin, and justice.  I have experienced a pain in my heart for things that I had stopped longing for.  I have come to understand how pain has made me stronger.  I have come to understand the purpose behind some people not being in my life anymore, or not being directly in my day to day. 

Sometimes I put such a hold on people.  I place them on a pedestal.  I long for their approval more than God's.  I see them in this light of grace and mercy that isn't for me to view them in.  I try to keep them in my life at all costs.  I allow others to be my god.  I forget that I don't measure up on a daily basis, and that's okay. I forget to allow myself the grace that I give to others. 

The truth is that there are people that aren't meant to be in our lives.  There are experiences, and activities that we aren't meant to engage in.  It is those people and activities that push us farther from God, instead of closer to Him that we need to let go of.  Do you ever find yourself trapped in a routine, allowing those people/activities to voice your worth, to be in charge of the choices you make? 

When we have to let go, it hurts.  It hurts so much.  Because we have invested time, energy, and love into those people/activities.  We have sacrificed to make their lives better.  We have connected with them, and gotten to know them.  Yet, despite all of that....there has been pain.  Pain that comes with rejection, pain that comes with disagreements, pain that comes because our choices didn't mesh well with others.  So much pain. 

In the pain though, isn't that when we understand more about the love?  Isn't that when we have nothing to do, but kneel before our Creator and understand how this pain causes us to be absent from Him?  How pain grows us, and changes us.  How pain allows us to understand what we have been saved from.

For me pain no longer seems a threat.  It no longer seems like something I want to escape from, because I can see through the pain.  I can cope with the pain, because my focus is on something far greater than pain.  My focus is above.  My focus is on what I am here to do in this life.  It's not about being the prettiest, the smartest, the most liked.  It has everything to do with knowing God the most, and allowing that knowledge to overflow out of me into others.

I don't think that I have gotten this the past few years.  I have been sidetracked into just being who everyone wanted me to be.  I have given in to the pain way too much, and allowed it to change me in ways that I am not proud of.  So, today I think and ponder how I am going to be different, embracing the pain.  Understanding that it is not an eternal pain, and healing in truth and love.

Today I put aside the expectations that the past few years have created in me.  I think and ponder new expectations, and live a life that is committed to being more in love with God everyday.  When that's my focus...everything else seems to fall in place, and pain doesn't seem so destructive.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

When It's Time to Move....

The past few months have been a whirlwind of emotions.  Trying to wrap my mind around all that was happening.  The ups and downs, the insecure moments of regret, and the hopeful moments of surrender.  In the quiet moments I have felt a move in my heart, a tug to go forward and take risks.  That's what this year was supposed to be about...taking risks. When I declared this to be the year of risks I had no idea what that would exactly mean.  I had no idea that a little over a month into this year I would be in the midst of some major life decisions, that involve a lot of risk. 

How do you make life decisions?  For me I ponder it, pray about it, listen to the advice of others... but ultimately I go with my gut instinct...what makes me truly happy!  And what does make me happy? 

It makes me happy to know that I am valued, loved, respected, and needed.  Have you ever left a place, or a group of people and wondered if you really mattered?  I have, a lot lately it seems.  Sometimes I find myself in the midst of people that only wish I was a different person.  That only want me around when it is convenient for them, or when they feel in a certain mood.  I don't like doing life half-heartedly.  I don't like it at all, and I refuse to, actually.  So, there comes a time when you have to examine if you are on the right path.  You have to look at your happiness, at your role, and the people that surround you and ask yourself if you are living the life that you are supposed to?

There's not always going to be a clear answer.  Sometimes it is foggy, and tough to see the mountain that is just over the next hill.  But it is there.  The mountain is there, the mountain that you must climb to get to the top, majestic, beautiful view that is waiting.  The view that will allow you to understand the journey, all the sweat and tears.  All the heartache and pain.  The view that will allow you to see the very breath of God.

Sometimes it isn't even about the people, sometimes it is about your view of the people.  Or your view of what you think you know of the people.  We all play a different role in life, among friends.  We all play a different role everywhere we go.  We try our best to be authentic, we try our very best to be the best version of ourselves, but we don't always win.  We don't always understand.  But we always know when it is time to move.... We always know....

Moving on isn't a bad thing.  In fact I think sometimes we stay too long because we hate to risk.  We are afraid of letting God be in control of the future.  We like our lives just the way they are safe, and sheltered.  Afraid of the pain and unkind things that are out there.  We get scared because moving on requires a loss of the things we have known.  It requires faith that things are going to work out better than they have been, and it requires healing.  Healing from pain, healing from brokenness, and healing from growth.  Sometimes I think we would rather stay bruised and battered, than heal.  Healing means that we admit the pain, and let it go.  Isn't it sometimes hard to let pain go?  As humans don't we like to wallow?  I know I do.  Sometimes I get so stuck wallowing that I forget in order to heal those bruises I have stop wallowing, and move forward.   

I also think that sometimes I convince myself that I can't move on.  I convince myself that I just have to keep pushing through, allowing others to break me, to put me down, to see me in the worst possible light.  Is that what life is about?  I don't really think so.  I don't think we are called to live life in one place forever.  Maybe some people are, maybe there are those that are supposed to settle down, build a life, and never leave that life.  I don't think I got those genes.  Instead I think that I have been given the gift of travel, and unique community.  A gift that is unique to my life, and allows me the desire to move on.  The desire to take what I have learned both good and bad, and walk in it.  Lead with it, let it move me to compassion.  Let it break my heart for those that claim to believe one way, but don't choose to walk in it.  A gift that lets me see people as people, not terrorists, unwanted aliens, or crime-focused thugs.  That is my gift, that is why I choose to process to move on. 

I have so much to give, and I am not going to allow anyone to take that from me.  I am not going to allow the bad to outweigh the good, or make myself feel unworthy of love.  I refuse to just be another teacher, friend, daughter.  I choose to change the world.  I choose to use my gifts.  I choose to live as a daughter of a King.  I choose to love without borders.  I choose to move on, and give all that I have to be the best that I can.  That's my goal, and that is my reason behind moving....