Wednesday, October 18, 2017

40 before 40 update.....

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

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

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

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

#4  Go Skydiving 

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

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

#7  See a show on Broadway

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

#9  Hike some of the PCT

#10  Get in the best shape of my life

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

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

#13  Visit Napa Valley

#14  Go on a cruise

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

#16  Go geocaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#24  Get a hair cut at a fancy salon

#25  Cook/Bake all my gma's recipes

#26  See a show at The Fox

#27  Read the Bible Cover to Cover each year

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

#29  Run the Bolder Boulder

#30  Watch every film on AFI top 100

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

#32  Complete a 1/2 marathon

#33  Write a short story

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

#35  Pray everyday  (More work needed with this)

#36  Donate 2% of income each year to charity

#37  Try yoga

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

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

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sometimes the fight is hard...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Aloneness, concerts, and shootings...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How did I turn out this way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

He is >

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Being on My Own Isn't My Greatest Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

When we say love...

It seems to me that a lot of emotions are because of expectations that I have for other people that they don't meet.  Is it possible that my expectations continue to be unrealistic, or is it just possible that I haven't yet met people that care to meet the expectations?  Maybe it is a little bit of both.  I definitely feel like I go in and out of moments of feeling like I belong to one group or another.  My life is a tapestry that weaves in and out of people like wind passing through an orchard.  Sometimes people leave marks that hurt me.  Most of the time they leave marks that heal me, that fill in the broken places and help me find my way again.

What does love really mean though?  Does it mean allowing people to bring you down, or does it mean that you sometimes have to be okay letting go?  Does it mean that sometimes the most loving thing to do is walk away and say good-bye.

Walking away is so hard.  It isn't in my blood, it isn't a part of who I am, or want to be.  The older I get (I know how that sounds), the more I understand that there are just some people that can't be in your life.  For whatever reason they don't value me as a person, or I am not in their radar right now.  Maybe my life is too much for them, or they think I am too needy.  For whatever reason they have chosen to make our lives cease to cross, or only cross in very shallow, artificial ways.

That's not what love is about.  Love isn't making time for someone when it is convenient.  Love is sacrifice, and time for just that person.  Love is making sure that those around you feel your love no matter what.  That you don't just replace someone in your life with someone else because they are easier, or because they allow you to just be the worst version of yourself.  Love is crossing oceans, listening to hear not argue, and understanding that there are going to be quiet growth moments.  Love is communicating, and not always giving the harsh answer.  Love is loyalty, and celebration. Love is never forgetting to apologize.  Love is humble.  Love adores.

Maybe my expectations of love are unrealistic.  I don't really think they are.  I also don't think that there is anything wrong with a broken friendship.  For in the broken pieces I feel like I am able to see and touch Jesus even more.  In the brokenness I am able to grasp that no one has it altogether.  A harsh word here, a stab in the back there.  Each moment allows me to understand the grace that I have been given.  The grace that I have been given allows me to give it to those that have bruised me.  It also allows me the strength to let them leave.  For holding on would be worse for both of us, than just letting go.

I hold on to grace, I breathe deeply, and I let the wind move through the orchard, weaving a beautiful tapestry in my memories, and emotions.  I am not the worst person in the world, and I don't have to let that tapestry be filled with dark places of doubt and insecurity.  For there are more colors waiting to be woven through.  Colors that want to fill my life, to be a part of my everyday, and to build me up.

I'm thankful for the wounds, because they just make the colors that much more bright!  Thankful for my colorful tapestry that finds beauty in the ebbs and flows of life.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

36.....on my way to 40

I never in a billion years would have thought that 36 would come so quickly.  It seems like just the other day I was celebrating my 29th birthday in Thailand, expecting some great things to come into my path in the next year.  Here I am still awaiting some of those, while other dreams have been fulfilled.  To say this last year has been difficult would be an understatement.  It has brought me to new places that I never thought I would even have to touch.  It has taught me who I am and who I want to be.  It has also taught me how much I am willing to give up of myself for someone else.

As a Christian I sometimes walk a fine line between what I believe to be the right thing, and what I actually want to do.  Standing up for myself has always been hard for me.  I am strong, but I also absolutely hate other people to be upset with me, or to think for even a second that I have hurt someone's feelings.

A year ago something happened that changed that in me a little bit.  Actually it changed that in me a lot.  I kind of stopped caring.  I stopped caring about hurting others, and I started looking at what was right for me.  It wasn't meant to be in a selfish way, but looking back now I kind of think that is what it turned into.  I put my own feelings first just about every single time, because I was afraid of being destroyed again.

I let this thing that had happened take over me.  I let it consume me, and I let it change me.  I allowed someone else's words to become my truth, and my value.  I allowed one circumstance to allow me to give up on who  I knew myself to be.  It almost destroyed me.  It almost made me crawl into a shell and never come out again.

I wish I could say that I ran to Jesus during that time.  I wish I could say that my faith grew so strong.  But it didn't.  Instead I hid within myself.  I became the person that second guessed every single friendship I had, thinking that none of them were real, and that I was surrounded by people that were only waiting to stab me in the back.  It is literally the worst kind of feeling to have someone that you have known for 20 years tell you everything that they have always found wrong about you, and basically what a horrible person you are.  And then feel like everyone you meet is going to do the exact same thing.

So, here I sit a year later.  I just spent a night making crafts, drinking fun drinks, and sharing laughter.  It wasn't one of those crazy nights.  It was just nice.  It was nice to know that people were there for me because they wanted to be there.  It was nice to spend time with people that were ready to make sure that I felt valued and loved.  Did my heart hurt for those that weren't there that I wish would have been, of course it did, but you know what?  I am going to stop wishing this person or that person would allow me into their life.  I can no longer put my worth in the value of others.

It is a process, one in which I will continue to grow in for the rest of my life.  But it is such an amazing process.  I don't spend my life wishing ill of others.  I will never be the person that wants others to fail, or the minute a person steps out of the room I am saying everything I can against them.  I don't play games, and I don't compare myself to what others think or do.  But I love hard, and I let words change me.  I will continue to do those things because that is who I am.

I love deep and hard, once you are my friend... it is usually for life, unless you push me away.  I don't put up a fight if you push me away, because I am a worthy friend.  I may not be the prettiest friend you have, or the skinniest, the funniest, or the most athletic.  But I guarantee you I will always be there to pick you up whenever you need it.  I guarantee you I will always drop what I am doing if you have a family emergency and need someone to be by your side.  I will be the first to take off work if you need someone to hold your hand because of a death in the family.  I will laugh with you, and make the most of the time we get to spend together, on those days when the sun is shining bright.

So, for this next year, I continue to learn how to love well. I continue to learn how to be the person I was before I got broken.  I continue to let people leave that want to, but hold on tight to those that want to stay.  I continue to be who I feel called to be, and I make it my goal to spend a little more time reading and praying than I did last year.

I am so thankful for the gift of time and friendship.  So thankful that there is always going to be growth.  Mostly I am thankful that I get an abundance of grace and mercy on a daily basis.

Here's to 36... may it be the year that I develop more love for those in and out of my life.


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.