Apr 24, 2015


Hello, little blog project that I neglect over and over and over again. Some days I wish I was the sort of person who could just write to write but at last, I just am not. And if I'm being completely honest- life has been CRAZY recently, in the best way possible!

I'm officially working TWO full time jobs. Yes, two. That's 16 hours of work in a day. Which actually sounds a lot less crazy then it feels sometimes. One of my jobs is an overnight shift so I tend to run on very little sleep during the week and catch up in massive doses on the weekend. I expected it to be hard but if I'm being completely honest, I wasn't expecting the havoc it would wreak on my emotions and ability to connect with the world around me. There are moments where I've literally been too tired to respond to the people around me- and often just find myself sitting and listening. I've always been a terrible listener, truly, so it's probably good that I'm getting in the extra practice. There are also times where I just don't have the energy to hide what I'm feeling- be it elation, annoyance, or sleep deprivation. On the other hand, I've learned to love 3 AM heated debates about relationships and the different ways peoples express their emotions and vulnerability (and kittens in microwaves, but whatever- that may be another blog post for another day!).

Ironically, I feel like I've been living the vulnerability debate recently.Vulnerability to me, is one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. I've often likened it to allowing someone to rub hand sanitizer on a million little paper cuts you thought had heeled but hadn't, much to your dismay.  It's such a weird game to step into a situation and be like "This is it, this is me. Some people don't like it. Some people can't handle it. I can't change it. I'm broken and insecure and awkward- but I hope you'll accept me as I am".  It's scarier yet to allow someone to have any affect over my emotions, especially because I've worked so hard to learn to be happy on my own. I'd be completely lying if I said I didn't struggle with the vulnerability thing on at least a weekly basis.

On the other side of that debate though, is this- I firmly believe that if you aren't living a life that forces you to be vulnerable, you aren't truly living. Think about it! Anything you are truly passionate about is terrifying in the sense that you could lose it at any second (now I know that sounds highly negative here but bare with me)- there are no guarantees in life. So, in order to avoid that vulnerable feeling that comes with the idea of suddenly not having the things/people/experiences I care most about- the only real option is to cut off my emotions. I could work a lack luster job that I don't enjoy just because it pays my bills and can easily be replaced with another lack luster job if I needed to,  I could (okay, fine, I have) date people I knew I couldn't really connect to because it beat being alone and didn't make me fearful of what I was risking. I could avoid real personal connections, stop telling people how I feel about them, and just go on with my safe mediocre life.I could live a life that was unadventurous and mundane.

At the end of the day, I can honestly say that terrifies me more than anything else.

 I don't want any life that I'm not living wholeheartedly. I don't want to surround myself with people who I don't truly need in my life. I don't want to stop having things that I'd be afraid to lose. I want to feel everything there is to feel and experience everything there is to experience and a large part of that is pushing past fear and self doubt and making myself be vulnerable. There is far more to gain than anything I could lose. I know this choice isn't for everyone but I choose to feel completely and not numb myself to the experiences I crave to have just because they are scary, potentially painful, or overwhelming. Do I always handle things gracefully? Nope. Do I freak out from time to time? You betcha. Would I have it any other way? Not even for a second.

This is my life and I'm doing everything I can to truly live it.

Jan 4, 2015

Beautiful Lessons I Learned in (Occasionally) Ugly Ways (Reflecting on 2014)

While I don't usually go all out on the New Years celebrations, I have always been particularly fond of this time of year. It's the perfect time of year to reflect on the past while looking forward to the future simultaneously. It's the season for asking yourself "what did I learn?", "how far have I come?", "where do I want to be this time next year-- or this time 5 years from now?" To be honest, I feel like this might be the first year where I sat down and asked myself those questions and didn't worry about answering in a way I felt like I was supposed to- instead just worrying simply about me, what I really want, and who I really want to grow to be.

I think it's safe to say that 2014 started as a bit of a shit storm (pardon my French). In fact, if I had to give it a theme song, I'd pick Wrecking Ball because, you know, it "came in like a wrecking balllll..." (ps, if you didn't sing that in your mind then we probably shouldn't be friends)

This time last year, I had given my notice to leave my entry level job that I loved to take on the wonderful world of Property Management. To be honest, I fully expected it to be easy. I'd been working around leasing for years. I'd stepped up to take on extra responsibilities, I really thought I'd transition so smoothly I'd hardly notice the charge (but I'd definitely notice the extra cash in my pocket!). 

Funny how life never just goes the way you expect, right? I ended up going from a well established company to a starter company boasting knowledge and experience that it simply didn't have. I went from a community of amazing residents, a certain clientele level that allowed me to be polite and comfortable to a community that had not been managed, and a completely different clientele. I've been reading Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and she says great people do things before they are ready- and looking back I can clearly see, I wasn't ready. I don't like to use circumstances as an excuse but I clearly didn't have the skill set for that particular community straight out the gate professionally. I'm not a quitter though, I stuck it out for most of the year (side note: one thing 2014 taught me- you don't have to hold on to situations or circumstances that just aren't working for you. There is no shame in saying you don't want to be a part of something if it doesn't make you happy). 

I learned a lot through my experience professionally this year and it forced me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I realized the importance of working for a company who sees you as a person vs a company that sees you as a number, just a cog in the machine. I learned that I'm much tougher and more resilient than I had ever given myself credit for. I came to terms with the the fact that all the money in the world can't make me happy if I don't like myself or the decisions I have to enforce professionally. I certainly spent a great deal of the year feeling like I had sold my soul to the devil. There's a professional stereotype of property managers and landlords- cranky, bitter, dishonest- and I found that the rules I had to enforce, the constant need to be play "bad cop"- it started to cost me a lot of who I was, even outside of work. I was reminded of what I've known but had lost sight of- you catch more flies with honey. 

During this time, I also went through the situation I last blogged about (you can read that here.) and while I hate to admit it, that was a test for me as well. I'm not a trusting person. I don't open up to people easily. It's easy to play blame games and tell yourself you deserve better but I don't think you grow from that. Sometimes I think you need clear, unfiltered, occasionally painful honesty when you look at a situation and so I think it's important to admit that while our relationship was great 95% of the time, there was that 5% of the time where it just wasn't. I am not a fan of confrontation. When pushed to the brim, I tend to explode like a bomb because not only am I frustrated with the situation but I get frustrated with the fact that I am getting frustrated, embarrassed by my own emotions. I know, how crazy is that? Plus, it's a strange thing to love someone, it makes you weirdly vulnerable and exposed. There's something about being in a relationship that shines a light on all your flaws, both in your eyes and in theirs. It's a very uncomfortable thing to let someone see your flaws and I've never been great at accepting that. I can remember a night where he came home and I had packed my bags, swearing I couldn't handle it anymore and was moving home. I didn't move obviously, but looking back- I can realize that even though I had fully envisioned a life with this person, as much as I wanted that, I wasn't ready and he had no reason to commit to someone who couldn't commit to sticking it out through the bad times. 

From there, both personally and professionally, 2014 became a year of learning, realizing, doubting, surprises, and growing. It was nothing but a whirlwind, in the greatest way possible. 

It was a year of making new friends and rekindling old friendships. 

It was also a year where I learned to be unapologetic about a lot of things- don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things that you should apologize for. For instance- bumping into someone in Walmart, spilling milk, hurting someones feelings when they did nothing to deserve it- that sort of thing. But 2014 taught me that there are just as many (if not more) things you should NOT be apologetic for. For instance, you should not apologize for:
1. Cutting people out of your life who bring nothing positive to the table. It sounds terrible, I know. But if you have to doubt whether you can trust close friends, then you probably can't. If you are being told over and over and over again that someone is doing something bad, that they are not who they pretend to be- there is unfortunately a good chance they aren't. I don't mean for you to listen to rumors, but I do mean listen to your gut. Sometimes you have to evaluate your friendships and take a deep look. Ask yourself if the relationship brings you more joy or pain. If the answer isn't joy, you don't need it. Don't make a big, hateful scene about it- but it is perfectly okay to cut ties and move on. Surround yourself with beautiful things, beautiful people, beautiful friendships. The world is what you make it, it's the perspective, the company, the life that you choose. What was that saying? Show me your friends and I'll show you your future? 
2. Being a REAL person with REAL interest and REAL feelings. This is going to sound cocky and I fully apologize in advance for that- but I think sometimes people meet me and they see a cute face and they see that I put forth the effort to be kind and they think that's all I am. A smiling, adorable trophy to wear on their arm. And then they slowly start to see things about me, quirks, interests- the things that I love about myself, the things that I think give me depth- and they are almost disappointed. They start to realize weird things like the fact that I talk for my dog (sometimes with a French accent, he's a very sophisticated pooch) or that I love rock music and seedy pubs, that I would rather watch a scary movie than a chick flick almost any day of the year, that I sing CONSTANTLY- and it's like something about that turns them off. And that's completely normal. I will be the first person to tell you, I'm not everyones cup of tea. But up until recently, I've always felt like I needed to apologize for that. I don't. It's perfectly okay to not be what someone is looking for, it's completely brilliant in fact. I am who I am, and everyone else should be exactly who they are. We should relish the differences, embrace the quirkiness, and if someone's quirks aren't we are looking for (or if our quirks aren't what they are looking for)- that's perfectly fine. We can accept that and walk our own separate ways. There are no right and wrongs on these things. No need to apologize. Being a different type of person than what someone is looking for is perfectly okay because not everyone is looking for the same things. 
3. Not Being Perfect or Trying Something And Not Succeeding. I feel like I say this in every blog post I write so why should this one be any different- I AM NOT PERFECT! But boy oh boy, do I wish I was some days! If you only knew how many times I felt like I needed to apologize for taking on tasks that I wasn't ready for, or for giving something all my effort and not succeeding (or deciding to walk away) or for not living up to someone else's standards- you'd be shocked. Heck! I'm shocked! But there is nothing shameful in failure. In fact, the moments in life where I really just fell flat on my face (metaphorically and literally) are the moments where I've learned the most. We all fail. We all do! When we try to pretend that we are perfect people who are perfectly successful and live perfect lives we do everyone around us a huge disservice. Don't be that person who sets a standard that can't be obtained. Be real, be honest. LIFE IS MESSY. Sometimes you go after guys who have no interest in you, sometimes you hold on to the past too long, sometimes you take on a job that you aren't equipped to handle, sometimes you trust the wrong people, sometimes you embarrass yourself (for me it's daily- the struggle is real!). That is what makes life so amazing! That's where the adventure lies, you guys- the weird twists in the road! I've never hit a moment where I thought I'd hit rock bottom that wasn't shortly followed by a moment of pure brilliance where I realized how much better life was after going through whatever it was I went through. Make up your mind to see your failures that way but never apologize for them. Gorgeous things can come from ugly circumstances. 

2014 was a great year, it evolved into so many different adventures and it reminded me that I am resilient, that I'm tough, that life (more than anything is) is insanely beautiful. Great things come from weird circumstances, you figure out what you want by crossing the things you don't want off your list and sometimes that comes by experiences. It reinforced my faith, it reminded me that I am capable of leaping blindly off the edge and landing on my feet. 

I ended 2014 in an amazing place, with a job I love, having evolved professionally into someone I can finally be proud of. Personally, I realized that I hold myself to the standards of others and I've been working to figure out the things I want for me, outside of what I feel like I'm supposed to have. I'm 25 years old- this is the year I told myself I'd have my life together- I imagined I'd be married by now, I'd be considering kids...  And here I am, writing this with a sweet puppy curled up next to me- the closest thing to a kid I've got. No ring on my finger, nothing of the sort in the foreseeable future- and it's the most beautiful feeling in the world, sitting here just looking ahead and thinking of all the things 2015 could hold, all the adventures I still want to have, all the personal growth I still hope to experience, all the opportunities I have to write a future that's entirely my own design, and realizing that I'm perfectly happy where I am in this moment. I'm trusting that regardless what happens in 2015, regardless of the potholes or the hills I hit along the way, 2015 will be a beautiful year full of beautiful stories that I already know I'll be dying to share with you all. The possibilities are truly limitless. 

It's an entirely new year, full of new adventures and new opportunities. 
And this year, I make my own rules. 

A great almost-end to 2014, yet another themed Christmas with the fam-bam. 

Oct 21, 2014

Navigating The Titanic

Forenote: I have sat down to write this blog so many times over the last year. And in the past few months, I've wanted to write it even more. But lately I feel like I'm having this same conversation so many times with so many different people- and that typically is a sign that I need to write it, whether it be because maybe someone, somewhere needs to hear it or I need to get it off my chest, I will never know. Honestly, I hope it's an even mix. But what I'd like you to know is this- I don't write these posts to force my opinions on people or for attention/sympathy- I just write them because for me there is a certain peace in "glass house living", and a certain beauty in being able to write out my most vulnerable moments in an attempt that maybe even just one person will relate to it. And that being said... here it goes. Judge away if you must-

Navigating The Titanic

I have lived a "fairy tale" romance.

Once upon a time (lol!), we met in a bar (be it a very, very classy one). I was out with the girls- he was a waiter at the restaurant above the bar we were at. He came down to say hey to a friend he knew from college, and despite the table being filled with lovely ladies, he walked right up, smiled and made eye contact with each of us. He had this natural confidence about him that gravitated me towards him. He never seemed nervous, never seemed uncomfortable, surrounded by all of us- he was right at home there at our table, telling us about his band and his hobbies. Even though he was a self-proclaimed "nerd" and a drummer, he was smart, poised, and appeared to have his life together. I could hear my mind going through my mental list of wants- "check, check, and check!" We convinced him to go to out with us for a bit and when he left for band practice we exchanged numbers.

While the physical attraction brought us together, we both accepted it wouldn't keep us together seriously. I've heard 2 real schools of thoughts on people finding love- some meet the person they end up with and it's instant, effortless and they see eye to eye on everything- but some people (and I'm going to say most of the people I know, honestly) fall in love in slower ways as their relationships take more time and effort to build upon. Ours was definitely the second type.

We were complete opposites in most ways. He was brilliant and studious, I am still overly emotional and occasionally reckless. He was poised, liked to drink things like "fine" Scotch, and could tell you more details about the taste of wine then you would ever want to know. I personally am more of a fruity drink or beer type girl, don't have a poised bone in my entire body as I'm constantly just a giant ball of awkwardness, and spend a great deal of time with my metaphorical foot in my mouth. I was more patient with people, he wasn't good at reading people's emotions or social cues. He was great at talking, I was better at listening. He was cranky, I was upbeat.

At first, it created a rift- and over time it gave us balance.

What we did have in common in the beginning was that we liked to have fun and we both started out with a fierce determination to figure it out. Honestly, I still have no clue what inspired that in us other than that initial attraction, but somehow we both set out to find a way to make it work. We did the best we could in a weird situation- he was living in Springfield, I was still back home in Lebanon. It meant a lot of weekends on the road- I'd head over to Springfield first thing on Saturday morning or he'd head to Lebanon when he got off work (usually after midnight). And a lot of time that meant he'd get to my house and walk in to find me passed out on the couch, defeated by exhaustion before he ever even got there (usually with a Hallmark channel Christmas movie still playing on the tv despite the time of year- something I received endless taunting about). But we understood that even the smallest bit of time together was precious and vital for making our vision into a reality- so we'd use every bit of daylight on Sunday or we'd call each other out of the blue during the week (even though we both HATED talking on the phone) and eventually we built exactly the relationship I'd always wanted-

We became best friends. We fought from time to time, as all couples do (and, okay, fine- sometimes it was over stupid stuff like who got to sing "LIKE YOUR UNDER SEDAAATIIONNNNN!" when rocking out to Time Warp in the car) but we put in a lot of effort just to let the other person know we cared- he showed up outside of my house (an hour away from his) one night with no notice whatsoever, he brought me roses, and sat through more than his fair share of musicals- I learned to play Magic The Gathering, bought him hilarious gifts that only he could appreciate, spent 2-3 hours in a shoe store any time he needed new shoes, and tried to give him space and hang out quietly when he needed to do homework during our times together. Over time we became each others biggest fan- I tried to be an active supporter of his education/ career pursuits; on multiple occasions he'd tell me about how he had read the funniest thing that day just to realize mid story that it was something I WROTE.

And eventually, we decided to take the plunge and move in together. Just from past experience, I had sworn that I wouldn't move in with a guy until we were sure we were headed for marriage. We obviously weren't engaged but we had every intention of taking that path. We found our apartment together, bought furniture together, and created a comfy little life of our own. If you had told me at that point that it wouldn't have worked out, I probably would have laughed in your face. We had talked about it so many times, we had our relationship figured out to a science finally- we had learned about each other to the point where we knew each other inside and out. I could accurately predict his actions about 90% of the time (which also meant no one ever wanted to play us in any kind of charades- what is up with that?!)

Here's the thing about fairy tales- the books never go past the "happily ever after" part. The characters fight to figure out their relationship, and then just get together and the rest is assumedly history. I've decided that we put our own spin on "happily ever after", that because it's implied we assume they live perfect lives and perfect relationships after the story ends. But as I've got older and I've realized "happily ever after" is more of a state of mind then a life path. "Happily ever after" just means you make up your mind to figure it out, come what may- you choose to find joy in your life, your struggles, and your victories.

It's a terrible thing to trust someone and have your trust betrayed, to wake up for work and find your house empty.  And when I got the call at 2:30 that next afternoon, hearing the details of where he had spent his night-  I knew in my heart that, for me, the trust and relationship we worked so hard to build was so quickly broke beyond any hope of repair. Overnight I was forced to rethink my plan for the future, scramble to plan to pay more bills (we had split rent, furniture, groceries, etc.), and deal with the emotional toll of it all.

I'm going to be honest with you, I'm not good at communicating my feelings- regardless how hard I try and I am a strong believer in "fake it until you make it" where happiness is concerned. Life is hard sometimes- but you force a smile, you shake it off, you get up every morning- and before you know it just that simple act of putting one foot in front of the other leads you right into the next big, beautiful adventure. I kept a lot of my struggle with this private- telling really just one or two people the full story and immediately making sure I followed it with "eh, it wouldn't have worked out anyways. It's all for the best". Because in a lot of ways, I felt stupid. Stupid that I had trusted this person, stupid that I still felt heartache for what we lost despite my anger, and stupid that I hadn't seen some sign, somewhere.  I struggled with this for a really, really long time- until I choked it down enough to numb it and let it lie dormant inside me- not aware of the pull it was having on my decisions and the way I was living my life.

But here's why I tell you this-

A few months ago, I struggled with this feeling of stupidity and distrust in a massive way (much to my surprise- I had numbed it so well I had thought it had completely gone away!) I stood on the ledge of trying to go forward and trust someone new or back off the cliff and go the safe route out. And every time I'd try to jump, my feet would stop and I'd stand there frozen mid pounce- balanced on my tip toes. Luckily, I have a fierce determination and belief that you have to do the things that scare you- because most of the time that's where the best adventures and life rewards come from.

Since I'm better at writing my most vulnerable thoughts instead of speaking them, only a small handful of people really knew my thought process during this but I'm sure they will all agree that I made up my mind on how to proceed just to immediately change my decision so many times that I probably gave them all mental whiplash. Id decide to go for it, just to shy away, then make up my mind again-

And then I realized this:

There is NO SHAME in this story. There is no shame in my past, just as I've tried to never let there be before. There is beauty in being able to trust someone. There is grace in being able to focus on the great qualities in the people that surround you. There is courage in taking that dive. And if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. Even when it ends in the worst of worst ways, the shame is not yours (or in this case- mine). And what a shame it would have been to have missed out on all of those good memories, to never have learned to open myself up to another person, and to never have known all that happiness. Despite everything, I am not looking back on that time with any regrets. The great moments and memories, the things I learned about myself from going through that, are a vital part of the person I am today. And above all else? I learned that I am stronger than I look. Was it tough? Yes. Oh, gosh, yes. It was tough, terrifying, painful, and completely disappointing- but I'm still standing here, I'm still surrounded with people who love me, I'm still blessed in a hundred ways, and it made way for newer experiences, newer lessons, a different kind of happiness.

It wasn't an easy journey by any means. I can't map it out for anyone or give instructions. I can just remind you that life goes on and holding on to pain, resentment, doubt- it's all poisonous. It takes strength and courage, yes, but find a way to move past your demons. Because the biggest thrill is taking the dive off the edge, hurling into the "water" below, with no idea where you will end up, but finally being aware enough of your own strength to know that it doesn't matter what lies in front of you- you will figure it out.

Aug 10, 2014

Highway Reflections: A "Friendly" Reminder

I swear I do more thinking during a one hour drive than I would do all week.

There's something about the right playlist and the highway set out before you that makes you ponder the most abstract life concepts. Today's concept- love.

I've been praying a lot about love over the past several months. Does that make me sound desperate? Eh, oh well. It's true (the prayer statement, not the desperate part) and I never promised anything from this blog of mine besides honesty. It's not so much a desperation as a refusal to settle.

You see, I know that God loves me. I understand that He is timeless and has seen billions of people come and go from this world but yet- he knows us all so intimately that he knows the exact number of hairs on our head. He accepts me when I have no makeup on, when my nose is sniffley (can I please just be able to breath again, though?!), when I'm cranky, and when I'm broken.

And I think my worldly partner should be an earthly representation of that same love. Not to say they should be perfect- no one is. But they should be accepting and realistic about who I am and vice versa.

I'll admit it. There are times when my life is just not glamorous at all. I can be weird, hyper, moody, reserved, not as confident as I could be- I know these things. And I could go into a relationship pretending to be something I'm not- trying to be more outgoing, more flirty, more normal- but that would set a pace I can't keep. At the end of the day, I am me. I will never be anyone else.

Anyways, so I've prayed about this for a while and it seems like nothing happens. I've prayed over and over for a worldly partner to be an earthly reminder of God's acceptance and grace- and I started to doubt whether that even could - whether someone could accept the ugly parts about me, or stick with me through a hard time, or handle me when I needed to break.

On the drive home today, it hit me that I'm not getting that answer because I've had it all along. Just maybe not in the romantic sense. But I have family & friends who listen to me gripe when I've had a bad day, who have never been anything less than loyal, who have seen me with vomit in my hair or snot dripping from my nose (or spilling soda on myself like I just did- great!)- and who love me every second of every day without fail. And if they can do that, then whose to say that romantically the same thing can't happen? Somehow, someday, someway.


Jul 9, 2014

"Do you trust me?"

My spot at the park last night. You can't see the bugs eating me but oh, they are there!

I'll be honest with you. I'm not perfect (for the 5 millionth time!!! How many times do I say that?!!) but I don't have a lot of bad days. Now, don't get me wrong- things constantly happen that may be less than enjoyable and I have moments every day where I may not be as patient, loving, or light hearted as I perhaps should be- but every new moment brings new opportunities to start over again and I've worked hard to train my mind to see each new moment as such. So typically I have bad moments, but not bad days. It's very rare for me to have a bad day that I just can't shake.

That being said- yesterday was a bad day.

It sounds really silly to even write about but basically the jist of it was that the company I work for is in the middle of a big merger with a larger company from out of state. It's been a stressful situation but yesterday took a bit of a less than desired turn as I found out that I was being demoted. Not a huge change, my pay will be exactly the same, my responsibilities will be exactly the same but my title will suddenly have an extra word in front of it that just doesn't sit well with my prideful self- "assistant".

I am going to be really real here (as I try to be typically) and let you know up front- I am one stubborn, prideful person. In fact if there were 3 things I think I struggle with on a daily basis it would be listed in this order:
1. Humbling myself and seeing past my own desires/point of view
2. Being patient (I am very much an instant gratification sort of girl)
3. Letting go of control of any situation (can we say "control freak?")

So yesterday, I struggled with all of these things. Honestly, I work really hard. I give my job 100% and sometimes even more. Not to brag but I consider myself to be pretty good at what I do- since being at the community I work in now I've raised rents (good on a business side), increased occupancy, and done all of it without all the major renovations that have been promised and are much needed. So to work so hard, appear to be succeeding, and to be moving backwards seems fully frustrating. Plus, I have to swallow that nasty taste in my mouth of now being an assistant manager verses just a manager and though the change is small, it just wasn't sitting right on my heart. Honestly, I found it embarrassing. Like a big sign to wear around my neck that said "FAILED".

So I spent most of yesterday in a bad place mentally. Normally when this happens I find ways to remind myself of the beautiful things around me. I have a spot in particular that I love that is just off the hiking trail of one of the lesser known parks here in town. The people who frequent the park are mainly there to kayak or paddle board, so the trails stay very peaceful most of the time. Just off the trail there is a giant bluff that sticks out over the water. It's the perfect place to sit and think and talk to God and I find amazing amounts of peace there- typically. I guess yesterday decided it was just not having it because as soon as I got out my prayer journal this couple comes over and asks me to move so they can have the bluff. Purely by the grace of God I somehow swallowed my aggravation enough to say sure and climb back down the trail. I wasn't ready to leave however so I sat right by the water for a solid two hours during which I was attacked by mosquitos and a very angry fly--- obviously I wasn't getting the same zen in that spot as my tried and true comfort zone would have allowed. And I was grappling with the question of "what next? where do I go from here?" and not getting very far with the answer.

Now, when my tried and true methods of praying and surrounding myself with the beauty God created aren't helping to change my perspective (and honestly, they work 99.99% of the time- when I'm not being attacked by killer insects) there is another small trick that's more of a cheat that I fall back on- DISTRACTION! So I came home, curled up with my puppy, and tucked in for that episode of Bachelorette that was on my TiVo. I haven't been super in love with Andi's season. Don't hate! But I have been a little head over heels for Marcus. Oh, Marcus. I spend every rose ceremony going "please don't send home Marcus. Don't send home Marcus!" Well, because it was just that kind of day, wouldn't you know (SPOILER ALERT) that Marcus went home in the episode I watched last night! Which okay honestly isn't something that would just wreck my mood but it definitely left me with a few thoughts a long the line of "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD TODAY!?" (Side note: I have a problem about the Bachelor/Bachelorette. I cannot get enough. Am I alone in this?!)

Anyways- so yesterday I prayed a lot for peace. I prayed a lot for clarity in my work situation and to humble myself enough to not stand in the way of whatever God's purpose is for my life. I was still worrying and stressing about it today though. I just had the hardest time shaking that case of the "what if's?" You know, I recently have felt very strongly that God was putting it on my heart to do something HUGE that involved needing to get my finances in order and now this was happening- what if, what if, what if...

And I sat in prayer meeting today and as I was listening to Pastor John explain fasting (which has nothing to do with this bee-tee-dubs) you know what came to my mind? I had this thought of God asking me-

"Destiny, do you trust me?"

And my heart wanted so badly to say yes but my mind (which is typically the more brutally honest of the two) answered no. No. I was not trusting God in this situation. I was taking it all upon myself. Worrying about how I would be able to go forward in the purpose He had put on my heart, stressing about how I would be able to find the strength to humble myself to accept the position gracefully and not letting negative feelings cloud my performance and heart, trying to figure out on my own if it was the time to look elsewhere for new opportunities.

I recently read this book "Crazy in Love" by Francis Chan. If you want a book to change your heart for God and wake you up and set your heart on fire- this is it. In the book, one of my very favorite things he touches on is this-

"Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives. Stress says the things that we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, and our tight grip of control. Basically, these 2 behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because stuff in in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry & stress reek of arrogance"
Francis Chan, ladies & gents. Okay, now just go by the book because I promise you it's amazing. I'd lend you my copy but good luck following along with all my scribbles & high lighting.

Anyways, so I had this realization that I am not fully trusting God in this situation. I'm still holding onto the reigns of my life, still pushing and pulling it to be a certain way but the problem is- it is not MY life. It is Gods. His plan is His plan, it's already set into motion and he is working to guide my steps in the direction He chosen. And that realization was all it took to find total peace. Whether I stay or go- whether I figure out the purpose behind this- it doesn't matter. He has this in his hands and all he wants me to do is sit back and trust him, trust what he places on my heart, and have faith that he will guide my steps.

Now why am I telling you this? Because honestly, somedays when I'm sitting in the mega-church I attend (don't judge it because it's big- I swear those people are so busy doing different missions, etc. they cant possibly sleep), sipping my Starbucks, watching the pastor and his adorable wife (who are genuinely happy together and really amazing people- don't get me wrong) I get caught up in the idea that because I have God life is going to be easy.  He is going to give me everything I want in my human life. It's always going to be a comfortable life because he loves me. He shields me from things that hurt me because he loves me, right?

Well, yes to the love part. But no to the rest.

We all struggle. God will test us. His purposes don't guarantee (and it isn't probable that they'll even include) us being constantly comfortable. In fact, sometimes I think He likes to take us past our breaking point as humans to remind us that we are strengthened in him.  Honestly though, I can't pretend to know his motives because I am short sighted in comparison to He who can see eternity.

What I do know is this- I will end up where God wants me to be. Whether I stay where I am or go to another company, whether I end up rich poor, whether I am comfortable or uncomfortable, this one is God's. He's in control of the situation and whatever he chooses to do he is choosing to do for a bigger purpose- His purpose.

That's good enough for me.

"So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!" (Romans 8:12-14, MSG)
The view from my normal spot on the bluffs!! Aww, that's better!

May 14, 2014

Purpose and Plans

So, last week I thought I had finally figured out God's plan!

Betcha didn't know that I had that ability, did you? No? Yeah, it surprised me to! But you ever have those moments where for no real reason at all something just gets in your brain and it sticks- it eats at you, it consumes your thoughts until you think "GOSH DANGIT! THERE HAS TO BE A REASON FOR THIS?!" so you act on it? That's pretty much what happened to me. (And God, if you are reading this- we've got to work on our communication skills, man!)

I felt so pulled towards this idea that had been placed in my head. I prayed about it, thought on it, prayed on it again, asking the people closest to me for advice, and then (oh yeah!) prayed some more. The idea was still there. So, I took a step toward acting on it, and thing after thing lined up just perfectly so that I found myself thinking "YES! THIS IS IT! FINALLY! ALL THESE PRAYERS ARE BEING ANSWERED!"

And at first, it genuinely seemed that way! But you ever get in one of those situations where things are just going perfectly, exactly like that picture you've painted in your mind but then all of it sudden, one thing after another, everything somehow turns into the exact opposite of what you had envisioned? Story of my life! (You'd think I would just stop thinking I could understand how the Big Man works and yet- here we are!)

Lemme just tell you- it's a weird thing to see what you want to do and what you have to do and have them completely contradict each other. It's even weirder, perhaps, to encourage things to go the right way when you really just want to be selfish. Forget not being on the same page- I swear, some days it feels like MY plan for my life and GOD'S plan for my life aren't even in the same section of the library!

I'm going to be really real with you- I was completely disappointed and kind of frustrated at God. Like, honestly, at this point it just felt like he was taunting me. Like, hey let's take that life you want and let's get you so close you can taste it  and then let's just take it back. That's super fun right?

Except, honestly, my train of thought was completely wrong like usual. Do you know how many times I think about Gods plan for my life? Like 1000 times a day! Do you know how often I think about how God is using me to fulfill his plan in OTHER PEOPLE's LIFE? Not even daily. Heck, probably not even weekly.

What a terrible realization.

Listen, I'm not holy. I'm not above making mistakes, not above getting a little off course. I'm prone to overthinking and getting over excited and jumping the gun. I can be selfish and vain. God knows that. He gets that. He loves me in spite of all that.

I hope I'm not alone in this but sometimes I get caught up in the message that God loves ME, God has a plan for ME and I fail to even acknowledge that a huge, important part of that plan involves him working THROUGH ME to bring his glory to light in the lives of others. Sometimes that involves making choices that are the opposite of what I want. Sometimes it involves discomfort, inconvenience, or disappointment for me as a human but these things are all temporary. The grace of God is permanent. His love is permanent.  The plan is there still, it still exists- but having faith that he has something amazing in store is not the same as shopping in a catalog and picking out the parts of life I want. His "big picture"? It is so much bigger than me as an individual.

And that is a pretty beautiful thing.

Apr 21, 2014

Finding Christ In A Rodeo Clown

Okay, before we get started a few small points:
1.This is a religious post. If that bothers you, you will not offend me by not reading it. But if you do decide you want to continue, I just ask that you continue with an open mind and heart. I love and respect you even if we don't share the same beliefs.
2. Yeah, yeah, yeah- I said I was going to start posting again in November. And did that happen? Nope. So there will be no false promises about future posts in this post. If I decide I have something I want to write about, I will. If not, eh.
3. So many big changes have happened just since November to the point where I honestly don't even feel like that same person. Someday, maybe, I'll get to fill you all in. But in the mean time, just know things are great. My new job is great (surprise!), my family is great, my friends are great, and surprisingly my lack of love life is great!
4. In true Destiny fashion- please go ahead and just prepare yourself for a lot  (I mean A LOT) of awkward honesty and TMI and okay, fingers crossed, maybe a little awesomeness?

That Time God Tried To Show Me He Exists (and I just wasn't having it)
AKA: Finding Christ In A Rodeo Clown

It makes me so uncomfortable to say I've "found" religion or "found" Christ. I mean, I guess that's true in a sense but it makes me feel like I somehow lost religion at one point in time and that's not entirely right. I grew up going to church with my parents. I went to sunday school classes (in fact, I even started my own Sunday School class in a very embarrassing way, but that may be another story for another day).  In junior high and high school, I hung around with a group of kids that went to church every Wednesday and most Sundays and I'd go along for the ride. After I graduated high school, several of the friends I stayed closer to were Christian and we'd talk about it from time to time- why they believed, why I wasn't sure if I did.  I never really lost Christ, he was always there. I just was never very receptive of his message. 

Honestly though, I was never in church, etc. because I was looking for a relationship with Christ. In fact, I was completely closed off to the idea. Yeah, I could memorize the books of the bible and I knew all the big bible stories, but it didn't mean anything to me. It was the same way I felt in a history class- bored and unattached. I was always just going because my mom made me or my friends were into it. I was never going because I wanted change or enlightenment. 

Don't get me wrong, I would pray but I always felt like they weren't good enough. I wasn't (and honestly, at the time, didn't want to) playing by the Bible and the standards it set forth. (Just to be real, I'm still in no ways legalistic about the bible but I do see it as a very helpful guide to living for Christ). It's hard to just believe something you hear in a book, especially a book that's as hard to comprehend and decipher as the Bible. The jist of it, it seemed to me was that you pray- they get answered. You have this person that loves you, you play by his rules, he rewards you. You are never alone- only thing is, I'd pray and they wouldn't be answered. I didn't feel especially loved and I'd look around but I couldn't see Christ. My prayers must not have been good enough, right? 


Looking back, I can actually pinpoint moments where God was trying to show me that he exists. I didn't see them at the time and, I know, God won't just give you signs because you ask for them (Disclaimer- you cannot pray to God for proof he exists and be mad that you don't see that anything happens- the point is that you have to have faith!!) That being said, I do think he sends subtle signs like directional arrows towards the plan He has in store for you. These can be incredibly subtle or not at all what you had in mind. Have you ever heard someone say "God put it in my heart that...", yeah it's kind of like that! In my case though, possibly because God knows my heart a little too well sometimes, he knew I needed a big fat road sign that said "HEY, CRAZY! I'M REAL! I HEAR YOU!"

And here it is... the first sign I ever got that made me think okay maybe the Big Man is real...

 I had just turned 18 and had also just broken up with the cutest boy I will probably ever date (still smacking myself on the head for that one, another story for another day). Mainly we were too different but if I'm being honest, he was very Christian and I was very not. I was in that "fun" rebellious phase. He wanted a relationship, I wanted my "freedom". My mom loved him. Everyone thought he was handsome... and if I'm being honest in a lot ways I just felt like I didn't add up (okay, I'm coming out of the closet right now- I struggle with insecurity from time to time! What girl doesn't?) Yada yada yada... not the point.  

Anyways, I was going to a rodeo with my family. (It's Missouri! We do that sort of thing! Even in my skater/punk rock phase I still had a soft place in my heart for country boys!) Now, I don't know how many of you have been to a rodeo but before it starts, typically, there is a prayer. As I said, I was feeling especially insecure and thought I could use a pick me up and so I prayed the single most stupid prayer I have probably ever prayed and, while my head was bowed, I silently threw in a little prayer of my own that sounded something like "Dear God, please let some guy hit on me!" (I like to think I worded it better than that but I was 18 and yeah, probably not!)

Mind you, we were at a rodeo! There was no shortage of cute country boys! I felt like this was a nice simple request (disclaimer: praying isn't really about requesting. It's not McDonalds! You cant just put in your order and expect it turn out exactly how you imagined it. Chances are that is YOUR will, not God's.). 

Well, God wasn't having it that day. 

I don't know if he was just annoyed by my lousy prayer like "Girl! You haven't prayed to me in years and THIS is what you waste your first prayer on? No 'hey, hows it going?' Not even like- 'hey, let's end world hunger'? You want to get HIT ON?!" or maybe he just wanted to answer my prayer in the best way to open my eyes and make sure to bring glory to him (and not get me too distracted by country boys) because you know what happened?

In that entire room of cowboys, you know the ONE GUY that hit on me? 
The entire night!

The rodeo clown!

I kid you not. Not 2 minutes after that prayer, he made a joke and looked up- straight at me- and said "dang girl you are pretty! You! Right there!" Mortified, I turned and tried to make it look like it was the lady behind me. "You! In the blue hoodie!" Oh, yep, no that was me. Shoot. 

And it didn't stop there. He continued to publicly hit on me the entire night. I think he even started referring to me as his girlfriend.

.... And yes, there is a point to this story. Honestly, it would still be years after this story took place before I felt the tug to go to church, to pray about real problems, and to turn over my life to Christ. But this is the first moment where I remember allowing myself to think about Christ differently than I thought about Santa Claus. The first moment where I entertained the idea that he was listening to even my prayers. 

The moral of this story isn't that you should pray to get what you want. Nope. Exactly the opposite. What I'm trying to share here (in my own, off-beat, around the bush kind of way) is that your prayers- even the ones that are stupid or shallow- they are being heard. They are probably being answered too just sometimes in ways you can't see or can't recognize. My mom used to say "sometimes an unanswered prayer is a blessing in disguise". But it's not unanswered, it's just not always answered in the way that we would like. You may be praying for a relationship (yep, I do that) and it's not happening- and that's the answer. He knows your heart better than you do, better than your friends and your family, and He knows the heart that He designed to be the perfect match for yours. It's not that He isn't giving you that relationship- it's that he's waiting for the perfect timing to give you the relationship He designed for you. And maybe you  are praying for a specific person or a specific job and you don't get that specific job or person, but he is answering your prayers in ways that are bigger and better. You just have to stick it out and have faith. 

But here is lesson #2. Yes, maybe the story above was about a shallow prayer, but I honestly do believe he answered that prayer. Which just goes to show you that no prayer is too stupid or little to be prayed. Yes, pray about the big stuff- talk to God when you are questioning things, when you are stressed out, but also talk to him about the little day to day stuff too. He wants to be a part of your life. He wants to know the lame little stuff. He's willing and eager to listen, if you are willing and eager to share. 

Oh, annnnd while I was gone- this happened!