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When He Leads You to the Desert

The Ask…

About 2 years ago, things in my life seemed pretty stable — I had no idea that 6 months later, my whole world would be turned upside down. That God would very clearly ask me to leave all my comforts, all the known places and people, and head back to a place that held very few happy memories for me. 

It’s no secret if you’ve read some of my posts or had a conversation with me, that even though I was born and raised in Indiana, I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged here. It’s been more of a black sheep feeling whenever I’ve been in Indiana. The way I think, live my life, and the life paths I’ve taken don’t quite fit in with the viewpoints or life plans of most Hoosiers. Some of these have been my choice, others have been chosen for me. 

I’m a Christian, but tend to lean to the more progressive side. I’m most comfortable in a room full of diverse cultures. Instead of getting married and starting a family in my 20s, I lived in 4 different states and obtained 3 degrees while establishing and progressing my career. I’m 32 and have never owned a home, never been married, have no kids, and am obsessed with my dog.

Desert, When God calls

The place…

So when God made it clear He was calling me from Chicagoland, the place I had settled into as an adult — MY home and my comfort place. The place I didn’t feel like a black sheep. The place where it was ok I wasn’t married or didn’t have kids or didn’t own a home. The place where I felt I belonged. The place I had a church. The place I had a job with people who felt like family and the population I loved to work with. The place where it was normal to go grocery shopping and hear multiple different languages and I was constantly exposed to new cultures. He asked me to leave MY PLACE — and follow Him to the place He was asking. The place I never felt like I belonged. 

I wouldn’t say I went willingly, but I followed. I followed, because He asked and I trusted.

The Desert

When I got here I was full of hope. Full of ideas. Full of the thoughts and dreams that maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t feel the same as I did the first 22 years of my life.

Maybe, just maybe, I would find my place. 

A year and a half in, I haven’t found my place. I miss my friends. I miss my job and the family of co-workers (side note, I love my team, they truly are what keep me going in a high stress job). I miss hearing the different languages while shopping. I miss the people who loved me for me, not what I could give or do for them. I miss the church I was excited to go to. I miss the normal restaurants I would eat at.

I miss the feeling of home.

In the desert, God led me to a boy. And when we  met, we were both transitioning through a lot of change. The change looked different, but the heartache and processing were similar. The challenge to trust, despite the pain and quietness was familiar to both of us. 

I’m still here…

And a year and a half later, I’m still in the desert. Wandering, finding water wells just when I think I can’t go anymore. They come in all shapes and sizes and forms. Sometimes in the quiet whisper that reminds me God’s got this. Sometimes in the loud reminder of a song. Sometimes in the gentle nudge of the sunrise reminding me His mercies are new every morning. In the gentle cuddles of my sweet dog. In an encouraging text from a faithful friend.

And though I haven’t found the overflowing lake to fill up my dry reservoir, I’m trusting in the One who knows the way to that lake and will follow one step at a time.

Because when He asks I follow. And never, ever has He let me down before. It often takes time (ugh, time) to see what He is doing, but it always has been worth it. So I remind myself of His faithfulness in the past. In the aspects of not only my life, but others that have been completely changed because I followed when He called. I’m reminded of the amazing people I’ve collected along the way because of going where He’s called. I’m reminded of the incredible career path and how He’s taken me from being told I was too dumb to be a nurse, to being a nurse leader.

And when He brought me to the desert… I found Mercy and Healing

Have you ever listened to a song for months and then one day, the lyrics hit you? My word of the year has been mercy. Normally with my word of the year, I’m sick of the lessons God has been teaching me 6 months into the year. But in October I realized I was just beginning to grasp what God had been teaching me about mercy. It was like the small trickles of water He has been giving me throughout the year. And the other night with just a few days left in 2018, He hit me square in the face with the lyrics that have been on repeat, but I never truly heard.

My past embraced
My sin forgiven
I’m blameless in your sight
My history rewritten

Amanda Cook “Mercy”

And to be honest, I could keep writing, because of the sweet, sweet message I have been given, but that would make for one lengthy post. So until next time, remember, His mercies are truly new every morning, even when it doesn’t feel like it…

It’s Been — A Reflection

It’s been a little over a year since I moved back to Indiana. I spent 9 years away from my home state. 8/9 of those years were within a large metropolitan area. So moving back to a smaller metropolitan area, has been hard, to say the least. I never quite felt like I belonged in the place I grew up, and I can’t say that it has changed as I’ve gotten older. In fact, I would say I feel even further removed from the place that I was born and raised now that I’m back here.

It’s been interesting to process through my first 22 years of life in Indiana, and then my life after Indiana. There isn’t anything wrong with Indiana, it just doesn’t quite fit who I am or the way my life has gone. It’s a really hard thing to admit that you don’t feel like you belong in the very place where you had so many of your formative years. But it is also a very freeing feeling to acknowledge that I’m different, and that’s ok.

It’s been interesting to watch how the majority of people around me in Indiana, followed the “Indiana dream”. They got married fairly young, had children short thereafter, now have a house, and their children are in or are starting school. Meanwhile, I’ve been developing my career, am just starting to head down the path toward marriage, have no kids, and still live in a rental. The last year the question I’ve been asking myself has been “what’s wrong with me that I haven’t had the normal life progression of people in Indiana?” So much of this also ties back to being an enneagram 2. As a 2, I have trouble feeling like I belong, but have this deep need to feel like I belong.

It’s been quite the process to realize {yet again} that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. My life just looks different. It’s not that I don’t want to get married or that I don’t want children, quite the opposite, I want it very much; it’s just on a different time table (at least I hope). I didn’t plan on my career being my priority, it just happened that way. But I also know, that if I had had kids younger, I probably wouldn’t have developed my career like I have. I may have never found my calling as an oncology nurse, which would have been heartbreaking. I also never would have gotten to live in so many different places, meet so many incredible people, have amazing experiences, and heal in ways I could have never healed living in Indiana.

It’s been eye opening to go back to Chicagoland. This past weekend I spent up there and I realized, it still feels like home. I also realized little things that I never appreciated while I was there, like that there are side walks and walkways everywhere. There are also things that I knew I would miss like the incredible food scene, the amazing friends who became family, and the diversity that is everywhere. Chicagoland makes me happy, and it’s funny because I went there not too excited thinking it could never live up to my time in New Jersey, but left kicking and screaming. Turns out, I liked it just as much as New Jersey and it developed me in new ways that New Jersey hadn’t been able to. In both places, I was able to find a place where I was accepted even when my type 2 the giver couldn’t give. I found people who didn’t care that I wasn’t married or that I didn’t have kids. I found people who loved me as I was, not for what I could give them.

It’s been a year of processing and learning since I’ve been back. A year of accepting that I finally landed back in Indiana, and though I planned to settle here, I’m not quite sure I will. I’m not quite sure what the future looks like. But when I landed back in Indiana, I found an Indiana boy, who grew up feeling much the same way as I did. However, this Indiana boy has never lived anywhere else. So now the question remains “should we stay or should we go?” I’m not sure when we’ll get the answer, but I’m finally at peace knowing it’s ok that I never felt I belonged here, because I found my place of belonging. I found that there are people and there are cultures where I feel at home and love me for me. Indiana, thank you for raising me, New Jersey thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me the feeling of home the second I hit your state for the first time, Chicagoland thank you for helping me become who I am today and giving me the place and space to be who I really I am.

It’s been a year of facing my past and walking through things that happened in the past that needed healing. I’ve been facing my pride, which ties back to being a 2. It’s hard for us 2s to not admit we don’t have it all together. Or that sometimes, when we give, we give too much and that can ruin things. Sometimes as a 2, I’ve given so much and received nothing in return which causes me to break and run the other direction. I don’t think my feeling of not belong in Indiana is solely tied to being an enneagram 2. But I do know that facing the core of who I am and my past, is allowing me to resolve what is on me and what is just because it is.

It’s been hard to stare straight into things I was able to leave when I left Indiana. Things that shaped me and formed me. Not all of it was bad, but parts of it have been very painful to face. Without the healing and accepting I found in the other places I lived, I could have never come back to look the things of my past straight in the face. Mercy is my word of the year, and even in September, I’m still grasping what this word means. I think it’s so hard for me to understand mercy, because as a 2 it goes against everything that drives me. As a 2, it’s ingrained in me that I have to earn love. But the truth is, I don’t have to earn the love of my Heavenly Father, it’s there for me no matter what. And no matter how much I do, He’ll love me, just the same — just as I am.

It’s been. Now it’s time to step into what it’s going to be one step at a time. One healing at a time. Accepting and loving myself just as I am, while facing the things I need to change to continue to improve myself. Most importantly excepting the love that is offered to me without any strings attached from up above. Secondly, allowing those to love me even when I have nothing left to give them.

It’s been, so what’s next?

 

When a Leader Lets You Down

Where this post began…

Recently someone asked me how I was taking the news that came out about Bill Hybels. They knew I had called Willow Creek my home church for 3.5 years and would still be there if I had not moved last July. So I answered, honestly. When a leader let’s us down, it’s hard. It takes processing, self reflection, and honesty about ones own feelings, to work through.

“But running from emotional pain is never a good idea, as it only leaves us damaged of soul and hindered in our ability to fulfill our purpose. We have to turn and face our torturous seasons and the scars they try to leave on our hearts.”
― Stephen Mansfield, Healing Your Church Hurt: What To Do When You Still Love God But Have Been Wounded by His People

As I’ve been processing through the possibility that these allegations could be true (and the more that comes out, the harder it seems to digest), I reflected back to the beginning of my journey at Willow Creek. I walked into Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois in January of 2014. I was broken, damaged, and so beyond hurt by “the church” I had no plans of actually staying there or at any church. I was at the point where I wasn’t sure I would ever want to be more than just a bench warmer in any church ever again.

I walked into Willow Creek broken in pieces, and I walked out 3.5 years later (kicking and screaming that I wasn’t ready to leave yet), healed and stretched in ways I could have never imagined. The church, any church, is made up of broken and sinful people, this includes it’s leaders. As a result of this, (at any church) people can get wounded and damaged. The churches I have been hurt in have provided healing and growing for others. And the church I found healing and growing in, has caused wounds, some extremely deep and unimaginable, and damage for others.

“Your horrific time of trouble offered you truths about yourself, windows into your own soul, and maps to the terrain of your inner life. Wise people learn to gather this intelligence to help them conquer themselves and then to live in loftier ways.”
― Stephen Mansfield, Healing Your Church Hurt: What To Do When You Still Love God But Have Been Wounded by His People

No one wants to be alone…

One of the biggest desires I’ve found we humans have is to resolve the “I’m alone” feelings. This has resulted in many scenarios where one group of people take one side and another group of people take another side. I think when we fight so hard to feel not alone, we often forget to keep our mind and hearts open. Because just like any story or situation, there are always 3 sides (if not more) to the story. There are the ones from each person (or people) involved and then somewhere in the middle of that, there is the truth. I think one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned as a leader is to hear out both sides before coming to any conclusions.

I’m beyond guilty of that need to not feel alone. For me personally, it stems from when I was a child. In 5th grade I was the targeted child in a very small class for bullying. I don’t know why I was the target, but it sticks with me to this day. The lies that were taught to me when I was just 10 years old were that I didn’t belong and I wasn’t wanted. These have fed into my needs and desires into adulthood and, if I’m not careful, they can run me into very wrong directions and decisions.

“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.” Nelson Mandela 

A reflection on leaders failing…

So back to the whole reason for this post. Leaders are going to fail us, they are human. I’m a leader and I’m going to fail, because I’m human. But even when leaders fail us, that doesn’t take away the good that has resulted from their leadership. It doesn’t dissolve any positive experiences or growth you’ve had under their leadership. It doesn’t mean that the church, corporation, or group of people they’ve lead aren’t going to continue to grow and flourish. It also doesn’t mean that just because they’ve excelled in certain areas, that the hurt that has resulted from their misconduct shouldn’t be brought to light and that apologies shouldn’t happen.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” Jim Rohn

I don’t know what the truth is behind the Bill Hybels misconduct allegations, but I do know this. Because of his leadership, I was able to find healing. But I also know, because of some of his choices, there are people today suffering. My heart breaks for these people. It’s a very fine line to be able to celebrate my healing as the result of leadership of one person, while also mourning for the pain of others that result from the same leader. It doesn’t take away the value of my healing and it also doesn’t devalue the extent of their pain. It doesn’t mean that just because I found healing as a result of this leader, while others found damage, that we can’t still be in it together. It just means that we are two different sets of people, in a broken world, that have to learn to walk together with different experiences and say “you’re not alone, I’m with you”.

My promise as a leader…

So what will I take away for my own life? As a leader, I promise to always be open and honest. To hear my employees out. To apologize if I’ve said something either I or they feel was hurtful. I promise to not aim to be perfect, but to be honest and real of my shortcomings. I promise to listen carefully when someone feels I have wronged them and try my hardest not to come at it from a biased point of view. I promise to live with truth, integrity, and to continue to build my skills and character so each day I can become a better leader for whomever it is I may be leading. Whether I like it or not (and it is often on the not side), I know God has called me to be a leader. This is not a responsibility I carry lightly and I sure hope the burden I feel for being called into leadership never lightens. And if it does, I hope those closest to me challenge me and ask if I truly should be in leadership anymore.

I also hope that if I should ever be unable to look at someone else’s side, that those around me will call me out. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s about the hurt on both sides and how can we come to a place where we both find healing. And to those suffering right now from leadership hurt, I pray that you find the healing you need. And as a leader, I apologize that we have let you down.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ” Philippians 2:3-4

2017 – The Year of Grace

2017. What can I say? You were everything I didn’t expect you to be. I was excited for you. I saw boundless potential in you. I had ideas of how the year would unfold. And here I am, on the other side of you, looking back and saying “see ya later and please don’t come back.”

You started off well. I was getting comfortable in my new role at work. Life felt comfortable and I had people around me I called family. I was dating someone and it seemed to be going well. I wasn’t the new person anywhere for the first time in a really long time. I loved my church and my small group. I even got to go on a vacation for the first time in about 3 years. So when my word of the year “grace” was revealed to me, I thought, oh, maybe God is giving me grace this year in the form of an easier time than how my normal life goes.

“The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.” 
― Criss JamiKillosophy

Come March and beyond, and my life quickly went crashing in. To name a few things… My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, my dog almost died from a GI bleed, the guy I was dating turned out to be an absolute jerk, my sister went into early labor (thankfully it was able to be stopped), relationships in my life I thought were fine exploded in my face, my brother had a stroke, and God made it absolutely clear I was to leave my comfortable life in Illinois, take a pay cut, and move back to Indiana (that sounds exactly like what someone would want to do, right?). Following that move between the address change issues, the insane amount of time it took to get my title transferred, working way more hours than I was before, no longer having my support system, moving expenses that seemed to be endless on top of taking a pay cut, and dealing with a mouse issue in my apartment for the last month — I’m exhausted.

“When life doesn’t meet your expectations, it was important to take it with grace.” 
― Patricia BriggsWhen Demons Walk

I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Illinois. I do, I miss it, the people, and the familiarity with every fiber of my being. However, I would also be lying if I said I felt like I heard God wrong about moving back to Indiana. It was one of those situations where God spoke so clearly, I cannot even in my weakest faith moments, doubt this is what He asked of me. Isn’t that the hardest thing when you’re in the middle of some place you don’t necessarily want to be —Knowing God has you exactly where He wants you. That you are wrapped fully in His grace, even amidst the chaos.

“Grace is what picks me up and lifts my wings high above and I fly! Grace always conquers! Be graceful in everything; in anger, in sadness, in joy, in kindness, in unkindness, retain grace with you!”
― C. JoyBell C.

So as I review what I’ve learned in 2017, I’m honestly overwhelmed. I’ve learned a lot, much of which I didn’t want to learn, but needed to learn. And I have such a deeper understanding of that grace that took place on the cross. I’ve learned that I can’t be so hard on myself (it’s funny how giving yourself a little grace in rough patches is much better than being hard on yourself). I’ve learned that a lot of times on the other side of a what seems like good is great, even better than I imagined (especially in the world of dating). I’ve learned what it means to be stripped of all the comfort and feel like you’re standing naked, in the crowd, just waiting for the tomatoes to keep flying at you. And I’ve learned that on the other side of a very, very tough year, I can still be thankful for that year, but never want to live it again. Lastly, I have learned that I am capable, brave, significant, and strong even when I feel like I am absolutely not.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
― AnonymousHoly Bible: New International Version

So, as I round out the final days of 2017 I enter 2018 with a different mindset. One that is full of a heart that is open to whatever it is God may have for me. One that is open to this new life He has for me in a place different than where I pictured ending 2017. I trust that the Creator of the universe still holds my future in His hands. And I trust that whatever word He has for me this next year will teach me everything I don’t expect it to. But isn’t that the greatest thing about serving a God that is larger than life, knowing He has something unimaginable in store?

Grace Makes Me Brave

Grace. That’s my word for this year, this season. Grace. It’s a word that I thought I knew the meaning of, but only knew the surface of before this season. Grace, I’ve found, gives me strength. Grace, I’ve found, provides joy. Grace, I’ve found, makes me brave. Grace is a firm foundation I can stand on.

This season has been one of rocky, wavy, stormy waters. It has been one of trial after trial after trial. And it has been one where multiple times I’ve had no idea how I could continue on. I’ve shed more tears than I have in a long time. I’ve wondered if I could handle anything else, right as another storm was blowing in. And I feel like my day to day life has been a dream because so much has been going on.

As I sit here in the room that I’ve called mine for over 3 years for my last Sunday morning in it, I’m feeling a lot of different emotions. Thursday I opened my e-mail to find the copy of the announcement of the person’s who’s place I’m taking’s departure and my arrival with a bio about me. And it hit me. This is really happening and this is a really big job (and a job that I was wanted for). In some ways, this move has been a pipe dream for many years. In other ways, this has been something I thought may never happen, because the door had been shut so many times.

But as I sat in the HR office on Friday and kept hearing “the team is so, so excited to have you!” And as I walked around the apartment that I would be calling home in less than 1 week – I realized, this is really happening.

Grace and faith in those moments – I grabbed and clung onto them.

And I sat there and reflected on and I clung to the moments a few days prior where I looked at my little brother and gripped onto truth that he is a walking miracle right now. You see, a few weeks ago as I hopped in my car to head to the interviews that would potentially bring me closer to family,  I was teetering, because leaving the place I’ve called home for 5 years wasn’t going to be an easy decision. I had heard that morning that there was an increase in 20-30 year old having strokes. I’m medical, so this caught my attention, but little did I think that night my family would become part of that statistic that very night.

As I was driving down the highway to these interviews and heard my brother couldn’t move and was having severe dizziness and was in the E.D. with a new diagnosis of something I had never heard of, but knew it didn’t sound good. I started to cry. Full on sobbing as I’m driving down the highway screaming at God “I get it, I’m supposed to move, just let him be ok.”

You see, I learned, that sometimes my life has to fall apart from all directions for God to catch my attention. Sometimes I get so comfortable, that He has to allow things to get uncomfortable to get me where He is leading me. I’ve learned just how He can use things of pain and hurt for His glory. Because without those many hurts and deep deep pains, I wouldn’t be headed where I am right now. And as my stubborn bull headed self got in the way throughout this process, He gave me grace upon grace upon grace. When I slammed a door shut, He gently re-opened it and whispered “I’m opening this, don’t close it”. I learned the freedom in true forgiveness. I learned who will be there for me in the storms and who won’t. I learned once again, just how important family is, no matter how much they drive you nuts.

I’ve learned that I will cling to the grace from above to make me brave in the toughest moments of life. And here I am, diving head first into facing the immensity. I’m headed towards dreams that were not developed by me, but by the life God has dreamt up for me. And those are the sweetest dreams of all.

Ready or not, here this goes.

The Year of 30 – Fear Facing

This morning I was sitting at my desk going through the stacks of cards I received for my birthday.

I hate my birthday, bad things happen, and this year was no different. As I reflected on this stack of cards, but more importantly who they came from and the words inside, I’m thankful. Often, when things are imploding around us, we tend to forget that we matter to people.

I had a really, really hard time turning 30. It felt like I was no longer “young”. I felt like I had accomplished so much between 20-25 and not so much between 26-30. I mean when you graduate 3 times in a 3 year span, it is kind of hard to beat such accomplishments again. 

So as I was turning 30, I reflected on the goals/aspirations I had that had not yet been obtained. My dream of being a nurse practitioner (yes, more school), has not yet been obtained. My dream of being a wife and mother has not yet come to fruition. I hadn’t traveled as much as I had planned. In many ways I still felt unsettled, a lack of stability. I also reflected on what the last half of my 20’s was, and what it was surprised me. It was a lot of healing from damaging relationship of all kinds in my early 20’s. It was also a lot of making a career for myself, which included surviving the night shift and the endless hours of anxiety a new nurse goes through. They were years of self discovery and self reflection. They were years that have brought me to where I am today, and for that I am thankful.

So last week as I faced turning 31 and parts of my life were in shambles around me, I actually didn’t struggle. Because if I’m honest, my 30’s have been off to a great start with loads of adventure. Also, I trust that my dreams will come to be when the time is ready, and with the right people and the right school programs. I have a peace about trusting in the timing to be right, and less of a need to get everything accomplished NOW.

Over the past year I went to Costa Rica and faced my fear of heights by jumping of the side of mountains to go zip-lining  and I would do it again in a heart beat.

I dated guys that are completely out of my normal and learned a great deal and have great memories as a result.

“Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”

After a great deal of wrestling over the decision and praying, I took on a management position at work. It hasn’t been easy, actually far from it, but as my wise little brother told me “Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”. And everyday, I am learning this more and more. But, I have to say, when someone says “my boss” in reference toe me, my immediate response is “that’s not me!”… and then I realize, actually technically, yes it is.

I faced a lot of fears this past year both personally and professionally. I feel like my word(s) for the year of 30 was fear facing and as I enter 31, grace is what resonates. Grace for others. Grace for myself. Grace for where I’ve been and where I’m going. But most importantly sitting in the beauty of the grace from my Heavenly Father – knowing that I will never be enough but through His grace, He is enough for me. There is a freedom in knowing I can’t reach the state of perfection I’ve longed to reach for so long, but in Him I am fulfilled. My job is simply to walk in His grace and be the best me I can be. So 31, let’s do this.

 

 

Letting Go When it Wasn’t Bad

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on dating or singleness, but I feel like I want to share my current struggle just in case there is someone else out there wondering if they’re alone in this struggle. Online dating is hard. Really hard. For every 1000 messages you get, maybe 1 of those is good. There is a lot of comic relief in there and plenty ones you read one or two words and you delete it and need to wash out your eyes. Dating is hard. Singleness is hard. Life is hard.

For every 1000 messages you get, maybe one of those is good.

There are plenty of people out there that date for the one night stands or are okay with little to no substance in the relationship. I’m not one of those. I’m also one of those people that can get an idea pretty quickly of whether or not the guy I’m on a date with is a good match or not. I’ve been told I don’t give guys enough of a chance, and maybe I don’t, but I think I’m just able to read people pretty quickly.

Timing is everything

Last May I told God I would message every guy on Bumble (it was my first week on this app) that I matched with and if nothing worked out with any of them I was done with online dating for a while. During this week I met the guy who I’ve been dating for the last 3 months. Pretty much instantly I liked the guy. There was something about him and still is something that I was just attracted to. A lot of somethings actually. And let me tell you, the three months were really good. I was pretty scared, because I actually liked the guy and he seemed to like me back – which isn’t always the case when I finally think a guy is worth my time.

Pretty much instantly I liked the guy. There was something about him and still is something that I was just attracted to. A lot of somethings actually.

So for 3 months we dated, we talked, we had great discussions, we had fun, he pursued me (what a concept), and he was part of a season of extreme healing. It’s been a season of walking through past hurts and pains and truly digging deep and healing. A lot of this healing I couldn’t have done without this really good dating relationship showing me something different form the past.

Then a few weeks ago I could feel the distance growing. Then late Saturday night it ended. Some differences he couldn’t get past. He wants to be friends and I’m not certain I can be. The main reason? Because he really is a good match for me. It really was a good relationship. I still really like him. And the differences he couldn’t get past do not make him a bad guy. The struggles he’s walking through do not make him a bad guy. The core of who he really is is a really good guy.

Then a few weeks ago I could feel the distance growing.

So I’m faced with the question of how do you get over a guy when it was all really good? When even the bad parts of the relationship weren’t actually bad? How do you find a reason to let go when all you keep thinking about is the stupid ways that they match you?

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure. But I’m going to try and focus on the fact that there will be a guy out there who matches me just as well,  and maybe even better. A guy who the differences will be able to be worked past. A guy who is ready to date. And until then I’ll cherish the memories and try my best to be thankful that I got to experience something that is hard to figure out how to let go.

And let’s be honest, timing is everything.

So my single ladies, there are good guys out there. We just have to find the good guys who also match us and are in the same stages of life as us. And let’s be honest, timing is everything. So I’ll cling to the promise that I serve a God who loves me and hears the deepest desires of my heart. And I hope you have something to cling to as well. Because when life doesn’t make sense, we all need something to cling to.

What I Learned About Life, Love and Health in 2015

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly healthy or unhealthy person. Just middle of the road, good days and bad days. My upbringing, body type, and temperament keep me fairly moderated in this culture of excess. Then I married a guy with a gluten intolerance. That kind of changes the way you think about food and health. When it causes migraines, aches and fatigue, and can be found in so many foods, food becomes the enemy. Health becomes a conscious choice and struggle instead of a natural byproduct of life.

live love health

The thing I am always learning, the choice I always have to make is to listen to my body, and by the nature of marriage, my husband’s as well. Healthy choices mean different things for different people. My husband is very thin, gluten intolerant, gets sick when he doesn’t sleep enough, and introverted. That means I feed him protein and good fats whenever I can, weigh the risk of buying foods that may or may not be exposed to gluten, try not to stay out late with friends so he gets sleep, and help him say no to some social engagements so he doesn’t get mentally drained.

I, on the other hand, try not to eat quite as much fat and protein, don’t have to worry about the foods with gluten but do have to think about lactose, and can go without sleep and spend more time with people. I am always learning that this person I married is different from me, needs different things, and that’s ok.

So healthy choices I learned in 2015 and continue to learn in 2016, because let’s face it, just because you make a choice once doesn’t mean you’ve learned it. You’ve got to make it over and over and over again for it to become something you have learned.

What I Learned About Life, Love and Health in 2015

Listen to Your Body

Your body is unique and only you know what is normal and abnormal (if you pay attention). I can eat some dairy and be ok, but I can’t eat a ton. Josh can have something with a very small amount of gluten, but he can’t eat a slice a bread. When you’re tired, go to sleep. When my body starts to feel tense and tight, I know it’s time to do yoga. When you’re thirsty, drink water. Your body knows what it needs. Listen to it.

Educate Yourself

I am always learning what Josh can and cannot eat. Food isn’t the enemy anymore because I know my enemy, gluten, not food in general. Ignorance leads us to make decisions based on superstition and whims and makes us feel like it isn’t within our control. But you can learn what it is to be healthy for you. I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety and nausea at odd times without understanding the cause for years. Turns out my blood sugar can drop causing those symptoms and I just need to get some sugar into my system/ To avoid it happening, I have to watch when and how I eat sugar. Ask questions. Get answers. Educate yourself.

Take Breaks

I really struggle with taking breaks from work, projects, errands, anything. I’m learning to get up, take a walk, get some space and come back with a full stomach and fresh eyes. If you don’t take breaks, you burn out. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Say No

Do you have any idea how many times I’ve said yes to ice cream at someone’s house because i can’t resist the temptation and don’t want to be considered rude? A million. And how many times I’ve paid for it? Every time. I finally gathered the guts this year to just to say no to ice cream. no. matter. what. This goes for so much more than food. Josh and I are always struggling how and who to say no to of all the people and activities in our lives so that we aren’t constantly exhausted. Don’t be afraid to draw boundaries. You’re worth it (and I’m preaching to myself as much as you).

Challenge Yourself

Early this year, a friend of ours challenged Josh to not eat ANY gluten for as long as he could. She promised him prizes and I joined in. We kept track for about two months and now we don’t have to anymore. He thought it would be impossible but instead he found his body felt so much better that it wasn’t really a temptation anymore. Doesn’t mean he never eats gluten, but the habit was broken. I picked up rock climbing again with some friends and we continue to challenge each other to be active. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

Just remember, because you made the choice once, doesn’t mean you learned it. And just because you don’t always make the best choice doesn’t mean you aren’t learning. It’s all part of the process. Who knows what choices I’ll be making in 2016, but I will be learning. So here’s to learning how to be healthier, choice by choice in 2016!

 

#Chase2015: A Season of Change

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made many decisions to change the way I live, or had been living. It’s not that I was extremely unhealthy, but I was making unhealthy decisions that were wreaking havoc on the state of my brain, body, and heart. I have a stressful career (as many careers are), but in many fields of nursing, from the time you walk in to the time you leave you are moving.  You’re moving both body and mind and have to be on your A-game at all times. Human lives aren’t something to mess around with. As a result, I have to be very conscious and careful of the decisions I make both inside and outside of work to stay healthy.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made in the last month is going gluten-free. I’ve had many physicians suggest at least trying it, but I was insistent corn was enough and that I was fine with gluten. I even thought that there was no way I would have all the symptoms they say happen when you take gluten out. Well, about 24 hours in to being gluten-free, it was clear I was wrong – others were right. I was severely fatigued, extremely pale, itching everywhere, and just felt miserable. This lasted for about a week, and then all the sudden I felt the better. A month into it I feel the best I’ve felt in years. I feel like myself again. Even if I am one of the people who can’t tolerate gluten, I still don’t think that gluten-free is for everyone, but it is for me, at least for now.

Beyond going gluten-free, here is my list of things I’m focusing on to round out the end of 2015 the healthiest me I can be:

1. Taking a day of rest

As a Christian, the Sabbath is taught, but many years into my faith I am just beginning to understand how truly a day of rest is important. This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day, but it means doing things that give life to me and making sure I do rest properly on this day.

2. Stretching

I’m great about walking and good about exercising, I’m awful at stretching. In the last few weeks since making a point to stretch. I can’t explain the difference it has made, but it is wonderful.

3.  Saying “No”

It took me a long time to learn there is such a thing as saying no to good things. Letting go of people pleasing and truly asking the questions… Is this going to stress me out to an unhealthy level? Will this fill me up? Is this an absolute must? Choosing to make my yeses full good yeses and saying no even when it’s hard. It is okay to say no because you need a night at home. It is okay to say no because you have errands to do. It is okay to not do everything.

4. Going technology-free

It isn’t an always thing, but I want at least an hour out of my day to be technology free. Whether this is reading, walking without my phone, cooking… whatever it is, take time away from technology and social media. I’m hoping to continue to increase this time, especially on weekends. We don’t know the long term effects of technology, but we are starting to see some short term effects and some aren’t pretty.

5. 10,000 steps

I got my fitbit in April and it has been  a great tool. I notice such a change in my energy when I keep up my fitness level. A minimum of 10,000 steps 6/7 days a week is my goal. An attainable, challenging goal that helps to keep me healthy.

6. Daring to Dream

This is the most important to me. Somewhere along the way after bad relationships and failed dreams, I left dreaming behind. But the truth is, the heart needs to dream. The heart needs to acknowledge what it is it desires to do most. So I’m taking the chance to dream again, and not just dream, but dream big.

Some of these steps are harder than others, but they are all beneficial. As I sit here after truly putting these into practice for the last few weeks I feel great. I feel rested, I feel healthy, and I feel like myself. You can’t always control you health issues or diseases, but you can make the decisions to live the healthiest you can at that moment. It isn’t fun at every restaurant having to list of allergies and intolerance, but being up all night itching from hives and being extremely fatigued the next day is far worse. Choose to be healthy. Choose to chase out the end of 2015 as the healthiest you there can be right now.

Just Around the River Bend

If there’s one thing most people know about me, it’s that I’m not an “outdoorsy” person.  Now that doesn’t mean that I hate nature.  I just prefer to enjoy it while I’m sitting on a beach or from the backseat of the car as my family drives through the Smoky Mountains.  You see growing up in my family, our idea of fun didn’t consist of hiking or camping or canoeing.  We would go to places like Gatlinburg not for the mountains, but for the miniature golfing, shopping, and dining.  So this is why at the age of 29, I just went canoeing for the very first time in my life.

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I assumed that maneuvering a canoe down the river would be a fairly simple task.  I mean it’s not white water rafting.  You just have to paddle the canoe in the right direction.  After all Pocahontas makes it looks so easy while she’s singing “Just Around the Riverbend”.   How hard could this be?

It took about thirty seconds before I realized how hard canoeing was actually going to be.  My friend and I had barely pushed off from the bank of the river before I had us turned around and going backwards.  As if keeping the canoe in the right direction wasn’t hard enough, we also managed to unsuccessfully avoid several tree branches that were dangling over the river bank.  (It was about this time as I was being whacked in the face with tree branches that I remembered why I’m not an outdoorsy person.)

Surprise, surprise.  Canoeing turned out to be a lot harder than a cartoon character made it look in the movies.  One thing was for sure, you didn’t know what was waiting just around the riverbend.  Sometimes there was an easy stretch of water where we didn’t have to paddle as hard, and we could enjoy the scenery.  Then the next thing you knew, you were trying to keep the canoe from tipping over in the wake of a passing jet ski.

Looking back on that day, I realize how much life is like trying to maneuver a canoe down the river.  There are times when life is easy and you can just enjoy the ride.  However, there are also the days when something you weren’t expecting rocks your boat, and you find yourself just trying to stay afloat.  In those moments, I was thankful that I wasn’t the only one in the canoe.  Even though there were times when my friend may have wanted to push me out of the canoe (something about not paddling hard enough), I was thankful to have her experience to guide us out of those rougher waters.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life over the last few years, it’s the importance of having a community to support and guide you through those rougher waters.  When I graduated from college seven years ago, I expected my future would be smooth sailing down a straight path.  What I didn’t expect was seven summers of job searching, multiple temporary teaching positions, and being turned down too many times to count for various positions.  It was a rough ride with many twists and turns, but throughout it all I had the support of family, friends, and coworkers.  They listened when I needed to vent my frustrations, encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to quit, and prayed that God would lead me to the right job.  Just like my canoe trip down the river, my path to finding a teaching job wasn’t an easy journey, but I never felt like I was navigating through it alone and that made all the difference.

So maybe canoeing wasn’t quite as easy as Pocahontas made it look in the movie, but she was knew what she was talking about when she said that the water’s always changing, always flowing.  Life is the same way; always changing, always flowing.  So when life has you turned around paddling up stream or smacks you in the face with another unexpected obstacle, lean in to those around you for the guidance and support you need to keep going.   It’s so much easier to navigate those rough waters when you know that you have someone who will see you through whatever is waiting just around the river bend.



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