Recently.

I live my life pretty open, pretty out there until recently. I love social media, I love knowing about others lives, I love taking things in. That is until I found myself using social media, something I’ve built a career on, for things that didn’t work. For things that hurt, causing distrust and comparison. So I’m signing out, slowly and with some failures. Literally Twitter is the only social media I enjoy and have no comparison issues with.

I’m learning that worry is my choice. I can worry myself sick with what if’s and this could possibly happen scenario’s because let’s be honest it’s happened before. I can chose to believe I’m not worth the effort or that I’m not enough. I have a lot of choice in where I let my mind go. This is new for me, for a long time I let my anxiety dictate things, I let my mind go where it wanted thinking I had no control. While there are some certain instances when panic comes, I truly have a little more control than I ever have. Recently, I’ve just thought chin up, eyes on God. He’s said many times cast your cares, cast your worries. Bug me, I care. Consistently I’ve chosen to worry, the fret, to not eat because I couldn’t handle the stress. That’s changing.

As tears stream down my face, I’m starting to realize the feelings don’t have to take over. I can remember that Christ is my comforter and I can pray for His will, whatever that is without fear. I can love more openly, love is scary because it gives you something to lose. I feel like I’ve lost a lot in my life, in love. So I have a hard time believing with my head when my heart is a hopeless romantic, I’m sure that’s annoying lol. I’m letting that little voice quiet itself. I’m letting the mature voice take over. The one that says give it a chance. It doesn’t have to look like everything else.

I know I’ll fail at this type of life, often but one with less worry and more smiles is my hope. Because worry is a choice and I have a God who chooses me everyday. Worry doesn’t predict the future, it hinders the present. I’m 3 months into 30 and I feel like maybe just maybe every hard thing of this past year was worth it.

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Whimsical

Usually every year I read a book that really changes my life and hits me upside the head with some corrections I need to make.

In 2015 it was Scary Close by Donald Miller. Teaching me about my co-dependency and ways to be my true authentic self, even if I’ll be judged. That grace sticks to mistakes and our whole selves. It’s a daily practice. Sometimes I do well and sometimes I fail, but I’m trying.

2016. This book is “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. I have cried on my porch more times than I’d like to admit at the authenticity and the realness and how much I relate to the stories she is telling.

This morning I was reading a section called Throwing Candy. She says “I used to be warm and whimsical. I used to believe in the power of silliness and memory-making and laughter.And then I became the kind of person who threw candy as long as nothing else was going on — as long as it didn’t get in the way of being responsible.”

I stopped in my tracks, that’s me. I’ve become so serious and so focused on the busy that I forget to be whimsical, one of my all time favorite words. Sometimes I lose that light in my eyes because I remember what it was like being free and fun, then I got hurt. Like everyone. I got told to be smaller, to be quieter, to be less well me. I’m finding that light again, that fun. That person who would rather have pizza and a movie than being out ignoring the silence and possibilities of pain.

I want to become the person that remembers the hurt, the loss and still chooses to move forward. To risk love and risk loss because I can’t ignore what God has done to get me and us here here. I want to remember the promise that no matter what, he is still good. That longing in my heart, it won’t be filled here on earth. So I can stop searching. I want to be that whimsical woman, who brings warmth and light where she goes. Boring or not, I want to be remembered with kindness. Not busy-ness or responsibility.

My bf deserves the light and whimsical me. I deserve that me.

I’m Grateful

When I rush, when I get frantic I start to mess things up. I start wondering what is coming next instead of enjoying what is right now, I start to forget and try to move faster. I think one of the recent joys in life has been my intentionality in slowing down a little bit. Saying no when I need to and recognize just how wonderful this part of life really is. 30 is coming, quickly. I’m not where I thought I’d be but if I keep focusing on that “idea” I miss the goodness. So I want to be intentional in focusing on those things. The things that light up my eyes and my soul. I want to remember what my friends always say, that I should enjoy this part because I’ll never get it back. So that is requiring me to make a gratitude list:

1. Family. Seriously I have the two cutest nephews. So different and such an age difference it’s really fun. Those boys make me smile. My sister. She’s overprotective and annoying but I love her. It’s how she cares. My parents. They’re possibly the best. I learned from them how imperfect people can try. It wasn’t always the best, divorces are hard but they tried and I think I never questioned they’re love. To this day my parents do not put themselves in my business, they let me tell them about things as they happen. They don’t rush me and encourage me to live the life I have been given, fully. They supported crazy moves, to different cities. Listened to me cry day after day with a broken heart and watched me pick myself up into a better relationship. They’ve never asked me why I didn’t date much and didn’t worry that I was late 20’s and not married. My mom actually gets mad when people ask me, just part of small town life you get used to. I’m grateful.
2. Sun. Seems silly but the sun, it really does some good things. It’s a natural mood enhancer for me. I love the warmth. I think that’s my way of feeling a hug from God sometimes. Silly I know. I’m grateful.
3. Friends. I could write pages and pages and pages about the friends I’ve been blessed with. I have a great mix of friends from high school, college, and post college life. There have been people who have come into my life in the last year that have taught me so much. They remind me of the goodness, the heart they see in me and they believe in me. My friends are like my family since I don’t get to see my family as much as I should. I mentioned that my parents never asked me why I didn’t date much and I’m grateful that I used that time to develop some amazing friendships. They remind me of God, and that there is room for someone like me in the Christian life. I don’t claim perfection or even discipline. I’m a person in this messy world and they walk through the mess with me. I’m grateful.
4. Job. I prayed for a job like this. One where I can serve people and feel like I’m doing something. It’s an uphill battle every day and such a huge learning curve but it’s good. Challenging. I’m grateful.
5. Playground/Woodhill. This is the work of God and none of us. How else did $10,000 get raised in 30 days. It’s a beautiful thing in a neighborhood that gets a terrible reputation. It’s a work of art in my opinion and I just want it to be love. I want the kids to be reminded someone cares about them, outside of their parents. We often tell people they can do anything but I want them to know they’re purposed. They’re not here by mistake. I often forget that about myself, and I don’t know want them to think they’re just a statistic or a Monday night activity. They’re a prayer and a blessing. I’m grateful.
6. Music. This just music. I can’t sing, you’ll be grateful I recognize this. I’m in awe of the talent God has given people. I’m grateful for those who step out and share it with us.
7. Sports. Always. Again I can’t play but I love watching sports. It started as a way to connect with my dad and turned into a passion. Something that keeps my attention and something I enjoy watching. I’m more passive but that doesn’t do justice to how much I love watching athletes perform. With the upcoming Olympics I can’t wait to see those who work everyday with little recognition. I’m grateful.
8. Counseling. I will advocate forever about counseling. It’s good. An outside perspective to point out how we can overthink and twist things in our minds. Or at least I do. I’m grateful for a counselor who lets me cry, laugh and just say what I think. She points out the good, the bad and the real. I think I have this new peace because she always says honey you’re not as bad as you think. You’re doing well. The peace comes with putting in the work and evaluating the thoughts and dismissing ridiculous things, learning. I think that’s part of growing up, right? I’m grateful.
9. My Church. I’ve never been in a place where I’m just welcomed. I never thought I would go to a large church but I have felt weekly my life being touched, changed and inspired by the heart of Southland. I’m grateful.
10. The Man. I put this last one purpose. I’m not sure one person has affected my life more than this man. To be fully honest I went into this scared but knowing it’s completely worth it. I believe in falling in love and I know the risk of getting my heart broken but something in me said go for it. I will never regret it. He challenges me to better, to watch my actions and reactions, to choose my words carefully and not let my emotions rule. He makes my smile bigger and my laugh louder. We’re just goofy sometimes. He forces me to slow down, to rest and he worries often about me not eating enough. He supports me going to counseling and cheers me on in victories over anxiety. He doesn’t understand it or try to ignore it but he also doesn’t let me use it as an excuse which I believe has been huge. I’ve been forced to face it head on and try to conquer. He tells me he’s proud of me and for me, that is huge. He’s there, and he’s what I’ve prayed for. I can’t be grateful enough. I found something better than me, and makes me better. Isn’t that what we pray for?

So I’m grateful. Let’s remember in this time when the hate is filling the world and we can lose joy, that there are things to be grateful for. Let’s remind people of the goodness and inspire love. There’s room for all of us in this world, let’s start acting like it.

I Have Been Playing To Not Lose 

There’s so much in this world that I see I could lose that sometimes I forget to enjoy it all, everyday. Today was my reminder. See the struggle with my anxiety is that one thought can turn into a million others. Over and over the negative flooding. It takes strength and prayer to try and see which are true and which are lies. The worst one is that I’m unloveable and people will eventually leave. So I live to not lose, & I miss on the enjoying. I can take a pill to help relieve it sometimes. I’m believer that God gave people knowledge and expertise to help in all areas of life. So medicine is a great help but that’s a help not a solution for me. I like to see my triggers and then deal with them. It’s not easy to admit but I can be negative sometimes and I don’t believe I deserve the goodness of life. 
I think one No means multiple no’s and that eventually every good thing will end. That’s no way to live, waiting on an end. To be completely transparent i know this comes from my parents divorce. I’m a lucky woman to have two supportive parents but I knew for 6 years they would split up. 6 years of eggshells and waiting for the end. I carried that for a long time. I refuse to blame my problems on other people but I do believe we are made up of our past. Too often than not I’ve chosen the darkest version of myself but that’s not what God sees. I hope that’s not what most people see. I want a kind heart and joy to shine through. My own kinda joy.
One of the best things about getting back into a relationship with C had been how much I learn about myself with him. It’s not easy, I’m hard on myself and I often think I ask for too much. I’m vulnerable and emotional and most days I’m a mess. I get a second chance of being all those things but believing in the best for us, I get to believe in a future and let him see the joy I have. I fail a lot of days, I don’t always play to win. I play so I don’t lose. Lose what I’m not sure I deserve. I often think him putting up with me is a miracle but we’re two imperfect people. 

Then today I heard a sermon by Wayne Smith, a beautiful soul who founded Southland Christian Church and went home to heaven this week. He spoke about playing hurt and how Paul often played hurt & criticized. He didn’t give up. We are going to be hurt, we’re going to be let down, we’re going to have our feelings hurt but we don’t stop. Over and over again I can see God’s hand in my life. Over and over again I know He’s not leaving me alone. Back to what I don’t think I deserve, I deserve a lot of pain and suffering but God forgave that a long time ago. He chose me as his child and wants me to live a good life. There will be suffering but there will be more goodness in Him. So I’m choosing, and need accountability, to see the good, and to enjoy life. I don’t know and can’t change how it all works out but I can change how I live and love this life. Let my love and joy be evident. 

365 days and a whole heart

Yesterday marked one year since my friend Brittany got married in Gulf Shores, normally that would be a great thing to celebrate but that trip was much bigger than that for me. I limped into that trip broken-hearted, confused, believing little of myself, my worth, and wondering why I wasn’t enough. I was putting a great smile on my face but I dreaded going on a trip where I was the only single one in the group when my heart felt so confused. God used that moment, that trip to start healing me. I sat on the beach in the morning and would open my Bible just searching for something, for hope, for belief. I started writing prayers that week for myself, for others and for the future. I knew that trip was the beginning of a season of travel, I decided to use that season to try and learn some things about myself. Alone time can be very daunting for me, I can let feelings and thoughts take over. I can slip into an easy pity party where all the wrongs are magnified and I believe the least possible version of myself. That’s where I was 1 year ago. The next 5 months I can say my life changed. People entered my life who made such big impressions that my thought process is different. My heart is different. People re-entered my life and allowed me show the changes and encouraged me to grow.

Looking back I can see answers to those prayers I wrote. I recently found a “prayer note” in my phone from that time and I looked over and they have been answered or in the process of answering. In ways I never would have imagined. It was a reminder of where I was and where I am. See the anxiety tells me nothing will change, that I will end up back where I was 1 year ago. But the truth and prayer tells me it’s different. I’m different. My heart is different. This is different. My anxiety is not an excuse, it’s not a reason to continue on the same path. My thoughts and actions can be different. I started praying for these moments, this man and this job during that time. I didn’t know what would happen but I prayed with open palms and now is the time to ENJOY the answers to those prayers and keep those open palms to the gifts.

1 year, 365 days. Plenty of tears and prayers. All worth it to be the woman in progress I am. So Brittany, thank you for forcing me to go on vacation. To sit still by the beach and read my Bible with the promises of a healed heart. Thank you for giving me a reason to smile and believe in love when my heart was utterly broken. A reminder of what we can’t see during those times, like healing will happen. A heart can become whole again.

Today, I’m thankful to rest in the truth and say I can’t wait to see what comes in this next year because hope can grow in a year. Love can happen in a year. The sky is limit with a whole heart.

heart

It Takes Time

Communication is hard. It takes work and what I’m learning is sometimes I screw up. Words do not come out as I’d like, ideas are not explained as easily. Needs are not said. But I’m also learning, relationships, ALL relationships are work. It’s about forgiveness and understanding. It’s about messing up, apologizing, and trying again. It’s about being vulnerable when necessary and saying I need your help. I need to apologize. I need to be heard. That is ok. We do not always agree, it’s not the end of the world.

I’m having to re-train my brain to think positive sometimes. To give grace when I screw up words. To TRUST when someone says they understand what I meant and that they aren’t mad. To trust it all in God’s hands, which hasn’t always been an issue. Trust that because the answer is right now is “No” that it isn’t a forever, it might just be a “Not Right Now.” Knowing He is good and trusting He is good. He has a reason for these circumstances. We do not have to understand to let it be. I think this is part of me overcoming my anxiety in the day to day. I used to hide it, be positive all the time & hide the tears at home. I just do not have time for that anymore. I would rather help one other person know that it’s ok. That admitting you struggle with anxiety is ok. It doesn’t make you any less of a Christian. It doesn’t mean you do not believe. Just means you need a little extra help. You can be joyful and have anxiety. You can be happy and have anxiety.

At 29, I believe it’s better to say how you feel, build people up, love without limits, and be honest about our struggles. You are good. You are messy. You are living this life. Pat yourself on the back. Take your time. Support other people. Encourage. Give Love Even If It Isn’t Reciprocated.

I Need a Little Favor.

So here’s the thing. I need a favor. Prayer to be specific. When we’re called to do big things it can be overwhelming, it can be scary, and the chance for failure is huge. But the opposite is even scarier. Not following a calling God lays directly on your heart.

Here’s a little background. About 3 months ago I started feeling like God was calling me to put together a 5K. The thing with that is I couldn’t figure out why. What should it support? I have a lot of dreams for Southland and what I want to see happen there, but it didn’t seem to be the answer. I work in Woodhill weekly and there are so many GREAT organizations that work within that community, but none of them seemed to be the answer either. I felt so crazy that I didn’t share it with many people but everyone I told my dream to just smiled and said let’s do this even if I didn’t have a cause yet. (That’s the best part about living in community, is that the people around you just say let’s do this, you’re dreaming it and I’m on board) One, in particular, Janelle who happens to be our fearless leader at STC, connected me with a friend Lesley. One day I’ll let Lesley share her heart with why she felt called to do this, but I’ll tell the short version. Lesley is an architect and she felt it on her heart to build a playground for our Woodhill kiddos. Somehow in the months leading up to our sit-down neither of us had shared our dreams, God was working separately in our hearts to prepare us. It’s a crazy thing to look back and see his hand in ALL of this. This is God’s work, his 5K, his playground and his hand is noticeable.

So here we are. She’s working on this amazing playground for those kids, I’m working away planning a 5K. Prayer that God continues to direct us and that we would listen. That permits, weather, dates, and plans come together. Most importantly that he would be glorified as we start this journey. The thing is we know this playground won’t put food in their stomachs, it won’t pay their bills, or even fix their cars what it will do is allow them to be KIDS. It will get them active, expand their imagination and what matters to me is it shows them they’re important. They’re worth the time and investment from ALOT of people. It’s something that this community will own.

This is what we’re beginning with the playground and basketball court:

Playground Basketball Court

I pray that people support this and that we find sponsors who see the value in these kids. That we have runners who will celebrate with us, that these ideas and dreams can come to fruition. I’m not so scared of failure. I know if we continue to keep the center of this in it’s correct place it will be wonderful.I’ve set the goal rather high because I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in the people who have commmited to help. I believe God shows up in big ways, bigger than I can ever imagine when we follow his will. I believe in theses kids, and this neighborhood. They’re my family too.
So back to my favor. Prayer. Please remember us in the next couple months. If you’d like to volunteer, just let me know. If you want to run, I can’t wait to let you sign up. Pray just pray that I remember to continuously wake up, open my palms and say I’m here & willing, you do your work God.

Let’s run this race.