Sunday, November 20, 2016

Torn

My husband has been traveling a lot lately- so much so that it sometimes feels like I'm learning how to do life as a single person again (a single person in a long-distance relationship, really)...

Here's the recipe my mom uses if you're craving any!
My mom put together this giant recipe book a few
years back for all of her kids, complete with photos
from the past. I'm sure she'll appreciate me posting
 this old shot of her and my dad together :) 
Cooking one pot of Mexican Corn Chowder and literally eating it at least once a day for a week,
figuring out how to adapt my social calendar to doing and creating things for me to do alone instead of with someone else, getting to go to sleep earlier than I'm used to, hearing my thoughts louder and louder without having someone to bounce even the craziest ones off of... the list goes on.

And so I find myself talking to our dogs more- like they're humans. Today I couldn't help but wonder if I'd be a lot lonelier if they weren't around...knawing on tennis balls, shaking their hair all over the house and wagging their tails and wiggling their giant bodies every time I come home from work or other gatherings. It's good for my soul to have dogs right now, even if they can be master escape artists or incessant barkers from time to time.

I still get asked occasionally how I'm doing with this whole pregnancy thing. I appreciate when people ask. It's not a sensitive topic for me to discuss, although I realize bringing it up on the other side could feel uncomfortable and people want to be careful.

Obviously I'm not writing about it much anymore. Mostly because it feels repetitive. Mostly because I feel like I entered into a period of not even wanting to get pregnant anymore. Mostly because I still don't know how to digest my own thoughts and feelings and then regurgitate them out in any sort of comprehensible manner.

Because this was a week where my husband was gone. But it was also a week where I might have found out I was pregnant... or not. A week where all my normal "start" symptoms were delayed or not apparent and my heart, as a result, went a thousand different directions.

The initial thoughts were along the lines of irony... of course the moment when we decide more resolutely that we don't think we want children would we be pregnant. And then irrational fear: Jack & Rose style- maybe my husband will die on this trip and this is how his legacy will continue. And then rational fear: wait, what would having a child actually mean for my life? And then excitement: Finally! And then worry: Do I want a baby? Like, really...? And could I do it? And then joy. And, really... just a bunch of unnecessary thoughts and feelings pre-knowing if I'm even pregnant at all.

I had picked up a book on my way out of the office on Friday as I was heading home for the weekend. It was a book a friend had given me a year ago to read, a book that had remained on my shelf the entire time (and even through an office move). For whatever reason, I thought I might open it up during my weekend alone.

Would you believe that this book, while largely about other things, was also largely about the struggle of a woman to get pregnant? The very open memoir of a woman who longs for a second child, encounters miscarriages, false positives, the cruel waiting, every other person in the world around her (seemingly) getting pregnant... which then lead to giving up the trying and then winding up pregnant (of course). I haven't actually finished the book. It was at this point in the story where I needed to put it down for a minute.

Because I don't want kids.
And I do.
And I don't know how to deal with those very opposite realities.
I don't know how to deal with the relief and the disappointment that occurs simultaneously each month.

I don't know how to talk to people about it. I don't know how to talk to moms who have their own world of mom language and mom needs-- because I'm not one and, a lot of the time, I don't want to ever be one.  I don't know how to talk to women who are trying to have children and are crushed by their infertility-- because I'm still on this fence of relief and gratitude when I discover I'm not pregnant. I don't know how to talk to women who just don't want children-- because while I can carry this torch more fully than the others, I still don't know if I buy it. I still can't shake the thought that I'm just coping with this all in way that plays out in defensiveness and apathy.

I don't know how to talk to my husband about it either.
Because it's crazy.
It's back and forth, in an instant.
It's tears of disappointment coupled with sighs of relief.
It's applause of celebration and stabs of heartache.
It's the pleading that I might trust the Lord with all of this, no matter what, with the constant question of if we should seek further medical advice before it's "too late" or start pursuing adoption.

So I guess if you were to ask me today how I feel about this pregnancy thing?
I think I might tell you that I feel pretty alone in it.
Not because I don't have people around me who support and love me, or a husband who I'm continually thankful for... but because I don't know know what I want.

And, for maybe one of the first times in my life, I feel like I'm the only one in the world who feels like this. For any other situation or instance in my life, I knew there were people who could relate to what I was going through and how I was feeling about it.

But this?
This feels foreign. This isn't something I hear about or read about.
And maybe I feel like something is wrong with me. Because how can you not know if you do or don't want children?

But I'm torn.
Wanting.
Not wanting.
Torn because I see what other people have and I'm thankful I don't have it.
Torn because I see what they have, and my heart hurts because I don't.

And so I'll do the only thing I know I can do... and take it to the Lord. Because as crazy as I am, there's true comfort in the fact that the Lord knows me and the desires of my heart better than I do. My husband actually reminded me of that recently- that the Lord knows us. And He is good. So while I am torn, He is taking care of me. He is taking care of this.

And probably because of that (and that alone), I am still overwhelmingly content.
Content, yet pushed to abide in Him more fully each day.

Strangely, there's enough hope in that for me right now. It's enough to override all the other tumultuous, crazy emotions this last year+ has been for me. It's enough to remind me that there's other things that matter more. It's enough that this doesn't have to be all-consuming or defining for me.

And, maybe even more strangely, I know that the Lord is being good to me in this entire process- even if I don't know how I feel about all of it.

So today... today, I'll eat my chowder, talk to my dogs, wait for my husband to come home, and be thankful for all that I do have.


Your entries will remain anonymous


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Permission

I give myself permission a lot.

Permission to eat more.
Permission to sleep in.
Permission to watch another television show.
Permission to not shower (I know, I'm gross).
Permission to not say something I know I should say.
Permission to say something I know I shouldn't say.

Permission.

Permission to be a worse version of myself, essentially.
It's the slippery slope of one's demise. The one where you convince yourself that if you just do this one thing it doesn't really matter much. But then you find yourself allowing it more and more steadily and then one day you wake up and none of your clothes fit again. Or you realize you haven't read your Bible in a long time. Or your hair is a greaseball because you were too lazy to shower again. Or you sat in a coma for hours watching a television series you don't even really care about.

I've been spending a good bit a time with people on our staff the past few weeks asking them a series of questions. It's been interesting, especially as similar themes begin to surface among them.

What is inhibiting your success? 

Believe it or not, the answer I most often get is: myself.
And, on some level, I know that answer has to be true for almost all of us.
We're, too often, our own worst enemies.
We're enablers of our own laziness, selfishness, gluttony, pride, lust, fear (shall I go on...?).

It's a pretty interesting phenomenon... yet, it's nothing new. It's been an issue with humanity from the beginning.

It usually starts as an internal conversation- and my most recent battles have been with food consumption. Because I lost a decent amount of weight a few years ago and then, with a pat on the back for all my hard work, I slowly eased up on my concern with what went in my body and with my activity level. So, naturally, the balloon started inflating. When I went home for Christmas last year, I brought back some of my "fat" pants, determined not to spend money on clothes again.

But then I realized it was kind of the worst. Being scared of the scale, knowing I was just getting larger, feeling constantly insecure and, honestly, pretty disgusted with myself. Where was the self-discipline that I had acquired? And so, I began again. Slowly, but surely, attempting to care about what I ate and care about my physicality.

And so the conversations continue. The battle resumes.
It's only one donut. It's not like you eat them every day. It won't make a big difference. 
The devil on my shoulder convinces me.
I give myself permission.
I pick up the donut and, usually, enjoy every bite.

It's crazy how often I convince myself to do the very thing I have told myself I won't do. It's crazy how easy it is to defeat my own resolve with the slightest permission to just give myself a break from the commitment once or twice. In fact, the more I think about it, the angrier I am that I'm such a pushover.

And so lately, I've been fighting a little harder with myself.
Lately I feel more determined to not give in so easily.
Just being aware of the conversation, of my willingness to give myself permission, has allowed me to walk in discipline a little more steadfastly. Because when I can identify what's going on, I can tell myself to get lost and remind myself of what I'm committed to and why I chose to commit to it in the first place.

It's pretty cool to see what happens when I can walk more resolved in one area of my life, too. It begins to transform the other areas.

And really there's a lot of begging and pleading with the Lord that I might truly be more like Him, that I might seek His face more readily and that I might live a life that glorifies Him. And that part is necessary- that part can't be forgotten. That part is where the resolve comes from, that part is what changes everything. That part, I'll never be good enough in.

Thankfully there's grace, second chances and, because of that, an ability to not be entirely defeated when I give myself permission once in a while.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It Ain't Perfect

Okay, let's get serious.
Now that we're past all the mushy, gushy obligatory anniversary posts, I can tell you how our day really went. Because as much as all the things about our wedding day are true and as much as I still think our marriage is really wonderful and that I'm incredibly blessed... it ain't perfect.

So let's back up a few days.
September 27, 2016

We had decided on only one thing for our anniversary- a fancy dinner. Not because either of us really love fancy dinners (however he definitely does more than me), but because the Retreats team at camp had given us a gift card for Christmas that we hadn't used yet. Their goal? To give us something that would make us do something we would normally never do. Tricksters.

So 10 months later, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to put their generosity to use. A two year anniversary celebrated with a fancy dinner. What else can you do on a random Tuesday in September?

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I woke up on September 27, 2016- but I think I may have anticipated more than what actually happened. Eager to continue my new routine of early morning moments with the Lord, I hopped out of bed and sat down at the kitchen island- Bible and journal in hand. Because on your anniversary, you have to write about your marriage (although, when I skimmed backward, I definitely hadn't done it for our one year).

And so I wrote and I read, like all diligent wives do... somewhere, somehow not even realizing that I might be expecting that this day might be different than any other.

Cuing the dog to wake my sleeping beau so we could scurry off to work, I soon found myself in the company of a sleepy, incoherent man. A man complaining about not having pants while wearing a pair of pants. No pants?! You have pants, I assured him. The khaki pair, remember the khaki pair? They're missing! They can't be missing... that doesn't make any sense.

Eventually the pants were discovered in the Goodwill pile...discarded too soon due to a missing button. Buttons are easy. Buttons are cheaper than pants. Don't you know?

And off to work we went.

The thing about working at the same place and working in the same building and, then, having your husband also work for you, is that sometimes work and home mix. Only sometimes, of course. And on this particular day, our anniversary day, we had a scheduled meeting together. A one-on-one. A boss checking in on their employee type of meeting. The type of meetings we don't have enough because we're married and see each other often. The type of meetings he can resent me for not having with him often enough. And so we met. And after the first fifteen minutes of figuring out how to actually talk to each other without being defensive or annoyed, we survived.

But today's our anniversary, I thought.
It's supposed to be special. Different. Better. Best. Isn't it?

My husband suggested us leaving work early to catch a movie before our fancy dinner reservations at 6:30pm. Okay. Let's do it. Let's play hooky and go see a movie. I scrolled through Fandango, dismayed by our options but determined to find one that fit our interests and our timeframe. With less than 15 minutes to get ready for our fancy dinner, we both laughed at how dressed up we were having to get for a movie. A dress, wedges, make-up... his wedding shoes, a button up, a suit jacket.

So we went to the mall (of course). We bought our tickets, our large popcorn (with butter) and our giant Mr. Pibb. It's by far the sleaziest theatre in town, but it had the movie we wanted at the time we needed. With only one other couple in the theatre, I sank down into my seat, my feet already hurting in the wedges. Why didn't I think to bring flip flops? 

As we listened to Florence Foster Jenkins (or rather, Meryl Streep) belt too highly and off-key, I had a moment of dissatisfaction. What are we doing? We could go to a movie any day...? Today is our anniversary... it's supposed to be special. Why didn't we go hiking, catch the sunset and eat a delicious picnic? And why am I still wearing these stupid shoes? 

The shoes came off.
We laughed. He cried.
The shoes came back on, the lights came back on. An hour to kill until dinner.
Fortunately we needed a shower curtain rod (ours had fallen off in the middle of the night onto our dog a few days prior) so we took off across town to hit up Lowe's.

It's always in rides across town that everything goes wrong, isn't it?
It's always on your anniversary where things are supposed to be special when you ask your husband a question that automatically traps him. We came to a stop at a stop sign, I showed him a picture of us that had been taken months earlier and I ask (deep sigh): I don't look as fat anymore, right? 

It wasn't what he said that made me mad, but it was the tone.
And immediately I brought up the pants, the meeting, and his response to my picture. You just don't seem like you even like me today. 

When what I really wanted to say was, today was supposed to be special. I expected today to be special. Couldn't you read my mind? 
Eventually, through clinched teeth, I admitted to him that I had probably had some expectations that I didn't even know I had that weren't being met. And, eventually, after a few more misunderstandings, I even apologized for it.

One (too long) shower curtain rod and a few light bulbs later and we were on our way to the fancy dinner. The type of fancy dinner that immediately makes someone like me feel out of place, angry at the absurdity of the prices and ignorant about food and wine. But we survived. We even drank good wine and ate delicious (small portions) of food.

The thing about the fancy dinner was that it gave us more time to talk. We had quickly moved on from our misunderstandings and had reached a place of common ground. It wasn't long before we found ourselves reminiscing, laughing and enjoying each other's company in this funny, expensive restaurant (the type of restaurant where they fold your napkin again if you leave it on your table when you excuse yourself to go to the bathroom).

We talked about the lessons we had learned over the last year in our marriage and the things we wanted to accomplish in the upcoming one. We dreamed about the possibilities and the ways that we might be better reflections of Christ in all aspects of our lives. We talked about tackling new adventures and being more intentional with the people in our lives.

It was a great fancy dinner.
And, in some ways, it was a perfect anniversary. Not because our relationship is perfect, but because our anniversary reflected exactly that: imperfection. Imperfection, confession, getting over ourselves and still making the most of a delightful evening.

In fact, it's potentially one of my favorite parts about our marriage.
We somehow manage to weed our way through this messiness and find each other... and ultimately remind each other that we're on the same team. We're in this together. Our intentions are good, even if they aren't always executed perfectly or received well.

And it's good.
Super imperfect, but good.
And a crazy, challenging, beautiful, life-changing adventure.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Night to Remember

I felt naked today.

For the first time in our two years of marriage, I forgot to put my wedding ring on. It's actually rare that I ever take it off, but last night I was dealing with pizza dough and who really wants dough caught between a ring and a finger? So, I took it off... and completely forgot about it until this morning when I sat down at my desk.

I remember putting the ring on for the first time. The new spacer in between my fingers felt unnatural and weird, and I wondered if I'd ever get used to it. I'm not really a jewelry person, so anything foreign (earrings, bracelets, rings) bothers me. But, as everyone assured me, I got used to it. The ring became my normal, my every day. It's less sparkly than it was, and it's definitely dirty... but it's always on.

Ironically enough, on the very (only) day I forgot to put my ring back on, my husband and I reached our 2 year anniversary mark. Anniversaries are a funny thing... probably filled with expectations and anticipations. Mostly I just like to remember.

I like to remember our wedding day and all the people that bent over backwards to make it exceptional. The people who drove hundreds of miles, the people who spent way too much money, the people who gave up their time and their sleep and their energy. The ladies who made hay bales look pretty, the guys who moved giant stumps, the millions of other tiny details that caused many people to sweat it out in the too hot of a September day that it was.

I like to remember the go-karts and the batting cages, in my bridesmaids attempts at making sure my wedding day didn't solely consist of make-up and hair spray. I like to remember my sister-in-laws join effort in doing my hair because my hair plans fell through. I like to remember the bridesmaid dress that couldn't quite zip up minutes before walking out the door and the panic that then ensued. I like to remember the prayers that they prayed over me, moments before I was to walk down the aisle.

My husband and I saw each other before the wedding, choosing to take pictures prior to the event....choosing to allow our first glance of each other to be in private. I like to remember the moment when he first saw me and the moment when I first saw him. The moment when you realize: this is really happening. I like to remember all the picturesque locations, the giant mosquitos that got caught in my veil (which had to inevitably be edited out of a few pictures), and the heels that sank into the loose soil. The heels that I would forgo for bare feet for the actual ceremony.

Not long after, I clutched my father's arm to walk down the slope to greet my groom. I like to remember the faces that beamed at me as I made my way down. Faces from all over the country, faces I had seen just that day and faces I hadn't seen in many years. Faces of people who were cheering for me, for us. Faces of people who had prayed and pleaded with me for this very moment. Faces of people who had cried with me in the heartaches, faces of people who had loved me through my entire life. Faces of people who I didn't know well yet, but who were graciously welcoming me into their family with kind, open arms.

I like to remember the instruments (not real, of course) that orchestrated the verses that pierced my heart deeply with each step. In Christ alone, my hope is found...He is my light, my strength, my sound.

© Catherine Rhodes Photography 2014
I like to remember standing there, hands clasped with the man I was to marry, in front of our friends and family and listening to the words my oldest brother spoke to us as he officiated our wedding. His words were sincere, passionate, compelling - reminding us of the commitment we were making to each other.  I like to remember the way the sun began to set and the lyrics we sung as we came before the Lord in worship together. Jesus Paid it All.... all to Him I owe.. 

And while everything after those moments are a blur, I like to remember getting in a canoe in my wedding dress for a silhouetted lake shot, the toasts that were made, the crazy dancing, the friends and family that I finally got to talk to and laugh with (for too short of a time), and the fireworks that exploded as we made our way to the 'getaway' car.

It was literally a night to remember.
The best night.
And while it was just another night to almost every other person there, it was a night that changed my life forever. A night where the Lord swung me around happily in His arms, gently telling me: See?!!? This is what I've had in store for you! I've been waiting to show you for so long, and now it's here! Isn't delightful? Aren't you so glad you waited?

It was a night where I wept much, as I realized again and again how much He loves me. He was willing to give more than what I needed, more than what He promised... and He was willing to give it to me: impatient, selfish, demanding, entirely too human.

I wish I could do our wedding over again.
I wish I could have all those same people back in one place, for more time.

My ring is back on again, and life feels a bit more normal.
The ring reminds me- not only that I'm married and that I have to learn day in and day out how to live more selflessly, but it reminds me that the Lord is just who He says He is: faithful. In all things. In all seasons. And His faithfulness doesn't have to look a certain way for Him to actually be faithful. It can be slow, it can even seem painful...but it is real and it is good.

Because God is good.
All the time.
I hope I never forget it.

Your entries will remain anonymous


Sunday, September 18, 2016

An Off Day

Today is one of those days where something just seems off.

Do you know the type of day that I'm talking about?
Something deep within me feels unsettled, unsatisfied... maybe even broken.
It's one of those days where I want to scream at the injustice, where I want to tell people to wake up, to get over themselves, to acknowledge that there's more to life than our comfort and our happiness. To do something different, to want something more, to live a life of purpose.

One of those days where I realize that I'm actually needing to yell all of those things at myself.

There's no apparent cause to unsettledness, but it has barged into my heart, into my soul and reminded me that this world is not my home. Something has bred discontentment, and I find myself waffling, searching, wondering...

And it always begs the questions: so now what? 
What do I need to change about the way that I'm living? What do I need to change about the relationships in my life and how I'm interacting with them? What do I need to change about the way I'm spending my time? What do I need to change about the questions I'm asking, the content of my conversations, my current priorities?

And then the overarching question, the one that pierces deeply... Even if I identify something that needs to change, will I be disciplined enough to actually change it? 
At the end of the day, do I care enough... does it matter enough...?

I wonder how many of us marvel at the idea of change but how many of us are brave enough to actually enact it. How many of us live lives that are ruled by societal pressures, by systems within our jobs, by chasing dreams that leave us richer, smarter, more secure and comfortable. What's the goal, what's the objective, what's the calling?

My husband and I bought a house recently- a house that we'll never live in, but one that we'll be renting out. We hadn't actually seen it until this past week and as we did some minor fixes, I couldn't help but want to change more. What if we did this, or did that...? And immediately I was reminded that none of those changes would benefit me. Which made me immediately unsatisfied with my current living situation. We're basically tenants of a house that isn't ours, a house that we don't have to rent (which we're truly thankful for), but it doesn't allow much room to fix, to change, to make better.

My dust-covered closets.
Who has time to clean these, anyway?
And so I look around the house we currently live in, disgusted by the permanent layer of dust, the dirty carpet, the broken blinds...wishing I could snap my fingers and be living in a house that we could personally invest in (we could, I suppose-it just doesn't make much sense). Immediately I'm even more disgusted by my ungratefulness, by my selfishness, by my incessant desire for more when I've already been given much.

There always seem to be these real, tangible, outward examples of the dirt in my heart. Real examples of how unsatisfied I am, how much like Goldilocks I am.... in all areas of life: This body is too large, this house is too dirty, these dogs are too hairy, I don't read enough, I'm not disciplined enough, I don't have deep/good enough friendships, this church is too long, too boring, too unfriendly, not passionate enough.

I'm too critical.
But I find myself mostly sitting in my criticism and not doing much about it.
Battling the balance between when I need to learn contentedness and when I need to act.

And so I stew.
Some days it's easier to ignore the questions, the doubts, the criticisms, the wonderings on if I'll ever do something.
Some days I actually do something- I seek out people, I wake up early and read, I ask different questions, I have hard conversations that I don't really want to have, I clean up the filth.
And some days I wonder if it's all enough. I wonder what I'm missing, where I'm lacking, how I can be doing different, better, less, more.
And some days it feels too hard.
Some days it feels easier to live like everyone else.

And maybe it's those days where things feel off.
Where something feels broken.
Working toward something. 
Because maybe somewhere I've settled, I've become complacent, I've given up.
Maybe somewhere I'm avoiding my calling-- and maybe that's in small ways, but maybe it's in big ways.
Maybe I just care too much about things that don't actually matter.
Maybe I've lost sight of what it means to consider everything else a loss compared to knowing Christ.
Maybe I don't know how to live extraordinarily in my current circumstances, maybe I'm just living too comfortably. Maybe I'm living too fearfully.

The off days remind me that I want more.
They remind me to ask the questions.
They remind me that there's more purpose to be found... more than 40 days of it.

So today I'll clean and hope it lasts longer than a few days.
And I'll think.
And I'll ask myself some hard questions.
Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Thirty, Flirty and Thriving

I have a friend who is about to turn 30.

And she's single...with no prospects.
Thirty, flirty and thriving, right?

13 Going on 30 made this year as a single seem a little more glamorous than my friend probably feels. Because when you're in your late twenties and you're single, you kind of just feel old and decrepit and unwanted. Kind of like you missed your shot. Kind of like the world is passing you by with how it's all supposed to go: marriage, house, kids... and more kids. Don't forget that white picket fence and those darling matching jumpers (yeah, my mom made me wear those with her).

The thing about my friend turning 30 and being single is that, when I put myself in her mind (you know, imposing all of my own thoughts and feelings on her), I suddenly realize that my near-decade of singleness isn't enough. Because, if I'm her, I would think: Debbie, I know you were single until you were 29, but you have no idea how it feels to be turning 30 with no romantic prospects. Because, when you were turning 30, you were engaged to be married. How I'm feeling is a totally different ballgame.

And while I get it, I can't quite put my single-for-a-decade-card away (because 20 is the standard age at which marriage becomes acceptable- just ask the bride of the first wedding I was ever in). And because I can't yet pocket that card, I would also tell myself (or people who are like me) that it's a lie. I think I do understand more than you might imagine. I think my years of singleness allow me to resonate with the pain, the not understanding, the doubting in the Lord's goodness... no matter the age. It may not be perfect and my experiences/challenges may be different, but I also know that it sucks. I can still feel the suckiness of it, the weight of it, the hopelessness of it... and I'm so sorry that it hurts so much.

And while I can tell you a multitude of things (don't focus on it, don't let it be your end goal, trust the Lord, know that He is good and all of this is FOR your good, be patient, keep seeking the Lord, etc. etc.)-- I know that on some level those words just go in and out. Because as much as those things are true and as much as they are actually necessary to functioning and living, it doesn't change the fact that oftentimes it still hurts and it's still all-consuming. It doesn't change the fact that you feel like a minority, that you feel like a third-wheel, that you don't always know how to relate to the world around you when they seem to be experiencing these other components to life that you can pretend to understand, but honestly have a hard time with. It doesn't change that you can't shake feeling like when the world looks at you, they must think: I wonder what's wrong with her? There must be a reason why she hasn't been chosen yet? And sometimes you can't help but wonder if that's actually true of all the current prospects out there who are of an eligible age (sometimes I joke that that's why I got married to a man 5 years younger than me- he was still cool-ish).

So, to catch any of you up to speed who don't really know me yet, I started dating my husband around three years ago. I was 29. He was 25. I was a rule follower. He was a rule breaker. I had long hair. So did he (he actually still has longer hair than me, even after we both got haircuts yesterday).

It wasn't anything I expected.
He wasn't anything I expected.
In reality, he wasn't initially anything I thought I would want. Quite a bit younger, rambunctious, hyper-active, seemingly cocky and too much of a dude who led girls on without even realizing he was doing it (you all know the type I'm talking about). So, my desperate 29-year-old self thought: why not? What have I got to lose? Why not just talk to him and flirt with him? And my broken, 29-year-old self also knew that I didn't want to waste time and that I wasn't interested in becoming one of the girls left in his wake, wondering what had happened and how I could have mistaken his kind, listening ears for genuine interest in me as person, as a woman.

But I was wrong.
About all of it.
The seemingly unlikely quickly became likely... in fact, it just suddenly happened.
I became the story that single girls gag over. Within 10 days of dating we were talking about marriage, within three months we were engaged. Gross. I became the Christian cliche. The type of story I would have rolled my eyes at (I maybe felt like people were cheering more for me only because I was 'so' old and had waited 'so' long). But I've loved almost every minute of it.

I want my story to continue to remind single ladies that hope doesn't have to be lost. To remind them that sometimes it actually does come in the most unlikely ways. To remind them that the Lord hears us, even in our darkest, saddest moments... and that He really is working everything out for the good of those who love Him. I would have waited even longer for my husband, if it meant that I got to marry him (especially if the alternative meant marrying someone else). Because, as cliche as it is, he was worth the wait. The Lord knew what He was doing...and He knew that I didn't.

And while I want to urge you to not place your identity in being single or your hope in not being single forever, I know the reality of that is hard. I know that living a life outside of the realm of your relationship status is hard when your empty ring finger is constantly glaring at you and when all of your friends are, if not already has-beens of a blushing bride, bursting at the seams pregnant. I know that you're constantly staring into a future of figuring out at what point you need to stop thinking someone might just come along. A future of constantly struggling with being content and weeping alone at night. And I know this happens when you're19 and probably even more when you're 30+ (although I can't speak to that from my own experiences anymore).

But I do urge you to cling to Jesus throughout it all.
Be steady in that.
Be faithful to Him through it.
Weep to Him.
Confess your doubt, your fears, your hurts to Him.
Trust Him. 
Lean not on your own understanding (because you'll never understand it, even when/if it happens).
Ask Him to remind you over and over again of your ultimate purpose and ask Him to show you how to live each day fully invested in that.
It doesn't negate the hurt and the doubt, but it keeps you focused on what matters above all else, even if you can't possibly be perfect in keeping that as your number one priority.
And know that it's okay.
You're human.
You have desires.

Be open to the world of unexpectedness. Be open to being wrong. Be open to the different journey that you're on without so desperately trying to change it.

It's an age-old song, I know. But it's always good to be reminded.
God is good.
Life is hard.
But God is still good.
Walk in that today, friends.

P.S. To anyone who is single: ENJOY your time!!  I know many of you are watching friends getting married and having kids, but you were uniquely chosen to NOT have this happen in your life just yet. Don't spend all your time dreaming or crying over the should-be's... there's so much life to be lived that can be lived because you don't have a spouse or children. Know that you are blessed where you stand, that you've been given much and that the Lord intends to use all of you for His glory. I love what He can do through willing hearts and how that oftentimes has nothing to do external circumstances.

P.P.S. To anyone who is married: be aware that your single friends may be struggling, hurting and secretly dealing with stuff you may not understand. All of them will need you to respond differently to them, and differently in different situations. Just be aware. And don't be afraid to ask them about it. Sometimes they just need you to ask them about it, to ask them what they need. Avoid trying to constantly set them up and always be aware of how your own actions and invitations may make them feel alienated/awkward/like a third wheel.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Three Years Later

It's been three years since I moved to New Mexico.

Three years.
Some days it seems like I just got here...and other days it seems like a lifetime.

I remember the day I arrived pretty vividly... wondering when the flat terrain would turn into the supposed mountains that I was moving to. I remember being greeted by a good group of folks who were so graciously willing to help me unpack my too packed Subaru. I remember my calves getting complimented by a strange girl who would turn into a sweet friend. I remember feeling blessed by the space in contrast to my cramped quarters in New England.

I remember rooftop sessions with my roommate, summiting Baldy despite needing to stop every five seconds, working until the sun went down and then some, learning how to run a kitchen by buying food at Sam's and making large vats of chili and deformed, homemade pizza. I remember dropping a cake in a parking lot and still eating it with friends (picking gravel out of our teeth), I remember not knowing how to get around for weeks because this place was just too large. I remember wondering how we'd ever have enough staff to make it happen (I actually still wonder that), wondering if we'd have enough time, if we had enough money. I remember interviewing summer staff, assuring them that their summer would be awesome but admitting that I had no idea what it would actually look like-- still pleading that they would come willingly and unknowingly (I actually called that summer "The Summer of Unknowns").

But what I remember most about that time was that it was new. It was exciting. It was exhausting. It was risky. We were doing something that was known, but unknown. Doing something that was hard, but good. We were on a new adventure and weren't quite sure of the outcome.

Our boss reminded us recently that an adventure is simply a journey with an unknown outcome.

Moving to New Mexico has been exactly that: an adventure.

I never would have imagined that the long-haired, surfer-looking, turtle-tattooed man that I was communicating with when I made the move would be my husband a little over a year later. Our casual long-distance flirting would blossom into many a trip between Texas and New Mexico and late night phone calls.

I never would have imagined the ways that my job has changed or the things that I would be asked to do (and get to do). I never would have imagined the people that would come and go and the friendships that would form and the team that would assemble. I never would have imagined the thousands and thousands of campers we would serve. I never would have imagined serving thousands of burgers to over 1000 people in less than 10 minutes.

I never would have imagined the ways the Lord would move, the ways He would provide, the ways He would be faithful.

I remember when we welcomed thousands of campers in the first day of summer camp in 2014. We watched with awe and terror as they unloaded off the buses, played in the newly established waterfront, and crowded into the mud pit. And we fell on our faces when they gathered in Holcomb Auditorium and worshiped. Somehow, for some reason, it had worked. The Lord had taken all of our imperfections, mishaps and struggles from the last nine months and turned it into something where He could change lives. And we all knew, in the deepest parts of our hearts, that it was only because of Him.

I'd be lying if I said the aroma of excitement is still in the air in the same way it was three years ago. Things aren't as new, as unknown, as terrifying. In a lot of ways, that's a good thing...but sometimes I miss the unknown. Sometimes I miss the newness.

But man...
What a life.
I can't believe what I've gotten to be a part of. I can't believe what I've gotten to witness. I can't believe all the lives that have been changed and the ways the Lord continues to move through the efforts of hundreds of imperfect humans.

So it's been three years.
Three life-changing years.

And I just want to say thanks.
Thanks to the hundreds and hundreds of staff and volunteers and prayer warriors who have been a part of this journey. Thanks for the thousands of phone calls you made, for the toilets you've cleaned, for the sweat, for the tears, for the late nights and early mornings. Thanks for the miles you drove, for the doors you knocked on, for the conversations with youth pastors all over the country informing them of what God is doing here at Glorieta. Thanks for being a part of the story- whether you were here for a few days, a few months, a few years, or are here now.

You are not forgotten.
I know it wasn't easy.
I know it wasn't perfect.
I know it still isn't.
But I pray that when you remember your time at Glorieta (or any ministry, really) that you would believe that the Lord is bigger than all of the junk, than all the humanness. That you would know your efforts produced real fruit. That you would know the Lord used you, despite your humanness, to change lives. It's monumental.... and monumentally humbling.

Thanks for being willing.
Thanks for serving.
Thanks for sacrificing.

It's been an adventure... and, in a million different ways, it continues to be.
I can't wait to see what else unfolds and what else the Lord has for this place.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Other Plans

"Wait, you don't have children?"
It was an eye-opening moment for me as I stared up at the older woman I had met a few summers prior.

I was up at our front office, attempting to send and receive via the fax machine so I could ask a visiting doctor friend about my blood work--somewhat hoping that she could give me all the answers to my infertility by looking at some numbers on a chart. I probably speak a little too casually about not being able to have children (and in that moment, probably too loudly), because this woman came over and told me that if I ever needed to, I could get the scoop on being even older without children.

Wait, what?
You really don't have children? 

Now that I think about my quick response, I can only imagine the knife digging deeper into her heart. I can only imagine the thousands of times she's heard it, been asked about it, had people talk about it.

My incredulousness wasn't because I thought something was wrong with her, however. In some way, I almost felt like she was a beacon of hope for me. A light in the darkness. A woman living out one of my fears, but doing it in a way encompassed with joy, kindness and gentleness. There was also guilt, as I realized I had just assumed that this woman and her husband had kids and grandkids.... because everyone does, right?

We stood in that front office talking for a bit.
No children.
Attempts at adoption, but it didn't work out.
The Lord had other plans.
But that doesn't stop the questions or the assumptions (as I just proved). As much as life can revolve around children, she assured me that it quickly turns into grandchildren: everyone is always talking about kids. And it still hurts, even if it's just a bit.

I haven't really known what to do with not being able to get pregnant.
I don't care enough to really do something about it- like go to a specialist or spending more money on a billion different things. Some might call me foolish, but I just feel like if we're meant to have kids, we will. If having children is in the plan, the Lord will bless us with them. I can't read Scripture, claim I believe it and then not believe that for my life.

So right now we're in a period of just living. Living life and, I pray, learning to live it in such a way where God is truly glorified. We're not not trying, but I've stopped holding tightly to temperatures, timing, and being overly obsessed with fluids and random myths. I've started thinking more about what life might look like without children and if there could be true joy in that for me.

When this older couple left at the end of the summer there was an applause, a cheer, a recognition for them that brought tears to my eyes. They had deeply impacted our entire staff. They had lived a summer of service and sacrifice because of what Christ has done for them- and it showed in the response of everyone around them. In a room with almost 200 folks, people stood to acknowledge them and to thank them. My heart was deeply stirred.

Could I never have a child, yet live my life to impact lives for the Kingdom of Christ and have that be enough?  Could I do it with joy, humility and contentment?

I want my answer to that question to be a resounding yes. Honestly, I'm not 100% sure that I'm there- at least not all of the time. Because sometimes I still think about being older and I think about being lonely and I think about all the things I won't experience without children being in my life.

But I do trust the Lord in this.
I trust that He, and He alone, creates life. I trust that He can make this barren woman fertile, if it's what is best. I trust that He is good. I trust that He knows me better than myself.

And, if, at the end of my life, I can stand before a cloud of witnesses and know that above all else (children or not) that my life was lived to honor the King...I think that ought to be enough for this wretched heart of mine.

I'm so thankful that Jesus reminds me, over and over again, that this life is not about me nor does it ever go down the trail that I'm expecting. I'm so thankful that even the most heart-wrenching things can be redeemed. I'm so thankful that nothing is impossible.

I'm so thankful for a couple who can model this for me- even though I don't know all the heartaches and struggles they've faced on their own journey. I see where the Lord has brought them, and I see what it can look like to abandon all of our own desires for the sake of something greater. I see it, and it is good.

Today, I'm thankful.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It's a Dog Hair World

It's been a while.
I think about writing a lot. I just don't really ever sit down to do it.

Because writing means processing. It means taking time. It means being focused.

And lately I just feel like I'm all over.
Maybe I'm avoiding.
Maybe I'm busy.
Maybe I'm tired.
Maybe I've just run out of things to say.
Maybe I have what some might call 'writers block'.

So instead I sit and stare. Fumbling back and forth between watching the gentle giants play and seeing what new recipe my newsfeed is going to show me that I'll salivate over, but never actually make.  Meanwhile, the "Blogger" tab stays open, waiting patiently for the words to come.

Maybe today I'll have something to write.
Maybe today I'll stop working, thinking, trying to please, trying to win, trying to do all the things right... maybe today I'll stop being lazy.

And as I watch my gentle giants, I watch the giant tufts of hair floating around them. How did I become one of these people? Our house is often filled with dust and hair (crimpy short whites and long wavy browns/blondes). Because we're a hairy house. And our dogs live outside most of the day in red dirt. Basically we're disgusting. I remember going over to dog owners' houses and being grossed out by various things about dog ownership. And now I'm one of them. A disgusting dog owner with dog hair all over my fleeces and slobber stains all over my pants. And, the more disgusting part of all? I don't even hate it.

However, this time of year is particularly gross. Gross because Great Pyrenees "blow" their coats as they shed their summer undercoats and grow a new, thicker one to prepare for winter. I brushed Zeus the other day and it looked like snow was covering our porch. It got even worse after we gave him a bath. Would you believe when I read online about coat blowing that a warm bath actually triggers more shedding? Better believe that our road trip to my in-laws house had us in a blizzard of white dog hair any time one of them moved. We were coughing, choking, and barely able to keep our eyes on the road. I tried eating watermelon but was unable to escape the white crimpies that quickly attached themselves to the succulent fruit.

And then today, when the thunder rolled, dear Zeus was up in arms. I went outside, in the Texas humidity, to be a kind mom and help rid his anxiety... and my gentle touch caused his hair to literally fall out. So I thought, I'll brush him. I"ll brush it all out and he'll have nothing left to shed. And so I brushed him. And I brushed him. And I brushed him. It was never-ending. The hair piled up around us. I grabbed what I could as it floated through the air, but I'm sure the neighbors at my in-laws are wondering why white hair is now in their food.

Would you believe that alllll that dog hair made me think about sin? They're actually quite similar. Because sin comes off of us, whether we want it to or not (especially when it's what's inside of us). And oftentimes, when we go to purge ourselves of sin, we find ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of it that's there. Sometimes there's so much that we don't know what to do with it and we're choking on its very existence. How was there this much and I didn't even know it? And sometimes it takes someone else pulling it out of us for us to realize how much is actually there. And, just like the dogs, us humans oftentimes aren't even aware of it.

I collected a pile of dog hair today that ended up being the size of another small dog. And now I'm thinking about sin. I'm thinking about if there's sin in my life that I'm neglecting and it's causing me to schluff off more sin into the space of everyone around me that I'm oblivious to. It's making me wonder what I need to do to dig in, grab the brush, and start grooming through the weeds that I've been avoiding for too long. It's making me wonder what I'll find, how much I'll have to dig, and what to do with it when it all comes out. And what if it just keeps coming and coming and coming?

Because my heart is still dark.
But there's nothing secret that will remain hidden.

So maybe it's time to join my pups.
To stop avoiding.
To stop being too busy or too tired or too scared.
To get out the comb. And to brush, and brush, and brush. And allow the Lord to bring His refinement into a life that's been avoiding it for too long. And to trust that His intentions for me are good. That He is constantly bringing me into something better, preparing me for what's next, allowing me to be a greater reflection of Him, a greater image of who I was created to be.

I don't entirely know what that looks like, but this is what happens sometimes when you just starting writing again (and you have two giant fluffs).

Take it or leave it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

For Rent

We bought a house.

We can't post a picture of our smiling mugs in front of our new house with a "SOLD" sign though.
We actually haven't been in it yet, but we bought it. So there's that.

It's one of those big life things you usually do at some point after your married, as you dream about the future and the memories you might make in between those walls...

But, ours didn't really go like that.
Let's back up a month and some change. My husband has his birthday. I ask him the birthday questions. Question #2: "What's one thing you want to accomplish in the next year of your life?"

I want to invest our money.
It wasn't a new sentiment. It's something we had been talking about since before we were married, but we hadn't figured out the best way to do it. Little did I know how quickly this accomplishment would play out.

The following day, we placed a bid on a house in an online house auction in Missouri. It's one of those things you let your husband do because it's not actually going to turn into anything real. Although we hadn't seen it, others (trusted others) had. It seemed like a good deal- you know, with all of my real estate knowledge that I don't actually have. But, I went with it (my husband had done his research). Minutes later, through a few clicks of a button, we "won" a house that is 865 miles away.

Within a few hours I began to process through the entirety of everything that meant. A house. A house means mortgage. Utilities. Property tax. Refrigerators, washers and dryers. Things I've managed to escape for almost all of my adult life. A house means responsibility. And piles of paperwork I would sign my name to that I don't actually understand. Naturally, I began to freak out. It's one of those things you do and then suddenly the weight of it begins to sink in. My former debt-free life is now committed to paying off a 15-year loan. What were we thinking? Our dogs won't even live that long.

We'll probably never live in this house. But hopefully lots of other people will. My mom took us on a FaceTime tour of our new digs today... and I actually got pretty excited about it. We have a house. A cute, little house. A house that means a lot of things for us-- but, above all, it's this new journey my husband and I are on together. Now we can fight about mortgage payments and disagree about which brand of fridge to buy. Now we can be "real" adults with "real" life issues. I can hardly wait.

All joking aside, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with this house. The people we'll meet, the renters we'll have. The things it may lead to. The ways it could impact our future. I'm excited about the things we'll have to learn and what being a homeowner in a different state might entail. It'll be something... that's for sure!

So no, we ain't pregnant (I know you're wondering)- but we now own a house. And that's pretty neat.

Let us know if you know anyone who wants to rent a house in Columbia, Missouri. Great school districts, great neighborhood (am I saying all the right things?).

I can't even show you a picture of the front of the house because I don't have one.
How's that for crazy?

Here's to new adventures in house ownership and landlord-ing!
Pray for us :)


Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Barbies & Babies

It's been a few months since I've written about pregnancy...

I'm sure some of you are just on the edge of your seat waiting for that exciting baby announcement. It's not coming. Not soon, anyway.

There's only so much I can write about it, but, in all honesty, I've stopped caring so much. Perhaps it's the ramp up toward summer and the busyness of my life increasing, but I'm less concerned with having a baby. And, as time goes on, I think the apathy grows. Or I'm just at this point where I think, "Well, if it happens, it happens."

I can't decide if I'm attempting murder on the desire within me, or if the Lord is just actually giving me peace to be content with where I'm at. However, it feels pretty different from the times that I tried to pretend I was really okay with being single when I wasn't (because, just when you are content with your singleness, that's when Mr. Right comes along, right? *that's not at all how it happened for me*).

I'm not trying to fool myself into thinking I'm okay without kids, I don't think. My biggest hiccups and bouts of confusion only really arise when I picture myself old, gray-er, and wrinkly without any grandkids. Because, that's not how it's supposed to be.

You'd think by now I would have learned that life is never how it's "supposed to be", but I still keep expecting it to go a certain course. Marriage immediately following college didn't happen- why would I assume that children would go as planned? Truthfully, there's a part of me that did assume it would. My happy voice within assuring me: Since you had to wait so long to get married, surely having children will be a breeze!

Apparently I still have a lot to learn about patience, waiting, and the Lord's timing.
There are some significant differences between waiting for Mr. Right to come along and waiting for my uterus to catch up to the plan, though.

this is NOT how I played with Barbies.. 
From the time I could play with Barbies, I knew I wanted a husband. It was a desire that I never, ever questioned and a desire that plagued me at times--because I could never shake it (even on the most hopeless of days). I never really cared much for babies and kids (or baby dolls) while growing up. I didn't change a diaper until I was in my late twenties. Baby-sitting still horrifies me. I have a bad habit of trying to use sarcasm on 4-year-olds and am alarmed when they just don't get it. I know they don't stay little forever..... but....

I guess I'm saying that I never really believed that God's plan for me was to be single my entire life. And while I would have managed, it didn't seem to line up with who He is. And while I still think we might never have biological children, that's not as alarming to me. I still think our futures will involve children in some capacity--and I'm pretty intrigued by what that'll mean/look like.

Another huge difference to this waiting bout is that I'm not alone. The journey in singleness (as some of you can attest) is just what it sounds like: lonely. It's easy to feel pathetic, desperate, and like the rest of the world is passing you by with new boyfriends and engagement parties. And while, yes, I can share some of those same thoughts with pregnancy announcements and baby pictures--I have this whole person who is journeying beside me down this same road. I'm not alone.
I'm not alone this time. And I only know that's because the Lord is so, so good and gracious.

It's really only been a little over year. This timeline pales in comparison to the 10+ years I felt like I waited to meet my husband. So... talk to me in 9 more years about fertility and I bet this blog post will look a little different.

All that to say...
Not pregnant.
Doing great (truly).
Continually learning that the Lord needs to shatter all my "supposed to" moments and remind me that it's about Him, His timing and His plan.
And, being thankful that, right now, for whatever reason, I am honestly content right where I'm at.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day

I can't believe it's already May.
Perhaps it's the snow flurries outside. 
These long 'winters' can easily convince me that Christmas just ended and summer is still months away. Or maybe it's just the disbelief that 32 is happening in 5 more days.  

Too often time is a mysterious thing. 
Wasn't it just yesterday that I was swatting swarms of locusts away from my face as I stood outside of the junior high building, waiting for my mom to pick me up after school? Didn't I just put on a prom dress and get ready for an angsty night of unknowns, giggling with all my girlfriends as the evening unfolded? Wasn't I just a Djiboutian Princess on a mud volleyball team, taking the rest of the seniors by storm? I'm sure I vividly remember strolling Truman State's campus in spring, taking pictures of all the new budding, beautiful life. And wasn't the time we enacted May Day with the Walmart $1 items in the middle of the night not that long ago, either? 

Cramming for finals and Go Nuts for Donuts. 
Empty, packed up houses and heart-wrenching good-byes as college came to end.
Crazy new (and old) adventures, across 4 states and down an 8 mile road. 
Frantically squeezing as many hours out of each day as possible, before Summer Staff arrival. 
Pool & pizza parties, galore!
Hours and hours of lifeguard training. 
Complete devastation and despair. 

May brings back a lot of memories. 
It's streaked with dances, final exams, graduations, good-byes, hellos, late nights, vacations, new adventures, heartbreak, and (for now) 31 birthdays. Sometimes I feel like my heart can't keep up. 

Where has the time gone?
I can't help but wonder. 
What have I done with my life?
What am I doing with my life?  

It's a question I've been asking a lot lately. A question that burns deep, when I allow it to really sink in. All of the memories, all of the experiences--what do they mean/what purpose do they have? Have I loved well? Have I done everything I could and been everything I've been asked to be, have I lived fully? Am I doing, being, living...? 

I don't know that I am. At least not always. 
There's a large part of my heart that craves more...and it's in constant disagreement with my lazy, fearful self. This part of my heart tells me I'm too comfortable. It tells me that there's more to be done. It tells me that there's too much pain and sorrow in the world and too many people idly standing by. It tells me that the call on my life is greater, more demanding, and (in direct contrast with my flesh), not about me. 

But, too often, I'm just tired. 
I work a lot. 
I feel like a failure in my interpersonal life, as I struggle to keep up with the people who are physically around me- not to mention the ones who are not. 
There's too much that I want to do, that I don't know how to make time for or have energy for. 

I don't mean to sound like a Debbie Downer. 
Mostly, I just want to live a life of purpose and meaning--not one that's centered around me. Purpose and meaning, even in the smallest of things- from the tone of my voice, to the look on my face, to a conversation with a stranger, to a conversation with a dear friend, to the words that I write and the prayers that I pray. 

Birthdays have a way of influencing these mid-year wonderings, I suppose. 
I'm not 100% sure what that means for me right now, in this current life...but I know I want to ask the questions. And I know that I want the answers to the questions to actually change some things. 

I'm aware of how uncertain everything is. I have no idea what the future holds. I don't know what opportunities, what tragedies, what circumstances will ever be...but I know, in all things and in all seasons, I want to be found obedient. I want to be found living out the Gospel, running a good race (no matter how tired I think I am). 

I do love May. And I love to remember all the things the Lord has brought me through in the last 30+ years during this month. I love spring, and I love knowing that summer is almost upon us. 
I love that my days will get longer and harder, because I know in my weariness, the Lord sustains me and that it has to be about Him. I love that lives will be truly changed....and that for some reason, I get to be a part of it. 

Perhaps you've figured out how to live life purposefully, even in all the little things. I'd love to hear from you on the things that you've implemented into your own life that allow you to truly live out the Gospel, no matter what's going on in your world. 

I know none of us are perfect.
I just don't want to wake up in ten years and find myself just idly standing by. 
This year, I want more. 
More of Jesus and more of who He is calling me to be. 


Your entries will remain anonymous

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cringing

I cringe a lot when I think about the past.
Did I really do that? Did I really say that?
I wish they were dreams (or nightmares), but... my past is always real. I used to think that if my house were ever burning down that one of the first things I'd grab would be my journals, but lately I'm wondering if I might purposely leave them behind.

If I read through them all today, I'd be reminded of the times that I stayed up way too late, waiting for the creaking door on AOL Instant Messenger to alert me that my freshman AND sophomore year crush had signed online (one guy that I just couldn't seem to get over...). I always tried to let him initiate conversation, but after a few minutes of radio silence, I never had much self control. Or the [many] times that I allowed myself to enter into deep friendships with guys, always hoping that it might be something more. Always saying stupid things. Always getting my heart too involved. Or the time I sent money anonymously to a crush, hoping it would bless him (but probably also hoping he'd find out it was me and come running). Or the times I cried myself to sleep, feeling hopelessly single. Or the times that I sorta, basically told guys I wasn't even dating that I liked them (or loved them?)...

Or just the fact that I probably wrote the same thing in my journal for almost a decade- I feel like today I might tell myself a lot of things. At least I'd want to, and I'd want myself to listen, to understand, to recognize that the here and now is never really as bad as it might seem.

Even if I rid myself of the journals, my past is still real. I'm still the girl who blogged about the despairs of single life in her late twenties and wrote a paper about the pains of it during my split second in seminary. I'm still the girl who dated the wrong guys for too long because it seemed better than being alone. The girl who was too forward and simultaneously too scared. The girl who confidently thought she knew what she wanted while also insecurely begged for validation and affirmation from the guys who ignorantly let her get close to them.

I'm not proud of my past.
I share the stories mostly in hopes that others might identify and there might be some reason or purpose to the madness. It's really the reason I started the blog in the first place- admitting my craziness so that others might identify and know they're not alone in the journey.

this is how I feel when I think about the past...
I'm not sure why, but lately I've been cringing about the past. And while I wish I could erase it, I have more of a desire to continue to remind any single ladies out there who are struggling with the singleness, the loneliness, the hopelessness (that too easily turns into craziness) that it shall pass. It gets better. It changes. You live and you learn. And, sometimes, you meet a guy who loves you despite all the craziness (I even cringe when I think about the beginnings of how my husband and I began..).

I do feel like the Lord extended grace to me throughout my twenties. While I made plenty of bad choices for myself, He never gave me the chance to make a choice that could negatively affect my entire future. He never let me say YES to the wrong guy (and, if we're being honest, there's a chance I might have). I feel pretty lucky, considering all the stupid things I did do.

It continually reminds me of the Lord's faithfulness. And I wish I had seen it then. I wish I would have seen it exactly for what it was when I was in the midst of it. Instead I was angry, confused, and blaming Him for the existence of these intense desires without any hope of fulfilling them. But if I could have known... I probably would have tried to speed up the process.

I love how perfect His timing has been though.
I love how, in spite of all my crazy, I can look at the man next to me and thank the Lord for saving me from all of the other failed attempts in my life.

I don't deserve any of this.
I'm a crazy lady, saved by grace AND, for no good reason, given the chance to be truly loved by a man on earth too.

How can it be?
I don't know. I truly don't get it.

Hang tight, single babes.
Spring was always the worst for me. Something about budding life and happy weather with summer on the horizon. It just always seemed like the perfect time to fall in love (but in reality, any time is great).

Don't let your expectations, your dreams, your hopes, or your desires get crushed by the current story you're in. Maybe the guy you're into doesn't like you back. Maybe you're getting pretty weary of feeling like no one will ever look your way. Maybe you're just in the cycle of getting your hopes up and constantly facing rejection. Maybe you just said something really stupid or bold to a cute guy (one time I boldly asked a crush via text: "So where do you see this going?" after only knowing him a few weeks).

We do dumb things.
We say dumb things.
We feel deeply... and sometimes it just hurts.
I get it. It's okay. Okay to be sad, okay for it to suck, okay for it to feel hopeless.

I'm praying today that you can zoom out and trust the Lord with the unthinkable, the seemingly impossible. He's got you. He's got this.

My husband isn't the fulfillment, but he points me to the One who is. And I hope you can get to that realization before I did.


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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Invest in Eternity

I typically try to avoid merging business with personal, but, for those of you who work at a camp, it's virtually impossible.

The two always collide at one point or another. We live where we work and we work where we live. My neighbors are my coworkers and my friends are my employees and my life is...camp. At the start of our marriage, my husband and I even shared an office for a few months. Oh, and I'm his boss (a fun fact he typically likes to share with people, and then they laugh at the typical husband/wife banter...and then he says, "no really, she's actually my boss" and then I think they feel weird). It's a funny world we live in. One that's hard to explain unless you've actually done it.

In most ways, camp life is kind of all I know.

I never set out to be a camp director. All I had planned for myself, back in 2003, was to try to work at a camp that wasn't in Missouri and wasn't anywhere any of my brothers had ever been. As a freshman, I remember scrolling through the endless possibilities of summer camp options. I actually entertained the idea of working at a weight loss camp (a.k.a. Fat Camp). I think I thought being a counselor might help me also lose weight. These were the days before Google, and I'm pretty sure I landed on Camp Eagle through some unknown search engine after weeks of research.

Why not?
Why not apply to work at this camp that I've never heard of in the middle-of-nowhere Texas that does adventure-y things that I've never even wanted to try? Why not?  It met my only two requirements.
And so I applied. I applied to work at Camp Eagle and two other camps. Unfortunately for me, most camps were already done with hiring. Fortunately for me, Camp Eagle was not one of them.

It was mid-March when I got a phone call from a lady telling me that they had talked to my references and wanted me to come work for the summer. All summer. No interview, but a job offer. A three month long, in a land with no cell phone service or internet access job offer.

So, I went.
Why not?
What else was I going to do?

I wish I could accurately communicate to you all that summer meant for me and did for me...but I fear no words will do it justice. It was the summer I learned how not to wear make-up. It was the summer where I learned how to scrub showers with finesse. It was the summer where I learned that people liked me, just as I was. It was the summer where I made friends with people I would have never chosen to be friends with (lifelong friendships, at that). The summer where I got to be a part of a camper's salvation story. The summer where I watched the Lord use even the most unlikely people to bring Himself glory. A summer where He used even me, in all of my imperfections, weaknesses, brokenness and shame. A summer of complete exhaustion, pouring out, giving of myself until I would recognize that it was never about what I could or couldn't do.

It was a summer of changed lives.
A summer of investing in eternity.

It's why I love camp.
It's why I'm still here.
Not because I got "stuck", but because it's one of the most beautiful and humbling things to be a part of. God using us to transform lives. God using us, and gently reminding us, that it's just not about us.

The Lord uses camp to change lives for eternity.
There's something about the wilderness, the stars, the campfires, the crickets chirping, the songs that are sung, the s'mores that are eaten, the stories that are told.... the openness, the vulnerability, the honesty, the hope for something different. Something about all of that reminds us that there's this greater life worth living.

I get to be a part of that. 
Every day.
Part of offering the reminder of second chances and this incredible mercy that's new every morning.

I had no idea how much that summer 13 years ago would change me. I had no idea how much a second summer would continue the process or how much a third summer would challenge my pride and false identity. I had no idea how it would lead me down this journey of full-time camp ministry. To Him be the glory!  It's messy and frustrating and crazy and consuming and constantly forcing me to look within while simultaneously causing me to get over myself.

The Lord knew what He was doing.

And so here's where the personal turns business-y. We're at a place in our organization where we need more staff than ever before. With a recent expansion of yet another campus, we're on the hunt for college students to take a leap a faith and join us for the summer of a lifetime... a summer of investing in eternity.

I don't actually know how many people read my blog or to what degree this post might accomplish anything, but, I wanted to see if you might be willing to help us. Might you consider doing the following:

  • Apply to work here!! 
  • Join me in praying that we might have more than enough summer staff for this upcoming summer. It's been the cry of my heart these last few weeks. 
  • Share this blog post - you never know who might be looking at your social media!
  • Tell any college students you know about the opportunities that we have to serve out here- and then send them to: glorieta.org/apply
  • Tell any high school students that they can come hang out with us, too! We have this sweet thing called Service Team that has everything to do with discipleship and servant leadership as they help us run camp by washing dishes. They can apply online, too: glorieta.org/apply
  • We're especially short on guys right now- urge any Christ-loving college-age men to consider the possibility of a summer out here! 
More than anything, I pray that we are always asking our young people to seize opportunities to invest in eternity. To experience a summer where it's just not about them. To be willing. To go. To follow. To abandon all, to become all things to all people... so that some might be saved. 

It's worth it.
Every single time. 

And, if you know the joy of working at a summer camp, I pray that you'll just spend a second or two thanking the Lord for that experience and that you would allow Him to remind you of the truths you learned during that/those summer(s). 

It's a beautiful thing.
In fact, there's nothing else like it.