Out of Sorts.

Have you ever felt like you had it all figured out and then you didn’t? Maybe that you knew exactly what you believed about that one thing and then you realized, wait, maybe I don’t know what I think? Or that at one time the world was really black and white and everything you believed made sense…and then it didn’t? Have you had doubts, felt more like you’re wandering in the wilderness every Sunday morning rather than sitting in that comfortable church pew?

My answers to all these questions? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. My faith has always been a part of who I am, but it has changed and evolved over the years. Sometimes it has made sense to me, other times it hasn’t. Sometimes I welcomed the changes and sorting out with open arms and sometimes I clenched my fists and fought against the feeling that I need to let go of these ideas that I always thought were right. Sometimes I felt really alone, other times I felt like just when I thought it was just me out here wandering, I would see Jesus and a friend would come alongside me too. In her new book, Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey is that friend.

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Sarah Bessey is one of my most favorite authors and her new book did not disappoint. I think every other line is underlined and I’ve lost count of the number of times “yes!”, “amen”, and “me too” fill the margins. It’s packed full of so much truth. It’s her story of how her faith has evolved and how she has made peace with that, but through her story you are confronted with so much truth. Truth that makes you dig deep, that makes you reflect on your own story. Her words remind us that we’re not alone and that God is oh so present in the sorting out. I see my story in her story.

It’s hard for me to articulate all the goodness found within Sarah’s writing so I think I’ll have to do a series of posts about it, but whether she’s writing about the Kingdom of God, community and friendship or the Church, her words drip with truth, life and light. It’s clear her writing is Spirit led and this writing is necessary and important to us all. It made me feel less alone and has helped me make peace with my evolving faith and I think it will for you too.  Sarah explains what the book is about, “Really, it’s a book about not being afraid. This is my way of leaving the light on for the ones who are wandering.”

Sarah also says, “There are many of us out here sorting, I think. This might be a small candle, but I’ll set mine on the lamp stand and you can set yours there too — and maybe our glow will light the path of others.” So join us on this lighted path so you can join your candles with ours and we can remember that we’re not on this journey alone.

{I was lucky enough to be on the launch team for Out of Sorts, which means I received an advance copy of the book in order to review it and spread the word about it. I didn’t receive any compensation for this, just the benefit of reading it so I can tell everyone how great it is and that you should buy it! You can find it on Amazon here.}

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I was so excited to get the book! Seriously…go get your copy!!!

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And just in case you need any more reason to love the book, there are the cutest printables with some of the themes from the book that you can find here.

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26 Things.

It’s my last day of being 26 and my 27th birthday is tomorrow. I guess I can really claim “late-twenties” now. I feel like I have no business being 27 and sometimes I feel like I’m still just a little kid, but then I look at all of my bills, student loans and remember that my ten year high school reunion is next year and I’m brought back to reality. I honestly am not bothered at all by getting older. I think aging is a beautiful thing because you get wiser and gain perspective, but for some reason 27 seems weird and kinda boring. It may be because I hate odd numbers and when do you hear of anyone saying…yes…that really exciting thing happened when I was 27! But I’m not going to judge this year of life that has not yet happened, but rather welcome it with open arms and hey, it could be the best year yet!

26 was a pretty good year…pretty mellow and consistent, but also stressful, hard and challenging at times. For the last couple years around my birthday I’ve made a list of things from the past year. So here are 26 things about my 26 year of life…

1. My nephew was born. This was a highlight since one of my greatest goals in life has always been to be an awesome aunt. The fact that Jonah Henry is the cutest, sweetest baby has made it even easier to love him. I just wish Seattle and Nashville were closer.

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I may or may not have given him that onesie…

2. I finished my second year of grad school. I think I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve read, discussion posts I’ve made and pages I’ve written, but I’ve learned a lot and I’ve really enjoyed what I’m learning. I also have the best classmates and having the chance to be at residency in Philly with some pretty great people is always a good time!

3. I realized I can be creative. I have always thought I wasn’t creative so I never really tried to be, but I’m realizing that’s not true.

4. I got a new tattoo. After my first tattoo I knew I probably wanted another one, but wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. I have a rule that I have to want the same tattoo for at least six months and it has to have lasting meaning…and this one met those qualifications so I figured, why not? This one hurt way more than the other, but it was worth it and I love it!

5. I’ve discovered new dreams and I’m excited for what the future holds.

6. I visited NYC for the first time!!! This was amazing and something I’ve dreamed about forever! Two of my friends and I went for just the day while we were at residency because we had a day off from class and even though it was really short it was worth it! I saw a lot of the touristy things, but I can’t wait to go back sometime!

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7. I was unafraid. Unafraid was my word for 2014 and there were many opportunities for me to be brave…I didn’t always welcome them and it wasn’t always easy, but it did end up being a year of being unafraid.

8. I saw Justin Timberlake in concert! For real, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen…like, seriously amazing. I may have turned into a 13 year old version of myself and freaked out a little, but I’m not even sorry about it. I also saw Usher in concert. Another incredible show! 26 saw a lot of other great shows too like Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. I also saw Wicked again and an awesome performance of Les Mis, oh and the CMT Awards, where I saw John Legend and I freaked out…oh my gosh, so many great shows in year 26!!

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The one and only Justin Timberlake. He was just so good.

 

9. I discovered the greatness of essential oils. I’m not as much of a fanatic as some people about oils, but I do think they’re beneficial and work.

10. Discovered this website. If you need a couple minutes to relax from the craziness you’ll be glad you know about this now.

11. We took a family trip to Seattle and the Cascade Mountains. Leah and Jake graduated from graduate school and we made a whole trip out of it. It was so fun, so beautiful and so good to spend time with my family!

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12. I jumped on the bandwagon and got hooked on the podcast Serial.

13. I’ve done hard work in counseling. I think being whole and healthy means taking care of ourselves emotionally and psychologically. My journey with counseling has not been easy and I’ve struggled through a lot of things, but the amount of growth and healing that has resulted has been worth every step.

14. Discovered and binge watched Parks and Recreation. Lots of different people have told me over the last couple years that I just had to watch this show, but I haven’t until recently and I’m too embarrassed to write how many episodes I’ve watched. I think we can all learn a lot from Leslie Knope and some days I tell myself to channel my inner Leslie Knope when I’m feeling unmotivated or having a bad day.

Leslie Knope

15. I survived my first year of home ownership. Not gonna lie, I pray often that nothing breaks and I maybe freak out a little too much if it seems like something is breaking.

16. I attempted to create and break habits each month. This was one of those, “Oh my gosh this is a great idea and I’m going to do it every month” ideas, but it kinda fizzled out in the end. I made a list of some new habit I would create or break for each month, but between being weighed down with work, school and life and just completely forgetting I made the list, it didn’t go too well. To focus on the positive, this did result in me eating healthier and making my bed every day. I can proudly say I’ve made my bed every day for the past six months (Mom, it only took me 27 years to do it, but aren’t you proud!). I read somewhere that making your bed each morning is mentally good for you because it’s one thing you’ve already accomplished before you have even really started your day and it’s true!

17. I’ve realized how impulsive I can be and it’s the worst.

18. You guys…I tried online dating. It’s also the worst and just not for me…although very humorous and entertaining.

19. I got to witness and celebrate big moments in many good friends’ lives. Babies were born, engagements and weddings happened and big life decisions were made. I love when my friends have babies and that they let me love them. One of my favorite things is celebrating big moments in my friends’ lives.

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One of the precious babies born this year…Miss Flora Mae.

 

20. I took a creative writing class from a community college. At the time it was probably not the wisest decision since I was already taking other grad school classes, but it fell mostly during my break in between classes and I enjoyed it so much it wasn’t really like work.

21. I realized how important self-care is and that it’s not selfish. I also want everyone to realize this. I think we would all be better, whole, functioning humans if we took better care of ourselves.

22. I had meetings about retirement funds and had to name beneficiaries for things. Those are weird moments and also are classified as “I guess I’m actually a grown up now” moments.

23. Marci graduated high school! I’ve had the honor of mentoring this lovely lady for the last couple years and it was so exciting to see her walk across that stage!

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24. I made a personal strategic plan. I had to do this for a class, but it ended up being a great thing for me. It’s a great way to incorporate your life’s mission statement with your goals and vision.

25. Betsy and Ryan came to visit me! I love when people come to visit and it was so fun to have them here. They ran our 5K and saw the sites and it was a great time!

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26. I uncovered even more of who I am. I think life is so exciting because there’s always something more to learn and know about life, others and yourself. This year has been a big one for me in really uncovering who I am and who I am created to be and remembering to stay rooted in that.

26 was a pretty good year! I am always so thankful for all the things I’m able to do, but mostly for the people I get to do them with. Here’s a great year of 27!

One Word for 2015.

It’s that time of year again, a New Year. It’s hard to believe it’s 2015! The holidays were a whirlwind for me and I didn’t have much time to really think back on the year or think ahead to the next, but luckily, I had an eight hour car ride to let my mind and heart go for a little bit.

For the last two years I have chosen a word for the year. Each time it is a word that I thought about a lot and that I wanted to encompass the essence of the year ahead. There’s actually a whole community that does this. I love this practice and have been thinking and praying about my word for 2015 for the last couple weeks. I have realized that I need to be careful with this choice because if the last two years were any indication…the word I choose really does make itself known throughout the year. 2013 was about confidence and this last year about being unafraid. Pages and pages could be filled with how I have gained confidence and the opportunities I have had to be unafraid, but for the sake of saving time I won’t go into that here.

I will carry those words with me as I travel into this next year. 2015…the year of balance. Balance did not make my initial brainstorming list of words for 2015, but it came about during a talk with someone who knows me well and is willing to ask me the hard questions. I kept passing it over for other ideas I had (this seems to be a theme for these words that I choose…I avoid them at all costs at first), but I began to realize everything else I thought to encompass the year ahead would come…with balance. So the root of it all, balance.

My hope and prayer is that in 2015 I would create balance in my life. I don’t think it’s something that needs to be found, but is something that is created and realizing I have the ability within my own life to create that balance…

Balance between dreaming for the future and being present in the here and now.

Balance between when I should say yes and when I should say no.

Balance between work and rest.

Balance between saying too much and not saying enough.

Balance in work, school, friends, family and life.

Balance in boundaries and expectations, reality and ideals.

 Balance between caring too much and not caring enough.

Balance between moving forward and staying right where I am.

Balance in what I know to be true and what I’m still seeking after.

Balance in pouring out to others and pouring into myself.

Balance between holding on and letting go.

Balance in wanting to do a lot of things but realizing I can’t do everything.

The list could go on and I hope to share more about my journey and the opportunities I have in creating balance this year. Here’s to a balanced 2015!

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Whole.

Today I hit a milestone and I am really excited about it. It’s not like the jumping for joy, look what I did excitement, but more of a I feel at peace and feel like I can kick back and relax and it enjoy it kind of excitement. It took a lot of work to get here and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Almost a year ago exactly I started counseling. I wrote more about that here, but it has been quite a journey. I’m not shy about sharing my experiences with counseling and how beneficial I think it is for anyone and everyone and that it’s been one of the best decisions I could make for myself. I highly recommend it.

About six months ago I started a type of therapy called EMDR, it’s kinda hard to explain, but it’s a process that helps you let go of painful memories, experiences or beliefs and helps remove negative cognitions that one has always had through stimulation resembling REM sleep. This stimulation helps your brain process things and resolve feelings and beliefs not yet resolved. Sometimes I just explain it like magic because of how effective it is and I don’t really understand how it works so well, your brain and what it can do is cool, you guys!

Today I finished EMDR and boy, has it been a long journey! I’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting myself into when I agreed to try this. At times I thought I was going crazy, other times I never knew I could feel so many things, at other moments I wanted to quit, and most of the time I knew it was exactly what I needed.

One day within this process my counselor told me, everyone desires to be…I thought she was going to say happy, but she didn’t, she said…everyone desires to be whole. And I thought, yes! That is so much better than just being happy. That is what I want, I want to be whole. I want to live my life making healthy choices that contribute to my wholeness. Yes, I want to be happy, but I know that’s a fleeting feeling that is based on circumstances, but being whole is not. Being whole is knowing who you are, loving who you are, knowing that you’re someone who is always growing, evolving and learning, showing yourself grace, acknowledging all that you feel, and the freedom to claim and live into your story and out of your wholeness loving others well. I want to be a whole person, that is what I desire.

Today’s milestone of completing EMDR in counseling in no way says, hey I made it! I’m whole and that’s it! I will always continue to improve myself, to continue to be healthy so that I can continue to be whole, but today I am excited that I have hit a milestone on this journey. I have shed a lot of tears, done a lot of work and gone through a lot of crazy to get here, but it’s worth it.

I think if we asked a lot of people what they want it really can come down to wanting to be whole. Whole people, complete people, knowing who we are and staying true to that. I am so incredible thankful that this process has been such a huge part of my life and my wholeness.

So as I sit here, kicked back and relaxed, excited about this completed milestone, I’m thankful for the fact that it is because of this that I can continue to be the person I want to be on this great journey of life creating and living the story I know I am meant to live.

Exhale.

I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Washington this month. My whole family was there and we celebrated Jake and Leah’s graduations from graduate school and then spent some time in the mountains at an awesome cabin. It was wonderful.
I realized that week that my soul needed to breathe. It needed room to have a nice long exhale without being rushed back to routine. The minute the plane took off I felt lighter and lighter. It’s not a reflection on my life in Nashville, but just a reminder that my soul needs room to breathe. I need to make room for my over-thinking mind to rest, my over-empathetic heart to take a break and my always achieving soul to stop. It was a chance to be reminded that I do not hold the world together and that it keeps going when I’m gone.
My soul took a nice long exhale and I was able to rest. I was able to think about things that I usually just push away and cover with busyness. I was able just to be. I was able to exhale and inhale rest, peace and joy.
With every fit of laughter, every game played, every beautiful scene taken in, every short nap in the car, every page read in my book, every breath caught on the hike, every talk with one of my family members, every thought that with these people I am completely known and loved…my soul exhaled.
The hard part is not to feel like you’re choking when it’s time to get back to reality, to not feel like your soul is getting stuffed back down after experiencing that breath of fresh air. How do I make room for my soul to breathe in the everyday and the ordinary? How do I allow myself to feel that freedom and rest in the middle of the busyness and routine?
This was supposed to restore my soul and give me rest to start again and it did, but it also just made me long for more, long for more room to breath, more room to rest and more room to be restored. So, how do I create the space for my soul to exhale in the every day?  I guess it’s something I’m still trying to figure out.
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We had to take advantage of the picture opportunity…I love, love, love my family (just missing Teresa in this one!)

A nose ring, tattoo and some boots.

A nose ring, a tattoo and boots. These three things may seem like they have no relation to one another, but they mean a lot to me. It may seem silly and some people may read this and think it’s weird such random things could matter so much, but they do. I have reached a new place in my life, after a lot of hard work and counseling (you can read more about that here), where I truly am okay with who I am. I can say I am who I am and I know that I am enough, there’s nothing I can say or do or any level of perfection I can achieve that will make me more valuable.

Through this process, I’ve realized how often in my life I’ve made decisions based on what other people said, their opinions or how I thought they would react to something. I am such a people pleaser, that I would let others thoughts dictate my choices. (I like to think I’m a recovering people pleaser…it’s still a process!) So I was thinking back to moments in my life where I’ve felt like I haven’t done that and three symbols jumped out at me. My nose ring, my tattoo and some boots.

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The nose and tattoo being discussed.

When I got my nose pierced, it was, honestly, the first time I can remember making a decision to do something that I purely just wanted to do, knowing that other people didn’t approve or thought it was dumb or may look at it and think it looks bad. I didn’t care, it was something I had wanted for awhile, so I did it. The same with my tattoo. It was something I had thought about, that meant a lot to me and that I really wanted regardless of what others views on it would be. Now the boots, weird right? I feel silly even exposing this to the world, but when I saw these boots in the store, I loved them and I had really been wanting a pair like them, but I almost didn’t buy them. I felt like they didn’t “fit” who I was, that I would be deviating from who I was wearing this pair of shoes that didn’t seem to “reflect” me. I know, dumb.

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The boots being discussed.

In all these instances, it was all about what other people thought and how I would be perceived, or rather, how I thought other people would perceive me. I’m annoyed that it’s taken me this long to figure this all out. Why did I spend so much of my life and so much of my time worried about what other people thought? Why did I spend so much of my time letting my choices be dictated by others opinions, like a puppet on a string sometimes. I was scared to go with what I wanted because of how I would be perceived, that I wouldn’t be good enough or liked enough anymore, that I wouldn’t fit into a mold that I thought people put me in. It’s so messed up and I have experienced so much freedom from realizing that I don’t have to worry about what others are thinking. I know who I am, that I really shouldn’t think so highly of myself that everyone even notices what kind of shoes I’m wearing and that it’s so okay to make decisions for my life…because it’s my life.

As silly as it may be, I’m thankful for my little nose ring, my tattoo and these boots. They’re all reminders to stay true to who I am, that my goal in life is to not keep everyone around me happy and to fit into a box that I or others have put me in, but to know I am who I am and that is enough.

When “Let it Go” Became a Holy Moment.

I know there’s been a lot of buzz around the movie, Frozen, and the song, Let it Go, and while I really liked the movie and the song, I haven’t been quite as obsessed as other people have been. I know most parents are ready to burn the DVD because they’ve watched it so much and their kids won’t stop singing and I can’t hear someone say “let it go” without the song popping in my head, but I haven’t thought too much about it.

About seven months ago I started counseling. (I know, kinda a random jump, I promise I’ll get back to Let It Go, I didn’t just want it to be stuck in your head for the remainder of your time reading this 🙂 ) For whatever reason, there is a stigma around counseling that I think is so completely wrong. Where some people think that going to counseling means you’re broken, something’s wrong with you and you’re crazy, I think it means you’re brave, you realize your mental health is just as important as physical health to be a whole person, and sometimes we need a safe place to let it all out. (and sidenote…we are all broken, we all have something wrong with us and everyone’s a little crazy, but I digress…) I’m not shy about sharing with people that I’m in counseling and how much I love it. (although, I never really thought I would post about it here) I’ve gone to counseling off and on since college and it has always been the best decision I could make.

Counseling this time around has been a little different. Other times I’ve done counseling, it’s been for a specific reason or situation of life I’m dealing with, and this time it was just because, well, of life. There was just so much transition, so many things happening and I had so many feelings and I just felt like I needed to let it all out there to someone who had to listen and not judge. Best decision I’ve made in a long time.

This journey I’ve been on through counseling has helped me arrive to the truth that it’s okay to be who I am. It’s helped me realize the deep issues and struggles I’ve had that made me think I was never going to be enough. It helped me identify the natural tendencies I have that lend towards counting myself as less and shifting to be the person who everyone needs and likes rather than staying true to who I am.

To go into everything that’s come from counseling would be pages and pages of writing, but I will say the last seven months have consisted of some of the hardest, but most rewarding work I have ever done. I am not the same person I was seven months ago. I have discovered who I am and that I don’t have to apologize for that. I have truly realized that I am good enough, just because I am me. I have come to face my issues and work through them and realize it’s okay to feel things besides happy and “good” feelings. I know that my life is my life, no one else’s and I can walk through each day with the knowledge that I am staying true to who I am. I have felt empowered, I have experienced freedom and I know what it means to be whole.

Part of my counseling is something called EMDR therapy (it’s too long to explain what that means here), but it has been incredible what it has done for me. So at one point today, my counselor asked me what I noticed during EMDR and the lyric from Let it Go (you thought I forgot about that by now, didn’t you?) came to my head when she sings, “Here I stand” and then the rest of the song flooded my head.

We decided to play the song at the end of my session, so as I sat there with my eyes closed listening to Let It Go, I felt like I was experiencing a holy moment (after I stopped myself from almost laughing out loud because it seemed a little ridiculous), with the help of a Disney song. It was a moment where I fully realized where I had been, where I was, and where I was going and all I had processed and journeyed through the last seven months. “Here I stand, Here I’ll stay”…this is who I am, this is where I’ll stand, knowing who I am, whose I am and letting go of this “perfect” person I think I should be so that everyone else is happy. While this song played, in that little moment in a small therapy room, I felt like Jesus was there. I felt like I could feel and know my worth and value, that I know the confidence I can have in who I am because I am one who is dearly loved, that I can keep living life unafraid and let go of anything that has made me feel less than enough or that I’m not able to be who I really am. It was a moment of freedom and holiness. Who knew a Disney song could usher in such a moment!

Just in case you don’t know the song I’m talking about, find it here! Also, a sidenote, but if you’re reading this and you actually made it to the end, you should consider looking into counseling! I think it’s something everyone should do in their life and it’s so beneficial for so many reasons, even if you don’t think something is “wrong”, but that’s just my two cents, and not that I’m telling you what to do or anything like that… 😉

25 Things.

It’s become a tradition to write this post each year and I love it. It gives me a chance to think about the last year and what all has happened…specifically 25 things that have happened in my 25th year of life. This year was a pretty big one.  So…here are 25 things that have happened in year 25.

1. I bought a house. This is kinda a big one so I thought it could go first. Technically it’s more like a town home than a “house”, but I bought it and I love it. It worked out with perfect timing and it is becoming home.
My new home!

My new home!

2. I started grad school. Also kinda a big one so figured it should be #2. I began the Masters of Urban Studies program at Eastern University and I have loved it! It has been really hard to learn how to balance working full time, having a life and doing school, but I’m working on it. The whole having a life part needs some work, but I love to learn and working towards my masters degree has been really empowering for me.
3. I started running. Never in my life would I think I would write those words, but they’re true! I ran two 5K’s and I think I’ve had my fill of those. Hear more about that here.
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4. I realized how much I love hospitality and learned it’s not always comfortable and can remove you from your comfort zone but that’s kinda the point and it’s great. I love having people in my home and making them feel at home!
5. Got a tatto. I absolutely love my tattoo and the daily reminder that it is to me each and every day.
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6. Read some great books. One of my favorites was Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey.
7. I lost some really great people. We lost my Aunt Pam this year unexpectedly. Nothing can quite prepare you for that, but her life was celebrated and I am lucky to have been loved by such a great lady! One of our older neighbors, Miss Hattie passed away this year too. She lived a full life and I’m happy I was able to know her.
8. I discovered and realized some new things that are life giving to me and I’m excited to explore them more this next year.
9. I gained confidence in ways I never thought would happen.
10. I continued to experience deep and full friendships. I am so thankful for the friends that I have in my life and how they walk with me through life. I also have met new friends through my program at Eastern and they are just some of the best people.
Some of the wonderful people in my life!

Some of the wonderful people in my life!

11. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at Trevecca which made me realize I love talking about things that matter and that could move people more towards joining in on kingdom work and tearing down ignorance and unawareness.
12. I took the longest solo road trip of my life from Nashville to Michigan to Philly and back to Nashville. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever done, but I wouldn’t really want to do it again.
13. I figured out that eliminating decision making when possible is life giving to me so I’m making some habits and practices that help with that.
14. Bought a new TV and a new hutch and coffee table that I love!
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15. Realized I need to let my life be ruled by reality and not by my expectations.
16. Quit drinking real milk. Almond milk is the best.
17. I have been able to experience some of life’s great moments with friends. Weddings, babies growing into toddlers, graduations, grad school beginnings, etc…
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18. Realized life goes in seasons, relationships change, circumstances change and it’s okay. I just need to take them as they come.
19. Another year of good travels! I visited new places like Philly, Washington DC and New Orleans. I like Philly, I absolutely loved DC, but New Orleans wasn’t my favorite. I also got to visit Denver, go back to Michigan and Knoxville for some weddings and visit Florida with some of my family!
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20. I have four TV shows that I absolutely love…New Girl, The Mindy Project, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy.
21. Realized how much I love reading random articles and learning about anything and everything. Following Huffington Post on Twitter has increased my daily article intake, maybe too much.
22. I rediscovered what I’m passionate about. It’s changed  some over the last few years, but it’s an exciting time! It’s this feeling like I discovered a song in my soul and beliefs that reach deep into who I am.
23. I created a new chili recipe and it’s actually pretty good.
24. Trying to find pleasure in the little things and when an experience may not be the greatest, making it better. On New Year’s Eve Becca and I got stranded in Indiana because of snow and it could have been a terrible situation, but it ended up being a great time consisting of matching PJ’s, Ben and Jerry and the movies.
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25. I set new goals for myself and realized some long term ideas for my life. It’s a balance living in the here and now and the not yet but I’m excited about both the right now and the what is to come. Living within this tension has become my way of life and I’m enjoying the ride.
Year 25 was pretty great. I experienced a lot, took some big and some little steps, learned a lot more about myself and have enjoyed life even with all of its ups and downs. Here is to a great year 26!

One word for 2014.

Last year I started picking a word for the year. This is different than a resolution because it’s not made to be “kept” but rather to encompass all I want the year to be about. For 2013 my word was confidence. It was kinda crazy how 2013 really did end up being the year of confidence for me. I never thought choosing that word in January would be followed by so many opportunities to grow in who I am as a person. Just thinking over the year of all that’s happened, how I started grad school, transitioned in my job and bought a house (just to name a few), and how I handled those all is a testament to why God placed that word on my heart. I could write pages and pages of how I’ve grown in my confidence in Christ and in myself this year.

I’ve been thinking about my word for 2014 and a word keeps coming to mind that I can’t shake no matter how badly I want to. I’m a little nervous committing to it because if 2013 was any indication of what could happen, I’m not sure what’s in store. It may seem silly or dramatic, but prayerfully considering a word to make 2014 about has become a big deal for me. Words mean a lot to me so picking one that I can continually go back to and choose so I intentionally approach my year in a way that is beneficial to myself and my growth is important.

So…I’ve decided my word for 2014 is Unafraid. I wrote this a few months ago about being unafraid, not fully realizing what I was saying but knowing I had to move forward in a way that I am free from fear and anxiety. I have gained confidence in Christ, in myself and in others this past year and I think I now need to live into that confidence and keep on this journey unafraid…

Unafraid to fully live.

Unafraid to speak up when I know I should say something and stay silent when it’s wiser to say nothing.

Unafraid to ask the hard questions.

Unafraid to embrace the doubts I have and explore them.

Unafraid to fully receive and give love.

Unafraid to pursue freedom from the things that weigh me down.

Unafraid to work hard.

Unafraid to make changes when they need to be made and accept the things that need to stay the same.

Unafraid to embrace my life for what it is and not what I think it should be.

Unafraid to be who I am rather than who I or anyone else thinks I should be.

Unafraid to challenge the status quo.

Unafraid to fail.

Unafraid to admit I don’t have it all figured out and life isn’t always black and white.

Unafraid to fully love God, myself and others.

So…my voice may shake, some days may be better than others, my over thinking mind may be asking my heart what the heck are you doing, people may disagree, mistakes will be made, but I will move forward in love and grace and I will be unafraid.

Unafraid

Unafraid.

I’ve realized lately how much of my life has been dictated by fear. My fear of failing, my fear of not being liked, my fear of conflict, my fear of getting too comfortable, my fear of settling…the list could go on. I have also learned that when you don’t acknowledge your fear it can lead to anxiety. My life has been dictated by fear and anxiety for so long.

So I’m learning to be unafraid. I’m learning to ask for help and communicate my fears so those closest to me can help draw me out of my anxious thoughts. I’m learning that when you face those fears and work through them wisdom comes from it. I’m learning fear is okay and it’s healthy, but it’s what we do with that fear that matters. Every day I have to choose if I let my fear lead to anxiety or to wisdom.

I am trying to live my life unafraid. Unafraid to take a risk. Unafraid to live out a dream even if it means I could fail. Unafraid to speak and write out of my convictions and refuse to apologize for my beliefs. Unafraid to love deeply.

I am thankful that I have people around me who show me what it looks like to turn fear into wisdom. Sarah Bessey, a writer I absolutely love, wrote this and I agree:

But I will speak the truth, even if my voice shakes. I will sing in the woods. I will stand here in the wilderness, head up, unashamed, following in the footsteps of Jesus as best as I know to do it, loving him into every corner of my existence, because, at last, at least, I am not afraid of you.

So…my voice may shake, my over thinking mind may be asking my heart what the heck are you doing, people may disagree, mistakes will be made, but I will be unafraid.