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It’s Been Awhile….

Oh hello there. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. To be honest, I’m not really sure who is still out there reading this.

As you obviously noticed, I took a long break from blogging. It was unintended and I had so many things that I wanted do during 2015 for the blog as well as with my own life. I had everything planned out of how I wanted the year to go. But to quote John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Last summer, my ex-husband passed away unexpectedly. It was news that I had not anticipated on hearing at this point in our lives. Maybe a few years ago, yes. In about 40-50 years, yes. But right now? No. Not at all.

I was completely unprepared for how the news would affect me. Even though we had both moved on with our lives, he was always going to be a part of my life. Hearing that he was gone hit me hard. Grief is a funny thing. Even though you think you know how you’ll act in a certain situation and you get all prepared, you never really are. Emotions that I didn’t know existed in me were everywhere. I saw the movie “Inside Out” during this time period and let me tell you, it is SPOT ON. Also tears galore.

I am glad that we had been able to talk to each other a few weeks prior to his death. It was a very good conversation. It was one that I believe that God blessed us with because we both got closure and was ready to truly move on.

After all that happened, I just didn’t feel like blogging again. I didn’t feel like reading either. I just wanted to live my life and move on but my creativity levels had decreased like whoa. Weirdly enough, I also felt that I was ready to really start dating again. And so I decided to bite the bullet and signed up for actual online dating websites. Unlike the last go round, I actually went out on a bunch of dates (free food! free beer!) and had a good time. I got to meet a lot of new people that I normally never would had the chance to have encounter. But honestly, dating is hard. It’s an emotional roller coaster. There were periods where I felt frustrated, my self-esteem seemed like it was going down the drain, nights of crying and praying, and long venting of anxiety sessions with friends. I wanted to give up several times.

And then the day before my birthday, I got a message from a guy about my name and reference to the show The Oblongs. We texted for a bit and he asked me out that same day. We went bowling a few nights later……and we’ve been together ever since. I am glad to say that I’m in love and I’m happy. Happier than I’ve been in a LONG time. He’s a pretty awesome dude if I do say so myself. We don’t have a PERFECT relationship (because I’m sorry, NO ONE does and if you think someone does, they do not) but we’ve been working on it together. There’s a lot of learning about each other and one’s self and sometimes it’s hard. But it’s a good relationship and like I said, I’m happy. So things are good.

Oh and my laptop broke several months ago and I’ve only JUST now replaced it so I can finally stop using my phone 100% for the interwebs and can finally type properly again.

I can’t promise that I’ll be blogging regularly like I used to. I don’t think right now blogging three times a week is in me at the moment. But I do miss writing so I’ll be back. It may be sporadic but I have things to say, things to share. Especially books. I have missed talking with you guys about all the books I’ve been reading. We need to bring that back.

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I Saw The Sign

I’m not the type of person that goes around looking for meaning in everything that happens in my life. I don’t try to read into things and I don’t think that anyone can will God into making things appear for you.

And yet for the past few years, I can truly say that I believe that sometimes God does send you signs to show you that He’s watching over you and showing you that yes he indeed is there.

Prayer is a wonderful thing. You can talk to God all the time and tell Him everything. It’s how He wants us to communicate with him and therefore the relationship (just like with any other kind) grows stronger. But sometimes you feel like you’re not getting any feedback and you feel like you’re just talking to no one. It can become extremely frustrating when you want an answer.

I myself have yelled several time at God to “PLEASE JUST GIVE ME  A SIGN SO THAT I KNOW THAT YOU’RE THERE!” Of course I’m always half afraid that right after I say that, something’s going to blow up right next to me but thankfully that usually that isn’t the case.

Instead I think (and I may be wrong) that God sometimes finally decides to throw us a bone and just decides to show us something. I know for me, I’ve seen THINGS. Sometimes, it’s exactly what I needed to see and sometimes it’s exactly what I asked for. Then there are also times when God used a repeated sign over and over again to show me that He had not left me or forsaken me. Even though the sign didn’t end up representing what I personally wanted it to be, it instead showed me what God wanted me to see. It became a reminder that His presence was always there.

I personally don’t think it’s always a good idea to demand God to show you a sign. But every now and then there’s no harm in asking. Perhaps it’ll open up your eyes after you see it.

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An Update on Trusting God with the Impossible

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I got a comment the other day from my Trusting God When Thing are Impossible post asking for an update. They wanted to know as I had written that post a few years ago if God had come through for me. This post continually gets hits every week, it’s the second most popular post on my blog. This is something that many people have to struggle with every day.

So has God come through for me since I wrote that post? I will have to answer that as yes*. The * means that He DID work through and made the impossible happen. It just was not the impossible I originally had wanted/planned/hoped but it turned out to be what I needed. Funny how it always works out like that right?

The thing I’ve learned the past two years about trusting God is this: sometimes you have to realize if you are holding onto something because you want it or because you know that God wants it for you. There have been times when I’m 100% certain this is the path God wants me to take and I need to trust that decisions and circumstances will come my way that will lead me toward that path. But then there are other times when it feels more like I’m manipulating the circumstances to make things go the way I want them to and then just trying to credit God with whatever happens.

There were a lot of times over the past two years when I got frustrated because I truly could not see how everything was going to work out the way I had wanted. There are passages in my journal that are basically water stained because I’m crying as I’m writing angrily over how I just could not see how this was going to work out. I knew I had to trust God with everything.and yet it kept seeing more and more impossible each and every day.

But those were the worst days. And even during that time period, I can look back now and see that God really was working behind everything. It sounds so cliché to say this but everything that happened was the best for me at the time. It helped to strengthen my faith and helped me to grow. Looking back now, I can see that what I wanted wasn’t necessarily what was best for me but I needed to go through it.

Everyone’s circumstances is different. And your impossible may actually become a reality. For me what I learned is that you cannot base your trust in “whatever the impossible is”. You have to place the trust in God and that HE is in control and that HE will make whatever your impossible needs to be come true.

All the worries of this world
I will lay them at Your feet
Surrender every anxious thought
For perfect peace, Your perfect peace

All the loved ones I hold dear
All my hopes and dreams and all my fears
I will choose to trust Your name
In everything, with everything
I will look back and see that You are faithful
I look ahead believing You are able

Oh and addendum: do you know how I know that God was working throughout ALL of this? God kept using Abraham and Sarah’s story as a way to show me to keep trusting in him. When everything was finally revealed at the end of this, the name Sarah became signficant and it really became clear that God was with me the whole time. And all I could do was laugh when I realized this. Never say that God does not have a sense of humor.

“Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6)

I’m still praying and still trusting that God will continue to make what I think is impossible become true for me…..according to His plan.

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That Time I Prayed For Someone I Didn’t Know

I prayed for someone the other day. Now I pray for a lot of people all the time. I pray when people ask me to. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. Except for this time, I didn’t really know the person. In fact, I have no idea if they would know who I am at all.

Wait……What? You prayed for a random person? What if they didn’t want to be prayed for? What if they don’t believe the same things you do? Did you tell them you prayed for them?

Yes, I did pray for a random person. I just felt at that moment that they needed prayer. I didn’t know why or what was going on in their life. They could be living a perfectly happy life with nothing wrong happening at all. They could also be living a life that’s full of turmoil and stress and just hiding it from the rest of the world. It was just one of those times when I felt very strongly about what I needed to do.

Yes, it’s very possible that this person didn’t share my faith at all and could also feel that my praying for them would be intruding on their life. This is why I am not going to walk up to a stranger and just tell them I’m praying for them. People get weirded out by this and I respect someone’s privacy and levels of comfort. Someone may think, keep your prayers and thoughts to yourself and please don’t include me in any of them. For the record, it’s not as if I go around every day being like….who can I inflict my prayer on? No, I fully respect people’s beliefs and privacy.

What would happen if someone else of a different faith from mine did the same thing to me? Honestly, as long as they didn’t wish something negative to happen to me or to others, I’m ok with that.

I will most likely never know what happened that day or what will happen with that person. I do hope all the best for them and that whatever happens in their life is goes the way they want it to. I just know that there have been times in my life when I desperately needed someone to pray for me because I couldn’t on my own but I couldn’t tell anyone. Honestly it was kind of a weird moment for me too. Why am I praying for this person? I don’t know who they are. I don’t know what’s going on in their lives. They could be creeped out if they know what I was doing. And yet, I knew it was the right thing to do. There have been times when things could have only happened because of someone praying for me. I’m sure that throughout my life there have been tons of people praying about me, some that I know and some that I don’t.

I know that I did what I needed to do. And God will take care of the rest.

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For I Dearly Love to Laugh

If you’ve ever had the wonderful (or maybe not so wonderful) opportunity to play Cards Against Humanity with me, then you know how to get me to pick your card. It’s not going to be the most logical card. It’s not going to be the dirtiest card. It’s not going to be by using a box card. It’s going to be the card that makes me laugh the most.

My friends will tell you about how many times I’ve had to pause during a game because I can’t read the cards that were handed to me because I’m nearly crying from laughing so hard. Sometimes I can’t just choose one and trying to decide between the best gets me into a giggling fit that last at least a minute and everyone gets annoyed because I can’t stop laughing.

I’ve always loved to laugh but I think it’s only been lately that I’ve actually allowed myself to laugh. Why did I go see Marvel’s The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy so many times in theaters? Because they made me laugh. Why do I watch YouTube videos of The Try Guys or How It Should Have Ended? Because they make me laugh. (Seriously though if you haven’t watched either of those, why haven’t you?)

I seem to always find myself laughing at the most inappropriate moments. It’ll happen at school during a test when you’re supposed to be quiet. Or during a funeral when you’re obviously supposed to be somber. My favorite is when it happens during prayer. The dirty looks I would get from all the adults as a kid and teen when you couldn’t stop laughing. There was this one time a friend asked for prayer because her dad had been deployed and just for protection for everyone while he was gone. Our youth group leader heard it as unemployed and proceeded to pray for her dad to find a new job. The two of us could not stop laughing during the entire prayer because it was completely wrong and it was just hilarious. Ah I’m finding myself chuckling about it even now.

The thing is that while I can be somewhat sarcastic and I attempt to be witty, I’m not someone who can spit out hilarity at the drop of a hat. And yet I am always drawn to people who have a really good sense of humor. In fact that is one of the things that is near the top of my list of things I find attractive in other people. I always click on that as the trait I want the most on those Buzzfeed quizzes anyway.

Having a good sense of humor with a good balance of seriousness is the perfect balance. Life isn’t serious ALL the time but neither is life always a joke. Finding a good mix of two is the best way to handle life because when the hard stuff comes, you need to still be able to find a way to laugh. I’ve gone through a bunch of hard stuff in my life over the past years and besides having my faith and good friends, being able to laugh is the other thing that has gotten me through it all.

For the record when I was younger, I couldn’t figure out why Mary Poppins was such a Debbie Downer. If you could only fly from laughing….

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Climb Every (ok just one) Mountain

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I climbed a mountain the other day. No, I’m not talking figuratively about some other hurdle in my life. I legit climbed Old Rag Mountain in Virginia. I know it’s not a huge mountain compared to other places across the country that you may have been on but for me, this was huge.

It all started when one of my friends suggested it and then promised us ice cream if we went. I’m not a hiking person. I’ve gone on a few hikes and while they are ok, it’s really not on my list of things I am always up here. I like being active but honestly hiking is just one of those activities I’ll get really excited for. Therefore I was quite hesitant in deciding on whether I wanted to go. Finally I caved in and joined my friends on this adventure.

I immediately started to second guess my decision because this meant I had to get up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. Let’s ignore the fact that I got 3 hours of sleep the night before. But no, it’ll be ok. I mean rock scrambles can’t be that bad right? The road trip wasn’t too bad and we get there in less than 2 hours. There’s quite a few people already at the park which means there are already a ton of people ahead of us on the mountain.

I’d like to point out that I can be fairly clumsy at times. My fear is that I will break my ankle again just from walking. So jumping across rocks? Yeah terrifying.

We decided to go the shorter but more strenuous route up the mountain. This involves a lot of switchbacks and elevation plus all those wonderful rock scrambles. Hiking up isn’t too hard though I have to stop a few times to catch my breath. I’m sorry I’m not one of those really super fit people who could run up this mountain and never break into a sweat. The worst part though actually is the fact that we thought we were getting closer to the summit but it kept being much further away.

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The rock scrambles were intimidating at first and there were times when I thought how the hell am I supposed to do this? But other hikers were glad to help out and I got through every one of them. There’s a lot of climbing and pulling and squeezing into cracks. Also you have to psych yourself out and just don’t let fear get to you.

The thing though that really helped me throughout the entire hike was the fact at how much it helped me keep my mind off things. Right now I’m struggling inwardly with a lot of things and the hike was a great way to help me focus on something else. It was like God answered my prayer of clearing my head away of all the worries and troubles I’m having. Because you can’t focus on that when you’re trying to figure out how not to fall on your face and off the mountain.

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The hike was also mirrored a lot of what I’ve gone through in my life. I honestly am proud of myself for climbing the entire thing up and down because I didn’t think I could do it. I got angry during it. I nearly wanted to give up several times. I even flicked off the blue paint trails because I was frustrated we weren’t there yet. I began to wonder if it was even worth it.

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But I kept going (mainly because I didn’t want to get stuck on the mountain) and yes, when we reached the summit, the views were worth it. And I could say that I did it.

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And it doesn’t matter right now what anyone else thinks of what I did. I know that I’m proud of myself for achieving this. I did things I never thought I would. Sure, some people could and will do it better than I ever could. And sure others will scoff and think it’s nothing. And then the people who I WANT to acknowledge my achievement will never say anything about it. That’s not the end goal though. For me, I’m proud of myself. Hiking the mountain was like physically living out how my life has been over the past few years. And I did it.

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Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

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You know already how much I love (500) Days of Summer because it is pretty much the story of my life. One of the scenes that really hit home to me is when Tommy goes to the party that Summer invites him and in his mind he has expected one thing but the reality hits him hard. In that scenario, based on their past and his hopes, Tommy put his expectations too high and therefore got extremely hurt. It’s actually a pretty painful scene to watch because I’ve been there so many times.

Even though I’m sure many of us strive to be grounded in reality, it’s really hard to not get our expectations up. After all, aren’t we told to have hope? You always try to hope for the best, to not be so pessimistic, to believe that there’s something good coming out of every situation. While I have no doubt that some people can do it, it seems very hard to go through life with a “whatever happens, happens; I’m not getting my hopes up” attitude ALL the time because it feels like you’ve resigned on your entire life and given up.

Expectation: Keeping in touch with your high school friends for the rest of your life.

Reality: Never hearing from them ever.

Expectation: Marriage is the thing that is going to solve all your problems!

Reality: Marriage tends to cause even more problems…and you still have to work hard in it.

Expectation: You think a friend you’ve been talking to online for years would be thrilled to see you in person.

Reality: They act like they barely know you when they see you.

Expectation: Going to see a new movie or read a new book from your favorite director/author and thinking it will be amazing.

Reality: It sucks. What were they thinking?

Expectation: Your local professional sports team can’t be that horrible.

Reality: Yes. Yes they are.

Pinterest is a very good example of how this line of thinking works. How often do we go on the site and see all these crafts, recipes, hairstyles, decorating tips and we wish could insert that into our own life? Who are all these people who have time to make AND photograph such a perfect lifestyle while having children, working, and running a household? We try to emulate them and well….this ends up happening instead (via Cake Wrecks)

Expectation:

Reality:

That is of course a worst case scenario but it is also what it feels like a lot of the time. I”m not sure really what the best solution is. You don’t want to get hurt when you hope for something and it doesn’t turn out the way you planned yet you don’t want to go around for the rest of your life always expecting the worst to happen. Do you just go around with absolutely no expectations at all? Is that even possible?

Plus there are the expectations we place on each other and ourselves. That we should have reached certain milestones at certain ages. (Why isn’t my baby walking and talking yet? Why isn’t my kid reading yet? Why hasn’t my kid got accepted into colleges yet? Why don’t I have kids yet?) That we should have a certain lifestyle, career, or relationship. That even though we’ve gotten what we wanted and are genuinely happy that it’s not enough and you should strive for more.

I’m not really sure what the solution is here. Lower your expectations? Stop hoping so much? Be less optimistic and more realistic? I realize that we’re always going to get hurt at some point in our life. Hah. Maybe that’s just my expectation.

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Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

I’m in my early 30s and I’ve been in love exactly three times in my life. Each time was a different stage in my life. I may not have handled some of them the way I would do now but each time falling in and out of love was a learning experience. Each time and person helped shaped me to be the person that I was today (for better or worse) and though I would possibly change some things, I have to also accept this is what was meant to be.

Now I know there’s some of you out there who have never fallen in love before. There are others of you all there who fall in and out of love so many times that you can’t keep track of the all. And yet there’s still others of you out there who are married to the only person you’ve ever fallen in love with.

Kudos for all of you who are in whatever situation you happen to be in.

I never really understood how growing up I was supposed to avoid having affections for other people. I know that there’s a big movement in the church of emotional purity where you don’t give your heart away and experience heartache. Parents don’t want their child to focus on things like this at such a young age because they aren’t ready for it. We must avoid anything that could compromise their hearts! Well, honestly unless you completely isolate someone with no human interaction, it’s near impossible to do this.

The thing with falling in love is that even if you only fall in love once, you’re going to get hurt. It is inevitable. Because no matter what happens, that other person is going to break your heart at some point. Sure, you can make up and all will be well. But the hurt that comes from having your heart broken is worse than any other pain in the world.

Loving someone is a risk and sometimes it doesn’t pay off. Sometimes you fall out of love with each other. Sometimes the other person doesn’t return your love. You may disagree but I don’t think you can control who your heart initially wants to be with it. You can choose your actions on how you choose to proceed afterwards and sometimes you shouldn’t always follow your heart. But sometimes you can’t choose who you fall in love with. But you can be careful on who you give it away to. Love and care but don’t give your heart away to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Is it better to love and lost than to never have loved at all? Or would “I rather hurt than feel nothing at all?”

With falling in love three times and getting hurt three times, it’s safe to say that my heart is not brand new. It does have some cracks in it. It has been broken a few times and needed repair and restoration. It’s not factory sealed and never been used. Whoever ends up earning my heart for the long run will hopefully understand this. But experience has made me stronger and wiser person. It’s taught me that I shouldn’t just give my heart away to anyone. And that God is the only one that can fully fill and heal my heart.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Until the time comes, my prayer is that He keeps my heart slow.

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Shattering an Image Doesn’t Always Mean Bad Luck

The other night there was a women’s event at my church. Now I think I’ve talked about this on here before but I get excited when there’s an event at church that is for ALL the women and not just for moms. I’m thrilled that there’s so many programs for moms and hopefully one day I’ll be able to do that but as I’m not in that stage of life, I tend to feel very left out. So anytime I hear about an event for all women, I will jump at the chance to attend.

This specific event featured a speaker that talked about shattered images and what it really means to be a godly woman. It was awesome how much I got out of her talk. It just really felt like I could relate to what she was saying despite not being in the same stage of life. I didn’t feel like I was being left behind or outside the circle. Maybe it was because this was what I needed to hear but everything in the talk just clicked with me.

In keeping with last week’s post about social media, I realize that I’ve created an image of what I SHOULD be like based on what I see my friends and others are doing in their own lives. For me it’s actually not the media or celebrities that influence me because I know that I will never come close to achieving their lifestyle and I’m perfectly ok with it. There are though some bloggers that do make me feel woefully inadequate because in their posts they look like they have perfect everything from hair to food to photography to the damn blog itself and how professional it looks. That can be extremely intimidating but then I remind myself again that bloggers are trying to reach their audience (and also the possibility of making money) and therefore they are only going to showcase their best lest they lose both.

But yet for some reason, that same line of reasoning doesn’t seem to compute as easily in my head with people I know. I see what they post online and even though with some people I know fully well what is going on in their lives, they still come across as perfect to me. They may have the worst lives ever but I will never know this because all they project is an image of bliss and happiness.

I see all these women and it’s so hard to NOT compare myself to them. When I do this, I mean it’s no wonder that the life I want to have seems like it’ll never happen. Because they seem to be everything that I can never be no matter how hard I try. Moment of truth: there are days when it’s incredibly painful to hear your friends talk about their children and how they are expecting more, how much they love their marriage or hearing of an engagement, buying a house or just being excited to have a place to decorate, not having to worry about money and can take trips whenever they want, or even just have someone take care of them when they are sick and not have to worry about dying alone and no one noticing.

The absolute worst (and I really should not be doing this, why I torture myself is beyond me) is when I see pictures and posts from the wives of any of my exes or guys that it didn’t work out with. Because all I see is just constant visual reminders of me not being what they wanted and makes me feel like I’m never going to be good enough.

This type of perspective even skews what my image of what a godly woman should look like. Because to me she is someone who is married, has kids, very hospitable, always wanting to serve, patient, full of grace, not outspoken, even IF she has awkward moments she plays it off easily and is incredibly humble. I see other women in church who I know are older than me but with their perfect hair, makeup, and figure look like they are years younger. They have kids but you’d never know it based on how they look. They appear to be perfectly put together. I know there are struggles behind the appearance but let’s be honest, they aren’t going to share them with me and do I really need to know everything? No.

We hold ourselves to a standard that can never be reached and then we hold each other to yet an even higher standard. These are all images that I need to shatter. Because honestly, what really matters (and this was my takeaway from the event) is that IF I am TRULY honest about my faith then I am an image bearer of God. Therefore I really need to stop comparing myself to anyone else. This goes for both people in the church as well as others out of it. If I’m supposed to be representing God, then I’ll do it in my own way and not everyone else’s.

I really don’t want to be like everyone because I’m not like everyone else. And I want people to see how different I am because of my faith. Not that I’m going around preaching at everyone or trying to convert anyone I come in contact with. But instead through how I act and that means with my own way of doing things. Sure it may mean being the quirky one that stands out awkwardly but that’s how God wants me to be. I won’t be the person with the perfect hair everyone envies and I may not (yet) have a husband and children who I can share stories about to others.

But….I am me. Sometimes I wonder if God made a mistake when He made me and that even though I know I was created in God’s own image perhaps He got a bit distracted with me and I came out slightly flawed in comparison with everyone else. Ultimately, I know that it’s not true. It’s funny because all my life I’ve wanted to blend in with everyone else so that I wouldn’t stand out. Now I’m realizing that standing out could be a good thing.

My story is different from others. I’ve been realizing that my spiritual gift is leaning towards encouragement as I tend to do this, many times without even trying, it just happens. So I hope that God will use me and my story to help encourage others throughout whatever walk of life they might be in.