A Year of Surprises, Trials, and the Unexpected

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October 7, 2015

 

I got engaged. Me of all people got engaged to a man I am eternally grateful for.

Somehow, I have to catch you all somewhat up to speed with me. I wouldn’t know where to begin since I made this blog centered on fitness and health and have not spoken much about Luke!

Luke in a nutshell:

  • Loyal
  • Good listener
  • Caring (treats me like a princess…literally, it’s crazy)
  • Christ-centered
  • Athletic
  • Smart
  • Hard worker
  • Obnoxious (the things he does…men have funny ways of expressing love)
  • Funny
  • Soon-to-be Army Chaplain
That’s right. That last bullet…not only will I be a PW (pastor’s wife), I am also going to be an Army Wife! You all have no idea how far that was from who I thought I would end up with. I never wanted anything to do with the army, because I was scared. Terrified. I would say: “I’d never be strong enough for that. I just know that one day, an officer would show up at my house to tell me my husband would not be coming home.” Now here I am. Giving myself to a relationship that I never thought would be possible.

How did I make this change?

How did I go from: “I’ll never marry. I’ll never get involved with the Army. I’ll be single for the rest of my life, and I LIKE it that way.”
Let’s start with God. Like it or not, take it or leave it: God is the reason.
As I may have mentioned way back in a previous entry, I was a very pessimistic person after many relationships gone wrong. I chose then to simply have fun, not suffer any repercussions, and not get too close ever again. With that kind of attitude, I was nowhere near ready for Luke–my future husband.
After a while, I got fed up.
I was done feeling meaningless to the guys I devoted time to. I was done feeling like I was getting nowhere fast and that no matter how many hearts I stole, I was never going to feel fulfilled. There was a hole (which is still not entirely filled, but I’m getting there) and no amount of meaningless familiarities and sentiments would gratify me.

God is the answer.

And so I turned to Him. Lent season 2014, I told God I was done: “From here on out, it’s just you and me, God. No one else. I only want you.” For all of Lent season, from February to April, I worked on my heart and on restoring my relationship with God.

Luke messaged me that June while he was in Lithuania for an ROTC trip.

That summer, I knew for a fact I was done with heartless relationships. However, I didn’t think or know for a fact that Luke was going to treat me better than all the rest. I was prepared full-heartedly for the downfall.

Well, we started dating October 31st 2014, and 11 months and seven days later, Luke proved that he was not like anyone else I’ve ever met. In that time span from June of 2014 to now in December of 2015, my heart has changed radically for the better. This is all such a crash course of what God has been doing in my life, but let me tell you all that had I not stepped out of my old ways and directed my whole heart and life to Him, I would NOT have been ready for Luke, the Army life, and the future God has had planned for me.

I am praying for you all, that this Christmas season, you will not wait so long like I did. That you will not dwell on bitter memories and hold tight to them to protect you. I promise you that God will protect you.

Thank you for reading, xoxo

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Wedding Date: June 17, 2016

Being Mirrors

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Love is a difficult topic. In this world, it’s hard to find acts of ramdom kindness and expressions of love. Though perhaps we are also at fault for not looking hard enough for the positivity and beauty. Nevertheless, God calls us out to be His chosen disciples. Because the world is so lost, He chooses us to be His mirrors. When people look at us and interact with us, they should notice something different. I hope that in my interactions, people can see Jesus living in me. What does that look like exactly? Well, I certainly will be spending my whole life trying to figure that out, but the first step is to love. “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31.

Here we may run into another problem with love…What if you don’t really love yourself? I’ve struggled with this my whole life, so I know how you feel if you are a victim of insecurity and perhaps self-loathing. I pray that God can free you of this. He designed you; do not scorn yourself or you scorn his very Creation as not being good enough. I know, this sort of attitude does not change overnight, believe me. But with God all things are possible and all things are made new. Pray for a clean heart; pray today for freedom from any thoughts of negativity. These thoughts are destructive to you and will keep you from furthering God’s kingdom. When we are trapped in self-pity, anxiety, depression…we are only consumed on theses thoughts. These are thoughts from the devil, not from God! I pray that today, you will just get a little farther from harmful thoughts and closer to God’s plan for you 🙂 It is only then when we can love ourselves that we can truly give love and share of His grace to others.

Have a great Friday!! Thanks for reading 🙂 xoxo

Back to That Grind

Books

Well here are most of my books for the semester! For all you college kids out there, doesn’t this look about right? Okay sorry, English majors, does this stack strike an accord?

Luckily, I am NOT in over my head like last semester. Trust me, I know this looks bad, but I don’t think any semester will top the one I just had, and I still managed to pull off straight A’s!!!! Don’t ask. It was a miracle. The Lord was with me day by day. I am a Dean’s List student and have always been an academic nerd, and I will give everything my 110%. No doubt about that.

But here I am again, back to the grind of school. Today was my second day back so I’ve been introduced to all my classes besides my lab (yeah. I’m an English major but I gotta have those two courses of science. yay.) But I am entering this one strong. No falling behind; I am going to make sure I am as ahead of my classes as I can be and get a bunch of these projects and papers out of the way NOW. Makes a huge difference come April for sure. Some keys to success I’m going to uphold:

Get those papers and group projects done sooner.

I am not going to have this option with all of my papers, so the ones that you can fulfill at literally any point in the semester…yeah I’ll take that now! Especially while I am waiting to hear back from a job that I may possibly be starting at the end of this month!

Plan accordingly.

Well that sounds awfully vague, doesn’t it? But it’s the truth. I can’t be planning date after date with Luke, or have a New Girl marathon when there a billion things to attend to. Label the whole week out, assignment to assignment, and plan each day. I usually don’t spend hours on media or Netflix, but it can get easy to succumb to after a long day of classes and running. But when I just plan little things to do, or one movie to watch AFTER the work gets done, it seems like the greatest reward of all time. I tell myself, get coffee after you’ve done three more pages or having read this much for Friday, etc. Little plans suddenly sound like gold after all the work I’ve put in!

Smile.

Oh geez, I don’t know about you, but every bubbly brunette can also twist that alliteration into a bitchy brunette. I am guilty! When things get overwhelming, stressful, and I have deadlines up to my chin, I tend to want to drown everyone out. Friends included, classmates definitely included, and people who just want to ask me about my day can get the death glare from time to time. Not okay. Smile and push through it. Research has proven that “faking it till you make it” really does work, and I plan on doing just that, but also to genuinely ask more of my classmates about their days and how their studies are going. I want more people to know that I am praying for them; I want people to not look at me and think “Yeah. She’s having a rough semester.” I want people to look at me and think “Wow. Even when we’re in the grind of the semester, she still always has such a positive attitude and a smile.” 🙂

Pray, Pray, Pray

Pray when things are good; pray when they are bad. Do it when you want to, and when you need to. I have so much to be praying for and I can’t let my prayer time get lost in the craziness, or my devotionals. Neither are going to suffer this semester 🙂

It’s 2015, going in still as a Junior and will be finishing out 2015 as a Senior in college. Phew. Just day by day. The Lord assures us that He will strengthen us day by day and we don’t need to worry about tomorrow and what’s looming ahead. When we do that, we become overwhelmed and can’t handle all that we are about to face. That’s why we take it day by day, with God. It is then that we can really do anything 🙂

Goodnight everyone! Got a good run in the morning waiting, xoxo

Late Nights Can Lead to Truth

Remember when we were little and would stay up until 5 am just so we could say we stayed up that late and to talk to our best friends about everything? We didn’t have work to get to, finals to cram for, bills to stress about, or obligations to think of.

We just had the whooollleee night. The whole long night with our best friends at a sleepover.

What I would give to have that again for just one night.

And if we are being wholly honest with ourselves, the best conversations come out after midnight, right? Or at least the truth does.

The truth came out some for me last night before I went to bed, though I’ll have to chew on it some more until I come to a full consensus. By the way, that phrase is cliched, but it is impeccable. “Chewing over/on something” really is the best way to say it. Because when we chew, we savor each different flavor of the food, feel the texture, sense if it’s spicy or bland, know if it’s salty or sweet– a lot goes on in that process. During the “thought chewing” process, I realized that a number of things need to happen.

  1. I need to pray. There’s so much swimming in my head right now, it’s crazy. I am certain you have all felt this on several occasions. Whenever I have become overwhelmed and up to my neck in thoughts, ideas, plans, obligations, worries…I pray. I pray hard, for extended periods of time, hoping I’ll hear something. Hoping I’ll know exactly what to do next.
  2. And listen. Being an active listener during prayer is tough. Being silent in everyday life is tough.
  3. And write some more. Writing helps organize the thoughts and mind. I have a lot of journaling to catch up on, and a lot of thoughts bouncing off of each other like pinball.

It’s a lot like meditating. All of these things occur only in silence. They do not involve other people. They merely involve God, the mind, and maybe pen and paper.

I am not sure what your debriefing, solitude, writing time looks like, but I hope that you all take the time to enjoy some this weekend. Because I look back now and see that we all did find out the truth in our youth and did a lot of active thinking…with each other at sleepovers talking for hours. Even then we needed the time to sort things out, make sense of everything we’ve been experiencing.

However, not just tonight do I need to pray and reflect, I have to make sure I’m making time for this every day. I typically do, but not for as long as I’d like. Even when I don’t feel like doing it after a long day, I need to remind myself that that’s when I need it most! I’ve had a long day; I should take time to digest it! Not for an hour, just ten minutes. I think I can always promise ten minutes of my day. And soon, this time will feel really, quite pleasant and soothing. It’ll be like having my massage at the end of the day, releasing all the knots and stress I’ve been carrying on my back 🙂

I hope you all do take some time out for yourselves and have some reflection. It certainly is cold enough to do so! And I hope you all have a lovely night tonight! Stay warm! xoxo

The Darkness Cannot Stay When There Is Light

In my news feed, I came across The Blacklight Candelabra’s post asking writers to respond with a story of simultaneous creation and deconstruction.

I am a strong, level-headed realist. I wasn’t always that way, but for good reason, I sure became one. I have seen and have personally experienced a lot. One of my family members had a horrible first marriage, changing her own life and the lives of her children forever. I have seen my friends fall head over heels for men not worth the heartache that would follow. I have seen some of my friends stay in the wrong relationships, not leaving when they should, giving someone a 100th second chance. There’s so much heartache in this world, that it makes it hard to see the light. I certainly have had my own share of turmoil, despair, and so I chose quite some time ago that I wanted to be single. I see nothing wrong with it. In fact, I have far too many plans. I want to do so much with my life, why would I want anything holding me back? And besides, a family? Lord have mercy, I was far from thinking that that was in the realms of my future. If I even got married, I didn’t think a nice guy would ever find me. All hope for that was lost somewhere around sophomore year in high school. True love in marriage is a myth (besides with my own parents). This world has gotten lost; people don’t believe in love anymore. People believe in convenience, quick remedies, easy pleasure, and guilt-free pleasure at that. Families? Families are broken; children are mistakes that happened unexpectedly. Yes, this was my mindset for about 6 years. And just two years ago, I sunk further into those beliefs.

Spring 2013

I walk into his room, and something still doesn’t seem right. Did I forget to bring him something, was my hair askew, my outfit all wrong– did he just not see the same woman anymore? I sit at his bed. I let my fingers trail his back, trying to smooth over whatever remnants remained. My fingers move to his hair as I try to smooth out whatever is being brought back to surface in there.

Am I still his darling? Have I ever been his or was this just a mirage seen by a lone, lost soul aimlessly looking for love?

My. I certainly had put a fair amount of trust in him. Though he had never given reason for me to do otherwise. Why, he wanted me with him everywhere. He wouldn’t go anyplace without me, wouldn’t want to spend a single day without me. Certainly, we had our share of fights as does any couple. And they were getting a little less common…

We don’t talk much that night, but I lay by him. I promise my presence, when he needs it. This could be the greatest gift he’s ever received, a dream come true. Turning to face me and smile, he acknowledges the silent promise I have given. I would come to the know the days I wouldn’t see him at all or even hear from him. I would come to know the days when I would see him and absolutely dread it.

“Why do you ridicule me in front of everyone?”

“Babe, I’m not trying to make fun of you. We’re laughing with you! It’s cute when you don’t know something!”

I look around at my teammates all seated at the dinner table, laughing and looking at me, waiting for me to laugh too.

Days later. 

“You don’t practice with me anymore or throw with me. Is something wrong?”

“Can’t you understand I don’t have the time?!”

I sigh angrily, “You never tell me anything; I have no idea what goes on with you!”

He sighs, staring directly ahead, not for once meeting my eyes, “You wouldn’t understand. None of this.”

Oh just the age gap argument again, is it?

Days later.

“You said you knew the way back!”

I am about ready to lose it, “We were both talking and distracted. You and I are both in the wrong here. We weren’t paying attention to how we got here! And I told you, ‘let’s try that direction’. We should have just used the GPS!” I brace myself for his response.

“You know what, this is ridiculous. You should have known this didn’t look right. None of this looks like what we saw on the way up, I was trusting you,” he spits the words out like venom, hoping each word leaves an impact.

“Why is it only me?! Just why? Why am I the one at fault here?”

“Because you told me to go this way!”

“You could have double-checked! I even said that I didn’t know!!”

The remaining twenty minutes were spent in silence broken by his single question, “So you’re just done talking now?”

Weeks later

My friend asks me, “So are you two doing better?”

“Oh much so,” I say with as much enthusiasm as I can manage.

She smiles at her phone, “Gosh, Aiden just told me that I looked gorgeous last night. I didn’t really try that hard, but I mean, when he takes us out, I kind of try–”

“Wait. You guys just went out.”

“No, that was like a week ago. It’s been a little while.”

I stare at her confused, “A week ago? Only a week ago?”

“What do you mean ‘only’? When was the last time you guys went out?”

I bite down hard on my lip and pinch my wrist to stop any tears. Valentine’s Day, which was nearly two months ago.

Instead, I ask something else, “You said he called you ‘gorgeous’?”

“Well yeah, and I mean he told me last night too, but he likes to tell me again. Kind of a thing with him; he always compliments me on the dumbest things,” she laughs as if it’s so absurd, but anyone can tell it lights up her whole world.

I smile and nod and decide to confess about my own boyfriend, “He’s never called me beautiful.”

Days later. 

I ask him to meet me that night, that we have a lot to talk about, and it just can’t wait. I settle into the passenger seat of his car as I’ve done so many times, usually for stolen kisses, long talks before his shift, a chance to warm up in the middle of the day between classes. I imagine how many times our hands were held just there by the clutch. I also see us singing ridiculously to the radio, but not him singing to me. I see his eyes fixed on the road, but not because he’s being a cautious driver. I see his gaze and that face–that face I’ll never understand–that mind I know is never fully here.

“I’m leaving,” I said.

“What?”

“I’m transferring, and we’re breaking up.”

Liberation, sometimes, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Spring 2014

Much more had happened between May 2013 and February 2014, but most importantly, nothing got any better. I had imagined leaving would solve everything. But running from situations tends to only leave you in the same mindset, just in a new location. Hiding out  tends to make the person you’re hiding from seem gone forever, but it doesn’t actually make that person go away. Hiding does not stop communication, and a new location does not promise all you’ve ever wanted.

When I returned to Illinois and Olivet in December, I made a promise for the Lent season. This is a season of the Catholic church, but I as a Nazarene still choose to take part in it. And this past spring, I chose God, not men. I prayed for renewal and healing. I prayed for a security like no other. Most of all, I prayed for forgiveness.

My ice castle I had created had started to melt that spring. The fortress surrounding my cold heart was starting to crumble, pillars of marble bitterness and towers of frozen fear began to crack and break. My fortress that I had worked so hard to preserve was coming down slowly. Though my ice castle was being destroyed, a soft heart of gold was taking its place.

Ezekiel 36:26- “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

This was not easy for me by any means. But to relinquish yourself– well who ever said that feels easy? We are creatures of control, we like to have control and order of our own lives. But this is not what Christianity is about. If you cannot give up your old ways, then you cannot accept the new life being given so freely. I realized that I didn’t want the path that I was creating for myself. It looked bleak and miserable, a tightly-wound, vicious cycle.

I am still a realist today, and I am by no means completely transformed. But I no longer hold a heart of ice, but now hold a heart of flesh. Because there are traits of me that will never go away, which I am perfectly okay with. However, the shattering of the ice in my heart, the disassembling of old, bitter memories, and the eradication of old fears have allowed the creation of this new heart.

I am now hopeful again.

I don’t see the world through pessimistic lens anymore. I have regained the vivid, optimistic, and brighter version of myself in my younger years. Though I am so uncertain of what lies ahead, I am open-minded, trusting in God every step of the way. It’s a much better way to live. Do not stay in the darkness, but seek renewal of mind and spirit. It takes time, but I think our generation needs to learn to have a little more perseverance and patience anyway.

“Light overcomes all darkness, for where there is light, the darkness cannot live there.”

https://blacklightcandelabra.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/illuminating-the-darkness-with-a-second-blog/