okay. i’m ready.

Whew. It’s been a crazy month. So much has been happening and all of it has been so spontaneous.

The Professor proposed. I gave my (month’s) notice at my job. I started saying my goodbyes to people I have loved for a decade. I spent my last official Sunday interpreting at my church for a new Deaf couple. I visited friends far away for the last time (for awhile, anyway). I bought my wedding dress. We set a date. The Professor booked our wedding venue. More huuuuge blessings that we’ll announce soon.

Whew. I’m overwhelmed.

I’m moving to Georgia in 3 days.

Three. Days.

Not just a visit. It’s not like all those times I drove to see The Professor for a few days. It’s not going to be the same as filling up my daytimes while he’s at work and then coming up with something big and bold and outrageous to do when he picked me up for a date.

We won’t have to try to cram into one weekend all the experiences and conversations and emotions you normally have over a full month.

We won’t have to say goodbye again. Ever again.

I’m moving to Georgia. Permanently. Georgia will become my home.

I can’t hardly believe it.

We’ve been preparing for almost a month, and now it’s right around the corner…. and I cannot hardly believe it.

I have felt like a nomad for two full  years. While on the World Race we traveled every few weeks, camping down wherever there was space (whether a bed was available or not). I came home and spent a month traveling to see friends and family for the first time in a year. I moved in with my sweet roomie and immediately got a job with a commute which, at the very least, required a 40 minute drive through awful traffic. Both morning and night. And I spent on average, not counting the commute, 11 hours a day there. When I finally get back to the apartment, it’s bedtime or very nearly. Every weekend I would drive 2 hours south to spend time with friends and church, or I drove 7+ hours to visit The Professor. I believe, in my 11 months of living in Northern Kentucky, I’ve spent maybe 3 weekends total at my apartment. TOTAL.

Can you see why I still feel like a nomad? It isn’t because I don’t have a place to sleep. It isn’t because I’m not welcome anywhere I tread.

But it’s exhausting to be on the move all the time.

I was driving to see friends a few days ago and about an hour and a half into the trip I had to pull over to the side of the road because I was losing my mind. Tears streaming down my face, snot threatening to choke me- all the emotions of the last 2 years gurgling up to suffocate me all at once.

And it isn’t because I’m unhappy! I’m SO HAPPY. So very, extremely, overwhelmingly joyful.

But it’s a lot to take in all at once.

Processing the last 2 years of my life, grieving this season of singleness, independence, Kentucky-living, constantly-being-surrounded-by-everyone-I-know-and-love and at the same time celebrating this incredible and exciting new season of newness- new engagement, new wedding planning, new state, new job (hopefully), new friends, new community, new church, new home- it’s just hard, man. It’s so, so hard. Especially trying to take all of the things in and celebrate all the new things on my own, still living 8 hours away from the boo, and having literally zero amount of time to myself. In the next 3 days, I work 34 hours and have to pack up the rest of my life and move it to my car. For Thanksgiving, we’ll spend a week with The Professor’s family. The Monday after, I fly back up to Cincinnati to work one more week. That Friday I’ll fly back down late, and prepare all the things for our engagement photos to be done that Saturday.

Exhausting.

Whew.

Listen. I know that I know that I know that I’m ready to move to Georgia. I know that I know that I know that I’m ready for this next big life change and all the things that come with it. Maybe ask me again in a couple months just to be sure, but honestly there’s no turning back. This is the boy I love, and I’m going to marry him. And when I marry him all his things will become my things and all his people and all his traditions and all his memories and all his life. And vice versa! It really brings new meaning to that verse in Ruth (1:16):

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

I’m just so ready to be done with all the transitioning, and ready to move on to the roots-planting phase of life with someone else. Even though we won’t be married for another several months, there are so many things for us to do and accomplish before we’re ready to take the plunge: job-hunting (for me), setting up house, church-finding, marital counseling, financial counseling, wedding planning: just a few of the millions of tasks on our immediate to-do list.

But I’m so ready- and so grateful- to finally be taking a real step forward, a step toward all the dreams we want to make happen. I’m ready to take a break from traveling all the time and just spend some quality face-to-face time with this man I’m marrying. I’m ready to finally set down some roots.

I’m so ready to make this move, to grieve my last season well, and leap boldly into this new one.

Okay. I’m ready.

life change. WHAT.

As most of you probably know, about a week ago my life changed in a big way. A Big Way.

The Professor drove up to Kentucky to surprise me.

Which he totally did.

With a diamond ring.

Which I totally died over.

That’s right, friends!

I’M ENGAGED!!!!

Soooo crazy!! I still cannot hardly believe it. I keep looking at my left hand to make sure it wasn’t really a dream (which it most certainly still feels like).

I’ll publish a blog soon about the proposal story, with toooooooonnnnns of photos (because believe me- it’s worth it’s own post. We’re talking fairy tales and lifetime channel movies). (Seriously, though. Prepare yourself for the legit onslaught of photos). But I wanted to go ahead and make some important announcements before my facebook gets out of control. It just seems easier and more manageable to share all my big newses here, and answer any questions there.

So, for those of you who don’t know yet….

I’M ENGAGED!!!

Oops. Sorry. Wrong announcement.

ACTUAL ANNOUNCEMENT: my last day at my current job, with the sweet girls that I nanny will be November 26th. It’s extremely difficult for me to imagine my life without seeing those faces every day, but I know even better things are around the corner.

I will be officially moving to Gainesville, Georgia (where the Boo is) during Thanksgiving weekend. It’s kind of a time crunch to get everything in, but as my lease runs out on November 30th, we decided it would just be easier to bring my things down with me when I go to his parents’ for the holiday (rather than making two trips).

That being said, there are some major things I’d like to request your prayers for:

Please pray that I am able to downsize my already-downsized life, and that the things I do decide to keep can find a Kentucky home for a few months until The Professor and I find a place of our own and can bring them down. Neither of us really own any furniture (and I really mean nothing) so please pray that we can find some great things for affordable prices in the coming months.

Please pray that I find a job quickly- and one that will bring me joy and satisfaction, as well as the ability to pay bills and save up for our wedding. (OUR WEDDING!!!).

Please pray that my transition into a new community is smooth and easy, and that I find my own friends outside of my relationship to The Professor.

Please pray that we find a church to call home. It’s so important to us both that we graft ourselves into a community outside of work- one that will offer us opportunities to join a small group, serve our town, and grow together in the Lord.

Please pray that we find the perfect starter home. Again, we’ll be starting from scratch in this area, so pray that he will have great insight into places to look, that we will be given great favor in our search, and that we find the home that will serve us best during our first few years of marriage.

Please pray that we continue to keep Christ front and center as we move into the challenging season of Actual. Wedding. Planning. Pray that he will keep his patience with me and that I will offer him respect and support during particularly stressful moments.

Please pray that as I prepare to move away from my Vineyard Church community- away from my dearest friends and loved ones, that I will guard myself from a spirit of comparison, and that I will eagerly look for any and every opportunity to plant myself in a new place and start growing… the way that Christ created me to.

………

Mostly I just want to say thank you. A biiiiiig thank you to all those of you who have loved and supported me, who have encouraged and challenged and discipled me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it weren’t for you. I’m so excited to walk into this new season with my soon-to-be-Husband (whaaaaaatttt), and I look forward to sharing all our crazy milestones with you. May God bless you and keep you until we meet again!

gosh, this boy.

#postpartumprobs

Let me just begin with this: No. I am not pregnant. No, I have not had children yet. No, I am not expecting.

Some girlfriends and I were discussing pregnancy and birth plans and what have you this past Sunday. As we do. One of the major topics of discussion became the area of postpartum care. I recently read this article about the lack of postpartum care for new mothers in America and how detrimental it can be to go from just you and your spousey-poo to you and your spouse and lots of new baby poo. And crying. And diaper rash. Oh, and learning the art of breastfeeding. And the art of Never Sleeping Again. Ever.

I feel like it could be the next Harry Potter series:

Harry Potter and the 24 Hour Labor
Harry Potter And the Colicky Baby
Harry Potter and the Neverending Poo Stream
Harry Potter And 18-Year-Long Night

You get my point.

But, seriously, how are we supposedly at the top of our game as a country, and yet we are the only country without paid maternal leave, and one of the few countries without normal practices of postpartum care? Rather than being a community of women-helping-women, we’ve become a society in which the moment a baby leaves a mother’s body, the mother is expected almost solely to care for her brand new human being, and forever deny her own needs. If she attempts to put her health or needs above baby’s, she’s considered lazy, selfish or, at worst, neglectful. In the article I recently referenced, an Argentine woman compares post-birth to a plane crash. We’re all told that in a crash, you must place an oxygen mask on yourself first, and then your children. Yet, milliseconds after birth, women are expected to hold their breath for the next 18 years, attending first and nearly-only to the needs of her child. Especially during infancy and early years. Rather than take care of herself so that she is physically and mentally able to take care of her children, she is expected to undergo major physical trauma and then immediately recover in order to focus solely on the infant.

And we wonder why postpartum depression is on the rise.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, your mother will show up to help for a week or two. Maybe, also, your mother-in-law. Or a sister if you’re suuuper lucky. But for those without extended families, or with poor familial ties, what’s the alternative? To suck it up and get on with it.

Are you judging me quite yet? Perhaps you’ve been through it all and you’re thinking to yourself, By God if I had to do it, and I made it through alive, everyone else should quit complaining and just deal, too. Or maybe, It’s not normal to need or expect someone else’s help. You brought a baby into the world, you decided for yourself you wanted children, so you brought this on yourself. Again- deal with it.

Or maybe you’re a mom went through the exhaustion of a new baby for the first, second, third, fourth time… and you know how desperately you needed someone to talk to, help change the baby, give you 15 minutes so you could shower for the first time in a week.

I’ve seen repeatedly on facebook, posts like such:

“Eat, sleep, or shower? I can only do one.”

“Baby finally went to sleep. I’m too exhausted to sleep so I guess I’ll just sit here on facebook.”

“I haven’t showered in a week. Can someone please come watch baby so I can clean myself?”

And the list goes on. Perhaps instead of spending our time judging each other, why don’t we just help a family out? We were always meant to be a small town, no matter where we choose to live. In moments of tragedy, people line up all the way around the corner with meals for the grief-stricken family. What about for the sleep-stricken new parents? Where is the meal train for them?

And let me also just say that I’m not condemning the world. There are a LOT of people, friends, family, community, churches out there who respond to the needs of new families with clothes, diapers, meals. But what I’m saying is that, for the most part, the idea of a culturally-accepted postpartum support system is nil, and I think it should change.

So do my girlfriends.

As we stood around the island in the kitchen dreaming of one day when we’d all have our own babies, we began planning a pact, per se. A promise to be there for each other, post-birth.

“Oh, you need someone to come in and help when your mom has to get back home? You can count on me. Sign me up for a week.” “Two weeks for me!” “You pay for food, I’ll buy it and cook it. And clean your house so you can rest.” These are the things we promised to each other. And not without weight.

Just as in major surgery, a woman needs to recover physically. It takes time and it takes sleep, two things a new mother has ZERO of. But what if our community of friends gathered around us to give us just a little extra time to adjust and recuperate? What if, like a million years ago when neighbors came to help bring in your crop under the promise that you would help when their crop came in, we (especially as women) gave a week of our time post-birth to help a new mom? And she would lovingly and gratefully return the favor when your babies came?

I can just imagine what it would be like to have a newborn baby and sleep. In the same breath. A husband who is able to work and also sleep. Food that is prepared, and friends to help keep up with laundry. Just long enough to recover physically and learn the basics of caring for a brand new human.

I don’t think it sounds selfish. I don’t think it sounds lazy or neglectful. I think it’s what we’re meant to do for each other as a basic community of love. We are supportive of those around us when grief abounds. Let’s be supportive of each other when major life changes go down, too.

What’s your opinion on postpartum support?

a change in the wind

Whew, it feels like summer just began and already my girls are back in school. You can’t tell because of the UNBELIEVABLE heat and humidity we’re finally experiencing (which, let’s just be honest, is about dang time), but autumn is quickly arriving and with it a new season. And I don’t just mean climate-wise.

Summer was incredible. Maybe just a bit too short, but wonderful none-the-less. Even with my 50-60 hour workweek, I have been able to do all sorts of things. The Boy came and “lived” up here for three weeks, I visited him for two separate weeks. There was the annual street swing dance in Lexington, and multiple USABDA dances on warm Saturday nights. I visited a zoo and an aquarium, went to considerably less movies than my usual summer haul, and ate more sushi than I care to count. I visited Ellice and my sweet Laurana, drank coffee in the kitchen with PJoe and Janice, and tried my hand at brand new pie and cake recipes. I started teaching my girls to bake.

I discovered a new pinterest interest (although I’ve had an account for years), and am currently on day five of a facebook fast. I’ve taken Jackpot to the dog park enough to make actual friends with other regulars who bring their dogs, and I’ve spent weeks laying out in the sun by a pool where V and K perfected their back dives and front flips. I’ve dressed up for two weddings, both of which were more emotional than I was prepared for. I have traveled so much I currently believe I’m actually living out of my car, rather than at an apartment with Mary Alice, who has been one of my best friends for years. And I’ve watched as our friendship has grown deeper and deeper, especially over the last month.

My love for hammocks has been re-awakened. I helped my mom move some stuff from storage into a moving truck so she could unpack at her brand new house- something she has been waiting on and praying for for at least a decade. I got my hair cut. And colored. And it is AWESOME. I even got a tutorial on how to use hair products and which ones to buy. I perfected the art of the dutch braid, thanks to youtube (and a little assistance from Mary Alice). I have ROCKED learning how to curl my hair.

I’ve gone putt-putting. I’ve juiced. I watched food documentaries and learned stuff. I went hiking A LOT. I’ve taken time on various road trips to pull off and spend time at a river, a lake, a mountain lookout, and a super-cool, slightly-hidden pottery house. I stayed for a weekend in a log cabin with girls who make me feel incredibly special. I reunioned with Sarah and her husband. I celebrated the 5 year birthday/anniversary of the best church on the planet. I walked through an abandoned mall that creeped me out. I’ve seen more deer and fawns than I can count. I paid off my credit card. I bought the perfect flannel shirt.

I got a Netflix account that equally improved and ruined my life. I watched every season of Parks and Rec, and The West Wing (except I still can’t bring myself to view the final episode, knowing it’ll really be over).

I went to an actual running store to buy actual running shoes. I ran 5 miles without stopping one time. And with a few stops another time. I went running more than I wanted to. I did barre workouts less than I wanted to. I did yoga even less than that. I took a lot of naps. I read a lot. I knitted and crocheted more than I ever have in the summer. I’ve celebrated new mamas and babies. I celebrated new friendships. I said goodbye a lot to people heading to the mission field. I welcomed them home.

The Boy gave me a tshirt. We watched lots of sunsets and a few thunderstorms. I told him I loved him for the first time. I kissed him under a bridge at dusk. We ran a 5k and then I covered him in leftover colored corn starch. I kayaked for the first time. I paddle-boated for the first time. I paddle-boarded for the first time. I swam at night for the first time. I pretended to love red wine. I started to love red wine. I threw a surprise birthday party. I said “I love you” some more.

I drank a lot of coffee. I learned to love soy and almond milk, and I started to not love actual milk anymore. I didn’t take vitamins like I should have. I did floss like I should have. I wore sports bras and running shorts far too often. I didn’t wear dresses nearly enough. I did wear heels though- a couple times. I learned to love wildflowers…really and truly love them.

I bought a book about gardening vegetables.

I got the hiccups a lot.

I didn’t spend one weekend at my apartment.

People I barely knew taught me the real meaning of hospitality.

I coached the most amazing girls at a conference.

I only wore chacos.

I introduced V and K to the magic of Harry Potter. No pun intended.

I ordered something online.

I had to buy (and start regularly using) a patellar strap.

I bought things from local farmers.

I re-ignited my love of jigsaw puzzles and hummus. Not together. At least, not very often. I learned to love peanut butter. Especially with apples.

My love for nutella almost ruined my waistline. Again.

……

Whew.

It’s been an incredible summer. And now it’s over.

As wonderful as things have been, it feels as if I’ve lived totally in one of two camps: One being that time is simply going by too fast to keep up, and the other being the exact opposite- what’s next and why can’t I figure it out? For the first time in my life (maybe the second, if you count the World Race), I feel totally out of control of my time, my work, my relationships. But in a good way, like I just get to sit back and enjoy what happens as it’s happening. I’m going to stop looking very far in the future, and instead focus my energies on being as fully present as I can, and sopping up every ounce of joy and fulfillment that I can.

It seems like something is missing. Like I’ve been only enjoying half of my time, and the other half is spent just trying to catch up. So I’m making a few conscious changes for this autumn. Most particularly in reference to my job and all the time I spend there. 100% of my time this summer has been spent in workout clothes (so that I can take the pup running, and I can get messy doing projects with the girls). But I don’t want to be that girl who shows up only in yoga pants or running shorts. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But I want, need, to put more effort into my life, to not allow time to just slip by because I’m too busy.

So one thing I’ve decided to do is take one day and dress in actual clothes: shorts made of a fabric other than nylon, jeans, an actual bra. Really anything other than what I’ve lived in. I think it will be good for my psyche (and also my poor workout clothes that haven’t had a dang break in three months) to wear normal clothes once in awhile.

I’m also challenging myself to get out of my house and do something else one night a week. Typically I leave my house around 6 am and return anywhere from 7-8:30 pm. Which means I’m in bed and konked out by 10:30 at the latest. That’s not a lot of time for myself. But I’ve decided it’s important for me, as tiring as it may seem at first, to do something besides come home and work out/read/knit/watch tv or any number of quiet, solitary activities and then pass out.

I actually allowed myself to do something spontaneous yesterday during an afternoon break at work (sometimes I have 3-4 hours off in the middle of the day). I took myself to see a movie at a dollar theatre (it’s typically $3, but on Tuesdays it’s half-off). The theatre was at the back of an almost totally abandoned mall (which kind of felt a little ghost-like). The floor was so sticky that every time I moved my foot, my sole suctioned off and then back onto the floor. The chairs smelled equally like body odor and cat urine, and both were strong. So strong, in fact, that at one point about halfway through the movie I honestly thought about leaving. But I stayed to the end, and it was a really enjoyable film- truly entertaining.

Today I decided would be the day I wore actual clothes. I did show up to work in my normal workout attire, because within 45 minutes of arriving I walk the girls (and two of their neighbors) to school and then go on a run with Jackpot. But afterward I came back home (and since I had a break today, too) I took a shower and changed into cloth shorts and a plaid tank top. It feels weird. But this is the vow I have taken.

I also took myself out for coffee this morning. I went to a coffee shop I’d never heard of (but google swore it was the best in Cincinnati). And it was cute– built into what I’m sure had to have been an old historic home. Good coffee, too. But absolutely ZERO parking and the one place I found had a strict one-hour policy with a tried-and-true history of cars being towed. So I enjoyed my iced hazelnut almond milk latte as quickly as I could and then skedaddled. Thus began a cafe crawl to find a new place with free wifi and free parking.

So now I sit at Panera, typing to you. Because local coffee shops don’t have free parking, or parking without vehicles already parked. I’m not sure what this new season has in store, but I’m really looking forward to it. Autumn has always been my favorite season and, traditionally, it has been very good to me. There are a couple weddings coming up, and some really special birthdays. The Boy will visit me and I will visit him. My sweet Ellice will have her third baby. The leaves will change color and I will hike some tall peaks to better enjoy the view. I’ll unpack the boots and the scarves and the cozy sweaters I pine for all summer long. I’ll try my hand at making hot cider for the first time. I’ll finish my journal and begin a new one. I’ll keep loving coffee. I’ll keep running with Jackpot. I’ll keep trying to keep up with the girls.

And I’ll enjoy every minute of every day, lapping up all the abundance life has to offer, knowing

“The Lord will keep [me] from harm–
He will watch over [my] life;
The Lord will watch over my coming and going
both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 121:7-8

Bring it on, Autumn.

30 Before 30 Project

Several of my friends have adopted this project in the last few months and I think it is fabulous! What a wonderful way to celebrate the last year of your twenties- by challenging yourself, reaching for some dreams, and celebrating life in huge ways. Tomorrow will begin my twelve month journey through the end of my twenties and I’m ready for it.

As I was preparing for this, I was asked on multiple occasions how I could possibly top things I’ve already done. I just came back from doing the Race, traveling all around the world loving on people. I’ve been in independent films, I’ve danced, I did martial arts and firefighting and plane flying and hair dyeing and nose ring getting and all kinds of cool stuff. And it has been incredible. I’ve been so blessed to lead the life I have. But my answer to that question is that there’s always something new to experience. There’s always a new place to go or a different thing to do or someone new to befriend. There are personal challenges that can be met, fears to overcome, deeper levels of intimacy to get to even within your own self.  So I’m hopping on the 30-before-30 train and I’m asking you to come along and be a part of it. Join me on some of my adventures! We’ll make beautiful new memories to keep us going through the dry seasons. Love and life and blessings to us all!

1. Go to the circus ……… 9.6.14
2. Spend a weekend in a cabin……..8.15-8.16.14
3. Go on a night hike …….. 4.3.2014
4. Host a themed party ……… 1.23.2015
5. Travel outside the States
6. Learn to can/jar something……… 10.1.14
7. Take a pottery class
8. Finish making my quilt
9. Give something away that is a real sacrifice
10. Ride an elephant
11. Serve a multi-course dinner for more than one other person ……… 2.11.15
12. Pay off credit card √……..8.20.14
13. Learn to drive stick shift
14. Participate in a fundraising 5k/walk …..6.14.2014
15. Spend a day at an outdoor festival
16. Go horseback riding ……… 4.5.2014
17. Sew myself a dress ..…… 10.28.2014
18. See a professional hockey game live
19. Get dressed up for real and do something awesome ………. 11.8.2014
20. Volunteer scuba dive at an aquarium
21. Buy a green plant. Keep it alive ……… 1.10.2015
22. Beautify a public space
23. Go backpacking for at last 2 nights
24. Pursue motivational speaking seriously
25. Participate in a 30-day Self-Awareness Project aimed at discovering (or re-discovering) my own beauty
26. Learn basic car maintenance
27. Make my own homemade jam ……… 10.11.14
28. Go rock climbing
29. Visit a Californian winery ……… 2.26.15
30. Spend a weekend in Asheville or Chattanooga
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Optionals (because every cake needs icing):
*write/mail a letter every day to friends/family for 30 days
*spend a day volunteering at an animal shelter
*do the skydive simulator in Gatlinburg (no, I will not actually go skydiving)
*see a live theatre performance (I’ve done this a lot, so I didn’t think it merited putting on the official list)
*go white water rafting again (nothing will ever compare with the Nile, but I love it so much I needed to add it anyway) [8.30.14. kayaking down a river totally counts)
*go on a pub crawl
*get thai bodywork done (hopefully by Matthew Higden!)
*do something crazy and lovely to celebrate the big 3-0
*learn how to make origami
*spend time on a sailboat
*renew my daily yoga practice
*renew my daily meditation practice

366 days to go!

open calendars: fill me up

Hello. My name is Andi… and I am a planner.

I know that it comes as somewhat of a shock to you, my loyal readers, but there you have it. I plan things. I make lists and I check them off. Sometimes they’re color-coded. I like order and I like knowing the ins and outs of what may or may not come, and I like knowing, specifically, how to get from point A to point B. I like knowing it so much that I most usually prefer to map directions out old-school with an actual map as opposed to google or gps. Although, this may be somewhat related to the fact that my phone’s gps is never, ever accurate. Anyway.

I am a planner.

One of my very favorite things to do at the beginning of each year is to open a brand-spanking new calendar and fill in all the appointments, meetings, events, and trips I have for the whole year. I love it. I get out special pens, I doodle a bit, and I highlight. It’s fabulous.

I’ve had this routine since early on in my middle school years. Once school and sports and karate started picking up, I had to organize my life very, very efficiently in order to get to everything I wanted and needed to. This continued all throughout high school and college and the after-years until I can’t imagine my life and my time not planned out.

I am a planner.

Do you know who else is a planner? God. Do you know when His plans are most effective, are most easily set into motion? When we give up the selfishness of our own agenda. Do you know when the Kingdom is brought to earth and hearts are mended and lives are restored? When our plans and desires mean less than His.

A dear friend gave me this sweet little calendar for Christmas. When I got home from Project Searchlight I was super pumped to open the calendar and fill it out- as usual. Let’s see where this year is going to take us! But when I sat down and opened it, I found myself flipping through page after page with nothing to write.

What is this?! Where are all my plans? My events? The stuff I’m going to do?!?

This is the first year in my pre-teen/adolescent/adult life that I have not had one single thing to write down in a planner.

That is crazy!

But then I began to wonder what can God do with all that time, all that space? What does He have to fill up my pages? Where will He send me? Who will I meet? What does He have for me to do? This is the first time, ever, that I don’t have my own plans. I wonder what incredible things God will be bringing to my door now that He has ultimate and free reign.

God is a planner.

And it’s going to be an incredible year.

fill me up

what’s next? or, how YOU can help

Family, friends, readers of all ages: I need your help.

In two months I will be embarking on a trip HOME and, having said that, I will be coming home to nearly nothing: no apartment, no furniture, no job.

I am SO excited.

I have infinite possibilities in front of me, infinite opportunities to go anywhere and do anything.

However, I have felt for awhile now that I have failed myself on several levels by not giving myself a real shot at theatre. It’s the first interest, the first passion I ever had. I ended up going to college to study theatre more, and ended up with a degree in it.  But I told myself for years I didn’t need or want that life, or that I’d rather wait ‘til I got married and then move somewhere to start auditioning. And so I have put off for a long, long time the deepest desire of my heart, and the first passion the Lord ever gave me.

But no more.

I owe it to myself, to my future happiness, and to the happiness of my future husband and children to be a whole person, to have chased after my dreams with reckless abandon. If there is anything that the World Race has taught me, it is to have no fear. So I go.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

I am also looking to continue growing in financial maturity and freedom. My immediate plan is to find a job and work there for one year before I begin auditioning, saving money and paying off debt.

I have spent the last several years of my life working in multiple dead-end, “part-time,” no benefits, minimum-wage jobs that made me a helpless, frustrated mess. I am now looking for a job that will challenge and inspire me, one I will be excited to wake up in the morning to go do. I’ve been praying about and mulling over the possibilities of working as a Personal Assistant- a varied and challenging job, one I feel very equipped to handle (what with my organizational skills, love of planning, and unadulterated enthusiasm for life).

Here is how you can help:

In a few days we’ll be moving to China, perhaps to a place where internet usage might be unreliable or inaccessible. I will be praying and practicing Staying Present as I finish my last two months on the Race. However, it’s nice to prepare for the unknown as well.

If you know someone in the market for a personal assistant (beginning at the earliest after New Years), let me know! I have a resume ready to be emailed out in an instant. My goal is to move to a city where there is an active theatre district. In a perfect world, that city would be Washington, D.C. (heeeeey, American Shakespeare Center!). Others in my list of top places to live include Seattle, Portland, and Atlanta. So you see I’m willing to move almost anywhere.

Before we left for the Race I sold 99% of everything I own in order to chase God wherever He leads. I believe He is leading me to a new season of adulthood and womanhood and living in a place that affords me opportunities I don’t have in my place of permanent residence.

This decision has come with a lot of heartache in leaving behind my loved ones, and a lot of excitement at finally having the courage to pursue my dreams. If you have any ideas where to go from here, help a girl out!

Thanks, and blessings to you all!

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

house spa

 originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

I have this silly little dream that isn’t congruent with any other plan I have in mind.I have this idea that I’d like to buy one of the big, old houses downtown in Richmond… and turn it into a spa.

Wouldn’t this just be such a charming place to spend a day away?
I would renovate it, have all hardwood flooring, maybe some exposed brick walls (maybe), and lots of rich, deep color on the walls. Each room would be a different sort of spa activity. There would be rooms for manicures and pedicures, rooms for massages (all different kinds- deep tissue, hot stone, Swedish, Thai…), rooms for facials and hair masks…  I would have a sauna, a yoga room, and a room where you can eat all kinds of delicious (and healthy) foods and beverages. In the back I might have a garden, a hot tub, a place to sit and enjoy the sounds of nature. Basically, everything you might want to do with your bridesmaids if you were getting married and wanted to spend a day at the spa- all found in one centralized, affordable, (and lovely) location.
I really think there is a market for this in the Richmond area. There isn’t really anything like this anywhere in this part of the state. I think it would do remarkably well.Unfortunately, I am not business-savvy enough for this type of commitment, nor do I want to be settled permanently anywhere right now. I still want to travel and spend time overseas, I want the chance to audition (and maybe travel with) a nationally-touring Shakespeare company, I want the opportunity to say yes to some big thing that might come my way.

So this dream might be a future endeavor. It could just be a dream, and nothing more.  But I think it would be fun, and lovely- an opportunity to make women feel special and beautiful. To give them a day away from everyday life. An escape to somewhere extraordinary- to bring a destination resort to a hometown.
Maybe one day.

open the flood gates

http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

As you all know, I’ve been searching the Lord for an overseas area I can go to spend a year ministering to “the least of these.” I’m just in the beginning stages of this process, but the Lord, as per usual, has just opened the floodgates of blessing in my life. Every door I’ve knocked on has been opened by someone eager to get to know me and where the Lord might be placing me.

I had a meeting last week with an old friend and mentor who is preparing to move to Guatemala to run a home for abused or abandoned teenage girls. We discussed the possibility of applying for a job there, or maybe even an internship (which would only last 6 months, which is 6 months shy of how long I’d like to stay).  He even offered to set up a trip for me to visit this summer to explore more fully the idea that God might be calling me there.  I’m terribly excited.

The very next day I had a skype interview with a regional director of Team Inc, an international missions organization that works in many, many different countries on many, many different continents in many, many different capacities.  The older gentleman who interviewed me was incredibly kind, and full of information and encouragement for me during this process.  He was enthusiastic that I would be a great candidate for mission work, and gave me a week to narrow my search- at this point, I’m open to going pretty much anywhere, but the world is a mighty large place.  I, however, am more interested in WHAT I might be doing, as opposed to WHERE.  I know my calling is to work with teenage girls- I don’t care where I go in order to do that.

Finally- just this afternoon- I received a phone call from Christ In The City, International- a missions organization that focuses primarily in Central and South America, in mainly Spanish-speaking countries. Because I am willing to go for a year, she felt I could go to a language school within the ministry area for the first few months, because ministry is much more powerful when you can understand and be understood by the person(s) you are working with. She also encouraged me to seek out 2 other organizations that work primarily with youth. She’ll be emailing me those details tonight.

Like I said, this is just the surface level of seeking where God will have me. My hope is to GO by the end of the year. All of these opportunities, like most missions, will be support-based. I’ll need to raise my own funds.  I’m not worried, however. I know that if God opens the door, He’ll provide. I’m ready. Or… at least…I think I’m ready. Only HE knows. He is continually moving and challenging and growing me in ways I never knew I could be. I know that’s a lifelong process, but I’m ready and willing whenever He feels I am necessary somewhere. Until then, I will continue to seek Him, seek ways to serve Him here, and seek to minister to students in this area. He is a faithful God. He will prove faithful in abundance, beyond my wildest dreams or expectations, in this area as well. All praise to Him. Amen.

missions?

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

As I continue to grow closer to my sweet Savior, as I continue to grow in maturity and confidence, as I continue to grow closer to letting go of all the baggage that has been weighing me down for years and years….I can’t help but feel as though my time in Richmond is almost over.

I’m 27 years old, and incredibly single. I have so much free time and energy to give to the Lord and the ministry He is calling me to. I can’t stop feeling like a college student, because this is the town I moved to for college and 9 years later I’m still here. Albeit, doing work that God has for me…which also includes spending 90% of my free time with high school and college students.

Maybe that’s unfair…but maybe there is a bit of truth in the scripture where Jesus says “no prophet is accepted in his own town.” (Luke 4:24). Perhaps that’s also taken a bit out of context, as Jesus was speaking of the place where He grew up- a place people couldn’t stop thinking of Him as a little boy, under His parents’ authority.  But what if there’s a flip side to that? What if it’s not only in what other people think- what if there is power in what you think of yourself? I still feel like a college kid, because I still live in a college town. In MY college’s town. And I work as a waitress in a restaurant. That’s not even a Big Girl Job.

I’ve known for years and years that God is calling me to full-time ministry. Praise Him, I’ve accepted that calling. Praise Him, He has opened door after door after door for me to do His work.  But I still feel I’m not fulling realizing His calling, that perhaps I’m not taking responsibility for running full-out after Him. I still feel that I’m meant to live greater than this.

I want to go into youth ministry, with an emphasis on girls’ ministry. That’s my heart. I love high school students.  But I also want to do mission work. And how can I encourage my students to go overseas when I never had the courage or the motivation to seek that for myself? Perhaps God is calling me to overseas missions for awhile? Or, if not a calling, He is testing me to see how far I will go for Him…

I grew up under the mindset that if God did not specifically call you to a place, you didn’t go. But what about all those stories in scripture where people said, “Here I am, God! Send me!” What about all those willing hearts and desirous souls that just wanted to do things for the Lord? That’s me! I don’t have a specific place or people group in mind or heart, but I have a desire to go and be of use to the Lord, whenever and wherever that might be. I want to go to third world countries, and love on people. Be reminded of just how much junk I really do own. Show people that they are important and necessary and special. Please, before you think anything, know that I understand I have that ability any- and everywhere I go. I do get that. But I also have a desire TO GO. I’m not this single for no reason. I have the opportunity to GO for the Lord right now that I may never have again, and I need to take advantage of the freedom He allows for me today.

Having said that, I have begun the process of applying for short-term international missions trips. I am planning to, prayerfully, knock on every door within my reach and whichever one opens, after much prayer and supplication, I will walk boldly through it.

These are the organizations I have already applied for/am in the process of applying for:
Team, INC
Christ in the City, International
World Race

I have sent inquiries and applications out for several different needs in several different areas of the world. I’m waiting patiently and eagerly for the Lord to reveal to me where I am going. I know I am going. I’m just waiting on the “where.”

If you would join me in prayer for these things, I would be very grateful. I am in prayer for you, too, even if we have yet to meet….knowing that God has great things in store for YOU, as well.  I pray He lays burdens on your heart for His children, and that those burdens lead you to pursue His heart and His will passionately, for the glory and increase of His Kingdom. This is a year of blessing and power, and He’s asking us to prepare. May we be ready, willing, and enthusiastic when He calls us to GO.

thirst and counseling

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

Wow! A lot has happened in the days since I last posted.  My bestie Sarah and I have begun leading a small group for our church.  Since the Bible study we’re doing currently is entitled “Thirst,” during our first meeting we decorated big wine goblets with our names and pretty designs- we plan on featuring a different beverage for the girls to enjoy every week.  Our first beverage was this yummy raspberry sherbert wedding punch- mm mmmm!!

Also, I had a meeting with my awesome pastor and his wife (who, have I mentioned, are AWESOME) this morning about where my life is headed and how to attack these goals.  As you know, I want to get my masters in counseling, and they believe in that for me, which is an incredible show of support and faith for me.  They brought to my attention how much cheaper getting my degree at a state school would be, and how it would open more doors than going to seminary would.  Especially because I don’t want to be a “biblical counselor,” I want to be a counselor who knows Truth and draws FROM the Bible.  Also, if I go to seminary, it only opens doors to Christian counseling which, while that is, indeed, the kind of counseling I want to do, until I find a church that can pay a full-time counselor on staff, I’ll need to work in different places.  This seems like one big run-on thought… but I’m slowly working through all these things.  Maybe I’ll stay here and go back to my alma mater?  They do have a grad program in psychology/counseling.  AND last night in my Power Yoga class, an old friend showed up whom I haven’t seen in almost a year- she was suddenly back to school to pursue HER masters in psychology and counseling AT our alma mater! CRAZY!  So…I’m still not quite sure what I’m going to do, but I am finally at the point where I know I have to do something.  Pastor Joe said this morning that he hears so often from people that they’re waiting for the “rock from heaven” to fall and show them where to go or what to do.  He said I needed to move… to walk….to just get started, and the Lord would nudge me in the right direction.  It’s much easier to steer a rolling stone than get it started. So I suppose it’s time to start…rolling.

Something else very…coincidental…happened recently.  High School Girls Ministry has been something laid on my heart for a very, very long time.  Not getting involved in the youth group is the one great regret I have from my last church.  I was told very recently that while our church is now looking for a full-time Youth Minister, they have college-aged students- leaders– who hang out with the youth group, go on trips with them, and hang with them during the Wednesday service, etc… but right now they only have male students helping out. They have absolutely no female help.  Calling my name, maybe?!  The problem is that I teach yoga Wednesday nights from 4:30-9, and their youth group meets at 7 pm.  Well, I thought this was strangely coincidental, so I talked to my boss about it, told her everything I felt for so long, and how strange all these coincidental things seem…and her FIRST response was, “Then we’ll work it out, babe.  If this is your path, we’ll make it work.”  How lovely is she!!

So, again, I’m not totally positive what’s going to happen, or where I’m going to go…or stay… but I am SO excited to get the ball rolling…no pun intended… and see what awesome plans the Lord is very clearly pursuing me to show me!

Currently watching: a Friends marathon!

and we’re back!

originally written on August 31, 2011 at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

After having taken the summer off from blogging (because it takes SO much time…), I am back to re-instate my life online.

This summer has been much less like a vacation and much more like a what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-let’s-fill-one-hundred-percent-of-our-time-with-any-and-every-thing-we-possibly-can.  Whew. And that’s just about what I did.  I finished my yoga teacher training and received my certification. I started ballroom dancing again. I’m still working at the lobster, only now I’m training all the new servers that come in (which I have found, to my delight, I truly, truly enjoy doing). I started teaching at a yoga studio in town. I started with 8 classes a week, but with the economy, we downsized that to only 4 classes, and I sub for other teachers when I can.  I’m also teaching yoga at my alma mater- only one class a week. I also was in an independent film- I was a hired assassin and got to do some serious fight choreography.  (The lead I was fighting with had little stage combat experience and he literally beat the crap out of me. I was black and blue for 2 weeks.  Still totally worth it.)  On top of all this work, I’ve attempted to have SOME semblance of a social life, which has amounted to seeing my best friend about once a week.  I TOTALLY lost the battle with healthy eating and have gained all my weight back with a vengeance…and then some.  I have gone to 2 Thai Bodywork workshops and have taken up practicing on all my friends.  I really, really enjoy it, and I find those I practice on really, really enjoy it, too.

I’ve become absolutely obsessed with learning how to West Coast Swing, a type of ballroom dancing I’ve attempted to learn in the past but have had very little of the rhythm necessary. Not this time! This time I win.  Damn it.  I’ve fallen in love with hiking and attempt to go as often as I can, which so far has amounted to thrice this summer.  But go I do…my phobia of spiders, ticks, and wasps be damned.  I also have started to find the word “Damn” really funny.  I read tons of books, including the entire Hunger Games Trilogy in just 3 days. I’m FINALLY getting around to reading Eat Pray Love, and I bought The Help after watching the film, but haven’t read it yet.  I did, however, read Water For Elephants after having watched THAT film, and I must say while the movie was good, the book was incredible.  You should probably read it, too.  I’ve fallen in love with partner yoga, mala beads (although I haven’t had an opportunity to own any yet), pretzels with cheese, incense (particularly the cinnamon kind), forearm/arm balances, anjanayasana, sushi, barre workouts, and hiking (of course). I’ve re-fallen in love with raisinets (we fought for awhile), going to the movie theatre, margaritas, going on walks (and sometimes jogs), reading, blogging, and, last but certainly not least, eating at out-door cafes. Mmm mmm good.  I’m preparing to re-fall in love with coffee, working out, autumn, scarves, and quieter days. 

I’m also preparing to send in my headshot and resume to hopefully receive invitations to audition for the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC.  If I receive no invitations I’m going to take that as a sign that theatre is not what I should be pursuing right now and throw myself into getting my masters in counseling.  I’ve become obsessed with the idea of working, perhaps, in an abused women’s shelter, combining counseling, yoga therapy, and thai bodywork into a holistic kind of therapy that will encourage, inspire, and heal.  Whatever happens, I’m hoping to be accepting, energetic, and hopeful as I not so much walk, but LEAP into the future.

Book Currently Reading: Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert