the things i’m doing

I really really haven’t been blogging a lot these last few months. Don’t get stressed out- I haven’t been journaling much either. I’m finding that the time I have to pour myself out and onto paper is getting smaller and smaller as my wedding draws nearer and nearer. But I did just want to squeeze in a few minutes to share a little bit about where I am and what I’ve been doing since Christmas.

1. As of today, there are only THIRTY-NINE days til I marry Prince Charming. So close and yet so far away.

2. I have been working at Adventures In Missions for almost two months now. I work in the Interview Department and spend my time pouring over online applications and then calling applicants to follow up with them to see how much health and spiritual/emotional maturity they are truly walking in. I love love love my job, and I’m sad that it will potentially end soon. I took the job under a temporary contract so I wouldn’t have to fundraise before my wedding, and the contract ends 4 days before the Big Event. I’m currently praying about if this is something God has for me in a more long-term position. I’d be agreeing to fundraising if I chose to stay at Adventures, and that’s a lot to think about, especially with my soon-to-be Husband also support raising in his job at Adventures. So maybe that’s something you can pray for me/us about!

3. I also have been teaching a course on Discovering Your Identity for the CGA at Adventures. CGA stands for Center For Global Action and it’s kind of like a graduate program for World Racers returning home who want a little more intentional discipleship before launching into whatever their futures look like. I meet with a group of 12 students weekly and facilitate a class that is utilizing Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (one of my top 3 reads, ever- SO powerful!) to sift through topical occurrences in order to get to and work through root issues. In plainer words, the book is helping us recognize and establish tools that will help us do the hard work of emotionally maturing. It’s heavy stuff, but my class is full of people who want to learn and grow and be challenged. Weekly, they come ready to dive into the material, participate in group discussions, invite vulnerability in their personal reflection time, and throw off old habits that don’t serve them. I honestly believe I get more from those students than they get from me. I’m learning so much about the power of vulnerability and willingness and openness. Watching them have revelations about current behaviors that stem from subconscious lessons learned in their school lives, families of origin, etc. is transformative for me. That coupled with my job in the Interview Department is really reminding me of how deeply I want to go back to school to get a counseling degree. A blog will be coming soon about all the incredible truths I’m learning from these two jobs.

4. I have made a habit of cooking dinner for the Professor regularly. I love it. I feel so good about providing for him in a tangible way. And as we spend more time at the Root House preparing it for his moving in, I half expect him to sit on the couch and wait for dinner to arrive. Instead, he is running around the house fixing little things or improving it in any way he can think. I feel like we’re a team, and it’s such a privilege to watch him running around improving our lives and then showing up at the dinner table, hungry for whatever I have cooked that night. I think I could really get into this wife-thing.

5. I have been working out like a mad woman. Every morning I’m up at 6:45 and throwing in a workout dvd: pilates, barre, or a rip-off version of P90x that my old roomie and I used to do. And since our bosses gave us a treadmill desk, everyone in the Admissions, Interview, World Race, and Short Term Missions Department has been signing up for 30 minute slots to get their movement on. It. Is. Awesome. I fall a little short in the dieting portion of wedding preparation, but I am killing it in the workout arena.

ok, this isn’t technically working out, but it WAS a really tall mountain…

6. The Professor and I bought our wedding bands last night. It took us about an hour to choose. He was a little stressed and sad because he loves to take his time and do his research. I loved it because I’m much more of a spontaneous, in-the-moment kind of girl, and the rings we chose we absolutely LOVE.

7. I still have not seen the new Cinderella movie, and I’m dying.

8. Last weekend The Professor and I traveled away to our respective Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties. He dressed up like a cow and ran amuk in the streets of Greenville, South Carolina, and I took my sweet new Georgia friends up to a cabin in the mountains near Blue Ridge, Georgia for a weekend of sugar, hot tubs, and rest. The Prof is convinced his weekend was better, but I’m sure mine was really the best. We both feel like we’ve been released into this season of marriage now that we’ve had a real opportunity to process our single lives and celebrate the beginning of our married life together. Also, he dressed up like a cow.

9. I sent my wedding dress off to get altered today. A sweet Russian lady named Luda regaled me with stories of how she met her husband and what their two-year-old daughter is like while she secretly eased my stress about having all the things altered. I was walking on sunshine when I left that shop.

10. I have made all kinds of sweet friends here in Gainesville! Women I work with, women The Professor works with, women I randomly know because he has known them for years. I felt really sad when most of my friends from back home couldn’t make it to my bachelorette weekend, and even sadder that many of them cannot make it to my wedding. But I also feel really loved and supported here, and if my Kentucky friends were the women who walked me through my single days, these Georgia gems are the women who will walk me through my marriage life. And I’m really good with that.

also happy st patty’s day

11. I turned 30. But then you already knew that! Thanks for reading that blog. 😉 #thirtyisthenewtwenty

12. I started taking voice lessons again. It is terrifying. It is invigorating. I feel like I’m slowly beginning to conquer my fear of singing in front of other people, and taking ownership over the sound of my own voice, rather than just hating it in general. My instructor is crazy amazing. I leave every lesson feeling like I’m on top of the world.

13. The sun has started coming out in Georgia and it’s been so warm I’ve worn dresses more days than I haven’t. And while sitting on my pilates ball at work is supes uncomfortable in a dress, and there aren’t windows in the office where I work, it’s still worth it to be walking forward into spring.

14. The Professor completed his season leading the Fellowship at Adventures. A new class of Fellows are moving in this week, but he has moved on to a new job, and we’re both excited for the freedom that will bring him, both with time and with energy. He loved his time with the Fellows, but is eager to move into a new season and a new job, one that will challenge and grow him in new ways.

15. Wedding planning is going great! Mostly because all the major tasks are completed, and the less-major-but-still-more-than-minor ones are delegated to human beings that are not me. Don’t get me wrong- there’s still plenty to do, but it is absolutely getting done. As The Day draws closer, I find myself caring less and less about the event, and more just about marrying my best friend, but that stresses him out because he then feels like he has to carry the weight of caring the most. So I’m trying to be more helpful. But I’m just so ready to be married!

16. The Root House is coming together! In the last month, especially, we have bought tons of furniture and started decorating. I’m more interested in making a home for him to move into, and he’s more interested in planning a wedding everyone will enjoy. But we’ve been doing a good job of meeting in the middle. ❤

17. I became unnaturally obsessed with chicken chili stew. And then frosted mini wheats. My current unhealthy obsession is honey bunches of oats with almonds. The struggle is real, y’all.

18. I had a bridal shower in Kentucky a month and a half ago. We’re having a couple’s shower here in Georgia this weekend. I love celebrating things.

19. My book club is actually a tv show club, and we finished watching the most recent season of Downton Abbey a couple weeks ago. We’re resuming this Thursday with SMASH. You’re all invited.

20. My fingernails have been polished every day for two months. I dig it.

21. We had a terrible ice storm and were without power/heat/jobs for 4 days. It was so cold, but I didn’t worry, because The Professor found places for us to stay that did have heat, and provided for me in every way. He’s going to be an excellent husband.

22. I’m exhausted. I want to sleep much more than my body needs. Preparing for a wedding is emotionally exhausting.

23. I’m so happy. I love my job, I love my house, I love my fiance. I’m making friends whom I love, I’m making memories I cherish, and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m finding my rhythm and can be myself again. It’s a good feeling.

#yes: an engagement story

This is a story of how a boy proposed to a girl. And you guessed it. It’s my story.

I wanted to publish a blog about this because there are moments when I think back to our proposal and I can’t believe it really happened. So much of my relationship with The Professor has been a fairy tale, and it was no different with how he went about asking me to marry him. I also wanted the opportunity to share our photos with you. The Prof’s roommate JF drove up from Georgia just to record our little piece of forever, and he captured some pretty magical shots. Combine that with all the random iphone snaps my bestie took on the hike up, and we basically have a pop-up “Once Upon A Time” fairy tale book.

Now, there is A LOT to this story, so just buckle in and hang on to your butts.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I’m enjoying re-living it.

23

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

To give you a little backstory, The Professor has been planning this proposal for months. My dearest friends have been in on the surprise for quite awhile, as well. He asked me long ago if I was the type of girl who wanted her boyfriend to ask someone’s permission or blessing in order to propose to her.

“NO.”

I’ve been independent for 12 years now, living on my own, taking care of myself, handling my own business. The only permission a man needs is MINE.

…I think I made myself pretty clear.

Except that I didn’t.

And beyond my stamping my foot about my own independence he needed, as a pretty traditional guy, to ask someone’s blessing to pursue me in such a way. So a little less than two months ago, he dove up to Kentucky extra early to take my pastor (and surrogate father) out to lunch. As any good father would do, he put The Prof through his paces, grilling him about finances and marriage and what he would bring to the table. I didn’t hear about any of this until after he proposed. And when I heard, emotion rose up in me that I didn’t know I had or could feel. To know there was a father figure out there who was looking out for my best, who loved me enough to ask hard and demanding questions… and to know there was a man out there who loved me enough not only to endure this but to seek it…. there are few words that can sum up how that feels. And for a girl who grew up without great male role models (and certainly without a dad), this means almost more than the actual proposal does.

Anyway.

Around this time, my Bestie Boo called me to ask when we could catch up, if we could make some time to go hiking at our favorite place- The Pinnacles. The only real weekend I knew I’d have available was the last weekend of October. She also had that weekend available, and we were both excited to have the chance to relive some of our ridiculous photo shoots and hiking stories one more time before winter set in. And- again- I was thinking this was all happenstance when in reality she was already in cahoots about the proposal and needed us to go hiking that weekend. The Professor had already decided that was when it would happen, and that he would do it at The Pinnacles.

He loves nature. And hiking. And mountains. And sky. And the beautiful thing is that I do, too! He had decided early on that when he proposed he knew he needed to do it one of two ways: as a flash mob (which he thought was right up my alley), or on a hiking trip (which reflected both of us really well). I’m so glad he chose the latter. The second thing that is so beautiful about this story is that I’m a Super People Person. I LOVE to celebrate all things with all people all the time. The Professor is much more private than I am and prefers to celebrate one-on-one face-to-face. Not this girl. The more friends I have around me, the bigger the party. Literally and figuratively. So as he decided that his proposal needed to be more focused on me and what I loved than on his own desires, he began to invite people to be a part of it. And this is how it went:

Saturday, October 25th. 6:30 am. I woke up SO. EARLY. in order to drive the 2 hours south to get to The Pinnacles by 9 am- the time Sarah (The Bestie) and I decided we’d head out on our hike. She had a birthday party or something to go to with her husband’s family at 12:30, so we needed to get an early-ish start. I texted her around 8 am, halfway to the destination, to make sure she’d be there. I knew how hard it was for me to drag myself out of bed so early on a weekend, so I wanted to make sure she was up and at ’em. She texted me back that 9 am was too early, and could we do it a bit later? OHIWASMAD. I thought, great. Now we won’t get any time together because it’s getting later and she has the family thing and pout pout POUT. I’m not dramatic, as you can tell.

I decided to stop in at The Pastor’s House, where my Sweet Janice was preparing food for the college meal. Maybe I could hang there til Sarah was ready. And so began my morning. Coffee and chatting with Janice until Sarah arrived. She had asked me to bring a pretty dress and boots for her to borrow for that night (she was going on a date with her husband), and right away she had me run outside to throw the clothes in her car (so her husband could take them home). We left shortly after and headed out for our hike.

When we arrived there were so many cars! The weather forecast was bright sunny skies and a high of 70*, so I figured everyone wanted to get one last hike in. I thought we’d have the mountain to ourselves, but oh well.

We got out of the car hacking and coughing and sneezing (we were both sick), and we decided to pray before heading up. Pretty normal. But as we finished, she took her phone from her pocket and said she had just gotten a text from The Professor and he had left a note in my car secretly.

What?

I checked the glove box and- lo and behold!- there was a secret note hidden!

4

He had apparently snuck it in there the week before when I was visiting in Georgia. It said a few sweet things and at the bottom was signed “Enjoy your hike!” I couldn’t believe it! How did he know?! Had I told him I was hiking with Sarah?? Maybe!  This was so thoughtful, I thought, and something he does pretty often. Sarah seemed like she thought it was pretty funny, but really didn’t pay that much attention. We took off for the hills, and immediately began noticing rose petals were strewn about all over the place.

1

When we pulled into the parking lot, I spied a couple heading up wearing matching pale yellow shirts, so I figured maybe they were doing engagement photos and the petals were from them. I really didn’t pay any mind to them.

About a quarter of the way up, we hit a clearing with a bench that was occupied by my dear friend Emilee.

5

What is she doing here? Just sitting on a bench?? So weird!

She greeted us with this beautiful basket and blanket, and a little love note for me, written by The Prof. Aww! How precious is this?! The note was just a little something reminding me that I had pointed this basket out to him way back in the spring, on a date to a little mountain town in North Georgia. He had gone back the next day and bought it for me. He never knew when a good time was to give it to me, but he thought today might be it.

14
and then i became little red riding hood

This is where I should have figured that something was up. But I absolutely. did. not. You see, he had told me a couple weeks before that he would be going on a spiritual retreat the weekend that I was out hiking with Sarah. It’s something he does pretty regularly, and something I really admire in him. He’s also an incredibly truthful man, sometimes to the point of being overly blunt, and he would never lie to me. Especially not about his time with THE LORD. He also had sent me a sweet package in the mail awhile ago with a little love note that said the surprises inside were so I wouldn’t forget about him while we were apart. I honestly just figured he was stepping up that game. It didn’t occur to me once that this day was different. I thanked Emilee for being a part of this cool basket surprise, hugged her, and continued on my way up the mountain with Sarah.

Halfway up we met my sweet J Hart who was waiting with a wrapped book and another note.

6

Again, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN TIPPED OFF. But no.

And then we couldn’t open the package.

struggle all the things

Finally, I opened the book, which was a hardbound copy of some of our early writings, and all of his journal entries concerning me from the very first day we met. He also had photos printed and had copied down prayers about me (and what he heard the Lord saying about me).

Talk about mind-blowing! Another love note, another trail of red rose petals to follow, and we were off.

Many of you might be thinking I should have known by now, but truly- I believed with my whole heart that he was off on a spiritual retreat and this was just one of his grand romantic gestures.

Sarah was not helping ONE BIT. Everything she said was full of her classic dry wit and sarcasm, and I really didn’t think there was anything to it.

10441932_10101105422037653_1752463682677862636_n
but she’s really pretty so i love her anyway

We kept driving upwards and about 3/4 of the way to the top we encountered yet another of my girlfriends waiting on a bench with a note and a computer.

10
newly-married olivia!

Liv sat me down and opened the laptop to reveal a video made of 45 second clips of some of the parental figures and mentors in our lives. They talked of their love and support of us, they shared stories of how they’d seen us grow and develop both individually and as a couple. Joe and Janice, my pastors and surrogate parents, were the last video.

11

Janice ended with “We can’t wait to see that big, pretty ring!” And Joe said “Happy Engagement!!”

WHAT?!?!

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!??!!?

IS HE HERE?? IS HE STANDING UP THERE WAITING ON ME?? Is he for real proposing? Is this happening? Is this real life?!?

Some of a million questions that instantly ran through my head. How did I not know?? How had I not gotten all the clues??

Olivia hugged me before Sarah led me up the final stretch of trail, at the top of which was standing yet another sweet friend- Jess K- waiting for us.

12

She led us off the trail and behind some trees where heavy curtains had been hung to provide a changing area. There was a full-length mirror and chair, makeup, nail polish, hair supplies, the works. Sarah had carried in her backpack the dress she had asked to “borrow,” which apparently The Professor had chosen for me.

They sat me down and loved on me, hugged me, handed me makeup, painted my nails, praised my hair (even though it was super dirty from the hike). They prayed with me and then sent me on my way. This last part I needed to do on my own.

9

Walking alone-for the first time- was quite nerve-wracking for me. I never thought I’d be the girl that needed to lean on someone, but in that moment I really thought I needed to hold Sarah’s hand. I was so nervous! Elated, excited, ecstatic, joyful- but definitely nervous.

I walked out to the edge of the cliff where he was standing and waiting for me. He turned around to see me and- gasp!- was finally wearing a bow tie and suspenders! I’d been nagging him for months to invest in those things and here they were! And he looked goooooooooood.

27
soooooo good.

The rest was a blur.

He hugged me, said some stuff, got down on one knee, and invited me into forever.

Of course I said yes.

Who wouldn’t?

20

We were laughing about this moment a few nights ago- neither of us really remember what he said in those precious few minutes. But we agreed on all the important stuff.

18

When he stood, he placed the ring on my finger, popped out his phone to play a song, and we danced on the edge of this mountain. Later he brought me champagne in a picnic basket, and showed me where he had taken nearly 3 hours over the course of 2 days to carve our initials into a huge rock. Unbelievable.

25

My girlfriends rushed out to celebrate with us, and we headed back down the mountain to go to my pastor’s house for an already-arranged engagement party! He really pulled out all the stops. He really sacrificed his own preference of celebrating one-on-one in order for me to feel celebrated by all my loved ones at one time in one place. And so many people were there! They had all brought food and desserts, decorations and cards and flowers. It was breathtaking. His mom had driven up to surprise even him, and having both our mothers there was so meaningful and lovely.

26
look at it look at it look at it!

It was the perfect moment. I’m looking forward to all the rest.

22

book reviews: a thousand splendid suns

look at this cool photo i totally stole from the internets

This book. I mean.  Just.  Oh, man.  Go read it.  Right away.

There are books that you read because they’re classics. There are books that you read because they’re the popular thing these days. And then there are books that you read that reach down into your soul and grab hold, ones that become a part of who you are, of your story. This is one of those books.

I think I discovered this book on a Buzzfeed Must-Read List sometime last year (or the beginning of this one). It sounded all right, and I had heard wonderful things about the author, Khaled Hosseini. So I added it to my bookit list and didn’t think much more on it for awhile.

While visiting The Professor at the end of last month, I browsed one of the bookshelves in his house and- lo and behold!- a copy of the book was just lying there waiting to be read!

A week later I was back at home and diving into the pages. I thought it might be a good end-of-day read, something to browse through before bedtime. But it is NOT. I opened the first page and didn’t set it down until I had finished it. (okay, well, I did set it down, but only to observe responsible bedtimes for work purposes).

I drank this story.

At its core, and spanning 50 years, this is a story about two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, and how their lives intersect. It’s about the challenges faced by real women in a time and place that does not look favorably on them. The two characters deal with forced marriage, domestic violence, shame, war, fear, and helplessness, to name a few. Every page is relentless, powerful, and full of heart-wrenching realism. I finished the book near 12:30 one night, sobbing. The issues the characters are faced with are issues that real women are forced to deal with today. And I was so very and naively uninformed.

When asked why he decided to write a book based on the lives of two Afghan women, Hosseini responded:

In the spring of 2003, I went to Kabul, and I recall seeing these burqa-clad women sitting at street corners, with four, five, six children, begging for change. I remember watching them walking in pairs up the street, trailed by their children in ragged clothes, and wondering how life had brought them to that point…I spoke to many of those women in Kabul. Their life stories were truly heartbreaking…When I began writing A Thousand Splendid Suns, I found myself thinking about those resilient women over and over. Though no one woman that I met in Kabul inspired either Laila or Mariam, their voices, faces, and their incredible stories of survival were always with me, and a good part of my inspiration for this novel came from their collective spirit.

I feel, at the very least, the beginning of an awakening to the issues that women under Taliban rule are forced to endure. Banned from active life, from the ability to work, or to provide for themselves, or to protect themselves, they are essentially chattel and are given no choice in what they must face. Afghanistan, in particular, has been ravaged by internal war for decades. Add this to our current collective history involving September 11th, and we can begin to imagine just how devastating are the lives of people living there- most especially the women, who have no right, say, or control over where they live or what they do.

Wow.

What are books for if not to widen our worlds?

Notable Quotes:

And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion.

‘It wasn’t so much the the whistling [of the rockets] itself,’ Laila thought later, ‘but the seconds between the start of it and the impact. The brief and interminable time of feeling suspended. The not knowing. The waiting. Like a defendant about to hear the verdict.’

Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.

…Now I have to go find all the rest of Khaled Hosseini’s books and devour those, too. I hope you start with this one.

book reviews: passion and purity

This book was given to me by my lovely roommate Mary Alice. She’s a big fan of both Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, and has read most of the latter’s books. So when, earlier this year, I told her I was looking for a few good books to read, she not only recommended this one, she handed me her copy.

The subheading for the book is Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control. That sounded like the book for me, for sure.

But, to be honest, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the book. I didn’t understand where she was taking her readers through most of the book. Her old journal entries, the back-and-forth love letters, even the hymns- while they were lovely and thrilling to read (who doesn’t love hearing old journal entries?), didn’t seem to add up to a lot. I found myself thinking, Wow, that was a good chapter. But I’m still not sure what she’s trying to teach me, or what I should be taking away from this. I wonder when she’s going to start talking about all the bullet points listed on the back cover…

Not to say this is not an excellent book. It is. And we’ll get into that. But I wanted to express my full opinion, from beginning to end.

The only other issue I had with this book has to do with the love story we find in it. The Jim-and-Elisabeth-Elliot love story is quite famous, and really something to behold. They waited seven years for each other. Seven years without kissing or holding hands or any of the common habits we see in modern couples today. Other than the occasional use of an affectionate nickname- a stray darling or dearest– their love letters were mostly encouragements to one another to press into the Lord for as long as He has called them to remain single and chaste. It’s a beautiful, enduring love story to read. She loved him, he felt called to remain single for the Lord (he felt there were things on the mission field he could not do/places he could not go, if married), and so he asked her to release him from her affections, even though- and this is where I take offense- he loved her. He really cared about her, he longed for her, but he felt he could not ask her to wait for him.

Wait a minute.

So he loves her- and basically says so- as well as actually saying if the Lord released him to marry, he would marry her… but he could not promise these things, so please don’t feel like you have to wait.

Okay.

While this is a lovely story of two people who remained sexually pure despite circumstances, feelings, etc… the area that I really struggled with (throughout almost the entire book) (and I kept coming back to my feelings of frustration and indignation for her) is where he should have kept his mouth shut.

Listen, if you’re a man and you feel convinced the Lord has asked you to remain single for only-He-knows-how-long, you’d best keep your mouth shut and your flirtations nonexistent if you want to be obedient. How many women can resist a man whom she has had multiple encounters with (intimate in the cleanest sense of the word), whom she is clearly in love with, and who tells her “If God would let me marry, I absolutely would marry you. I really care for you, and you have so many of the traits that I’m looking for in a wife. But God has told me to remain single for an undisclosed time, so I can’t ask you to wait for me.” VERY FEW.

Just keep your mouth shut. There’s no reason he dragged her into the responsibility of remaining single. Had he not shared his affections with her, she may have released her feelings for him and moved on. Things worked out okay (read their entire story for the truth behind this), but COME ON. It’s not her responsibility to wait for you, but that’s all she’s going to do if you tell her you would marry her if you could. That’s just selfish.

I mean.

I reeeaallly really struggled with some serious frustrations all throughout this book. I couldn’t even concentrate on the beauty of what “waiting” did for her character, or the patience she learned, or the opportunities she had to press into the Lord and learn obedience and total dependence on Him. Which are all incredible, life-changing things which we all need to learn. But I was so overwhelmed with how she should never have had to suffer through seven years of waiting for a man who MAY NOT EVER BE ALLOWED TO MARRY. Seriously. I’m still mad about it.

And I’m happy they finally married. I’m so happy their love story worked out in the end (for a little bit). I’m happy there is a beautiful story about how a girl loved a boy, and used all her time of waiting to improve her heart and character, and to bloom where she was planted.

But I cannot get over a man who dragged her through seven years of waiting without a promise in sight.

UGH.

It’s not really my place to judge someone’s relationship. I’m happy for Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, and the heaven they experienced together for a few short years. But the long-suffering story they both walked through was the direct result of his lack of self-control. And it’s frustrating, because I’ve known so many men like that. I want my cake and eat it, too. You can’t have it both ways, buddy.

Well, I guess you can, but it can have some serious consequences. Not all love stories end like this one. (And even this one had a truly painful ending, even though good still came from it). (Probably due to the time she spent pressing into the Lord).

Anyway, back to the beauty of the book. Now that I have that off my chest. And I’m sorry for the rant.

Mostly sorry.

Anyway.

The entire last quarter of the book was fantastic. Full of wisdom, encouragement, and fulfilled hopes. I raced through the last few chapters, writing down some quotes to dwell on later, and trying to take in the things Mrs. Elliot had learned from all her years of growing while she waited. I found a lot of encouragement and challenge about relationships, and in particular marriage, here at the end.

I’m glad I read this book. Despite my frustrations with the choices of Jim Elliot in regards to Elisabeth (which is none of  my business anyway), I did end up learning quite a bit about waiting on the Lord in joy and movement- blooming where I am planted.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.”

“The problem starts when we make up our own minds what will give us happiness and then decide, if we don’t get exactly that, that God doesn’t love us.”

“Life requires countless ‘little deaths’– occasions when we are given the chance to say no to self and yes to God. …But even little deaths have to be died just as great ones do.”

“It helped to develop in my soul tensile strength- resistance to stress, the kind of strength that can bear stretching without tearing apart.”

“Don’t walk straight into [the wayward impulses of youth] and then blame God if the temptation is too great for you.”

“Charity, which is always self-giving, says ‘I grant you your rights. I do not insist on mine. I give myself to you; I do not insist that you give yourself to me.”

“There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops.”

book reviews: wild

This book jumped quickly from a brand-new-read to an all-time-favorite. Cheryl Strayed’s tone is at once down-to-earth and humble as well as slap-you-in-the-face honest. She doesn’t pull punches when she flashes back to the painful conversations, drug-induced sexcapades and other one-night stands, pre-divorce confusion, and the unspeakable loss of her mother that combine to rip apart her sense of self and sanity. So she sells everything she owns and embarks on a solo hike across nearly one thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.

I love this book for many reasons. A gifted storyteller, Strayed writes both of her past and her present on the trail with a vividness that launches her anecdotes right off the page. Most particularly, her descriptions of places on the trail and the physical trials she suffered through makes you almost feel as though you’re walking (and sometimes hobbling) right alongside her.

I found myself underlining entire sections of the book, wanting to go back and re-read pages that affected me more deeply than others. I found myself identifying with her lack of fatherly love or guidance in her early life, and with many of the self-esteem issues she certainly struggled with. Beyond even the emotional gravity of her life story, I found myself simply being drawn to the outdoors, and to the self-healing one can find there. Through her therapeutic hiking process, I discovered little bits and pieces of myself that wanted to be found on a trail somewhere. Not necessarily because I’m walking around as broken as she, but because her ability to describe nature in all its glory is exceptional.

Especially with her hiking the PCT.

I grew up in the Pacific North West and it’s a place I’ve always longed to return to. For how long, who knows. But her descriptions (especially toward the end of the book) of places I’ve been to or heard of frequently brought quite a bit of nostalgia bubbling to the surface. I told The Boy one night that I had begun dreaming of going backpacking myself in the PNW. Maybe through Oregon. It’s on my 30 Before 30 List… Well, to backpack for two nights, anyway. But a new dream had been birthed in me to hike at least from one section of a trail to another. Maybe a week’s worth of hiking. To be out in nature, off the grid, living out of whatever I can carry in my pack.

That’s the power of Strayed’s  story. She really found herself again, once she was in a place that forced her to deal with all the crap she had either fallen into or created herself. And she conveyed that journey stunningly onto the page. No wonder Hollywood is making a movie about it. (Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn2-GSqPyl0)

Notable Quotes:

The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse and ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so. If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.

It was my life, like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.

There was the actual doing it, quickly followed by the grim realization of what it meant to do it, followed by the decision to quit doing it because doing it was absurd and pointless and ridiculously difficult and far more than I expected doing it would be and I was profoundly unprepared to do it.
And then there was the real live truly doing it.

Alone wasn’t a room anymore, but the whole wide world, and now I was alone in that world, occupying it in a way I never had before.

13/14

As I prepare to greet the New Year I’m less-than-surprisingly full of nostalgia, wistfulness, and hope. Here’s a few lists to let you know where my heart is:

13 Things I Learned In 2013

1. Jersey knit is worth it

2. Live frugally and travel lavishly

3. Group travel is perhaps not for me

4. The world is bigger than my backyard… but a lot more accessible than I thought

5. I want to make a difference somehow, somewhere

6. Tomatoes are delicious… who’d’ve thought?

7. Genuine community is so, so important

8. Confrontation and conflict are not scary things, and I can do it

9. I love to garden

10. I love cold weather, but I also love to be tan

11. God is so, so, so big… and so faithful

12. I used to be slightly annoyed by small children… now? bring ’em all on!

13. I have value. I am worth it. No matter what

14 Things I Hope To Experience in 2014

1. Get a job that inspires and encourages me…and maybe others

2. Legitimately pursue theatre… in particular to send in headshots/audition for some Shakespeare companies

3. Dates (let’s be honest… it’s about time, right?)

4. Camping in Kentucky (how have I been here this long and not done this yet?)

5. More time with my family and more reunions with friends who live far away

6. Fun In The Sun. things like: early-evening movies at a park, going on actual hikes, outdoor theatre, outdoor concerts, a boat ride somewhere

7. Grow something

8. A boost of self-discipline in the form of healthy eating, a more consistent active lifestyle, and a more positive outlook on my body

9. Something surprising

10. Farm life

11. Find out if my writing can take me anywhere new

12. More volunteering in my community

13. Become a motivational speaker

14. Inspire and encourage others to live bigger and love harder

here’s to esteeming the past and embracing the future

 

feedback, speedback, miss mary mackback: a study on speaking life

Author’s Note: This is by no means an all-inclusive list of everything to do and/or not do in regards to feedback. It can simply be the starting point to a conversation with your team/family/personal community about how you feel about giving and receiving feedback.

I recently had a conversation with one of my new teammates (team change IS survivable) about feedback. After month four of the Race, she still felt a little skeptical and confused about feedback. Being a total pro myself, after our incredibly insightful conversation, some prayer, a look back at my training camp/launch notes, and some serious contemplation, I decided I might write a memorandum for future Racers and for future self-issues.

What exactly is feedback? (And by “feedback” I will actually be referring mostly to the Constructive sort). As a part of our daily lives and a vital part of community, feedback is verbally giving someone a different perspective than they might see on an action they may not be aware is hurtful. Feedback is seeing something someone is doing that is harmful to either themselves or someone else, and calling them into holiness with courage, grace, and humility. It’s open, honest, genuine communication.

Like all things, there are good, positive ways to approach feedback, and there are bad, damaging ways to approach it that may destroy confidences, trusts, and relationships. As the goal of feedback is to call people into greatness- into holiness- feedback should be given with:

*Courage: to say the hard things, even though it’s hard.
*High Consideration: speaking truth in love- relationships are more important than issues.
*High Preference: giving others rights above your own; fighting for another instead of yourself/fighting for someone else to get that thing you want; and “What can I give up for my team/squad?” This also calls us into an immense amount of humility.
*High Honor: “I am going to treat you like royalty, like how I would treat the Lord if He were on my team, like you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Knowing someone’s character before you give them feedback, so you are not so much nagging at them as you are defending their character from an action that is uncharacter-like.

Things you should do:
*Be honest. Let the person you are giving feedback to know where you are coming from. If you try to hide the way that you’re feeling, the problem might never be fixed.
*Speak the blessing first. If you have constructive feedback to give, it should never be given by itself. Chaney Poston, from O Squad, had this revelation from the Lord: “Don’t even allow the person receiving feedback to feel like they have to defend themselves against what you’re saying. You should, yourself, be defending them against this action they are doing that is harmful. Your feedback shouldn’t be attacking, and shouldn’t leave the door open for distress or argument- your feedback should be reminding them who they really are, and that this action or habit is NOT who they are in the Lord.”
*Speak from a place of vulnerability. If you are giving feedback it should come from a place of genuinely wanting to see a person grow, from genuine caring.
*Give feedback within 24 hours of being upset/frustrated/offended. Check yourself first; make sure it’s not just something in you that is offendable (don’t worry- we all have those areas where we are offended easily). But make sure you’re bringing feedback form a desire to see someone else grow, rather than to air your own grievances. If, however, you are being hurt in some way, or you see someone hurting him/herself in some way, the issue needs to be addressed. If you wait longer than a day, most likely the offender will have no idea what you’re talking about and the problem becomes your own; a grudge that you maintain an unhealthy hold on. The sooner you talk over issues, the better.

Things you shouldn’t do:
*Bring up small instances that may be slightly annoying to you. If it is not a recurring theme that genuinely has the opportunity of stifling your own growth, it is probably your own problem and should be dealt with yourself.
*Speak negatively or from a place of anger or hurt. “Before you look at the speck in your neighbor’s eye, check out the plank in your own.” It is absolutely wrong to say something like “This is something you do that really annoys me, so stop it. Because it’s annoying.” You must check your heart and your motivations for giving feedback before you give it. So many scriptures remind us of where our words come from (“Out of the overflow of our hearts), and so if our hearts are negative, hurt, frustrated, embittered, or in assault-mode, then our words will reflect just that and we will give feedback from a place of pain, which only results in hurting others. Have you ever heard the old adage Hurt people hurt people? Well, it’s true. Don’t believe me? Give someone feedback out of an offended or hurt spirit and see what happens.
*Piggyback someone else’s feedback. It’s hard enough to receive well feedback that is given in front of a group of people. Don’t make it even harder by tag-teaming the receiver. If someone speaks up about an issue that you have, as well, allow that feedback to be enough for now. You can always say something if the issue does not resolve itself. But at least give the receiver time to process and digest without feeling attacked.

Why is feedback important, you might ask. What with how hard it is for people to speak affirming words (which, as Christians, is an alarming statistic, but that’s another topic altogether), it’s surely that much more difficult to speak words of confrontation or difficulty. For one thing- feedback should never be a confrontation. Secondly, if you see something that is directly harming someone- either their mind, body, spirit, or community- and you withhold that information, you are withholding a gift from them. A gift that could contain the keys to freedom! Sure, some things are hard to hear, but it’s not necessarily because it’s wrong. Often when it’s difficult to hear something, it’s because the other person is spot on and you don’t want to admit that this one failure was openly acknowledged, you don’t want to allow someone else the authority to speak into your life, or you just plain have a pride issue. I think if we delve deeply enough into all negative responses to feedback, they all come back to an issue of pride. And as scripture says, “Pride only breeds quarrels…” (Proverbs 13:10).

Speaking of receiving feedback, let’s talk about it a little more. There have been several different views on this subject within my squad. Some say it’s an invite to discussion, some say it’s okay to ask questions for clarification, some say you don’t even have to respond. I think different.

My own personal opinion is that your response for every piece of feedback received, whether affirming or constructive, should always and only ever be “Thank you.” If you don’t respond at all you’ll be disrespecting the other person’s courage (sometimes barely scrounged enough to actually say something) or you might be telling the other person nonverbally that you aren’t listening at all- another sign of disrespect. Allowing questions to be asked, even for the sake of clarification, allows room to ask pointed questions directing a defense of self, or an offensive statement. If you open the floor for discussion arguments, discussions, or defenses can be mounted that last hours and hours and end with one or both people directly involved in the feedback (as well as the rest of your team) feeling frustrated, hopeless, and without resolution, feelings that destroy community.

If your team decides that the only acceptable response in the moment of feedback is “Thank you,” this allows both the person giving and the person receiving to have to sit in the emotion that arises from the feedback. Hearing tough feedback, and the subsequent emotion(s), places you in a unique position to see your behavior, words, or actions through another’s eyes and allows you to actively decide what is wisdom (feedback you allow to change you) or what is simply off the mark (feedback you choose to let fall off your shoulders). It gives you the chance to practice choosing for yourself what you’re going to allow to affect you, and what you aren’t. So many times people in this world give you their advice or opinion, unmerited, that isn’t meant to build you up, but to tear you down. Receiving tough feedback and not being able to respond or defend gives you the chance to begin learning who and what you will allow to affect you, and what won’t. How do you know which is which? Take it to Jesus! Not being able to respond means you have to sit in that emotion, and that you have time to listen to what your Lord has to say about that matter. Not only you, but the person giving the tough stuff! If I give hard feedback, I get to see how that affects the person who is receiving. That causes emotion in me to rise up and affect me. Because the other person cannot respond or defend, I have to also spend time sitting in the emotions arising within me, and taking them to the Lord. “Is this really true, what I said? I saw how it made her feel… Was I wrong, or was I right and this is just something she will need to work out?” Either way, you learn the importance of choosing your words carefully so as not to bring further damage to the person, and you learn not to be a bandaid. It’s important for the emotions arising from situations to ferment and bring about healthy change. If you try to “fix it”- as I, for one, so often do- you’ll stunt perhaps permanently important life-changing growth.

In the end, feedback is simply about two people desiring and needing to understand each other a little better. It requires humility, vulnerability, and courage on both ends, and a desire to grow in intimacy with each other and with the Lord. Feedback is a gift. When you give feedback, you are offering someone possible life-changing perspective, as well as a piece of your own heart- it takes courage to be that vulnerable. When you receive feedback (well), you are showing kindness by encouraging the giver to continue walking in boldness, as well as giving a piece of your own heart in humbly thanking them.

mid’monthly mind’splosion: rrrrrrrwanda

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

the things blog. a halfway-through-the-month roundup of all the “things I’m…” enjoy.

Reading

  • Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan. Finished in 2 days. Still not the greatest books, but the Greek mythology is entertaining and it’s a quick read.
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary, Helen Fielding. Less entertaining than the movie, but I’m glad I read it. I should definitely up my knowledge on British inside humor.
  • Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan. See above.
  • Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer. Slow in some places, but I just love anything that Krakauer writes.
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry. Not quite as awesome as when we read it in 7th grade, but definitely a little weirder. …So that’s good.
  • Bossypants, Tina Fey. Straight to the point, funny, and an insight into how incredibly intelligent she really is.
  • Hope Mendola’s Blog. Like, hours of it. It’s so encouraging and insightful and uplifting. She’s an incredibly gifted writer.
  • The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper. After long standing as my favorite movie, I decided to finally open the book. As of today I’m only past the historical introduction and first chapter, but I can tell it’s going to be a really good read.

Listening

  • all the new music I ganked from Shannon last month. thank you, Big Band Music.

Watching

  • The West Wing, Season 1. Only the greatest show ever written, directed, or acted in. Ever.
  • Grey’s Anatomy, Seasons 1 and 2. With almost every other girl in the house. SO MANY EMOTIONS.

Eating

  • bread and butter
  • corkscrew noodles with peas
  • macaroni noodles
  • fried potatoes
  • rice
  • iced lattes whenever possible (not as often as desirable, but…)
  • the sweetest pineapple anyone has ever eaten ever

Ministry

  • teaching in schools
  • preaching in churches
  • women’s ministry
  • youth ministry

Loving

  • every second of watching Grey’s with the ladies
  • iced lattes
  • the atmosphere of a real coffee shop
  • community
  • the rain we’ve had off and on the past couple days

Not Loving

  • the mountain we have to climb in order to get to any sort of ministry or off day.
  • how stinking hot it is ALL THE TIME
  • the incredibly long trip to town on a bus that stops every few feet

Looking Forward To

  • ASIA. Since I was 12.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

how i was called to the mission field, or….YES!

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

I felt the calling to surrender my life to ministry 9 years ago. I was interning at a church back home, ministering to the youth group, and the Lord just started pressing on my heart. He pressed so hard I knew there could be nothing else for me but a life in full-time ministry.

I surrendered.

Then I proceeded to RUN in the opposite direction.

I thought to myself, I can go into ministry anytime I want. Right now, though, I want to do other things with my life!  I finished up my undergrad degree in Theatre and ASL. I took a promotion at my job at Starbucks so I could save enough money to move to Washington DC and teach at a karate school in Northern Virginia, while pursuing the stage.

That fell through.

I started dating a boy and got engaged.

We broke up.

I went back to school to apply to a really prestigious ASL Interpreting program.

I was rejected based on personality conflicts.

I stayed in school for another semester to work on my Master’s in Secondary English Teaching. I then applied for Teach For America, and they passed me over all the initial interviewing to the Final Interview.

I was miserable pretending I would be happy teaching in a public high school. They didn’t accept me anyway.

And so on and so forth it went…for NINE YEARS.

It was really rough.  When I finally decided I had had enough “no’s,” when I had received enough hurt and pain for a lifetime…I turned around and started running back TO the Lord. And all of a sudden, doors started FLYING open!

I had been interpreting for various churches for the last several years, but I was asked to move to a new church to join a team of interpreters that involved my very best friend.

I started volunteering with the youth group at my new church as a Youth Coach.

I started leading a college women’s small group and meeting individually with my students weekly.

I joined the Outreach Ministry Team and got involved loving on my community.

I started teaching a conversational ASL class for members of my church and the community.

I found myself! And it was exactly where God had told me I would. I was throwing myself headfirst into ministry, and my life was suddenly starting to make sense. I was happier than I ever remembered being. I was busy, and overwhelmed, and no time was just my own- and I loved it.

God was slowly and surely healing those pieces of my heart that had been broken, tortured, and lost over all those years of pretending to be Jonah.

One day, while I was leading Small Group, I was talking about all the possibilities that the Lord has for us. For myself, I thought about going into full-time Girls’ Ministry, but that I also was interested in going overseas for awhile. I wasn’t sure if I was called into international missions, but I did have a great desire to go- go to the world, go to the nations, go wherever God would allow me to go.

One of the girls in the group had a friend who had gone on World Race, and she shared the website with me, telling me about “11 in 11” and the different ministries that took place in the different areas. It sounded pretty interesting, so I looked it up, and honestly was really intrigued.

But when you think “international missions” you mostly think of going to one place and investing there for a specific amount of time- 3 months, 6 months, a year.  This was a trip involving traveling to 11 countries in as many months! That’s weird!

I kept it in the back of my mind while I pursued other opportunities. I interviewed with several other organizations, all focused on sending me to one place for one year. The interviews all went smoothly and really well, I thought. But I didn’t have any sort of peace about it.

So I applied for World Race.

My interview came and went, and then the waiting started. From the beginning of this application process I felt differently than I had before. Waiting was torture, my heart was always pounding, I constantly checked my phone…AND my email…

I was at work at Red Lobster almost a week after my interview, telling one of my guests about this amazing opportunity that I had applied for. The table right behind that guest was a couple from my church, and they asked me to come and tell them about it, too! I was telling them about my nine years of “No” and how I really believed that the Lord was about to open a major door in my life, and that it would lead to a major change. I had been waiting in Richmond- in my college town- since I moved here FOR college, and I really, truly believed God was preparing to change my life in a big way. And if God said “yes” to World Race, it would be a beautiful day and I would race into this change under the Lord’s perfect guidance and timing. And if God said “no” to World Race, it would be a beautiful day and I would be one step closer to finding out where and what God had for me.

The lady said,”Wouldn’t it just be wild if they called you while we were still here?!”

AND MY PHONE RANG.

I ran to the empty part of the restaurant and called World Race back (I had missed their call), and they answered with the Lord’s resounding, big, fat, awesome YES!!

And with that, I know where I’m going- at least for the next year of my life.

I’m incredibly excited for this new chapter, and my prayer now- instead of being Where, Lord– is How, Lord? My prayer is that He will open the floodgates of heaven’s financial blessing so that I can fulfill His Will for my life. I know He will provide. I am convinced of His Perfect Timing, Unconditional Love, and Overwhelming Faithfulness, and I know He will provide. My prayer is that He will do so through you.

However He decides to walk me through this door into a new chapter and season of my life, I will make every effort to RUN in the direction He is sending me, knowing I will get there in His Perfect Timing.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Matthew 28:19

A is for Andi

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

Hello friends! I know we might not have met yet, or we haven’t seen each other in awhile, or perhaps we had coffee just this morning together. Either way, I just wanted to write a little bit to let you know who you might be helping to send to the nations.

My name is Andi Moore and I’m 27 years old. I have lived a crazy cartoon of a life, filled with so many adventures and journeys it’s almost as though I made it up. But I haven’t! I simply have been incredibly, overwhelmingly, unimaginably blessed.

A Few Fun Facts:
*I am from Kentucky, but I grew up in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington.
*I really, really, really love to knit. And to crochet. And to sew.
*I would almost rather be watching a movie and knitting than anything else in the world.
*I do, however, like to hike.
*And white water raft!
*I was a member of the World Karate Association USA National Karate Team for 4 years.
*I won the World Championships, in Traditional Weapons, in Switzerland, 2004.
*I have 1 gold medal, 2 silvers, and 7 bronze medals from various World Championships.
    From andimoore.theworldrace.org
That’s really me!
*I am a Certified Yoga Instructor and I credit the practice with much of my current health.
*I am a Server and Certified Trainer at Red Lobster. I HATE Endless Shrimp. I like snowcrab, though.
*I’m also a professional dog sitter and live vicariously through other people’s pets.
*Seafood and sushi are my favorite types of food.
*But I like breakfast foods even more than those two.
*I wish I could spend a whole summer living in the English countryside wearing dresses and knitting. Like a Pride and Prejudice vacation.
*Ballroom Dancing. I love it. I spend a lot of my free time rocking this hobby.
     From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Look at us go!
*I refuse to watch scary movies.
*Or read scary books. A girl has to know her limits.
*I have an older brother, Ben, who is a former Marine.
*I have a really awkward laugh. And sometimes I laugh so hard no sound comes out at all. Which is even more awkward.
*I think bats are really adorable. That’s right. Bats.
*I have a BA in Theatre (read: unemployment) and a minor in American Sign Language.
*I am fluent in ASL and have been a freelance interpreter with various churches over the last 7 years.
*One of my biggest dreams is to ride an elephant. I mean FOR REAL ride one, not like in a bucket seat.
From andimoore.theworldrace.org
This is the face I make when I can’t believe life is happening
*Another of my lifelong dreams is to be a performer in a traveling Shakespeare Company.
*My DREAM job is to work in a Girls’ Home or with women/girls who have been rescued from human trafficking.
*I’m a Youth Coach at my church, and I love my students more than life.
   From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Look at these babies- loving on the world through Habitat For Humanity!
*Adoption is definitely in my future.
*So is owning a dog.
*Every year I promise myself I’m going to mail out Christmas cards on time. Still haven’t.
*I can’t cook to save my life. I’m working on it…
*I only enjoy running when it’s below 50* outside. Or rainy. Or both!!
*I am a coffee conessieur. Coffee shop atmospheres are my favorite.
From andimoore.theworldrace.org
So very many of my instagram photos are of coffee shops
*I have a paralyzing phobia of spiders. And bees. And ticks. World Race is God’s way of making me deal with my fears.
*I am a really big fan of Jesus. We’re in love with each other. World Race is my opportunity to share that love with other people.
*I’ve never struggled with homesickness, but World Race is going to challenge me in ways I never thought possible.
*I have a lot of self-esteem/damaged-goods/unworthy-type issues that are deep-seated in tragedy, loss, and brokenness. World Race will be God’s way of helping me begin the healing and renewal process.Bottom line: I’m overwhelmingly excited that God has opened this door for me. This is my season of “Yes” after 9 years of “no” (see my blog “YES”). I am not sure if I am called specifically to international missions yet, but I have a great desire to GO. I have a desire to see the nations changed, healed, renewed. I have a desire to be the vessel that God uses to bring His incredible healing, mercy, and love to the world. This is my YES, and I am ready!

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

My Theme Verse for much of this year:
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”
Luke 1:45

update, schmupdate

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

Wow.  Life is CRAZY. And AMAZING.  So much has been going on!

This blog started as a record of my journey toward finding a career, or at least figuring out what I’m doing with my life right now, so I’ll start out with an update on my job: I recently had an informal interview to become a Service Professional at Red Lobster.  Basically I’d be doing the same thing I do anyway on weekend nights, I would just have more authority to help other servers out with issues in the dining room, rowdy tables, and messed up checks.  I don’t want to become a manager with this company, because I’m called to other things, but I’m definitely going to stay with this company until I find a full-time position at a church as a Girls’ Minister. Red Lobster is huge and I can travel anywhere I need to go and still have a job. I’m hoping to hear back, and positively, soon.

In the area of yoga, amazing things are happening. My students are growing in leaps and bounds, breaking down physical and emotional boundaries more and more every week.  Poses are becoming more accessible to them, and to myself, as I continue growing along with them.  Admittedly, I’m not taking classes enough for myself, having a schedule that rivals the President’s, but I’m still working as often as I can.  My students can’t grow if their teacher is not growing.

 

As most of you know, I’ve been running off and on since this past spring. Well…more off than on if I’m completely honest with myself.  There is a loop around campus from my house that measures 2.2 miles. My roomie and I used to run it every once and awhile, and my bestie and I got into a really sweet habit of walking it every other night this summer.  But I haven’t really been faithful in continuing to train. I started running with my friend Casey 2-3 times a week, just to have an opportunity to hang out with her. The farthest I could ever go was just over 2 miles, and that was a streeettttccchhhh.  I decided to go ahead and sign up to run the EKU Homecoming 5K, because…well… why not? It’s only 3.1 miles. Since signing up for it, our schedules have gotten completely overwhelming, and we haven’t had a chance to run together in 2 weeks.  Earlier this week, after having taken 10 whole days off, I decided I’d give it another go. The 5K is this weekend, I should at least attempt to run a little.  I started at 2 1/2 miles. I thought I’d conquered the world.  My elation was unparalleled. After work, two days later, I threw on my running shoes and hit the pavement.  I was back at my old loop, thinking I’ll just run this 2.2 and be finished for the day.  A little less than a quarter mile from home, I felt God asking me to just keep going.  What was I going to lose? “Yes, Lord.” And so I did. I just kept going! And 53 minutes, 41 seconds and 4.66 miles later, I was finished.  4.66 MILES!!  Unbelievable!! It really is a mental game.  Once I hit the 2 mile mark, the world is mine! I feel SO good about myself, and SO good about my first official 5K (which rocks my world tomorrow). Breaking down walls one step at a time!

It’s also gotten cold enough that I’ve taken up my favorite wintry activity: knitting and crocheting!  I feel complete again. So far this month I’ve completed 4 slouchy hats, and started work on a new pair of mittens.  Also, I started a stitching group for the women of my church.  We meet every other Thursday at a local coffee shop for 2 1/2 hours to talk, laugh, enjoy being outside our homes and, of course, get our winter projects finished.  I know I’m such a grandma, but it brings me so much joy!

Speaking of church, you know we’ve been on a 3 week rotation interpreter-wise (2 weeks on, 1 week off), and I’ve really struggled with it. I hate not interpreting every week.  This is the first time in 7 years I’ve sat through a service without signing anything at all, and it stinks.  BUT it’s given me an incredible opportunity to volunteer elsewhere in church on my week off. I’ve become a greeter! Ha, never thought I’d go there.  But, indeed, I have. On my week off, which is my week of greeting, I go to both services, hand out things, hold doors open, and just in general welcome people to church. Beyond that, it’s given me the opportunity to meet new people.  As an interpreter, I spend 100% of my time near or on the stage. The first thing I do when I show up is run to the sanctuary to meet with the other interpreter, figure out who is doing what, and greet the Deaf member(s). Then we spend the whole service interpreting under lights that DO NOT allow you to see past the first row, and after the service I spend 20 minutes getting feedback from the other interpreter(s) and Deaf member(s). So by the time I make it back out to the lobby everyone is gone. I didn’t realize how much my eyes have been shut to the other members of my church.  Having the opportunity to stand at a door and say hello to everyone has been such an awesome blessing.  I’ve met more people in my church in one week of greeting than in an entire year of interpreting. I get to greet again this coming Sunday.  And while I’ll miss interpreting, I greatly look forward to meeting more new friends, and seeing old ones.

 

Also, after church we’ve been going to my pastor’s house for lunch (all college-aged students…and some a little older……me……), and that has morphed into an in-depth discussion of relationships, dating, singlehood, and the innards of male and female thought and behavior.  We affectionately call it Table Talk, because it started around a table in the kitchen one random Sunday afternoon.

Further, after that’s all said and done, a small portion from this group have gone out to the local park to play ultimate frisbee and soccer the last several Sundays followed by, of course, more eating.  It’s been SUCH JOY to play soccer again! I’ve lost any resemblance to skill I once had, and ALL my endurance, but I LOVE IT. I’m devastated that winter’s a’comin’ and soccer will most likely have to be put on the backburner until it warms up. But I could definitely be up for a Snow Cup or two.

In conclusion…I have so much to be thankful for. I lead such an incredibly blessed, joyful life.  Shame on me for complaining about dumb, impermanent things. So what if I have a rough day? So what if things don’t go my way? The Lord is a pursuer, and He shows me daily that He thinks I’m lovely enough to invest in, again and again and again, even if I’m blind to what He’s doing.  May I never lose sight of the small, incredible things the Lord does to tell me He loves me.

Currently watching: a Friends marathon.

my first blog

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

This is my attempt to tame the chaos of finding my purpose in life. I was supposed to start this blog when Teach For America hired me, but alas, two days ago I received my rejection letter.  I cried for a solid 10 minutes, and then decided that it was just one more closed door on the way to finding what I really do need to be doing. I know that’s not a very eloquent way of saying I’m ready for good things to start happening, but boy….am I.

I suppose I should start by listing all the good things that have happened in my life, but it’s really the bad that have brought me to the point of blogging. I graduated from college in ’07 with a degree in theatre, an emphasis in stage combat, and a minor in ASL. I spent the next two years of my life doing nothing of importance or advancement, and ended up deciding to go back to school to get a second degree, this time in ASL Interpreter Training. I mean, why not? I had been interpreting for my church for nearly four years- I loved the Deaf community, I loved ASL, I needed a career. What better to do than become a professional interpreter?  After two full semesters of prep courses, and a good four months of applying and interviewing, I was turned down. Of the 56 people originally applying to the program, only 19 were chosen. I was not one of those. After crying for perhaps a solid 2 weeks, eating a tremendously dangerous amount of calories, and sleeping more hours than Rip Van Winkle achieved in his entire life, I came to the conclusion that God clearly had something different in store for me. I was fluent in ASL, an already-experienced and definitely skilled interpreter, I had one of the highest GPAs of all applicants, and I made some of the highest grades on all projects, tests, and assignments. There was no way anyone in their right mind would have put me on the not-right-for-interpreting list. But because the staff in this program did, clearly God had something else for me. I could not have done anything else right. So- upwards and onwards.

I spent the summer house/dog sitting for several professors at my alma mater, and working 3 weeks as a special teamer at a Christian youth camp in North Carolina.  I met some really incredible people there, some of which I had known from college, and some of which I still, 7 months later, talk to almost daily. It was a time of healing and renewal in my life, and I used it as a time to wipe the slate clean. There was a huge horizon in front of me! Anything was possible! I could go get my masters and become a high school English/Theatre teacher, I could go to seminary and major in Girls’ Ministry…I could do anything. After much thought and prayer, I went back to school once more, wanting to get a few classes under my belt before I applied for the MAT in English/Theatre Education. During that semester, I was introduced to, and began my journey through, the application process for Teach For America, a really incredible program that sends non-education majors into a low-income area for 2 years to teach one of the four main subjects: English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. They are super picky and it’s a huge accomplishment even to be invited to an interview. Last year alone, 46,000 people applied and they only hired just over 4500.  It was a big deal. After I turned my application in, I was passed on immediately to the Final Interview stage; it was a big deal. I put in tons of time and effort working on the last few requirements before the interview, on the lesson I had to teach during my interview, and on learning information that might be necessary for the interview in general.  On top of this, I was taking 6 classes, 5 of which were over the 400 level, working 25-35 hours a week at Red Lobster, choreographing for my dance company, rehearsing 17 hours a week, interpreting at my church STILL, and attempting to make a broken engagement work out. It was exhausting, emotionally and physically.

Further, I missed a Praxis deadline for the masters program I was applying for. Those tests are EXPENSIVE, and if you can’t afford it, sucks to be you. What did that mean? I had to take a semester off of school, and re-apply for the program that would begin in May.

Now, you must know that throughout all of these ordeals this past year, I also moved 3 times, none of which were a welcome idea.  I simply have terrible relationships with apartments.  The first move happened because I was living with a family from my church and my intense schedule just wasn’t working out for their family life. No one was at fault, it was simply the nature of their being a family, and my being a 20-something college student with an overloaded schedule.  The second move happened when I had to take a semester off of school. I was living on campus in family housing, a really sweet, perfectly-priced one bedroom apartment with awesome parking.  When I missed the Praxis deadline, which stopped me from entering the program beginning in January, I had to take a semester off, meaning I would no longer be a full-time student, and consequently no longer be eligible for family housing. Move #2: I moved in with two of my besties and their roommate, under the offer that this would be a semester I could use to pay some bills and save some money. I had to move between Christmas and New Years (Happy Holidays), and because we lived in a college town, everyone was gone for the holiday season. Meaning I moved 90% of my belongings by myself, in 30* weather, over Christmas. When the roomies came home, within a week, the problems the three of them had with each other found a catalyst for implosion and I found myself moving once more. The three of them are also currently in the process of moving.

Now I am living with a good friend and coworker, in a house owned by her dad but rented by us, and it’s absolutely perfect. She is an incredible roommate, the house is just fantastic, and it’s right in the middle of town, but in a court where we don’t have a lot of pass-through traffic.  When I received my TFA letter (of rejection, of course), while my heart WAS broken for 10 seconds, I realized quickly that, once again, God has something else clearly in mind for me, but not to fret: I have an awesome roomie, a permanent place to live for as long as I need, and infinite possibilities once more.

I really don’t know what I’m going to do with my life…I still want to pursue theatre as a career, maybe on stage, maybe in film, but I need to find a decent job with which I can support myself if ever I have the ability to move to a place that can sustain life on acting alone.  Is this a sign I should go to seminary? Should I just re-apply to the MAT and get my masters in teaching? Should I go get a masters in counseling and help people work out their problems?  Maybe become a child-life specialist specializing in teens, and find ways to make terminal illness manageable? Maybe I should just stick with yoga and become a yoga therapist/massage therapist and just makes people’s lives awesome. So many decisions, so many options. I just…I am just ready to know what I should do. I’m ready to be on that path.

This has been probably the most difficult year of my life, but I’ve learned a lot, too. I’ve learned how strong I really am, and how independent I can be. I’ve learned I can handle a WHOLE lot, even when I think I can’t take another step. You know, I used to say that I was ready for good things to start happening to me. But I think I was wrong in thinking that way. We serve a great God, and He has a plan to prosper us, and not to harm us. And ALL things work for the good of those who love Him. I’m not ready for good things to start happening to me…I’m ready to make good things happen for myself.