The Beauty in Music – @JoshGarrels

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This is a bit of a hike of a story, but I went to my first Josh Garrels concert last night, and I had such an immense amount of emotion throughout the evening that needed to get processed. So, here is the quite long process…

Some back story first.
Several years ago, I was introduced to Josh Garrels Music. I heard a couple of songs, loved it, then realized, I listened to his music all the time and became slightly obsessed.

His music was the perfect easy listening music that I could tap into or out of throughout my day as I worked. His music is soothing and comforting, sharing emotions that I felt or understood with unique sounds and amazing vocals. I have always said, his style is the perfect blend of life, theology and literature with music.

So, I bought every album he had off of Noisetrade. I listened to his music virtually every day for a solid year.

During that year, life was hard, life was good, and life was busy. I felt an immense burden to keep carrying on, pushing through difficulties and making it through my journey well, no matter what I faced.

Then, I had about $9,000 worth of stuff stolen from my apartment from someone I was helping, while I was on mission out of the country. It was just stuff, I could handle this, and I’ve never particularly been attached to my things… But, let me tell you, police reports, insurance, detailed lists.. Who steals 3 bottles of shampoo but neatly lines up the expensive weapons you had stashed around the house?!

Then, in the midst of dealing with the insurance company, I was let go from my job. Thankfully, I was given a stipend that would get me through the end of my lease in a couple of months.

I felt crushed, like my life was literally crumbling before my eyes and I was too weak and small to stop it from happening.

I went home after finding out, and despite putting on a brave face for everyone else.. I sat on my couch with my puppy wanting to play, and I just sat. Feeling no emotions except disbelief… How had I gotten here?

How do I follow God halfway across the country, only to a year later be sitting in my apartment with so many things that were just stuff to me missing? What do I do now?

The job I thought was pursuing Him now gone. And in its place, just nothing.

No direction, no peace, no confidence.

So, in Krista fashion, I got up from that place, I had stuff to do, no one was going to help me. I went to my newly replaced computer, re-downloaded my iTunes music, surfed for Josh Garrels and almost cried when I realized none of his music was bought through iTunes. I uttered a little “Come ON God” prayer and went to Noisetrade again silently pleading that I would find something.

All of Josh Garrels’ music was free.

Every. Last. Song.

I could replace every album without having to pay a for it second time. I had one of those huge sighs that gets stuttered when you’re about to cry. So, I once again downloaded his albums, put them on blast and proceeded to start cleaning and packing.

Fast forward several months.
I had applied for several hundred jobs around the country, I no longer lived in my own home, but instead stored my stuff with one aunt and uncle and moved in with another aunt and uncle. I knew how blessed I was because I was being so amazingly taken care of by people who made me feel like it was the simplest thing in the world and that I belonged. I knew I was given precious time with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews that all lived close by.

Yet, I had been told by God that life would get worse… and worse it got.

Months went by and I spent every day all day applying for jobs and doing freelance work to pay my monthly bills.
Winter was the worst one in MI, with snow storms every three days for months, no sunshine, and I was alone all day long trying to force movement in my life that simply wasn’t budging.

And, every day, Josh Garrels music played in the background.

I often would crawl into bed at night, and my heart would be aching, feeling abandoned by God, fearful of tomorrow, stressing about every dollar I had to spend, trying to rationalize the season I found myself in, and feeling nothing but pain. So, I created a sleeping playlist hoping that the music would wash over me, and usher in peace as I slept. The playlist had everything from Hillsong and Enter the Worship Circle, to Brooke Fraser and Josh Garrels. Anything that said something to my heart softly was played.

For months this went on; my head knowledge was full on at war with my heart knowledge.
My head knew full well that my savior is always faithful, always has been, and always will be; but, my heart-felt none of that. I struggled to understand, but always came up short.

Then, in a horrible series of events, a friend needed help, and I had the availability to go. So, we spent months together in both of our utter brokenness trying to help the other in different ways, while leaning on the support we offered each other. But, for the first time in almost a year, I had purpose, I was needed, I finally was capable to do something productive. I still spent hours every day applying for jobs and seeking out freelance work, and never quite let go of the deepening feeling that despite how I looked on paper, I was not enough.

All the while, Josh Garrels music played in my headphones. Other music was certainly a part of my life, For King and Country was played often, as was Brooke Fraser’s music. But, the constant that I returned to was Josh Garrels.

Then, last fall, I got an interview, then a second, then a job, moved, and began slowly rebuilding my broken life in DC again.

Still feeling as though I was building a house of cards that would come down, surely life was not yet good. I enjoyed my new life, friends and job, but I was confident deep down that the other shoe would fall and I would be once again useless. Fear began seeping into every small facet of my life. Not once before would I have described myself as a fearful person, I have always loved to dance in the unknown and “see what happens” because after all, what is the worst that could happen? Yet, here I was trying to push through, hoping deep down that eventually I would feel safe again.

Josh Garrels released his new album Home a couple months ago, and it is perfect. It reflects such a peace, joy and comfort that home has. That safe feeling that you belong, are known, and that it’s ok to mess up because that doesn’t change who you are or how much you are loved.

I’m fairly confident I have listened to the album every day since it’s release.

Last night at Josh Garrels’ concert in VA, he talked about the emotions of Home. He described the season of life he was in, and how on paper it was good, yet he was struggling through these feelings of fear but needing to know things were going to be alright. I could have spoken every single one of those words (except for being married and having three children haha).

I love his new album immensely, but his old work carries deep inside of me cause it was the backdrop of so much pain, life, wrestling, and working through who I was and my worth when all else was stripped away.

My Abba Father and I have been sifting through where my identity rests. What worth do I have when I am incapable of helping someone else? How do I accept my good when I mess up so often, handling things so poorly more often than I ever care to admit.

Throughout the concert, Josh Garrels played some of his new music, but also much to my delight, some of his old music as well. So, in the course of an hour and a half, I felt all the feels of the old life of the last few years, and the hope that is slowly seeping into my new life.

So, today, I find myself feeling an immense amount of thankfulness.
Thankful to my friend who gifted me with tickets to the concert.

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Thankful for Josh Garrels, his wife, his music, and how he shares his journey towards Christ.

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Thankful that God is working, and moving, and creating something new in me.

Thank you for letting me share my story and unpack another layer and element of what is happening inside of me.

Looking Ahead: 2015

So, I do a year in review every year, and it is my favorite blog post to do annually because it forces me to pause and reflect on where I have been, what I have done, and the people and things that have changed me. I also have found that taking time to remember tends to cause and overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God for all the things He has done and ways that He has once again proven his faithfulness. You can read about the 2014 review here, 2013 here, and 2012 here.. Beyond that, if you’re still interested you can look in my December archives for each year ūüôā

My second favorite post of the year is the one where I look ahead, make goals, resolutions, plans, and share the things I can see (or not see) coming, as well as any thoughts or insights into what it feels like God is up to in my life.

This year I turn 30!

I am stoked.

It may seem odd that I am so excited, but for some reason I am.
I am looking forward to starting a new decade of my life.
I am looking forward to feeling like there is less pressure at 30 to prove yourself.
I am looking forward to enjoying life in a new way.

  1. The year I was 29 was incredibly difficult, but it has only caused me to resolve to create healthy habits across every aspect of my life.
  2. This year I am excited about starting a new job and continuing my consulting work, learning, growing, experiencing, helping others, and leading well.
  3. I want to read like crazy this year. I want to learn from other people’s experiences and then figure out how to apply them to what I am doing.
  4. I need to get new running shoes (my other one’s are broken), but, as soon as I do I want to get back to running and weight lifting.
  5. I want to eat healthy and properly hydrate myself. I feel like I made significant progress over the last six months, but I still need make better choices moving forward, so I plan on it.
  6. I am looking forward to walking. I am within walking distance of work, have a dog who needs exercise, and live in a highly active city.. I want to experience and take full advantage.
  7. I want to dance often. I miss Salsa dancing (or latin dancing in general) immensely whenever I do not get to do it regularly… So, now that I have returned to a city that has a great dancing scene, I plan on jumping back in regularly!
  8. I want to be better at mailing letters and cards. I plan on making it a weekly habit to mail at least one letter or card, whether long or short… (That being said.. send me your address if you would like to get added to my list!)
  9. I need to get back in the habit of praying regularly and for extended periods of time for friends, family, and situations of others… So, my mirror 3×5 cards are going back up!
  10. I took a significant break from blogging many times throughout last year. I just felt like I had nothing of value to share, so I said nothing at all. But, I missed it, a lot. So, regularly weekly blogs are getting put back into the rotation of schedule.
  11. I want so badly to travel internationally this year!
  12. I have 5 years to pay off a stupid ridiculous amount of debt, but I am determined to keep my focus there. Even if I do not attain my goal (which, at this stage, I’m not sure how I would) focusing on it will ensure that I am being diligent and making wise choices.
  13. I want to put money in savings!
  14. I want to add to and cross things off my before I die bucket list year!
  15. I need to carve out space in my schedule to read and actually study scripture.
  16. I am going to keep a jar full of daily things that were blessings, positives, good moments, things I was thankful for that day. — I did this for about 5 months of last year, this year I aim for the whole year.

I think this year is going to be jam-packed and I am so excited about it. I cannot wait to look back at the year and marvel at how many things I crammed into each week.
I feel as though this year I am going to be trying to drink out of a firehose all year. I am looking forward to the laughter and ridiculousness of things that are surely going to happen in the process of trying to absorb it all.
I have a feeling that I will get really good this year at owning up to mistakes and apologizing for the things I dropped the ball on.

As I start 2015, I am at a place of marvel and wonder. I am totally amazed at where I find myself after having moments of wondering if the difficult and painful things would ever end.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the marvel and wonder won’t go away for a while, and I’m totally ok with that.

 

Borrowed Hope…

2012 Wrap-Up...I was walking my pups, thanks to the (attempting to improve) weather, and thinking and praying through this season of life that I am trying to escape from vehemently, and it dawned on me, I am so thankful despite the suck.

So much of this season has been trying to cling to hope while feeling mostly pain.

In less than two weeks it will be nine months since I have had a full-time permanent job. It has been 264 days since I have felt financially secure.

You can read more about my journey so far here, here, and here if you are interested. That is where you will get at least a small understanding without me having to rehash the struggle and emotions here today.

I have been stressing about money for 263 days, and my bank account has even got down to a balance of -.19. Yet, despite it all, I have not had one missed payment. I have had to fix my car three times, and been able to continue to support the missionaries I have supported for years. The very small amount of income I have has allowed me to continue to tithe, feed my dog, pay my car insurance, cell phone bill, and gas money. And, amazingly, my student loan payments have been able to be paid or deferred.

While I was surveying where I am, and where I have been, the thing that sticks out the most is the provision at exactly the right time. Regardless of my feelings, I cannot deny that more often than not, God has used friends and family to show me tangibly that He still loves, cares about me, and knows exactly what and when my needs are. Despite the mounting obstacles, I have been blown away recently by how much things have come together at exactly the right time.

Normally, and naturally, I am not a person who cares much about being told nice or encouraging things… I am really not a words person at all. I am not a gifts person, and I do not particularly notice if you do or don’t do something nice for me.. Yet, during the last nine months, those things have been life lines to my heart. The small gifts, the words of encouragement, the nicest and most humbling ways that people have shown me love have all been tangible things that God has used to infuse hope into my heart little piece by little piece.

I began thinking through the sheer number of people and times¬†where someone has given me money or supported me in some way; it is absolutely ridiculous.¬†Every single day¬†(no joke) people check in to see how I am doing, let me know they are praying for me, offer me financial support, send a job posting, send me an “I love you” gift, or just listen to me while I verbally process the most recent stress in my life and then show an endless amount of patience with me.

Even people I have never met, but connected to through a mutual friend have shared encouragement, prayers, and potential job leads.

Over and over I have struggled through feeling stuck and trying desperately to hold onto hope. Without fail, ever single time, someone has sent me a letter, message, text, or called and infused my heart with borrowed hope and encouragement.

The sheer fact that I have not been told to shut up and suck it up, or entirely left alone proves how much I am loved; I am amazed and totally undeserving. Goodness knows I have not been the easiest or happiest person to be around. I am amazed by the grace extended to me by so many of my friends and family while I try to work through the stress and emotions each day.

As I think about the last nine months (has it really been that long?!), I am in awe of not just the journey, but also the hundreds of people who have come along side me in one way or another to help me get through it all.

Thank you for allowing me to borrow your hope and for sharing so much tangible love with me throughout all of this. I simply could not have made it this far or at all without the help. I am so grateful.

Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

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I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
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I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
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I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

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I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
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I love seeing things that take my breath away.
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I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
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I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
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Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

Taking Pictures

Barcelona sunrise

Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

Classic Paris

And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a¬†“100 things you must see before you die” book and seven¬†of them I saw on my¬†trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.

Revised Bucket List…

When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be the type of old person who had so many ridiculous and crazy stories of things I have done, places I have been, and people I have met that the only question that would make sense is: “How did you have time to do everything?” When I settled on that as a huge goal in life, I began crafting a bucket list of sorts… Only, it is more of my “life” goals, but the meaning is essentially the same I suppose.

So, regularly I revise my bucket list because I think it should be ever-growing and molding; plus, I must replace the items I have accomplished with new ones!

A couple of years ago, I re-organized my list and created categories which has made it easier to manage, follow, update and honestly just be really excited about. So…

It is time to update my Life Goals list again!

Experiences:

  1. Watch the sunrise AND sunset from each side of every ocean or sea (a = Sunrise, b = Sunset): 1. Pacific (b), 2. Atlantic, 3. Indian, 4. Arctic, 5. Southern, 6. Mediterranean Sea (a), 7. Caribbean, 8. South China Sea, 9. Bering Sea, 10. Gulf of Mexico (b), 11. Okhotsk Sea, 12. East China Sea, 13. Hudson Bay, 14. Japan Sea, 15. Andaman Sea, 16. North Sea, 17. Red Sea, 18. Baltic Sea
  2. Have a croissant at a French cafe 
  3. Ride a gondola in Venice
  4. Stay in a hostel
  5. Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand
  6. Attend La Tomatina in Spain
  7. Be in Spain for running of the Bulls (but not participate)
  8. Move somewhere new alone
  9. Participate in a giant food fight
  10. Drink whiskey at a pub in Ireland
  11. Ride a helicopter
  12. Ride an elephant
  13. Ride a camel in the desert
  14. Ride through the Panama Canal
  15. Horseback ride through a coffee plantation
  16. Jump off a waterfall
  17. See the Pyramids at sunset
  18. See a glacier in Antarctica
  19. Visit the church made entirely of bones
  20. Visit ancient ruins
  21. Stay in the ice hotel
  22. Stand on the Great Wall of China
  23. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  24. Stand inside the Taj Mahal
  25. Tube down a river
  26. Learn to roll in a kayak
  27. Learn to snowboard, and ski
  28. Learn to wakeboard and water ski
  29. Drive a sports car over 100mph
  30. Go parasailing
  31. Go paragliding
  32. Go dog sledding
  33. Go on a Safari in Africa 
  34. Go rock climbing
  35. Go to the Kentucky Derby
  36. Go white water rafting
  37. Go Sky diving
  38. Go on a multi-day biking trip
  39. Go on a cruise
  40. Go wine tasting
  41. Wine taste at a vineyard in Italy
  42. Climb a volcano 
  43. Climb a glacier 
  44. Climb a mountain
  45. See and/or climb Mt. Kilomanjaro and Mt. Everest
  46. Hike the Inca Trail 
  47. Watch the sunrise or sunset over the Grand Canyon
  48. Watch the Northern Lights 
  49. See a shooting star 
  50. See Bioluminescent Plankton 
  51. Ring a church bell
  52. Choose fifty favorite places to relax and connect with God
  53. Attend the entire summer Olympics
  54. Zip line through a canopy
  55. Drink lemonade on the front porch swing on warm summer night
  56. Live in a house with a window seat and wrap around porch
  57. Christen a boat
  58. Learn to surf
  59. Learn to paddleboard  
  60. Dive with Manta Rays in Hawaii
  61. Swim in the Dead Sea
  62. Swim with a whale
  63. Snorkel the great barrier reef in Australia
  64. Swim with bioluminescent plankton in Puerto Rico
  65. Scuba dive 
  66. Tango in a milonga 
  67. Spend a night in a treehouse
  68. Have a big wedding celebration with everyone I love

Travel:

  1. Set foot on all seven continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.
  2. Set foot in all fifty states:Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  3. Cross the Canadian border 
  4. Go to Cuba
  5. Go to Spain
  6. Straddle the equator on two continents
  7. Take a road trip across the U.S.
  8. Have an adventure in Greece
  9. Take a month-long vacation without computers
  10. Live in another country for a year
  11. Go to Fiji
  12. Spend a summer touring Europe
  13. Go to Hawaii
  14. Go to South America with my sister

Personal:

  1. Attend a Ball
  2. Learn Latin dances: Argentine Tango, Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, Cha cha, Bachata, Rumba, Mambo,
  3. Learn to West Coast Swing
  4. Be a published artist
  5. Get art in a gallery
  6. Write a book or novel
  7. Finish and publish ‚ÄúFacts of Life‚ÄĚ
  8. Throw a block party
  9. Blog consistently for 10 years
  10. Go a day without speaking
  11. Organize a retreat
  12. Start and run my own business
  13. Get my second degree black belt
  14. Get a tattoo (I have two)
  15. Do two pull ups 
  16. Own a very large dog 
  17. Be conversational in two languages: 1. English 2. Spanish
  18. Learn a least enough in three additional languages to semi-understand
  19. Make my own list of the hundred best things to eat
  20. Plant a tiny orchard
  21. Grow vegetables in my own garden
  22. Go berry picking
  23. Make completely homemade pies 
  24. Make butterscotch from scratch (I have a recipe, now I just need to get all the ingredients and do it!)
  25. Run a 10k
  26. Run a half marathon
  27. Shoot every major gun: Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle, Muzzleloader, Revolver
  28. Start a fire without a match
  29. Build a house from start to finish
  30. Own a Beach house with friends

Giving:

  1. Help someone get through college
  2. Do something for someone they can never repay
  3. Tithe my whole life
  4. Start a non-profit or help run one
  5. Buy stock on my own
  6. Do one grand loving gesture a year
  7. Be debt free by 35
  8. Use my work to improve lives
  9. Remove money as a concern from my life
  10. Gift 1 million dollars to missions (not tithing)
  11. Help my family become debt free
  12. Give people in ministry free vacations at the beach house

Total, there are 124 things on my bucket list so far, which realistically is more than that due to the sub points. And, since this is an ever evolving Life Goals, things will likely be crossed off and added to this year.

In 2013, I crossed off 12 things from my list!.. In 2014, I aim to cross off more than double that!

I am currently working on a list of 29 things I want to do in 2014 because I am turning 29 on the 29th of January! One of the things I have discovered as I compile this “29 Things” list is, most “30 things to do before you’re 30” lists are lame, and almost all of the “29 things to do when you are 29” lists I have found are stupid. So, I will attempt to create an actual solid list of things to do in a year, and leave out things such as, “Forgive” “Fall in love” or “get married” as key points on my list… My list will be much more active and intentional.

I cannot wait to share my 29 things I want to do in 2014!

2013 Year in Review…

My favorite post is my annual year in review. I approach them differently depending on the year and how I am feeling about the year.

I love going through and being reminded of the year. Sometimes the year is full of challenges, other years is an abundance of blessings, most years are a mixture of both, and sometimes the year is just full of a crazy amount of things.

I started doing year-end reviews five years ago, even though I have been blogging on one platform or another for more than a decade! Every year, the review blog post is one of my favorites because it reminds me of where I have been, what I have done, and ultimately how blessed I truly am.

Here are previous year-end reviews:
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

So, onto the review!

Oh man, 2013 has been an interesting year….¬†

I¬†Turned 28¬†in January…

Had lots of different hair colors:

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I raised a Great Dane puppy, that at times I thought was either going to kill me or I was going to kill him. I have spent so many hours training, cleaning up his poop or pee, training, snuggling, training, walking, training… And without realizing it, I have grown to love his companionship, and realized he has ultimately turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made:

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Slobber.

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Vormund at 9 weeks old (technically in 2012)

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“Indestructible” bed.

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At 1 year old and 130lbs.

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I traveled. A lot, for a slew of reasons and loved every single moment of each trip:

Birds Nest Great Wall1Red Bean TeaForbidden CitySummer PalaceGaitlinburg

Basillica BarcelonaEiffel TowerMoving againVenice MapVeniceColusseumGirls MexicoSleepingWall MexicoAll Girls Mexico

I saw some of the most breathtaking skies:
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I ate new foods.. Some I loved, others…. not so much:

Bubble Tea Cafe Dessert Cafe Latte Calamari Clams1 Clams2 Pecking Duck Shrimp Shrimp2

My baby brother got married, and my older brother had a new baby!

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I got to spend so. much. time. with my family:

Rach and I

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Wedding 4

As I truly sit back and look at 2013, it was such a great year… and such a terrible year all rolled into one.

On one hand…
I got to see and meet so many absolutely amazing and inspiring people.
I got to hug some of my best friends in the world (a few multiple times).
I was able to dance quite a bit more than I thought I would be able to.
I completed TWO masters degrees!

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My longest friend in the world and several other dear friends got married, and many others got engaged!
I had so many wonderful people I love dearly have babies this year!
I got to know and love so many fantastic and amazing teens and people at my church.

And then, there was the crappy things mixed in with such good things..

I loved my job, felt like I was exactly where God placed me, and yet, I struggled with being lonely and stressed constantly.
At one point, I felt God told me to allow someone to stay in my apartment, and while I was gone, $9,000 worth of stuff was stolen, my car was impounded, and a slew of other issues happened.
Just over halfway through the year, I was let go from my job for essentially the reason I was hired in the first place because my job was causing more issues than anticipated initially.
I lost my church and church family.
I had to move out of my home and in with family (although they’re fabulous, it is never the first option you want when moving).
I got into a car accident that was not my fault, and then figured out due to the “no-fault” laws, I literally could not afford to fix my car.
I had to deal with TWO insurance claims in a two month period… Neither of which were pleasant experiences.
I was unemployed for several months at the end of 2013.

While applying for the monotonous more than 200 jobs (around the world), I had fun changes of pace to the applications including this question:
“If our team were stranded on a deserted island, why would we want you with us?”

My answer:
“You want me on the island with you because unlike Tom Hanks, I will open the packages to see if there’s anything useful for us to use.
I also have a good sense of humor, enjoy challenges; which oftentimes expresses itself as being adventurous.
I have been camping every summer of my childhood, know how to build a fire, shelter, and I have watched every episode of LOST.
And, in the rare possibility of a zombie apocalypse on the deserted island, I have been in the martial arts for more than 20 years and have been trained on how to survive.”

In just God’s timing, right when I finally admitted I was angry, not thankful or joyful due to the crap that had been a constant throughout my entire year; and as only God can do, He swooped in and brought people around me (some I know, and others I have never met) to support me, give me a place to stay, a car to use, money, prayers, encouraging letters/notes/e-mails/scripture, and many times just laughter to give me a moment to forget the stress. And then,¬†He sent me a temporary job the day I found out I was not eligible for unemployment. So, off I went on another adventure to a temporary job with one of my absolute best friends in the world, in a city I love and near the church that feels like home.

To say this year has been emotional in ever aspect of the word would be an understatement.

I loved, cherished, had joy, sorrow, hated, and was just plain dealing with a hurting heart… and every emotion in between this year.

2013 has been a year of bait and switch. So much good followed by so much heartache, only to be once again followed by healing and growth in only the way that God can do things.

I love 2013, and I am so glad to see it over.

Thank you to every single one of you for your love, support, prayers, notes, hugs, food, time, money, shoulders to try on, and ears to listen. I can confidently say that you made this year possible to survive, learn, and laugh through. As difficult as this year has felt, I can honestly say that every low note is met with someone there to support me.

God is so good. In the good, in the bad, in the joy, in the pain, in our good times, and our ugly. This year has taught me so much about who God is, and just how blessed I am to be surrounded by so many amazing people, no matter what happens in my life.

Jobs, Cars, and Struggles…

To the many many people who have inquired asking how I am and for updates on my life, job situation, and the car accident, thank you, you are awesome!

I figure it is time for a full update.

First, the job situation. Not much to update really, I am still applying, and still getting a slow trickle of rejection letters. Currently, I have sent out 175+ applications to 16 regions around the country, with an additional 4 around the world, and have received 29 rejection letters. I have gotten a couple inquiries for more information, but nothing really beyond that. — Applying for jobs is the definition of testing your ability to handle rejection and continue on anyway.

Four Dogs

Job hunting with four friends.

Currently, I am living with my aunt and uncle who are awesome and created¬†space for me and the pups… AND make me coffee regularly. The only bummer in this situation is that, it is cold outside, which prevents using their pool. I am happy to report that, while the pups had a pretty rough initial transition, (as in the usually Mr. Be-my-friend transformed into Mr. Grumpypants and didn’t like their three dogs at all) he is currently in the fenced in back yard with their dogs running around and playing. I would say he has finally settled into no longer being an “only child” pups and enjoys the company and exercise!

Monday, I was in a car accident that was not my fault (no actually it really Car Accidentwasn’t). Thankfully, I was going under the speed limit, and had just the reaction time to swerve out of my lane just enough to prevent a full head on collision. The airbags deployed, and aside from being intensely sore for a couple of days, I was completely fine, and the other guy and his son were not even sore! But, my car is less than ok, although it too probably could have been way worse. And, in this whole situation, my one piece of solid comfort was that¬†instead of just taking the pups with me like I typically do,¬†I had uncharacteristically decided to leave him at home, and swing back by to pick him up before heading to my brother and sister-in-law’s house.
To help give an idea of the situation with my car that many have asked about, insurance is going to give me $1,000. In order to even do the bare minimum to get it on the road again, I need an additional $1,000. But, if I want to put the airbag system back in once more, I need another $1,800 on top of that. So, to get the car back to where it was before the accident, after insurance, I need $2,800. And, due to my lack of employment for a couple of months, I literally do not have the money… So, I have no idea how it will all work out, but in the mean time I have been using my brother and sister-in-law’s car (super thankful shout out to them!).

To say that this last week was crappy and difficult would be a laughable understatement. Seriously. In full disclosure, this whole last week I have felt somewhat forgotten by God, alone, frustrated, and just plain hurting. I honestly can say that while I am currently feeling more emotionally stable, and certainly like God is taking care of me through people, I still am struggling with the situations I find myself in.

Serious thank you to the people who have been awesome this last week and weathered through my crazy with me! One reminding me that the birds are still being fed, therefore I need to re-focus and fall back on my knowledge that God is in control and still loves me… And, is in-fact taking care of the situation no matter how I feel. Another reminded me that I am loved, and my feelings on the matter do not change how much I am loved. And, still one other reminded me that while this entire situation sucks, and sometimes it feels like “enough is enough”, the reality is that I know it will all be good on the other side, and… I would willingly choose to do it all over again if it touches one person… In the moment, I begrudgingly agreed, even though I actually do know I would in a heartbeat. While at times, I have felt as though my feelings of hurt and frustration (quite a bit of which were aimed at God)¬†have been dismissed by some, they have had a good point; focusing on just the crappy things makes life worse, not better.

Last week, I sat in my room after receiving the information that insurance was in-fact not going to cover the damages, and I cried.
For the first time in months, I cried over a life I lost.
I cried over losing my job, my church, my home, my community, and my car.
I cried because up until this point, I had known and felt beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to take care of things.. I still knew without a doubt, but no longer had the peace that had been carrying me so far.
I cried because my life feels empty and without purpose.
I cried because I have bills coming soon that I do not have any idea how I will be able to pay for them.
I cried because I felt alone, and although I have an amazingly loving and supportive group of friends and family who have stepped in, no one is or can actually go through this with me.
I cried because I know I am in the wilderness, and it sucks.
I cried because I have to walk through this, and no amount of anything I can do will change my situation.
I cried because I am not strong enough nor do I know how to do this.
I cried because I do not see how God is working and moving or how He will fix this, and He has been particularly quiet lately.
I cried because I hurt.

I cried because I know that all of this could really be so much worse, but that doesn’t change how much it actually just hurts now.

I know that soon, things will be different, the night will be over and the sun will rise giving me a perfectly clear view of what and why God worked everything out the way He has.
I know that soon, I will be stressing about something else entirely, and before I know it, I will be joking about how overly dramatic I was in this situation.
I know that God’s mercies are new every morning, and I am so very thankful that He does not base anything off of me and my ridiculousness.
I know that I am being made stronger and my faith will grow tremendously because of this period of life.
I know that I am blessed, and will feel undeservingly blessed on the other side for how all of this played out.
I know all of these things because my God is good, but He also never promised life wouldn’t suck sometimes.

So, truly, thank you so very much to those who have reached out, prayed, laughed and cried with me. I appreciate the patience and love during all of this, and I am blessed because of you… even when my ugly and crazy shows.