#NeverDull2016 Year in Review

At the beginning of the year I was asked by several people, and challenged by several more to come up with a word or theme for 2016. I am not really a goal setter. I do not have enough organization as a personality to plan things out well…Nor do I enjoy it. I more often than not fake being organized, and typically use all of my organizational capacity for my job.

However, this year I decided to try to pick a word or theme. So, I picked “Never Dull”. It felt like a way of focusing on all the big and little things, noticing how interesting and worth while life can be. After having a few hard years, I needed a year not focused on healing or regrowing, but instead a year focused on the life I have, the good, bad, interesting, growing, and adventures that can be found every day!

Thus, #neverdull2016 became my social media hashtag.

You can read my 2015 year in review posts here.

So, what a year 2016 was!

January

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We had a record-breaking snowstorm in DC, with over 30 inches of snow in 24 hours.
My sister came to visit, and I surprised her with a whirlwind trip to NYC.

February

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Uganda team meetings started! #Ugandaexcited
I studied Romans with a group of other leaders.
I got to tour the Capitol building for the first time.

March

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Threw a bachelorette weekend for one of my best friends.
We continued our Easter tradition and several college best friends came and stayed. – We failed again at going to the top of the Washington Monument lol
I started my big side tattoo!

April

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One of my girls from MI came to visit for her Spring Break.
I went to Philly and got to hang out with some of my favorites.
Threw a super fun fundraising house party for clean water wells in Uganda.
I also started having much more regular meetings with other churches to talk about First Impressions things.

May

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One of my best friends got married! #Howboutthemappels
Our Uganda meetings started happening twice a month!
People continued to join us at the gym haha

June

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We had the 2nd Annual Race for H2Ope Run/Walk fundraising event for our Uganda mission.
I went to Nashville, did a whirlwind visit, and helped her drive back to DC for the summer.
I continued my tattoo process.
I got to help teach dance classes throughout the summer with a super fun group of ladies!

July

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I finished my tattoo just in time for it to heal before going to Uganda!
Our team went to Uganda and dug 2 clean water wells! You can read more about it here.
Our house shifted as one roommate left and a new one began living with us.

August

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I spent the first 8 days of the month in Uganda.
I went on my first date in a year – Had a great time, but it didn’t go anywhere.
We did a presentation at the Fairfax JDC about our work in Uganda.

September

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I went to Disney World for the first time! – With a ton of my family! It was awesome!
Family Dinner Mondays started up again for the fall. – It has been such an amazing weekly time!
College friends had a free weekend, so they came to visit and we all headed to the beach!
A group of us undertook project get Amy’s iron up.. which meant a more strict diet than normal; it sucked and was great all at the same time.
I put all of my roommates on a traveling ban because we travel SO much…. it failed miserably. lol

October

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I went to visit 6 churches to learn from them and deemed it my #tourdechurches – It was amazing!
Our church celebrated its 20th anniversary.
My little brother’s wife had their first baby! – She’s so cute!

November

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I was able to go to Puerto Rico for free cause I have lucky friends haha
I had to say goodbye to friends who followed a God-given dream across the country.
My roommates and I are now fluent in food as a love language.
I finally finished my “corner office” for my consulting work!

December

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This is always one of my favorite months in DC. There’s so much happening, fun parties and sweet time with friends.
I got to spend a lot of time with my family for Christmas, it was amazing.
I got to snuggle my new niece.

Overall

I feel like this year was full of adventures, big, small, and everything in between.

How did this year compare to what I thought it would be? – You can see some of my goals and predictions here.

In some ways I feel like it was pretty spot on… In others it was close, and obviously in some ways it was totally different.

In general, my sentiments are: What a beautiful year it has been.

I find myself grateful. Incredibly grateful that I was able to experience such amazing things this year with so many wonderful and amazing people. I feel rich with friendships and people I love. I am grateful for the adventures and the laughter. What an incredible year full of ups and downs and everything in between.

#Neverdull2016

Anything but Boring 2016

It has finally happened, I have had a moment to look forward to 2016.

You can see my 2015 review here.

What do I see moving into this year? I have no idea.

On one hand, I have SO much of my life planned for this year already, mostly out of necessity for work rather than actually being a planner. (I fake a J in the Myers Briggs quite well most of the time). On the other side, I really have no idea what to expect from 2016.

I am looking forward to the fact that I have an idea of the cadence of this year. For instance, I am now fully aware that my next real “slow season” will be next December (ha!), unlike the false “it slows down after…” that I was repeatedly told this last year!

But, I am excited and looking forward to a few things in 2016:
Getting to travel. – As in, I know currently I will get to travel to several states and countries this year. (More on that later)

Stoked.

No moving. – I won’t have to move this year, unlike the TWO moves I had to do last year!

Praise the Lord!

Bills bills bills – I will be able to pay off the remainder of my credit card debt this year. Meaning, I will have taken my credit card debt from more than $10k to $0 in two years.

Absolutely giddy.

Spiritual health – I have a plan for growing spiritually this year, and I am very much looking forward to it.

Deep peaceful breath.

Health – I have more health goals this year than I ever have. Mostly because I am aiming in a direction rather than my classic “get healthy” of previous years. 2015 completely changed my health, and I am excited to continue to work (hard) for even more of that this year.

#Hotbodywhoa #WhatifIwantpizzainstead #TotalHealth #Dedicationwillsuck #Gettinghealthycanbefuntoo

Community – One of my favorite things to do is gather community and create it wherever I go, I’m excited to do that even more this year.

Doing life with people is one of my favorite things.

Hair – We all know my hair will change a bunch, I love experimenting and using my hair as a conversation piece… It is truly amazing how much space unique hair creates for people to feel more comfortable around me, and I love that element of it all.

Red? Pink? Purple? Blue? Blonde? White? Black? Paramount?.. Maybe ūüėČ

Tattoo – Finally, I am finally ready to get my new tattoo, and I am stoked about it! There are probably a hundred different elements to the tattoo, so I am really excite to start the process of getting it.

So excited!

So, what do I think of 2016? I dunno, it will be full of a lot of things.
Beauty
Adventure
Change
Laughter
Stress
And so much unknown…

The one thing I know of 2016 is that it will be anything but boring.

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Follow along this year on Instagram @Kristapbback and #NeverDull2016

 

2015 Reviews

At the end of every year I write a review of that year, they always look different, but, this particular post is one of my favorites to do because it makes me stop and reflect… Which, inevitably leads to gratitude for what God has done in my life… Even during the hard years.

You can see last year’s here, and the 2013 review with links to previous year’s reflections in that post.

So, here I sit reviewing and reflecting on 2015.

This year from beginning to end felt like warp speed, it never slowed down.

I have now completed my first year at my new job and back in DC. This year has been full of stress, frustrations, and confusion as I tried to navigate my new job and rebuilding my life here in DC. Yet, through it all there has always been an overwhelming amount of contentment and certainty that I was and continue to be exactly where I am supposed to be.

Some things took much longer to resolve than I anticipated, like my stress level over money. I had not realized how much being unemployed created an obsessive compulsiveness in me to check my bank account every couple days… I stressed about money constantly. Through work because I manage a budget I was given the opportunity to take Financial Peace University; I love what it has done in my life. While I do not follow it entirely (I’m really bad at using all cash), I certainly have seen it change my stress level, and I have more money in savings, and a greater understanding and comfort (peace) with my finances than I have ever in my entire life. I have a lot of debt to pay off, but I also was able to pay off half of my credit card debt this year.

Blessing #1: Finances settling.

I loved the house I moved into when I first got here. I liked my roommates, and the location was great. Then, we had a curveball thrown at us, and we had to move after only a few months of living there because our military landlords were returning. Insert: Chaos and stress. Figuring out what we were going to do and searching was chaotic and stressful right in the middle of chaos and stress at work. Then we found this amazing row-house that was smaller, but somehow actually better than our last. We lost and gained a roommate in the transition, and yet again, the move seemed to create this pressure valve, and peace, laughter, joy, and community have settled in our home.

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Blessing #2: Amazing house and community.

My car. Not much brings me to tears faster than car problems. There were so many car problems this year, as a carry over from my head on collision a couple years ago. It took a lot of money and time to get everything up to inspection and then in August for a routine oil change my mechanic called my car a “rolling death trap”. He more or less instructed me to get rid of it and stop putting money into it, then parked my car until I decided. After lots of back and forth, I let my trusty car go and have been without a car since. My goal is to go a year then reevaluate, and use that extra money to pay off debt faster. I have loved that not having a car forces me to walk, I have access to vehicles of friends if I need it, and I live in a massive public transportation city which makes life much easier.

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Blessing #3: Having to walk everyday.

This year has been absolutely stuffed with adventure. Which, as I reflected on the different adventures, I looked up the definition just to see how accurate of a term it was:
“an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”
Every day was full of adventure this year.

And, just to give a (very) small window into the adventures and people that made life so fun and funny in 2015:

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Blessing #4: Adventures.

A couple years ago I topped out at my heaviest weight of my life, and it was not due to muscle. So, I decided in 2014 to start purposefully eating better. In 2015 I was still not happy with how I looked, but also how I felt, so I got a gym membership and began working towards feeling better. It has been 10 months, and I am happier with my body now than I have ever been in my life. I am not yet where I want or need to be, but it is so encouraging to see pictures of myself this year compared to the last two, and find myself satisfied rather than embarrassed.

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Blessing #5: Better health and confidence.

It would get exhaustive to list a paragraph for each of the blessings I see as themes from 2015, so here are a few additional:

Blessing #6: Growing and Re-growing.

Blessing #7: Seeing and experiencing God’s faithfulness new.

You can see the community throughout all of the pictures. The community of people both near and far that fill my life is overwhelming in the best of ways.

Blessing #8: Community.

Just because I always love new music, here, here, here, and here are a links to a few of my endless repeat songs from this year.

Blessing #9: Music.

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Blessing #10: Family.

What an incredible year it was. 2015 certainly did not disappoint, so much laughter, crazy challenges, some heartache, and a few curveballs, but I find myself thankful and amazed at how God was with me throughout it all this year.

Seasons of Healing…

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I typically love seasons of healing, there is life and death taking place together in the process. I am entirely guilty of wanting to rush the process, but I never regret the time it took on the other side… This particular season of healing has proved more difficult than I anticipated. Which, I suppose no matter the injury, healing always takes longer than we think or hope for in the beginning.

One of the things that has struck me about this particular season of healing is how little the Christian community addresses what seasons of healing look like. And then, in the absence of clarity, I have found myself feeling a bit crazy in the process of what I have recently realized is actually pretty normal..
Should I feel this way?
Should I think like this?
Should I be this emotional?
Does this show my lack of faith?
Is this normal to feel this way?
Why can’t I seem to shake this off?
Am I depressed?
Is it normal to be so tired all the time?
Have I always been this stressed?
Have my muscles always been so tight?
If I love my life so much, why am I still feeling anxious?
And on and on and on….

I was talking with a friend who went through a similar experience, and her response was, “I’m sorry, I should have told you that you were going to feel all of these things for much longer than you would expect to.”

We then talked through all of the random feelings, all of the irrational emotions, the physical effects of everything… and how the season of healing on the other side of a dessert season is often forgotten about by those who have gone through them. I can see why though, I do not want to “stay” stuck in the past, so even I do not want to talk through my own situation… I just want to push forward.

I cannot possibly blame someone else for not thinking to tell me that this season of life sucks almost as much as the last. However, it is of utmost importance to work through and not barrel through this season. I must feel, sit in, deal with and process each step; then and only then will complete healing take place.

True growth and learning must happen in the midst of the whirlwind that feels like this season has been.

I am so thankful and beyond grateful for the plethora of people who have encouraged, challenged, given undeserved grace, shared wisdom or a listening ear, and for all of those who have prayed for me throughout.

So. Grateful.

On the other side of all of this God will make my ashes into beautiful art.

How Are You?


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A beautiful sunset sitting outside overlooking Union Station (no filter).

My days are so long, filled to the brim, and often overflowing. Every night around midnight I debate on if I can do squeeze one more thing into my day or if it is a wiser option to finally turn the lights off and sleep. Usually I squeeze something else in…

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But, my weeks F.L.Y. by… Seriously. At the end of every week, I am totally and completely amazed by how quickly the week went.¬†Even more, I cannot believe we are so far into March already! Where is 2015 going?!

So, how am I?.. That has been the question I am getting repeatedly… I am still trying to catch up to my own life I think. I have only just begun to find my cadence to life again. I guess it is for good reason I get asked often how I am since I am currently in a stage of full throttle, but I never really feel like I have a good answer for the question.

Or worse, as odd as it sounds, I really am not a fan of the “how can I pray for you?” question right now. Not because I don’t want prayer, but I cannot seem to be able to think of something when asked… things don’t seems to grasp my attention long enough to ask someone else to pray over.

Maybe the best thing I could ask for prayer for is my level of energy, for sleep to be restful, for wisdom and grace in all situations… especially despite any emotions I still find myself working through.

You see, I am still quite a bit more emotional than I am comfortable with.. or that feels normal for me.
I find myself pretty strongly still regulating what comes out of my head because I am aware that how I think things in my head is undeservedly severe oftentimes.

But honestly, I am good, life is busy, full of good and great things, challenging things, frustrating things, laughter, anger, contentment, exhaustion, all of the feels. Every one of the feels permeates my life right now.

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Thankfully, Spring has finally arrived.. Sorta. We have had DAYS of sunshine, and weather that has allowed me to wear a light jacket instead of try to cover every exposed portion of my skin! I was able to open the windows, clean the house, and breathe the sunshine in deeply this week.

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God is showing up so merciful, faithful, forgiving, and loving. Like I have always known, but much louder right now than normal. Earlier this week, I was having a particularly difficult day, and randomly several people called, texted or e-mailed me throughout the day saying they had been thinking of me and felt compelled to connect.
By the time the third one happened, I just couldn’t help but smile and something inside me shifted because I think I finally was getting the message from God: “I do in fact see you and care tremendously.”

2015 is certainly turning out to be a year unlike any other, and I am so thankful, and feeling quite blessed.

Journey Towards Health

So, I turned 30 a couple of weeks ago, and since my birthday falls so closely to the beginning of the year, I tend to take on both the year and my goals combined as though they are one.

So, this year, I have a plethora of goals and things I would like to accomplish, but, more than previous years, I am creating this year as a course correction of sorts for the future.

I have begun to budget meticulously, so that I can pay off large chunks of debt this year… Plus I am excited to take a class through work that will help me be successful even more.

Through a friend and co-worker I’ve discovered MindMeister.com and am mind mapping goals for this year… All of them, big and small.

I have finally stepped out and contacted a cousin for guidance on my diet and exercise… I also bought new shoes (cause my others were broken a long time ago).. and I will be joining a gym this week.

I have also started reading my Bible and actually studying it.. not just reading it for informational purposes.. Or worse, to get my time “in” with God in order to move on, but, instead genuinely to focus and spend time with Him to grow and be cultivated.

 

I feel like it is time to pull myself together on multiple fronts at the same time. Up until now, I have slowly been learning to budget, and slowly monitoring and focusing on my health. However, I have also sort of just done it in a bit of a loosey goosey kinda way.

Already, six(ish) weeks into 2015 and a few weeks into 30, I am beginning to feel better. More stabilized and balanced with significantly less worry in my heart on multiple levels. Some days still being full of worry and stress, others not at all, and then the rough back and forth between stress and peace.

I think when I stop and look at the things that are causing me the most stress, it almost always boils back to finances. I find myself every so often begin to spiral into worry with questions like:
Should I spend the $20 a month on a gym membership or apply that to debt?
Should I budget for going out or put that into savings?
Should I put money into cheaper foods to save, or spend more on the healthier foods I love?

Then, a few weeks ago it dawned on me… I didn’t get myself into debt¬†quickly, so I must give myself the space to live well (meaning healthy, not in abundance) in order to create joy and refreshing that can counteract the stress and worry for the long haul of paying off debt. Especially since, the primary debt I have is educational.. And the rest is mostly a carry over from being unemployed for so long.

I have been intensely purposeful lately about letting go of my anxieties and relaxing the stress that I have been holding onto every day.

You see, my theme for this year is health… I haven’t been able to come up with a good rhyming hashtag since “thirtyflirtyandthriving” just doesn’t quite hit the mark for this year. But, thirty really does seems like a great year to gain my health back on every front in order to move forward in a new decade!

Sweet, sweet health. I am so looking forward to walking in your direction consistently this year, and creating healthy habits moving forward. Physical, emotional, and spiritual health, those are the things I am aiming towards this year.

Letting Go of Survival…

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I have officially completed three weeks of my new job, and my first full week of everyone being back from holiday breaks. I feel a level of accomplishment.. but mostly I just feel tired from the dramatic change in pace of life in the last month!

Please do not misunderstand me, I love it. I am enjoying every bit of the crazy chaos that is now my life. I am so thankful for the first paycheck. I am excited about adventures, food, relationships, and all the possibilities of what is my daily life now. However, I realized a few days ago, I am still living in survival mode.

I have spent more than a year now living in survival mode, and found myself a bit frustrated that I could not just let go and embrace this fresh new life.. And a friend gently reminded me I have had exactly one paycheck, there is no reason I would naturally just forget the worry and stress that has been such a habitual part of my life recently.

Yet, even still, I have an intense desire to let go of feeling the need to cling to survival mode.

I was talking with someone who I actually do not know beyond his name, and he prayed over me, and then said a bunch of things to me about what he felt like God was telling him to share with me.

(Little disclaimer, there’s more to the story, and more detail than I am going to share, but overall, my stance is take what other’s tell you God is telling them to share.. Then write it down, pray over it, mull over it, and weigh it against scripture to see if it lines up. Sometimes what is shared is exactly on point, other times it is only a part of the picture, and then sometimes it is not accurate.)

So, anyway, he said (not in order),

That I was a bridge builder, and would act as a connector.
That God was in a season of wanting to show off to and with me…
Which lead to him saying that I needed to dream again, and ask God for all the things I need.
He said that God was going to take care of me and do things immediately, and that it would blow my mind, and I would end up with all these crazy stories…
He then told me that I needed to write things down and keep track of it all.

He also went into a bit of detail about my ministry, which I have written down, but would prefer not to share here yet.

One of the things he did mention was that I carried a joy and a light that is unusual, that I change a room when I enter it, and that my relationship with Christ is unique… He also explained a bit more, but I will also keep those things to myself for now.

So, now here I find myself, praying through and for these things.. but also trying to pray through figuring how to dream once more, how to let go of survival mode and once again enter into reckless faith and trust in my Savior.

Psalm 37

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
11 But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

12 The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
To slay those who are upright in conduct.
15 Their sword will enter their own heart,
And their bows will be broken.

16 Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
But the Lord sustains the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.
19 They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
20 But the wicked will perish;
And the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures,
They vanish‚ÄĒlike smoke they vanish away.
21 The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
But the righteous is gracious and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
But those cursed by Him will be cut off.

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
25 I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
26 All day long he is gracious and lends,
And his descendants are a blessing.

27 Depart from evil and do good,
So you will abide forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
And dwell in it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
And his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip.
32 The wicked spies upon the righteous
And seeks to kill him.
33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand
Or let him be condemned when he is judged.
34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked, violent man
Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil.
36 Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more;
I sought for him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright;
For the man of peace will have a posterity.
38 But transgressors will be altogether destroyed;
The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in Him.

My Father has always been faithful to me.