31 Birthday Loves

I turned 31 last week.

I love birthdays, and this one was no different… Only it was so different in many ways.

I wanted to celebrate with a brunch!… So we did. While we were dumped on with 30 inches of snow! (Winter and I have a long history of hatred for one another)

My sister came to visit, and we had a blast. – She will never know how much I love her and cherish her. It amazes me that she is truly 12 1/2 years younger than me because our relationship is so sweet and fun and funny!

My sister, a friend and I went on a whirlwind trip to NYC, and it was one of the best days! Exhausting, but so much fun!

I had to work long hours on my birthday and the day after (thankfully I very much like my job), but we still found time to do so much celebrating with breakfast with the roomies, dinner and an amazing and intense movie (13 Hours), another surprise dinner the day after with SO many of my favorite peoples, and then yet another surprise of going shooting at a gun range… Which means I can now cross off Revolver from the guns I want to shoot list!

So much love, but what made it truly amazing was the hundreds (and I truly mean hundreds without exaggeration) hugs, happy birthday songs, phone calls, e-mails, text messages, pictures, and social media posts wishing me a happy birthday.. Sweet notes, full of love, encouragement, and prayers… Not to mention the cupcakes, edible arrangements, flowers, gifts, and cards.

Overwhelming in the absolute best way possible.

Never in my life have I felt such a consistent outpouring of love and excitement.

So, while I think I was able to respond to everyone and thank them, I want to be sure and let you all know how grateful I am…

Thank you for loving me, speaking into my life, seeing the best in me, celebrating me, praying for me, and for all of the big and small ways that you choose to do life with me!
Thank you for laughing with and at me, encouraging me, helping to make me better each day, and for caring so much about me!

What an amazing birthday completely overflowing with love, 31 is going to be an amazing year!

Thank you for loving me on my 31st birthday week!

#NeverDull2016

 

Repairing With Hope and Love

IMG_2198Do you ever get tired of telling the same story over repeatedly?… I feel like that has been the last 10 months.

I am tired of talking about how painful, stressful, lonely, emotional, etc..etc.. the last however long has been.

I wish desperately I could take the next step and move beyond this season, yet I am stuck.

I keep thinking how much I would love to focus on hope and anticipation, but just have no glimpse to grasp on to.

I for a while know have been yearning for when laughter, hugs, friends, and purpose fill my life again.

Recently, I took a break and went on a trip to see so many people I love because my mind was beginning to fracture and my hope for something different had grown incredibly dim. I am my own worst critic, and I hate when I know I am slipping and have no way to improve the state. So, I decided it was more important for me to mentally refresh than to seek out yet more ways to improve my situation.

I am so glad I did.

The trip is over, the finances are just as tight as they have been, but my heart is full of the memory of hugs and conversations from where love met me.

I found encouragement in the oddest of ways, in one instance, just the mere sight of my friend brought tears to my eyes, and then I got to sit and talk about life with her… And, she knows me well enough to know how to ask how I am truly doing, and then create a space that is safe enough for me to share.

I sat for hours upon hours with one friend, and I cannot even recall half of what we talked about, but I feel like she understands me in a truly unique way.

With so many I laughed, hugged, danced, joked and ate fantastic food while talking about anything that fluttered to our minds.

One friend marveled at my story and reminded me that my emotions throughout this process are ok. I was reminded that God is moving, He loves me, and that of course I would not be perfect throughout the stress and struggle. Sometimes the darkness and struggle are so real that the pain just needs time to heal.

How had I forgotten that I cannot handle this perfectly?

So many friends walked, sat and talked, ate food and just connected with the intention of renewing our friendship, and in one way or another reminded me that I am important to them.

As I look back at my trip, I find my heart full. Overflowing with so many jokes, so much laughter, dozens of hugs, but mostly I find that I was reminded down to my core how much I am loved.

I was reminded that I fill a space in their lives that only I can, and that thought rests deeply inside of me; I am so beyond thankful for the reminder.

Each person I spent time with impacted me, replacing, repairing, encouraging, and building my heart up in a way that I have not experienced in a while. I mean, it is not as though others have not encouraged or supported and built me up immensely, but I think God just knew who and when I would hear it best… So, He used this change of place and pace to infuse my heart again.

Physically life is no different, there are no changes, no real updates, and nothing too exciting to report on. However, deep inside my heart, I finally feel stable again, no longer like I am on the verge of disaster trying desperately to hold and put the pieces back together.

As I drove back, I marveled at how much God used these people in such a short time, many in ways they will never understand to begin repairing me with hope and love.

I am overflowing with thankfulness.

Single v. Married…

I have been watching an interesting debate discussion lately about the benefits of being Single or being Married.. Or getting married young.. Or staying single longer.. whatever.

It has felt recently as though there are two teams and they are at odds with each other. I think it is a little odd that we seem to be “fighting” or trying to convince others that our current state is the best or correct one.

Here are a few of the articles in the discussion so you can follow along with why I am writing this post:
23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23
The Results of a Closed-Minded 23 Year Old
I Got Married at 23. What Are the Rest of You Waiting For?
Marriage Isn’t For You
Why I Did I Get Married so Young

(There are more, and you possibly have read different ones)

The “conversation” as a whole really just interests me quite a bit. Obviously some of the blog posts are in direct response to one another, whereas others seem to be oblivious to the conversation at large, and are merely adding their thoughts to the world.

I also think it’s interesting that 23 is the number that keeps getting brought up.

Let me start out by saying, I am not loving on or hating on one side of this conversation or the other, merely responding to the conversation as a whole. I think it would be helpful to highlight some things.

Some background on myself so you can be more aware of where I am coming from:
I am a turning 29 years old, still single, never married or engaged woman.
I am not at all against marriage, and not only did I think early on in my life that I would be married by this point in life, I still would like to get married to the right man someday… But, I am content single, actually love aspects of it, and I am willing to wait for the right man because I have seen the destruction of divorce in too many people (of all ages).
I also have done quite a bit of reading of research on Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) because I find people and culture fascinating (especially my own).

Now that my vantage point is known, here is my personal perspective and thoughts on the Single v. Married conversation:

Not everyone who is single loves it.
Not everyone who is married loves it.

Not everyone who is single thinks they have made a better choice than getting married.
Not everyone who is married thinks they have made a better choice than to stay single.

Being single has some major pros and cons.
Being married has some major pros and cons.

Singleness can be hard.
Marriage can be hard.

Selfishness is pervasive among single people.
Selfishness is pervasive among married people.

Some people “do” single better than being married.
Some people “do” married better than being single.

In some cases staying single was the wise choice.
In some cases getting married was the wise choice.

Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of single people I know.
Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of married people I know.

Life is an adventure when you are single.
Life is an adventure when you are married.

Staying single is better/healthier than getting divorced.
Getting married is better/healthier than sleeping with someone you’re not married to.

Remaining single “late” into your adult life does not automatically mean you are wiser than a young married couple.
Getting married young does not automatically mean you are unwise or pathetic.

Being single “late” into your adult life does not mean you are against those married young (or older).
Being married young (or older) does not mean you are against those still single “late” into adult life.

Being single does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so to “get your life together”.
Being married does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so because you’ve “gotten you life together”.

Etc..etc.. See?

For me, there are days that singleness is just straight up hard, and other times I love the advantages of flying solo. But, from my plethora of friends (married at all ages), there are days that they remind me that being married is just hard too or they love every little bit of the married life…

From where I sit, both have the same qualities, it just depends on the person or couple.

My perspective is that regardless of if you are married or single, you should have goals.. Good goals ones, fun ones, hard ones, solid ones, frivolous ones, and seemingly impossible ones, I think that is how you help yourself grow, and a way to help measure success as a single or married person/couple.

So, please, let’s stop justifying why one is better than the other as if our choice was the right one for everyone… or the perfect decision forever.

If you are single and loving it or wish to be married, that is awesome and good things can and will happen during this season.
If you are married and loving it or wish you had waited, good things can and will happen during this stage of life.

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…. 

Turned 28 in January…

Had lots of different hair colors:

PurplePurple2PinkBlueRed

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.

SleepyVormund

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:
IMG_3961 Barcelona sunrise

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

IMG_0895 IMG_0077 IMG_0301 IMG_0372 IMG_0516 IMG_0546 IMG_0597 IMG_0745 Beach Time LupitaWedding

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.

I Love…

A few of the things I was reminded of this weekend..

I love laughing and joking around with people.. Seriously, it is one of my favorite things, especially when it is purely for fun with no hidden cut you down agenda.

I LOVE hugs.. I am pretty sure I say this every fourth blog.. But, I do. They just make my day better.. And, I got a whole heck of a lot of hugs this weekend.. Seriously.. LOTS!

I love weddings (although I admittedly am a little weddinged out).

I love dancing.. With music everyone can hear… or just the music in my head. I love moving around and being ridiculous and just laughing through my whacked out sense of rhythm.

I really love getting to know new people. I enjoy learning about them, what their thoughts are, what makes them tick, and what they are passionate about.

I love having my hair done and did.. haha I just feel better 🙂

I love the water.. (and the sun) even if that means driving a jetski for hours on end to avoid anyone else getting on and potentially getting a ticket 😉

I love my friends.. all of them…. old, new, older, younger.. they are just wonderful people… and somehow I always feel so special and distinctly cared about when I am around my friends.

I love when people use my full name instead of just my first, not many people do it, but the ones that do always are full of such life, energy, and humor.. And usually they say my name a ridiculous number of times for effect…

I love watching people’s reactions to my ridiculousness.. and my total and utter lack of self-consciousness… The array of facial expressions I see while I am the one who is actually making a fool of myself in front of people provides endless amounts of amusement for me…

I love when people feel close enough to me to clue me into their first impressions of me… like this weekend when I was informed the first impression someone had of me about a year in a half ago was that I was very shy and incredibly reserved… Which turned into quite the amusing conversation about the first time we met and why I did not talk much… and how different his perspective of me is now.

I love sleep…. but never seem to get very much of it!

I love how blessed I am… Even when life is rough.. I am so blessed.. even when I don’t deserve it, I am so blessed… and weekends like this past one just remind me of how amazing God is, and how much He knows exactly what I need when..