Changing Slowly…

Lately I have been taking time to reflect on where I am internally compared to where I was almost five months ago.

Throughout each year, there are markers that serve as points to pause, reflect and compare to a year ago… Yet, this time, rather than reflecting on a year ago, I find myself processing how much has happened inside of me since July of this year. I went into Uganda struggling very much internally, but not even really in a place to recognize it because of how hard and hectic May and June had been in every regard.

Before we left, I had begun asking God to reveal the lies I had been believing, and to restore hope where I had lost it… Then I closed that box of my heart, and got on a plane and launched myself to another continent.

Twice on the flight over I was asked how my heart was doing because people who know me, are aware of how much I struggle and have to actively work to link my head and heart well. I have had a habit of locking my heart up and setting it aside, especially if I am uncertain or overwhelmed by what I’m feeling.

Perfectly timed, around that same time before we left for Uganda, I also began asking God to help me navigate my head and heart well together. I had started to realize that Grace and Truth as well as Head and Heart are the balance of the Holy Spirit. God is perfectly both sides in unison, and in order to be more like Him, and more sensitive to His guidance, I too needed to start learning how to balance these things rather than setting one aside.

I was not prepared for the answer God was going to give me, nor the longevity of what it would mean to get the answers to these prayers.

I actually think if I had known how long and hard this all would be, I would have peaced out and quit right from the beginning. I am fairly confident I  would have shut my heart down and opted out of the process to protect my heart had I known the pain and struggle involved. Yet, one of the many graces in this whole journey has actually been my lack of knowing God’s timing. – I struggle with it all the time (as in allllll the time), but not knowing has also created a reliance on Him that I simply did not have before. Not knowing God’s timing has been so good too because I was unaware of the depths of intensity it would take to fix and heal certain areas of my heart, and just what it would mean to restore the trust and hope in God that I had lost. – Back in July it was as though my prayer for help balancing my head and heart caused God to lock my heart in the open position; it has been exhausting and overwhelming almost every single day since.

Even still, almost five months later, I regularly feel overwhelmed by how I am feeling, the ways I am changing, and how far I still have to grow. About once a week I have a late night meltdown over how exhausted and weary I feel internally due to actively processing every day. I am given the option to choose to grow and learn more about who I am supposed to be in Christ, and to face the ways in which I lack in trust/faith/fruit of the spirit (throw a dart at some character trait and I’m probably working on that too)… I assure you, it is Not. Easy. Nor. Fun.

But, God does not force me, He allows me the freedom to choose to face these things or quit… However, because of who God has made me, I will not give up, and I will choose to daily engage in this process of growth and change.

My journal of prayers is getting record use (literally). The current one (each one is 40 sheets/80 pages) is my 4th one in just about four months…

But so that there is no patting me on the back with congratulations: My prayer journal just makes me look like a crazy person.

Seriously, going back and reading the day-to-day prayers, they just swing widely back and forth, it’s embarrassing, but also they are incredibly intimate and real. These prayers reflect my struggle, my anxiety, my fears, my heart wide open and effort that it all takes, but also the ever so slow changes that are taking place, and just about every emotion possible finds its way into my prayers.

These journals are very how I am choosing to press closer to God and processing all of my tension, thoughts, and emotions.. But, in all honesty, they just really make me look like a wackadoodle. I wish I could share about how sweet the prayers are, but no. The sheer level of back and forth my prayers exhibit is ridiculous; the overwhelming emotions, the joy, thankfulness, the over analyzing things, the confusion and uncertainty, the copied scripture trying to help me grasp onto solid truth amidst the chaos of feelings, the waffling ebb and flow with how I feel vs what my head knows… EXHAUSTING.

Yet, I am also currently reading through the book of Psalms: I feel like my journal looks a bit like David’s prayers and hymns.

Some are so sweet, loving, encouraging, full of thanksgiving, while others are all raging and demanding that God do something (usually an overreaction to an emotion or situation). Some are declarations of praise, faith, love, and hope, while others are full of anger, sorrow, and despair. – This could literally be the description of my prayer journals AND the book of Psalms… So, I guess that is comforting?

At the end of every journal (about every six weeks currently), I go back and review it. I re-read things I have prayed for, asked God about, passages of scripture I copied, and then compare them to my calendar and remember what was going on that day. Every few weeks I am amazed at all that the Lord has done, how I feel about those days after the fact or in light of things that happened a few days later. I marvel and thank God again for answers to prayers, and for His continued patience, grace, and tenderness as I try to press in, learn, and grow.

But, let’s be honest: It. Is. So. Hard.

Several months ago I felt like God told me three things:
Hold Steadfast.
Persevere.
Be Obedient.

Then about a month ago I felt like God added Faith, Hope, Love.

As I review my journals, I am amazed at what it looks like to hold steadfast, persevere, and be obedient, and how these three things play out (and don’t). Previously I never would have been able to accurately identify what it truly looks like to hold steadfast and persevere, because I struggle each day with them. – Before all of this, I would have felt as though the level of my struggle daily would clearly indicate I was not in fact holding steadfast; yet as I go back over my prayer journals, I realize in the long haul it absolutely does. Holding steadfast and persevering doesn’t mean a lack of experiencing emotions or struggle, it means turning to God with every single little bit of it, and remaining there with Him.

I have learned that holding steadfast and persevering throughout scripture leads to faith, hope and love… but also proven character. It is in the journey, the long haul, the process that we refine, create, and prove who we are at our foundational core. But, let’s not dismiss how much proving character takes time, and is incredibly difficult and oh so awkward of an imperfect process.

In the last couple of months I have begun to see the transformation, and just how much I am changed forever because of the time pressing into the Holy Spirit and expressing all the things to God. Choosing to return back to Him with every little thing has changed the way in which I handle joy, hope, failures or despair on a daily basis. Because of the difficulty of modifying who I am on the inside, there has been an increase in desire to spend dedicated time every day with God; I am not entirely sure I can name any period of time in my entire life that I felt this way for months on end… I am so incredibly grateful (and hope it continues, recognizing seasons of life and all).

I long for connection with God, I need time to tell Him how I am, ask for what I want, and process everything that I’m struggling with. Every day there is a nuance to the areas He is work on growing in me, and whatever is heavy on my heart or mulling around in my head that day also gets some much-needed time laid before Him.

Now months into this whole process, I realized this week, on one particularly intense and emotional day full of stress, frustration, anxiety etc.. I still had the clarity and presence of mind to actively choose my responses. I was not swept away in any explosion of emotion and even the intensity with which I experienced my feelings was still there just like before, but despite it all, I found myself able to actively chose grace and patience. – Well that’s new… and not easy.

I have started to realize over the last couple of weeks that the force with which I feel and experience my emotions has not changed at all. God has not lessened who I am or the passion and intensity that I process, feel or express things; instead, He has changed my ability to see perspective, have understanding, and respond in grace and love. It is as though the spring that feeds into my heart-well is different, and therefore what is coming out is also distinctively changed, but that I am who I have always been in many ways, just a better version of that person.

A couple small excerpts from one of my prayers at the end of a particularly difficult day recently:
Thank you for being with me and giving me the extra measure of grace, patience, and presence of mind to choose my responses…
Help me to follow your leading better tomorrow. Give me more wisdom and understanding, and bless me with a greater capacity to love well…
Forgive me for the things I said and did today that did not line up with you. Forgive me for the things I missed…
Show me how to trust you more and be confident in your faithfulness more…

It has been an interesting experience reading through my prayers over the last few months, I would never have chosen this ahead of time had I known how hard it would be. I also have realized that I would never have been able to predict beforehand the ways in which I would respond (good or bad) to how God would grow and make me new. Yet, through it all, I am starting to recognize the small ways He has shown up and proven Himself trustworthy and faithful. But, above all, recognizing this gaining familiarity with Him as I spend more time communicating with Him. His presence and “voice” feel different to me now than they did in July (or previous to that).

My daily struggle to hold steadfast, persevere, and be obedient is still going strong.
Learning how to love well is not easy.
Finding and growing my faith and hope feels ambiguous, but slowly I am realizing that it is creating a foundation I did not have previously.
Making decisions against my own insecurities, and choosing to share my heart rather than shut it down and set it aside is still incredibly hard.

I am not the same person I was a few months ago.
My heart has changed. I have changed.

It has been a slow sometimes arduous process, and it certainly is nowhere near complete, but I am also incredibly grateful… and exhausted.

I am learning that the process and journey is full of challenges and pain (there are good and joyful times too, but let’s be honest, we don’t need people to identify with our good times as much), but it is worth it to become more of who God intends for you to be.

Choose to face it all head on, experience every emotion, and sift through them with the creator of your heart; it will change you forever and it will be so good.

Rabbit Trails Jacked up on RedBull…

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Last week, I met up with a woman who through a series of events, unknowingly became my (quite possibly forever) mentor three years ago. You see, in 2012 we were supposed to meet so she could be my coach for a short timeframe. Then, a huge storm hit DC, and we were left trying to connect when basically all of the DC area had no power. I was convinced she would reschedule, that’s the only thing that made sense. Instead she was determined, and we worked for an extra 45 minutes simply trying to locate a place we could connect that had power.

I knew right then, if she would work that hard through the obnoxiousness that was our situation, I could trust her.

We sat at a random Korean bakery and she saw me. No matter what answer I gave, she kept peeling back the layers of me and my situation. With each layer, she gently stood there waiting for me to stop struggling against the exposure and allow her in to help me. She understood. She had been there, she related to my struggles. Every. Single. One.

Then I moved away two months later. The chaos of life for a couple of years kept both of us at the edge of having a basic knowledge of what was happening in the other’s lives.

Well, as only God can do, He orchestrated everything for me to return not long ago, which then had me run into her at a weekend event. All of a sudden we were back, she saw me, she understood me.. and despite her insane chaotic life, she stood there and talked to me insisting we make time to get together.

Yet, because both of our lives are crazy, it took a couple of months to finally connect. And, once again, when we did, she saw me. Regardless of my answer, she sees where I have been, she understands my journey, struggles, strengths, and with the wisdom that only someone who has weathered the same storms, she knows the direction I am going.

Our conversations are something similar to rabbit trails jacked up on RedBull… We ebb and flow through conversations and back again at an alarming rate, yet she never loses the anchor or the heart of what is going on and how everything ties together.

This amazing woman is who I want to be.. she loves fiercely, flies from one thing to the next so she can love as many people as possible, while taking the time to boldly direct people to Jesus and share the real thoughts and struggles that most people hide away… And then laughs off the craziness that is her schedule.

I cannot help but look at her and be amazed at how Jesus has created her to be, with the spirit that I desire to unleash in my own life. I am so thankful and amazed that she has stepped into my life to move me beyond my yesterday, towards a better version of myself tomorrow.

Trees…

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Over the last year and a half I have become slightly obsessed with trees.

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Especially cool looking trees.IMG_1243

But, my obsession is not just because I all of a sudden noticed trees, or had an encounter with one, but because God used trees… Or specifically one tree to show me His plan for my life.

It is a little odd now to think about, how much I used what I came to decide and call a prophecy given to me at such a low point in my life to cling to hope… You can read more about what was said to me here.

You see, there were some seriously long periods of time that felt like I had died or that I had nothing good, helpful, or beneficial to offer.. or as my sister-in-law puts it, I had become like a “little sad grey piece of paper”. Which is about as accurate a description as they come.

But, even during those times of struggle, I knew God would use what was happening to me, and even all of my failings throughout, and He would take it and He would grow it all in the ways that only He can.

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Then slowly, over the course of about six months He began to reawaken me. It was as though He knew it had to be slowly in order for me to survive and not undo or break the ways He had grown me. I mean, it makes perfect sense, He is the one who set up how the world grows, the laws behind the health that takes place in a tree after a severe pruning. He did all of that… It only makes sense that He would then apply those same rules to the way in which He began the re-growth phase of our journey. In the process of cutting away, and then in the slow-growing back, my already deep and wide foundational root system grew and strengthened. I learned in new, painful, refreshing, and restorative ways how God provides for me… Especially when I do not deserve a thing.

Then, ever so slowly I began to realize that the grey had dissipated, and maybe, just maybe beauty would return to my vision. Maybe I would see and feel deeply once more. Possibly, I would once again revel in joy in ways that I had grown to expect throughout my life. Laughter would return easily and sit in my heart for longer. Life, beautiful overflowing life would allow me to dance my way through it once more.

Then, out of the blue, I was gifted the picture below. What a special little I love you drawing from God delivered from a new friend. She said she was praying for me, and she could not get away from a tree, but specifically the roots, and that God is regrowing me. She had no idea of my past, and certainly did not know anything about my tree.

And just like that, God reminds me that He sees me, and then tells me exactly what we are doing this year.

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I discovered a while ago that I tend to get tattoos when God changes my life. Not in regards to physically changes or when He moves me or anything similar to that… But, when He changes who I am, the deep down makeup, and especially when it is so dramatic that it causes me to be totally changed… Those are the things that spur me towards a tattoo. Almost like a forever mark on the outside showing what He has done on the inside. I equate it to the Old Testament temples and name changes whenever God encountered His people.

I have been slowly piecing together what my tree tattoo will look like, who will do it, where it will go, and all of the meaningful elements that will tell a story within it. I am so excited to get it (sometime soon) and share it with you all.

I have been forever changed, and while I am not done regrowing, I have begun to feel the beautiful new fruit that is coming.

(As an FYI, and to be totally honest I did not take two of the pictures in this post)

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.

Decisions to Be Made…

IMG_0624My heart has been anxious, scattered, and felt unnerved lately… And, unfortunately, this may be a little bit of a jumbled post as I try to iron out some of the scattered thoughts…

Last night while I slept, it felt as though instead of sleeping and dreaming, I wrestled with questions and struggled to find my footing again. I am not sure if God and I were wrestling, or if I was just stressing…

For the first time in a long time, I find myself struggling through a plethora of insecurities… Am I good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, loving enough, caring enough?.. Basically my insecurities have boiled down to, “Am I enough?” Sometimes it feels as though my insecurities come in waves, disappearing entirely for a while, and then crashing down on me once again. I love the seasons when they are gone because I feel uninhibited and free to dance in who I am.

I am in this weird place where I have total peace and no doubts about moving forward with my consulting work… I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I mean, it is definitely hard work, and requiring a lot of hours from me, but I love watching it unfold, and I truly enjoy the consulting itself.. but mostly, I love the people who I get to help.

It seems interesting and quite frustrating to finally feel like I have direction in one area of my life, and feel as though satan is attacking (or maybe merely just whispering to) my doubts and insecurities.

The best way I can describe it is, my inner layers are growing weary; that I desire stability and certainty, but instead what I find is doubt and uncertainty… almost across the board too, which is just aggravating. When I stop and survey all the aspects of things in my life, all of the decisions to be made, the stressors and of course all the uncertainties, I find my heart just being tired… No overwhelming emotion, just fatigue. I know that while I have a huge support system, I am ultimately alone in making decisions, and just feel exhausted at my center for at having to make them all.

I also think some of the weariness is due to trying to work towards healing wounds and insecurities, and realizing that I am probably more fragile than I care to admit or show…

True to my nature though, I tend towards being an all or nothing type person. Now that I have financial and professional direction, I want to work as hard as I can to get the other areas of my life to fall together and heading in the same direction as well.

I mean, I am certain that Jesus is my provider, and I have no doubt that He is also my sustainer. But, I would like to also feel secure and safe for a little while. There is a huge difference between knowing and feeling.

I really am thankful and amazed at all of the ways God has taken care of me, over the last year especially. Words really do not accurately describe the emotions that I feel when I think of all of the people who have stood in the gap… Because, regardless of your view of me, I really am not worthy of the amount of love and support that I have received.

On the other hand, I have felt for years, and even more so over the last year that no matter how many people love and support me, I am ultimately responsible for taking care of myself. My sense of responsibility for taking care of myself does not come from a prideful place, and certainly not from the viewpoint of not needing help, and I have no desire to do this because of an “I am woman hear me roar” attitude. However, my feeling of responsibility is more from the practical sense that, if I do not do it, there is no one else walking this journey with me, so it must be me.

I think now is a good time to pause and say that this “by myself” perspective is not at all directed at my lack of need for Christ or the Holy Spirit’s guidance.. Nor is it directed at feeling as though I do not need help.. cause I without doubt do need help. But, I am certain that my need does not inherently mean it is anyone else’s obligation to step in and help.

There are days that I feel like maybe I seek out and rely on others too much because I definitely seek out other people to talk things over with (sometimes ad nauseam) to help me figure out what and how to do all of this well. I am so, so thankful for the friendship, patience, and support of my sounding boards. But, when I climb into bed at night thinking over my day, I mull over and pray for the things that I did not do so well, the choices that need to be made the following day, and the situations that I am uncertain about, and I am reminded that this journey is between God and I.

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” – Psalm 55:22

Excitement and Nervousness…

It has been 51 weeks since I have had full-time job. For the last year, I have put almost all of my effort towards finding a new job and moving forward. In the course of the last year I have dabbled in my consulting work, and really just used it to help cover the basic financial needs that I had.

Throughout the course of job-hunting, I have been struggling with frustration, timing, and desperately trying to hold onto any bits of hope I could find. And then, recently I have started to realize that maybe God is just telling me “no”… But, then what if he was saying “wait” instead.. And then, concern and frustrating would grow deeper because I could not get a clear grasp of the situation or direction.

Within the last few weeks, three more job possibilities fell through, and at the same time I had several people (separately) start encouraging me to really think about and pursue my consulting work… After all, I was already building a client list that includes people in several states, another country, and a vast array of industries… Technically, I was already “succeeding” even though I had not stopped to look at it in that way.

Initially, I dismissed the notion of working to survive off of my consulting work. After all, the level of income I would need means my number of clients would be absolutely ridiculous.. and, I was fairly confident I would not be able to pull it off without killing myself.

Yet, after a couple of weeks of someone mentioning it almost daily, I began to really consider the possibility, but found myself truly struggling with fear of failing. –Which was a unique experience since fear is not often a factor that inhibits my decision-making.

I was plagued with hundreds of “what ifs” and overwhelmed with the possibility of trying and failing, then frustrated all over again that those two things were impacting me to such a degree that I was refusing to move.

So, several weeks later, dozens of conversations with a whole lot of different people, thinking, praying, and really processing what would need to happen in order for me to survive off of my consulting work.. All of which I am fairly confident drove my friends and family crazy (thanks for the patience), I have finally settled with some excitement and trepidation on a decision:

I am going to pursue consulting as a full-time/main source of income.

I may upon occasion still apply to full-time jobs that strike me as particularly exciting or interesting, however, I am no longer going to mainly focus on applying for jobs. If God opens a door for me to walk through that seems right, then I will, but until then, consulting work seems to be the only door open.

Which of course leaves the question, what am I consulting on?

Marketing,
Communications,
Advertising,
Social and Digital Media,
Content and Copy Writing,
Branding,
Strategic Planning,
Business Development,
Leadership Training,
Change Management,
Among a few other closely related items…

I mean after all, I already have a large portion of the up front work done:
www.backinconsulting.com
Facebook

I have been slowly gaining clients through freelance sites online, but I have been amazed by the word of mouth clients that have come along unexpectedly. I am also excited that I have found an interesting niche in consulting for smaller churches.

I really do love and enjoy both the field of marketing and when I get to do consulting work, I like getting to know new people and researching their industries. However, I think what I enjoy the most is using something that is relatively “useless” in the grand scheme of things, and getting to impact people’s lives in a significant and meaningful to them way.

Along the way, some of my biggest hold ups have been that it was not in my plan to switch to consulting work as my main career focus… My plan was to do consulting work if I ever got married and needed to follow my husband, and/or needed to stay at home with kids… But, as a single woman, I never really considered it to be a real possibility… Yet here I am not only considering it, but working towards it diligently every day. Yikes!

A small part of me almost expects a full-time job to come around now that I have shifted my focus, but I am building my clientele slowly enough that I would be able to have both a full-time job and maintain my clients. Plus, I am trusting that God is using this change in direction to restore, rebuild me, and shape my future entirely differently than I had anticipated and planned for.

It is all both exciting and makes me really nervous.

Please pray for me and that I am able to build my clients to a decent level, but also, that I can move forward without fear motivating me one way or another.

Also, I would appreciate you keeping me in mind as you hear of people/companies/churches that may need help!

I think it is finally time to start regrowing.

IMG_1699“My Tree”, you can read more about the story behind this tree here.

 

Growing and Grooming

I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying recently about a slew of things and I think I am finally to the point of having it clear enough in my head to share.

Lately I have dealt with a lot of confusion, frustration and anger and struggles to wade through the last two years. There have definitely been days where I felt guilt for my anger, but other days it has seemed as though it was the sole emotion pushing me to continue to pray so I grasped onto it as hard as I could. I have been really actively trying to process through what it looks like to follow what I believe God lead me to, and then what to do with it when it went so terrible wrong… as in the entirely opposite direction.

What do I do with the fact that I felt God had pushed me towards a specific place and job, and that it was finally my calling made exactly perfectly for me; only for it to fall apart within a year?.. And then, why would he prevent me from getting another job and placing me in a situation of losing most everything for another year (maybe more at this rate)?

Let me pause for a second and say, if you know someone going through an intensely painful period of life, there is very little that can be said to encourage someone throughout a season such as this. In the last two years, the most encouraging thing came from the people who did not offer cute or well-meaning sayings, but instead chose to acknowledge how difficult and frustrating life can be, and then just offered love and support. The people who could quote well placed in context scripture to offer encouragement were like sunshine in the depths of night.

However, above anything else, it has been the people who have just been there. The people who listened, prayed, cried, laughed, and sat in silence with me as I just struggled and continue to work through the emotions every day while not understanding the purpose or goal.

I do not have an aha answer yet as to the reason behind why things have turned out the way they have.. nor why things continue to be difficult. However, I do have a list of things I have learned that have ruminated in my head long enough to share now (or again)…

  • I am learning and having compassion literally grown in me. – I am not a naturally compassionate person, every ounce of it has been cultivated over time within my heart.
  • I have spent my whole life viewing my value as coming from the fact that I am capable. – While I still struggle with this idea daily, I now recognize that my value is intrinsic, not because I am capable of handling my problems AND yours. Every day I struggle with working to view myself as valuable outside of my ability to handle anything thrown at me.
  • I think the most overwhelming thing that I have realized throughout everything is that, every single day (no exaggeration), I have gotten an e-mail, phone call, FaceTimed, text, FB message, hug, coffee, snail mail card etc.. from friends and family checking in to say they love me, are praying for me, thinking of me and wanting to know how I’m doing. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. from a whole slew of people, not even just a small group. It more than almost anything else overwhelms me with emotions to see how many people love me so very deeply.
  • There are a handful of people who have listened to me verbally struggle and be angry throughout this process and they have done nothing but show grace, love, compassion, and understanding; it has made the most significant impact on my heart. I can only imagine the level of frustration they must feel over how long I have been struggling.
  • Throughout scripture you see people asking God over and over “Why?” and “How long?” – I just recently discovered this little bit of truth (thanks to Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel), and I am so thankful to realize that my feelings are not new or abnormal, but I share those feelings with so many others.
  • Recently, I have realized that the vast majority of my stress comes from tomorrow, not often today. In that realization comes the fact that we are told not to stress about tomorrow. – Having exactly what I need today is enough, stressing about tomorrow is fruitless, but it takes a serious level of active work to let go of tomorrow’s worry.
  • I have realized also how much comparison good or bad is detrimental to our hearts. Comparing someone else’s worse or horrible situation does not make me feel better or guilty about my own situation. The problem comes in that as soon as I compare bad or worse, I also compare those who have it great and better. – Both are pretty unhealthy. Obviously something can be said for gaining perspective, and sometimes looking at someone else’s situation can offer that, but more often than not it is unhealthy.
  • I have watched Dick Foth’s message Enough from NCC in DC twice now, and I keep reminding myself that God’s Grace is sufficient. Meaning that it is just right, at just the right time for me and my situation. It is not too much, it is never too little, but it covers me perfectly.
  • A few months ago I switched from thinking that God was waiting and preparing things so that there will be “something better” later, to believing that he was preventing me from moving on. – I still believe this, but a friend recently said it in a way that put my heart at rest. – God is grooming me with all of this, and God grooms people for a specific reason. It was a small statement, and may have been told to me before, but the right words at the right time that changed my perspective. This means, that it is all on purpose, yet not in a malicious or forgotten sense, but in a healthy and cultivating way. I do not know if “better” in the classic sense is what is coming, but on purpose and healthy IS better when coming from God.
  • I think I often try to deny the fact that I am such an extreme touch person that during periods when I do not receive any form of touch (for days or weeks), that it causes a pretty severe negative impact on my mental state. – I think I like to pretend that I am or should be strong enough for it not to matter whether I am touched… Until I am once again regularly hugged or touched in general, and it feels as though my dry and dying soul is a desert that is suddenly watered and refreshed.

Every day I struggle through more feelings and thoughts, and try to aim towards getting healthy again. I desire more than anything to feel peace once more, and while I am not there yet, I can look back and realize that I am much closer to it than I was months ago. I can see the pieces of the puzzle fitting together, although I have no clue what the picture is supposed to be at this point.

While I struggle daily with a variety of issues and stressors, the biggest and maybe most profound thing that my heart has settled back into is that God has not forgotten me, I am loved, cherished, and this is not for naught.