2019 – Redefine & Reshape

IMG_0775

A few weeks ago I met with a few of my closest friends, and we talked about 2018, the themes, struggles, process, and how it all worked together… Or totally threw us for a loop and turned out totally differently than we expected. Then, we talked about 2019. – This has become one of my favorite yearly traditions: Get together and do dinner with some of my closest friends and process and pray through the coming year (each year is a different mixture of friends because of schedules usually).

Because of the struggle of the second half of 2018, (which you can read about a little of it here) I was really unclear and unsure of 2019. If I’m being honest, I was still hurt, I was still angry at God, and a load of people. – How do you vision cast for a year to come with a heart full of hurt and anger? You don’t. But, my friends talked about where they saw me grow through 2018, and what they felt like 2019 was going to be about and bring for me. I wrote it all down feeling nothing at all.

Instead, I revisited all that they had said numerous times over the last few weeks. And, as only God can do, I also had several conversations with people who unknowingly echoed what my friends had told me.

For 2019, I have two words (a DRAMATIC reduction from the 8 for 2018!), Redefine & Reshape.
Redefine – To define again or define differently. To reexamine with the view to change. To reformulate a concept or thought.
Synonyms – Specify, Delineate, Revisit, Reinvent, Reconsider.
Antonyms – Defend, Uphold, Maintain, Assert.

Reshape – To shape something differently or shape it again. To give a new form or orientation.
Synonyms – Influence, Determine, Develop, Ripen, Mature.
Antonyms – Stagnate, Remain, Stay, Continue.

The two words are obviously remarkably similar, but also with just the slightest fraction of a difference between them.

As I have continued to process these two words, I feel very hands off and maybe a little apathetic about them. – Like these things will happen, and they will take place within my heart and mind but instead of me doing anything, it is because God will do it. My feeling is as though 2019 isn’t about me doing the changing or forcing anything, but that God will restore what has been broken because of others and because of me. Very much a shoulder shrug acceptance of what is to come with no dramatic thoughts or feelings about it one way or another… I am hoping that a year from now, I will be totally overwhelmed with all that God has done between now and then.

It seems as though I have a hint now of the avenue with which God is going to be using to Redefine and Reshape me in 2019…

For the last several months, I have been searching for a job… (Side note: Job hunting is THE. WORST. Seriously, it’s slow, frustrating, exhausting, mind-numbing, and to top it all off, it is really discouraging.) I have however been in a slow interview process that was also long, but also encouraging because they were excited about who I am and what I have to offer. However, I am now at a place financially of needing to make decisions and move forward; my timeline and theirs do not match so the door has closed. Throughout the interview process, I have been delaying building up my two business’s because I didn’t want to have either company grow beyond what I could handle with full time work.

But, in the interim, I have been paying the bills with BuilderChicks – the company I co-own with one of my best friends. This friend had her last day at her full-time job a couple weeks ago, so that she could shift to doing BuilderChicks and her personal training and fitness company Aiming 2b Fit. She has been planning this transition for a long time, well before any of my job changes took place.

At this point, with what is the closing door of the other potential job, and the timing of my friend shifting her career goals, I am shifting my focus too. I have been praying through the timing of everything, and that if things did not fall into place by certain dates that I would begin having dreams for BuilderChicks and BackIn Consulting (my other business). – Well, this week I started having fun and creative ideas that excite me.

So, I am officially switching gears and pursuing my two self-owned companies!

2019 should be an interesting year at least! I would appreciate all of the love, support, and prayers as this shift is likely to be challenging and maybe overwhelming.

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.

 

What Will You Do If…

That edge of darkness takes on the form of all sorts of thoughts, comments, and whispers.

Have you ever known in your core that everything will turn out ok, just like it has every other time? But, no matter what you know to be true, and no matter how often you have experienced things playing out exactly perfectly, there is a thought at the edge of darkness muttering, “But, what will you do if….”

The edge of darkness is a little disconcerting because things take on a little bit more of a menacing demeanor, everything looks uninviting, and simply cannot be seen well.

Currently, I find myself in an interesting place. I know that my God, my sweet savior will in fact take care of everything just like He has every single other time. And yet, every time I feel the stress and emotions of the edge of darkness creeping in and tickling with doubtful thoughts, I find myself having to purposefully not allow movement towards it in the slightest. Perpetually forcing the uncertainty out of my head, and instead replacing it with what I entirely know to be True.

What will I do if I do not have a job or place to move by October 1? – I don’t know, but that doesn’t change the situation or fact that God is taking care of every bit of my situation.

What will I do if the money runs out? – I don’t know, but that doesn’t change the situation or fact that God isn’t scrambling.

Where will I go if September 30th comes, and I don’t know where to move? – I don’t know, but that doesn’t change the situation or fact that God knows the next move.

What will I do?… Exactly what I have been doing. Applying for jobs (oh good grief have I been applying for jobs), slowly pack my apartment in preparation of moving on the 30th (or sooner), enjoying the time I have here right now with my friends and family, and pray.

Pray.

Pray.

Pray.

How do I feel about everything? – Depends on the moment. However, there is a distinct difference between my emotions and my soul and spirit; which is at peace. My emotions are fickle and fleeting, so I try not to pay them too much attention.

But, no matter what I feel, what I know to be true is that in a few months this will be a memory and another piece of my adventurous puzzle of a life. In a short time, I will be stressing about something else entirely. Life will continue, I will get the chance to meet new amazing people, and continue to build relationships with the most wonderful people who are already in my life. But, above and through every bit of it, I will be thanking God for dancing me through my inability to see what is going on.

Life isn’t easy, and no matter my emotions, I really do love how my story is getting written.

New Horizons…

They say hindsight is 20/20, and while I totally understand that saying, I actually think hindsight gives you courage and bolsters your faith. I can easily look back on the last year or ten of my life and see how God has been an intimate part of each step. Each move, every dramatic life change, I can see how God was there being a part of it. And then, all I can think is how just interesting life is to me.

A year ago, I was packing up my life and preparing to move half way across the country again to start a new job while leaving my friends, church, and life that I loved behind. To say that it was an emotional and difficult move would be a gross understatement. What is also interesting is as I look back on the last year, I am not gonna lie, it was one of the most difficult, crappy, rewarding, fun-filled, grief-stricken, difficult, sleepless, slobbery, stress-filled, love-filled, hard-working year I have ever had. I had a serious love hate relationship with my job and life here.

There were things that had God’s words and movement written all over them, and other areas where I felt like silence was the only thing able to be heard. I also can say that I learned… a lot. Not always easy or pleasant things, but learning was always at the center of my year.

Throughout the year, I loved my job, I loved being close to family, I loved the friends I made, I loved what I did, I loved the challenges, and yet, at the exact same time, I found myself perpetually discouraged and struggling. A much larger majority of my efforts were spent to overcome at best silly things that had no real eternal basis (which were the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard). Yet, because we live in a fallen and broken world, my only option was to face them… And, thankfully, I feel like despite it all, I saw the best and worst of people this last year, and yet God protected my heart, and I am finding myself completely without bitterness or regret.

That. Is. Awesome.

What I also find myself with is looking for a new job, a new place to live, and a sneaking suspicion that this one will be just as dramatic as the last four times I have made a job change/move.

I do not have any particular inclinations currently as to what or where I will be headed, but I do know that I am at peace with it, and not worried about what is to come… Maybe dreading the packing/moving process a bit.. but otherwise entirely excited.

It Is Finished…

August of 2010 I was driving back after a very long week “vacation” that was actually a fun and tiring week of taking a bunch of “my” kids to the beach. On the way back the driver, who was also one of my co-workers and I were talking about school. He was in school, and I was gladly not. But, in the exact moment he asked if I would ever go back to school, I said something along the lines of no, but knew that God instantly was telling me yes, I was in fact going to go back.

Not long later someone else asked if I would ever consider going back to school. I said no, I had no reason to go back, I mean, after all, I had been working as a Director in my field for the last three years, what would a degree do to help that situation? But, in that moment I knew God told me I was going back.

Throughout the course of the next week or so God and I had the conversation several times, each time I said I had no need for school, and each time, He told me I was going to go back.

I cried.

I began looking into schools and programs, but firmly decided that it was likely to not work out because I was absolutely not going to take the GRE, and I had no interest in getting a masters degree in the same area I had an undergrad degree in… I needed something that sparked my interest if I was truly going to pull this off.

So, I searched… and searched.. and searched..

All the degrees looked the same, boring.

I finally decided I was probably going to settle on an MBA, because it seemed to fit with my communications degree.. But, I was bored at the idea of getting an MBA, my predominant thought over and over as I continued my search:

“everyone who has a communications degree gets an MBA, I don’t want to be like everyone else…”

Somehow, I stumbled upon a duel masters degree program that combined an MBA with various other degrees, and it did not require a GRE test to get into nor did it include a dissertation.

I felt like I was cheating the system, but I also felt like two masters degrees were better than one (no matter how you look at it). So, I chose the program that combined an MS in Leadership with the MBA because it looked the most interesting. Plus, it was the two degrees that would combine with my communications degree to be the most ambiguous education that offered the widest range of job opportunities.

And then, all the financials went through and two weeks later I was starting my first class.

A week after that, exactly what God told me would happen happened, and the week of my two-year anniversary at my workplace I found out that I was going to need a new job by the two-year anniversary of when I was verbally told by a former boss that I would be given two years. So, not only was I starting a two and a half year program, I was also looking for a new job.

Yet, somehow, through it all I was completely secure because I knew that God had informed me two years prior that this would happen, and it did, so I was not at all surprised.

I applied for more than 70 jobs in less than a month, and prayed that the Lord would give me exactly one option so that I would not freak out, but have clarity on where He wanted me to go. I got one call back, one interview, and one job offer. So, I packed everything I owned once again and moved to the DC area to live with four girls I did not know in a fabulous house.

The first 10 months in DC sucked. All I did every day was go to work, go to the gym, then sit on the couch for 5+ hours doing homework. If it were not for one of my fabulous roommates I would have ate cereal for 10 straight months for dinner… The only thing I did that changed this routine was going to church on Sundays. And, man did I love that church. It was the least involved in a church I had ever been, and it was the most in love with a church and its mission I had ever been. But, the worst part was that I had no time to be involved, and that weighed pretty heavy on my heart.

Thankfully God knew what He was doing, and around month 9 He sent me a friend from where I used to live. And, while we were not super close, but merely in the same group of friends, she quickly became one of my very best friends. I would never have thought before that we would get so close, but in literally a couple short months she had secured herself as not only a trustworthy friend, but someone who I could depend on for being challenged, gaining perspective, laughter, silence, adventure, inside jokes, and someone who figured out my heart and shared it. Pretty quickly our Sunday’s consisted of church, food, movies, reading, and me doing homework.

Always homework.

After about a year in a half I realized that I actually loved DC. I loved my life, my friends, the atmosphere fit me. Except I had to get a new job, so I began looking and praying a lot for God to open doors and make it exactly clear… And, that He would not ask me to leave DC.

Three months later He opened a door wide open, and I asked Him to close it.

We spent 12 straight hours talking.. Ok, really I spent 8 hours talking.. or rather yelling, then he spent the next four hours overcoming my fear and anxiety and just gave me peace. It was singlehandedly the most intense 12 hours of my life.

And, throughout the process of all of it.. there was always more homework and another class to make it through… It was so overwhelming that I stopped counting classes and weeks in the classes, and just focused on getting things done.

I injured myself pretty badly just before I moved, which created an interesting stress on me because I absolutely had to ask those around to help me. I felt like God was telling me, “I will move you to Michigan.” So, I packed very carefully so I would not injure myself more, and I did more homework, and I cried, almost every day for a month…

Then I moved, started a new life somewhat near where I had grown up. I began working, and working, and working… And then, I would go home and do homework, and more homework, and more homework… Then for kicks and giggles I did consulting work on the side, as if I was not busy enough. And, somewhere in there I got a Great Dane puppy, and he took up pretty much the rest of my time. (How does someone with a family go back to school?!)

That was my life for seven months.

For an extrovert like myself, it was an incredibly difficult growing experience. I have no actual idea how I pulled it off, and I have no idea how I did not meltdown more than I did. I have never experienced so much alone time, and surprisingly never reached depression due to it… But, I also have never been in a position where I have spent so much of my time praying. Pretty much if I was not actively using my brain capacity for something, I was praying over something else.

All I kept thinking was, I just have to make it through these last couple classes and I will be golden. I worked and did homework like a crazy person with the perspective that I could endure it long enough to get through the last of the classes and everything else would all become easier and just sort of fall into place. I would have time for a social life, and I would be able to make a new fabulous group of friends, and I would soon have no more homework due.

The key trait that allows me to pull so much of the stuff I do off is, I work hard, and I work long in order to accomplish the task. Working long and working hard was the really the only reason I made it through the last two and a half years… That, and a lot of praying, a lot of crying, and a lot of support from family and friends.

So, today, I posted my last discussion board response, after having turned in my last paper yesterday, and I am done.

It is finished.

I am fairly uncertain and a little nervous about how God is going to use the education, traits, skills, and prayer time that have taken place over the last few years for the next few…

Should prove to be a crazy adventure for sure.