Sunday, December 29, 2013

finding time

I used to have all this time. Time to read. Time to play guitar. Time to write.  Then I started working 50plus hours a week. So my time got divided into two lists: "Things I have to do" and "things I want to do".
Unfortunately, sometimes even things I should do, like spend time with Jesus, work out, walk the dog, get pushed out the way in an effort to balance the have to list and my so called sanity. Never mind the fact that those things will bring me the best rest and peace! 
Anyway, I'm trying to make some changes. My friends and I started a book club, which was one of those "maybe someday" things, until we decided, "never mind someday, let's do it now!" So now we are reading The Happiness Project. I'm not too far in, but I love the author's approach. She admits that she IS happy. She likes her life, her family, her job. But there are those things on that to do list that are keeping her from being HAPPIER. Those things that she would do someday when she has time. The things she would do if she could, if resources allowed it. One day she had an epiphany and realized that time is wasting away and she doesn't want to WAIT to do those things anymore. Thus begins her happiness project. 

Well, friends, I have a list like that too. A "what I'd really love to do if I had time" list. A "what I would do if resources weren't an option" list. A "what I would do if I wasn't afraid to try" list. And now, I'm going to share that list with you. 

What I would do weekly if I had more time:
- Practice guitar: I'd love to get good enough to be able to play for my kids at work or even for my preschoolers at BridgePointe! I've taken classes in college and struggled over YouTube videos but have not been able to stick with it to really get good. 

- Read often: this is something I've already been working on. I used to read all the time! Now I am trying to figure out when I can squeeze this in, because I think reading is a very important part of stimulating creativity, learning, and growth. Right now it's mainly nap time(when I'm not lesson planning) and bed time(when I'm not falling asleep). 

- Write/blog: I used to blog all the time. College, man. Why did I think I was so busy? I love expressing myself through writing and sharing my ideas with others. Then I started working full time plus. Yikes. This blog is sad. I'm trying to decide on a schedule I can work on to blog once a week or so. 

- Get good at knitting: I don't really count being able to knit/purl in a straight line being good at knitting. My problem is I can't commit enough time to actually finish a complicated project. I want to get good enough to be able to spit out headbands and hats within 2 months of starting. You'd think that wouldn't be too much to ask of myself. 

- Work out every day. Sigh. 

What I would do if resources (and time) weren't an option:
- Go to school full time and finish my MEd within a year and a half. I pushed past the fear of failure, denial and monetary security by applying to graduate school last summer. Much to my surprise, I got in. I'm slowly working toward a degree while working 50-60 hours a week, so I'm pretty sure the next 33 credits are going to take me 33 years to earn. But, right now, this is my only option. It's still good to dream, right? 

- Start an arts initiative program in the lower income areas of Rhode Island. I would love to have a program that allows kids to come and learn about art, music, and drama on a weekly basis. Art is being cut out of schools but research shows that it is a huge part of a child's development and helps with the other areas of a child's education.

- Start an orphan care/adoption ministry in Rhode Island. This is something I've wanted to do for a while but have been waiting for time and resources. I'd love to start an orphan care ministry that raises awareness and money for the orphans in Rhode Island, and provides resources for Christian families wanting to adopt. God is very specific about his desire for us to care for orphans. It's not a suggestion, it's a command. There are different ways to do this, and I want families in Rhode Island to have the knowledge and resources to get involved. 

What I would do if I wasn't afraid to try: 

- Sing: This is something I don't talk about a lot, but I used to sing all the time. I had four years of private training in high school and sang in both choirs and bands, as well as on my own. But then I got to college and just stopped. I've wanted to get involved with the music team at every single church I've attended since I was out of college, but I haven't. And it's not because I'm afraid to sing. Much to people's surprise, stage fright is not one of my fears. I've been singing and speaking in front of people since I was 5. It's more the fear that I'm not good enough or that I won't be needed or wanted. And then there is this idea that if I tell someone I can and want to sing, I will look prideful. I'm slowly learning that it's ok to be good at things. God gave us all unique strengths and weaknesses and we should use those strengths for His glory. How can I use this passion I've always had to point to Him? This is something I'm working through. 

- Open an online store. Well, if you didn't notice already, I've officially started this. I actually began the process in June. I secured a store name, set up a Facebook page, and designed business cards. But then I stopped. Because of fear. Fear that no one would want to buy anything that is mine. That my work isn't good enough to sell. That I would spend money on start up costs and then lose that money with a failed attempt. Just like my fear of applying to grad school, I had to talk myself into just TRYING. If it's something I want to do, forget the fears and just go for it! And if it fails,  OH WELL. Move on to the next dream. But if I never try, I will always be wondering "What if..." And that stinks. So over the holiday break, I decided I wasn't going to let fear keep me from trying new things and reaching my goals. Thus, I'm spending all my extra time working on Paper Waves Designs, and loving almost every minute of it. 

So now I need to make goals for this year. By writing out these lists, I can see what I want to spend my time doing, or what I NEED to spend my time doing. So how am I going to get there? What will 2014 bring? I am still figuring out my new year goals, but I will post them when I do. 

What are your goals for this year? Are there any ideas or plans you've been afraid to try? Maybe it's time! 


Brickley says hi. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

joy and peace part 3: when anxiety controls you

It's definitely taken me much longer to continue this series than I planned. We traveled to Yellowstone with my family, and then came back and got ready for a new year with Sojourn. I also applied to, got accepted into, and started the MEd program in Early Childhood Education at Rhode Island College. If that seems sudden, that's because it was. I decided I had goals I wanted to reach and dreams I wanted to chase, and that they weren't going to chase themselves while I complain about being too busy or too poor or too insecure to go after them myself.

With that said, here is part three of my current series. I've decided to go straight to my battle with anxiety, and I hope it can bring comfort to someone out there.

I guess you could say I've always been a somewhat anxious person. I remember lying awake at night, absolutely terrified that a tornado was going to come in the middle of the night and kill us all. I would try to sleep under the covers, thinking that the blanket would save me from any falling trees or flying shrapnel, but then have to come back out for air because I seriously can't breath under the covers! Can anyone? I just don't get it. 

My parents taught me a song, that is actually a Psalm put to music, that I would sing over and over again in my head when I was scared. In fact, I still sing it to this day. 

"When I am afraid, I will trust in You." (Psalm 56:3)

As I grew up, I had fears, but nothing that got in the way of me living my life.  I was afraid of flying, but would fly anyway. I was afraid of elevators, but would ride anyway. 

There is a difference between simple fear and anxiety. There is a difference between worry and an anxiety disorder. I used to get so angry at people who would tell me "Well, Jesus says not to worry, so you are sinning when you have anxiety attacks."  I really believe that an anxiety disorder is something you can't understand unless you've experienced it. And everyone experiences them differently. I can only tell you my version. 

My junior year of college, I started feeling the need to call my dad every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I didn't think anything of it at first, but then I would call him and then realize I had nothing to say because I had already said it all earlier. So then, I would refrain from calling. I would hold myself back, and that's when the attacks would start. I would get these overwhelming ideas that if I didn't call my dad right then, he was going to die. If I didn't talk to him that day, I would never talk to him again. Sometimes I would panic and think that I needed to go home right away because something was going to happen and I wasn't going to be close enough to home to get there in time. 

I had no reason to think these things. They were completely out of nowhere. I would tell myself that it was God telling me that something was wrong. That he was telling me to go home right away because something terrible was going to happen and I needed to be there.

Once I got on medication, the anxiety attacks were fewer, but still happened. After a year or so, they switched from being about others to being about me. I was convinced that if I did something... Drove to Colorado on a ski trip, flew to Missouri to visit Nick, even drove on the highway to visit a friend... That I would die. Obviously it's difficult to carry through with something if you are convinced you're going to die. 

I remember searching for validation at first... someone to tell me that I wasn't crazy, and that my thoughts weren't irrational. That's the hardest part of an anxiety disorder, I think... The feeling and realization that no one else gets what you are thinking. Sure, people were understanding and sympathetic and helpful. But they weren't in my head, hearing my thoughts. During the "ski trip in Colorado" debacle, I couldn't even pack because I really thought I was never coming back. The morning I was supposed to leave, I asked my parents if they thought I should go. I thought that surely if I wasn't supposed to go, God had told one of them, too! But they both said I should go. I was horrified! And then enlightened. They don't think this is a dangerous decision? They see nothing wrong with me driving to Colorado? I realized that I was the only one with that specific battle in my head. I was the only one who thought I was going to die! 
So I went... I cried for 6 hours through Texas(poor Nick), but I went. And sometimes, that's all you can do. Push past the fear, take action, and cry.

So here's the thing. I'd love to say that my anxiety has disappeared and that I live a life full of happy healthy thoughts all day and night. But alas, it is not the case.  It's definitely transformed, but it is still there. I am obviously not against medication, but at this point, I do not think it is the right decision for me. Here are some ways I am learning to find peace every day:

- Scripture: sometimes I just need reminders that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. 

"I am leaving you with a gift-- peace of mind and heart. 
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. 
So don't be troubled or afraid." ((John 14:27))

- Communication: It's REALLY hard to communicate my thoughts when they feel so irrational. I'd rather just cry and freeze than actually say "I'm scared to get in the car because I think we will die." Because really, it does sound ridiculous.  But I'm learning that I need to actually communicate my thoughts with Nick. This not only helps him know what to say and do, but also helps me process what I am feeling.

- Guard my heart and mind: I used to be able to watch anything on tv and in movies. I wasn't a huge fan of horror, but I enjoyed suspense, action, war, etc. Now, I have to make the choice not to watch shows based on how they make me feel. I used to love watching crimes shows like CSI. Now, those images of the murders or kidnappings or rapes get seared in my brain and can be triggered during an anxiety attack. Events like car accidents and plane crashes haunt me when I'm driving on the highway at night or taking off on a plane. I went to see WWZ the other day, thinking, "Zombies aren't real, so I'll be fine." Little did I know that there is a huge plane crash in the middle of the movie. It's those realistic incidents that cause me to have anxiety. 

Ultimately, I am striving to trust God with my life. He is in control, I am not. He can heal this disease, I cannot. I'm grateful to serve a God who is Peace, and I am still learning to let it go to Him instead of hanging onto it for dear life. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

joy and peace, part 2: cry for help

"There’s no shame saying that your heart and head are broken because there’s a Doctor in the house. It’s the wisest and the bravest who cry for help when lost.
There’s no stigma in saying you’re sick because there’s a wounded Healer who uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and medicine to make miracles.
There’s no guilt in mental illness because depression is a kind of cancer that attacks the mind. You don’t shame cancer, you treat cancer. You don’t treat those with hurting insides as less than. You get them the most treatment."

It took a month or so for me to realize I was depressed. It was my junior year of college. I was living with my best friends, involved in an amazing organization at Baylor, and having the time of my life. But when I got back from Christmas break, I was automatically homesick. 
Now, for those who didn't know me growing up, this was weird. I had never been homesick. At camp every summer, I was all like, "peace out, yall." I cried on the way back home every year.  I was a little sad moving into college my freshman year... I cried that first night in the dorm, thinking about my baby brother growing up without me... but I adjusted pretty well overall. 

So there I was, twenty years old, and all I could do was cry because all I wanted to do was go home. Baylor is two hours away from Plano, so I COULD have gone home... But I didn't, because I knew if I did, I wouldn't come back.  I didn't understand. I loved my life. Why was I so sad to be living it?

Ironically, I was studying depression in one of my Psych classes at the time. It never clicked. Sure, I considered it... but dismissed it quickly because I wasn't suicidal. That's where my anxiety kicked in. I was terrified I was going to die. I just wanted to go home. I found myself wishing I would get in a car accident... not bad enough to die, just bad enough to have to go home. 

I started sleeping more... Not enough for  me to notice until the therapist pointed it out, but a lot more than staying up until one or two and waking up at seven.  I couldn't study anymore.  Reading my textbooks was almost impossible. I never missed class, though, because failure was not an option. That was the semester I had 8am classes every day. So I had to get up and go to class every single morning. And I did. But at night, I would cry.

My breaking point came when I was driving home from work one day. I often cried on my way to and from work... It was some of the only times I was alone. But this time, I couldn't stop. I walked into my apartment and closed the door to my room. I watched the newest episode of LOST, hoping to stop during that hour. I didn't.  So I watched Friends. And still didn't stop. At this point I couldn't even remember why I was crying. After crying nonstop for 2 hours, I finally texted my mom, "I want to come home." She replied with, "Why, what's wrong?" and I said, "I can't stop crying and I just want to come home." So, she called me, told me she was driving down to Baylor right then, and that we were going to see some doctors the next day. My best friends came over and sat with me while we watched Friends until she got there. They didn't say much... They didn't have to.

Over the next couple of days, I saw psychologists and a psychiatrist. I got put on medication, failed a Greek test, and cried hysterically in my painfully awkward Greek professor's office. The medication was making me physically and emotionally sick instead of making me better. So, I got put on another medication. During this time my bedroom was also infested with bedbugs and I received the the biggest news of rejection that I had ever experienced. It was a rough week. 

It's hard to take medication to make yourself better, when the illness you're experiencing makes you want to stay sick. I didn't want to get better, I wanted to go home. I wouldn't have to go home if I was better. But I took it, and endured the strange side effects of hyperactivity, constant hunger, and random twitches. And my depression got better...

That initial step of telling someone else that something's wrong... it's hard. When everyone else around you seems so good... when you can honestly tell yourself you have nothing to be sad about... The words "There's something wrong" sound so absurd coming out of your mouth. You can't explain why. It seems so irrational that it doesn't make sense to tell anyone else. 

But man, can it be freeing just to get those words out. Just to have someone else take a portion of the burden and say, "hey, I got this... I'm not going to tell you how to fix your life. I'm not going to try to fix your problems. But I'm on this journey with you. You aren't alone, even when you feel like you're watching everyone else live their lives without you." 

God didn't plan for us to go through life alone.  He's there, yes... He's the ultimate burden carrier and I can rejoice and rest in Him.  But I'm also grateful that He placed people on this earth, in my life, who are willing to journey along side me, even when the path isn't pretty. 

((Next time- depression in my life now. Coming up soon- my story of anxiety, then and now.))

Sunday, July 21, 2013

joy and peace ((part 1))

I have a story to tell. It's not one I tell many. But maybe I should. It's a story that I generally keep for my closest friends, and those who ask.  But maybe it's time for more to know. Not so they can feel sorry for me. Not so they can give me advice. But so that if just one person can relate... just one person can read my story and say, "I feel that way too"... they can know that they aren't alone... it's not the end of the world... there is hope.

So, here it goes. The beginning of a series of stories about my struggle to find peace and joy. 

You may be aware that four years ago, I started taking medication for depression and anxiety.  I'm not ashamed of it... I'll tell anyone who asks.  It's just hard to give people an honest answer to "How's it going?" Because most people really just want to hear, "Good..."  Most of us don't even bother to listen for the answer because we just assume that "good" is what it's going to be.

My family, best friends, and college community all knew about this during the time. But then I moved... to a place where no one knew me. How do you introduce yourself? "Hi, I'm Haley, and I'm afraid to drive on the highway. I have to give myself a pep talk just to drive to the grocery store." Or, "Hi, I'm Haley, and if my husband doesn't text me back after five minutes, I automatically think he's been killed or injured." No... none of that.

It's pretty common not to tell people when you're struggling with depression or anxiety... It's this sort of secret that people carry, not knowing that so many of the people around them carry the same one. I know for me, I didn't like telling people because I didn't like the things they would say to me. These sicknesses... They really can only be related to by people who have actually endured them. A person who has never experienced the overwhelming hopelessness of clinical depression cannot begin to imagine what the other person is going through. A person who has never endured an irrational anxiety attack doesn't understand how it feels to be trapped inside one. When people who didn't understand would try to help me, I would just get angry. These people meant well. They loved me and wanted me to feel better. But their comments like, "Just trust Jesus," "Go work out, that will help you feel better," and "Maybe you should pray more" were NOT comforting. Do you think I'm NOT trusting Jesus? Do you think that I DON'T cry out every single day begging Him to heal my brain? Just to help me get out of bed... study for a test... decide on something to eat?

BUT. When someone says, "I know what you're going through... I know it sucks... I know you feel hopeless and you don't know why..." That's when you find comfort. They don't offer unwanted advice. They just sit and distract and love and pray.

So my thing is... If we aren't willing to share our stories, how can others be comforted from them? How can I offer hope to a person lost in depression when they have no idea I've ever even struggled with it?

I can't pretend that I don't struggle with these things anymore. I can't say that I know all the answers and that after some medication and rest, I was happy for life. But I can write down my story. And maybe someone, even just one person, will be able to know that they don't struggle alone.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

things i find myself saying on any given day.

Please let go of her hair.
Where are your shoes?
Why did you take your pants off?
Did you poop?
Put your dress down, please.
Please don't lick me.
Please don't stick your hands up my skirt.
Please stop squeezing my boobs.
Please don't eat dirt.
Are you poopy?
Please don't pee on the floor.
Please don't pee on me.
Use your words, please.
Calm your body.
I can't understand your tears.
Please stop whining.
Please stop whining.
Please stop whining.
I can't hear you when you're whining.
Hands to your own body.
We don't throw sand.
We don't throw toys.
We don't throw books.
Please, for the love of all that is good, go to sleep.
I'm not really sure what you think you're doing...
Why is there play-doh in the carpet?
How did you get play-doh in your shoes?
Please don't touch me with pasta hands.
Come here please. Come here please. COME HEEEERREEE PLEEEASE.
We don't shoot at people.
We don't throw rocks at people.
We don't bite people. 
We don't hit people with hammers.
I will help you.
Please stop tackling your friends.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Sometimes I feel the urge to write about things I've never really told anyone before... About burdens in my heart that I have trouble expressing vocally. They pick at me until I HAVE to write them down, let them flow out of my brain through my finger tips. It's amazing how after just typing everything up, I can let go of something that was bothering me. But I'm also not just writing for me. I hope others can find encouragement in what I write, too.

Growing up, I had a lot of different people investing in my life, encouraging me to pursue my passions and develop my talents. Since before I can remember, I was told things like, "You are a leader." "You are confident." "People are watching you." "Use your talents to bring others to
God." I spent so much of my middle and high school years in front of people, starting and leading studies, leading worship, singing and speaking on stage.  I loved initiating change and encouraging growth.  I was confident in who I was as I left for college, and had a crowd of people who had always supported me.

But then, I got to college. And I had other people in my life tell me other things. People I trusted a lot. Tell me that I wasn't a leader. That I was a follower and no one was watching me. That I didn't love Jesus enough because if I did, I would be more outgoing and building relationships would come naturally to me. That I belonged in the crowd, not on the stage. So I started to try to be more extroverted in order to "show" my love of Jesus more. But I failed, and then just felt awful about myself. I stopped leading others, afraid that people did not want to follow me. I fought my natural desire to be "in front" and told myself that it was selfish and sinful to want to lead. I even stopped singing. Not just in front of people, but there was a time where I really just stopped singing at all. This conflict was created in my mind: Who am I? For four years I struggled with my identity. My inward passions and dreams conflicting with who I was told I should be.

So when I graduated and moved to a place where no one knew me, I was stuck. "Who am I? Who is the Haley that these people will get to know?" Is it the Haley that my family and childhood friends and mentors know? Or is it the college Haley who really didn't know who she was? Should I speak up and offer leadership in areas where it is needed? Or should I let others tell me how and where to serve?  I can honestly say that I am still working on it. I haven't really figured out "who" I am. But daily, I'm praying that God reveals who He made me to be.

Here is what I have been doing to "rediscover" myself:

- Focus on the Word: God is so clear about who we are in Christ.  Recently, I have been reminding myself of these facts:
1. I have been giving the Spirit, which means I am able to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
2. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but one of power! 
3. I am also living with a peace that surpasses understanding.
4. I am a disciple maker.
5. I am a justice seeker and a mercy lover.
For a long list of who we are in Christ, check out this Joyce Meyer blog post
I may not know exactly who I am supposed to be, but I can be confident in who the Bible says I am.

- Feed your passions: God has given me a very passionate soul. Once I get going about something I love or despise, I can't stop. I'm sure it's exhausting for my peacemaker husband, but he graciously reminds me that he loves it because he always knows where I stand on an issue. With that said, I have been trying to rekindle the passions I had so many years before, and develop the ones that have popped up since then. Instead of just wishing I could do something I love, actually do it! Find a way to share these passions with others! I've been scared to try for so long, afraid no one wants to hear what I have to say or that they don't think I am capable of pulling some of these dreams off. But that doesn't matter anymore. If these things matter to me, I shouldn't let what others have told me in the past keep me from pursuing my dreams.
Some of these include:
1. Adoption, foster care, and orphan care. I can't wait to adopt my own children and hope to eventually develop an orphan care ministry to partner with churches here in New England. 
2. Education and care for American children who live in poverty. 
3. Incorporating art into education for young children, especially for those who don't get to do art at school. It's so important! 
4. Tex Mex. 
5. One passion that I really need to develop is for modern day slavery. It's one that I've sort of skirted around, afraid to really commit, because that would actually mean sacrifice. But God calls for justice and its time for me to take a stand. I cannot claim to love Jesus and others if I so easily look over this issue.

- Read. There was a while after we moved here where I stopped reading. I was learning for the first time to balance a full time job, Sojourn stuff, church stuff, relationship building stuff, wife stuff. Life hasn't gotten any less busy, but I'm trying to prioritize reading over some other things, because I feel so alive when I read! There is so much to learn, and my passions can be fed and developed by just spending some time reading each day. Right now, I am finishing up The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover and starting Multiply by Francis Chan. 

- Pinpoint my struggles and work on them
I know there are things I need to work on. Let's be honest, a lot of things...
1. I struggle with talking to people older than 10. So I'm making conscious efforts to build relationships with adults. ((Even though sometimes I'd rather be talking TO their kids than ABOUT their kids.))
2. Also, I've never had a lot of practice or guidance with making disciples. I was discipled in high school, but  went to college and was never really shown how to disciple others. It's always been a weakness, because again, that would mean initiating conversation with an adult. But Jesus said to make disciples. So I'm trying. Even now, as I meet with two Sojourn girls weekly, I am sometimes scared they don't want to follow me or hear what I have to say. That they just said yes to meeting with me because they felt guilty.  But you know what? I pray for wisdom and make myself speak up anyway. And they seem eager to listen. I'm so excited to see what God is doing in their lives! If I hadn't made the leap and jumped over my insecurities and the voices in my head saying, "you aren't a leader, no one will want to follow you," I would have never initiated anything with them, and wouldn't be growing along side them now.
So, if you're reading this, and also feel like you got lost somewhere along the way to where you are now, take heart, and know that I understand. You are loved, and created for a purpose. Even if you haven't found it yet. 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
((Ephesians 3:17-19

Monday, June 10, 2013


"If you choose to obey Jesus's call to follow, what might it cost you?" 
[Francis Chan, Multiply]

A year and a half ago, Nick and I had a decision to make. We could pursue jobs near our families and home towns, or we could move to New England. We could seek security in what we "knew" would provide, or we could seek security in God's promise. It honestly wasn't a hard decision at the time. We both felt that we would be blatantly disobeying God if we said no to Rhode Island and continued to search for an engineering job in the Midwest. So we moved. We chose the ministry planting life instead of the engineering life. We chose to fundraise Nick's salary instead of a job where his salary was provided. 

A year and a half later, we are still on that path, but the decision has not remained easy. I need those daily reminders that God is my security, and that living the "American Dream" is not necessarily Christ-centered reality. 

Recently, I was watching a show based in Waco about house hunting. I couldn't believe how low their budget was and how much they could get for that "low" number. I cried, yall. Laid on my couch in my lovely home overlooking the bay and cried. Nick just patted my back while I had a nice little pity party with myself, wishing that we still lived in a place where we could buy the dream house within a reasonable budget.

Sadly, it wasn't the first time. Over the past few months, as my friends have been buying houses, I find myself comparing my situation to theirs, thinking, "If only Nick had an engineering job, we could buy a house." Or, "If only we didn't live in a place where the cost of living involved also selling our arms and legs too, we could find an awesome fixer-upper with a yard for a dog." I'm so excited for my friends, but comparison really is the thief of joy, isn't it?

In college, I had the *perfect* dream.  I wanted to move Flower Mound after graduation, live in a pretty neighborhood with a huge yard, attend The Village Church and send my kids to a private Christian school. Of course, moving somewhere new always sounded exciting, but did not seem as realistic. Safe and familiar sounds better than unknown and unsure, right?  I think that's why I am where I am now. God knows that if he gives me the worldly security I sometimes desire, I'll just set up camp and never leave. I could be very happy living in that little FloMo bubble... But how could I find true joy if I'm ignoring God's very obvious calling in my life? He doesn't want me to live in Flower Mound. Sure, He wants some people to live there, but not me. He wants me in Providence. He doesn't want Nick to be an engineer right now. There are plenty of engineers. But you know what there aren't plenty of? People working daily to show college students in Rhode Island how much God loves them. I'm grateful for a husband who is confident in where God has placed him. And while I hope that He wants us to own a house some day, I have to be ok with the fact that that day is not today. 

My challenge, for myself and for you, is that as we pursue God's plan for us, that we would not ignore His requests in order to cling to worldly security. Because really, nothing is secure if it's not in Him. 

"The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him." 
[Lamentations 3:24]

Sunday, May 26, 2013

neighborly love

Once upon a time, I didn't have a full time job. My husband wasn't planting a ministry. We didn't have work and babysitting and home group and discipleship groups and Sojourn groups. With that said, it was much easier to keep a blog when I actually had time to update it.

But I love writing. And not just about our adventures here in New England. I love writing about what's bothering me, what's encouraging me, and what I've been learning.

One thing I've really been challenged by recently is loving my neighbors. I realize that Jesus did not limit "neighbors" to those living next door, but it also didn't exlude them! How can I love the people of Providence if I don't even know the people who live above and beside me? SO I have a new goal this summer: Learn the names of my neighbors, and share something with them. That something could be cookies, veggies from our garden, or an invite to a cookout. Honestly, this completely terrifies me. I don't like introducing myself to people and really am fine with not engaging in "small talk" with those I don't know. But, I want those around me to feel loved, so I am praying for boldness to build relationships. If they don't want to be friends, that's fine, but maybe they need someone they can rely on close by!

It can't be THAT hard to just say hi, right?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

be here, be now

Everyone knows that music has this magical power of taking you back...

A song comes on the radio and I'm suddenly 17 again, both excited and petrified to graduate from high school, leave my friends and family, and start a new life. 

Or riding in the back of the car at age 10, late into the night on a family vacation, wondering what the darkness is covering outside my window.

Or I'm 19, laying on the floor of a stinky dining hall, holding back tears and praying for strength to make it just one more day. Hot and aching and overwhelmed and content all at the same time. 

Sitting in the passenger seat driving on back country roads with the windows down on a hot summer night, hearing the words, "I like you" for the first time, for the last time.

Walking down the aisle, overjoyed and scared and happy and sad at the idea of closing the door to my childhood and opening one to the rest of my life.

I've been feeling bombarded by memories lately... good memories for the most part. It's hard when you leave everything you've ever known, for a place you've never known. Memories give a sense of stability and comfort. But I'm learning to be careful... I can get so involved in my memories, that I forget that even if I was still living in Plano... Waco... Tyler... it wouldn't be the same. My friends are spread out across the country. It wouldn't be the same high school experience or the same college life because I'm not in high school or college anymore.

I'm the kid who never wanted to grow up. I cried when I quit gymnastics. And after my last softball game. And when I graduated from high school. And when I graduated from college. And at the end of every summer at camp. And when I moved to Missouri. And to Rhode Island. And every time I've flown back to Providence from Texas. Not just a little "boo hoo" for a few minutes... solid, nasty crying for hours and muggy depression for days after. The idea of my family and friends going on in life without me makes me really sad! The idea that I have no idea when I will see them again terrifies me.

I'm a hoarder of memories... My anxiety kicks in and I don't want to let go of anything that may connect me to a person I miss.  Letters, text messages, emails, pictures, videos... I wish I could compile it all into a book for every person who has touched my life. I want to write down every memory I've ever had. Maybe some day I will.

Yet, I know I am here in Rhode Island for a purpose, and I can rest in God's promise that He has a plan for me. While there is nothing wrong with remembering, I can't let those memories paint my life now in a negative light. I could lay in bed all night wishing I was back at Baylor, sipping on a Summer Sparkler, reading Harry Potter. The truth is, I'm 24 years old and finished with that part of my journey. And I love my life now! I live in the freakin Ocean State, y'all.  I have a great husband, a cozy home, and lovely friends. So here's to remembering the past but loving the present. If you need me, I'll be at the beach.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Blizzard of 2013

Within a few months, I got to experience two storms that were very new to me. First, Hurricane Sandy, and two weeks ago, a blizzard.
Now, for all I knew, a blizzard just involved a lot of snow. However, there are some very specific qualifications to make a winter storm a "blizzard." Watching the news for hours and hours during the storm made me very aware of this fact. And, for those of you who don't know, I will share them with you!

A blizzard is a snow storm that contains both:
1. sustained winds of at least 35 mph
2. visibility of 1/4 of a mile or less
FOR at least 3 straight hours.

Needless to say, we got hit with both, for quite a long time, which meant we were in a blizzard. It's kind of weird waiting for a storm like that to hit, knowing that you will be stuck where you are, unable to leave. We had plenty of food, and never lost power, which was such a huge blessing. We did have lots of friends who lost power, but National Grid and others did an awesome job working to restore power within a couple of days.

((The beginning of the storm on Friday night))

During the storm on Friday, Nick and I watched the news, cooked, read, and Skyped with friends and family. Nick actually went out and played Ultimate with some Brown students before it got really bad, which was quite brave of him. I had no desire to leave our cozy little home.  After a couple of hours of snow, it started lightening and thundering, which was just weird! You're used to snowfall being very peaceful and calming, but this was not the case for this storm.

We woke up on Saturday to two feet of snow, and it was still snowing! Every surface, horizontal and vertical, was covered with snow. The trees were just incredible looking. Nick helped our landlord/neighbor shovel and snow blow the driveway and sidewalk, and then he grabbed his snowboard and I grabbed the sled and we headed for the park next to our house for some fun in the snow! We were some of the first people over there so we got to play in fresh powder that went up past our knees. Nick enjoyed snowboarding down some stairs and off a ramp over a fence, which was rather terrifying but he enjoyed it. No injuries to report!

((The snow from our drive, in piles taller than us))

((Nick enjoying the snow with his snowboard))

 ((Nope, not kneeling...)

There was a driving ban in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for close to 24 hours, but there were plenty of people near our house whipping out their cross country skis and snow shoes. We were very blessed to have plowed roads in our neighborhoods, however there were a lot of streets that didn't get plowed for days. I saw that some people were having to work together to shovel their streets, while others pitched in to pay for a plowing service just so they would be able to leave their house when the ban was lifted.

((Our COVERED porch))

((Our cars are in there somewhere))

((Our street))

((Driving bans make busy streets look eery))

((Our driveway partly shoveled))

((Abandoned Wickenden Street))

((Saturday night sunset, SOOC))

((Looks photoshopped, but SOOC))

Needless to say, we enjoyed our blizzard weekend of 2013. It was a little scary but mostly a lot of fun. We had a snowstorm the next weekend, and even more snow this weekend, so... I'm done with snow for this year and am ready for spring/SUMMER! Can't wait to open those windows and enjoy the beach.