Saturday, December 13, 2014

In the Quiet

It wasn't supposed to be this way. I stand in the bathroom with my eyes closed listening to the rain that falls in sync with the tears that are falling. I miss it so much. The joy, the contentment, the quietness of having a partner by my side. This time of year has always been hard for me. Not just now in response to my most recent heartbreak. But always.

Each year I would hope with all my might that this season could change things. That for one day we could just be a family, that we could be happy. That dream never actualized, yet like a fool, I kept hoping year after year.

Now with my family broken apart what I'm missing most is having my best friend by my side. The one who would drive aimlessly but with direction around neighborhoods with houses I could never own. We would just look at the lights and I could feel the quietness of Christmas stirring in my soul. The hope, it still lingers. Year after year, I desperately hope that one year it will just feel like "it". I've had some pretty close moments. Gathered around with family and friends but something always feels missing.

This year is no different. If anything, this year is a lot harder. With my best friend gone it's hard to fathom even looking at the lights. But I still do. I still look at the twinkling lights and dream that there is a holiday out there for me, yet to come. That there is still hope, despite a very meek outlook.

I stand in the bathroom. Just stand. With my eyes close and I say to God, "It wasn't supposed to be this way." This is not my dream. My dream was so close. I felt it. Then it was gone. In a season where I don't understand for the life of me what happened, I'm at a loss for words. All I know is that this doesn't feel right. My heart shouldn't be hurting like this, but it does. My best friend wasn't supposed to become engaged to someone else, but he did. I wasn't supposed to be left to my own devices again, after all these years of hoping, praying and dreaming.

I was so close. I miss the nights. Hot chocolate in hand and gentle snow falling. Him by my side. Sometimes we drove in silence and other times we talked. But there was always a hush about it. Always something so close to perfect. Those drives were such a renewal for my heart. Such a hope for the hard times. Even if the world was falling apart, in those simple moments it was all okay.

I try to reproduce the moments on my own. Carefully. Aware that at any moment a thought could enter my mind that will derail my peace and send me into utter turmoil. It's happened so often. So I approach this season with all the caution I can muster. A season that has always been my favorite, despite being the most hurtful. How is that even possible? I guess it's a lot like seeing God in the most broken places. A lot like being hopeful despite the grim circumstances. A lot like saying thank you even though you don't agree.

I hope and pray that one year the pieces finally fall into place and all of these past experiences can come together to make one beautiful picture. Instead of leaving the past behind as so many are inclined to do, that I could gather it together with my present and my future and tie it in one beautiful bow. The kind of bow that needs two people to make it. One to hold it in place while the other loops it together. I pray this beautiful bow will tie all of my love, hurt, hope, expectations into one gift. The beautiful gift of life abundantly.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


"I got two hands, one beating heart and I'll be alright.."

Many of you know that I've been working on something "super secret." I'm not good at keeping things to myself - but I did it! I started a Fundraising Campaign for the Women's Resource Center of RI. I have been so blessed by this organization in the past and I wanted a chance to give back.

Hop on over to check out the Fundraiser, consider making a donation and check out the quilt I made that you could win!

As always, thank you for all of your support!

*Lyrics are Ingrid Michaelson: Girls Chase Boys

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Adoption; A Different Kind of Brave

I wish I had stopped to buy one of those fancy starbucks drinks before I sat down to write this. I know that I could use the comfort of a warm drink as I speak about this topic. It's something I haven't really talked about on here in the past. It's about adoption and being brave but it's probably not what you are expecting.

Today marks the one year anniversary since I sat in a courtroom and watched my favorite little men get adopted. One year since I was invited to join in on a celebration that also meant part of my heart was breaking.

I suppose to bring you up to speed I would really need to fill you in on my life, my story. Which is something I've done only in bits and pieces. I will only share the parts of it that pertain here, afterall this is not a Stephen King novel, it's a blog. I have one younger (biological) sister. More on that another day. When I was 22 I received the first word that would mark 2005 as the second worst year of my life. Only beaten out by this year, 2014. The text was to tell me that my mom had died. It was a shock and as anyone in shock does I worked through it and tried to be as strong as possible.

After my moms wake, that same night, I was told that my 17 year old sister was seven months pregnant. I had no idea. Needless to say that changed things more than I had originally anticipated. All in one week my life was turned upside down.

So I did what the right thing was. I got an apartment and my sister and I moved in together. When the baby was born I loved him as if he was my own. My heart just overflowed with love and adoration for such a small little man. It was great. I loved getting up and carrying him in the middle of the night when no one else would hear his cries. Because I was in school full time and working part time my schedule was kind of all over the place. But this allowed me to spend lots of mornings with him. I took him everywhere with me. We went to the mall, we went to the zoo, I took him to see santa and the easter bunny and it was auntie-time all the time. It was really sweet.

Things ended up happening and I made the decision to move out. Slowly I lost the time I used to have with my little man. Then in 2010 my sister had another little guy. Things were really hard for my sister and her boyfriend at the time and long story short is that the little guys ended up in foster care. They were still in the dads family but it was very clear that things had changed.

After about a year, it was decided that the kids cannot stay in foster care any longer and needed to be in a permanent home. There's a long story in here but I'll spare you those details. Flash forward to November 2013 as I sit in a courtroom and watch my little guys be handed over for adoption. They are still in the dads family but in my eyes it's one more degree of separation from what I used to have.

Today RI celebrates National Adoption Day. All the kids that are lined up for adoption get together before being called in to make it official and share donuts and love with their adopting families. For me it was extremely awkward. My anxiety was at an all time high. I could have burst into tears on cue but saved it for before and after the ceremony. For the sake of my little guys I put on a new dress and a smile on my face.

So this post is about adoption and being brave and you're probably wondering where I'm going with all of this. Well, for me it took a lot of courage to go to that event. To not cry in front of the family. But it was more than that, too.

For years, knowing things were getting tough, I wrestled with the thought of taking them. For so many reasons that I can't get into today, I never did make that decision. I can't explain to you how incredibly hard it was and how I struggled with it. I didn't really talk about my feelings to anyone, then or now. Probably because in my heart I feel so guilty for not just doing it. I never felt it was my calling, it never seemed like my life plan.

It still hurts me to think about that. I still feel guilty. My heart hurts knowing that my relationship with my first nephew is not what it was. There's too much distance and too much of his own life now. I never even had that chance for a relationship with my littlest. In fact, I've never even been able to take him out. I feel like a bad aunt. I feel like I should have done more and I wish that I could have.

Sometimes we make excuses for reasons why we can't do things but in this case I know that it wasn't meant for me. My little men are being taken care of so well, they are loved deeply, they go on more vacations than I do, I'm pretty sure they are VIP in Disney and they are surrounded by family that loves them. Truthfully, there is nothing I want more than them to feel that. To grow up surrounded by a loving family is something I still dream of for myself. I know that this is the best possible outcome from a really hard situation.

So what I'm saying is this. Adoption is wonderful and awesome and I praise all the people who are doing the hard thing of adopting. It is absolutely brave and courageous. It's not easy going through the process whether your child is international or local. I don't even know a smidge of how hard it is. It's not easy to deal with emotions from a child who has never known true love. It's not easy to fit someone into your home all of a sudden like that. But it's so amazing. You are such a blessing and unless you lived without an awesome family it's hard to know just how much it really means.

But it's also worth mentioning that sometimes not adopting is the brave thing. To hope and pray for the best possible outcome knowing it's out of your hands. Sometimes it's brave to say you can't do something, it's not Gods plan for you. It's brave and courageous to stand in a room of happy people and not cry because your heart is the only one breaking. To hear that the new family has decided to replace your last name with theirs but leaving dads. It's brave to hold back tears as you watch your babies sit in the judges seat and bang the gavel. It's brave to know that sometimes no matter how badly you want something that it's just not meant for you. It's honorable to speak up and say you aren't going to do it just because it seems like the right thing. But to instead let go of the ones you loved more than life itself. The ones you would have given your life for if it was needed.

In the past year I've seen my little men become stronger and smarter and happier. I know they struggle, especially my oldest nephew. Emotionally he still can't make sense out of why he can't live with his mom and it breaks our hearts. But he's doing amazing things! This summer I went to watch him run a 5k. I couldn't have been prouder. He is such a brave little man, too. I just absolutely adore him and his brother and I am thankful to God that they have been given a chance to really grow. I am beyond thankful that despite the circumstances and the outcome that they still get to be a part of my life. It may not be as much as I want or the way I want it but God was so good to keep them in my life at all. I'm so grateful.

Sometimes being brave is letting go and seeing what God will do. Trusting that everythings works together for good and knowing that it always does work out in the end. How beautiful when we can catch a glimpse of that plan unfolding. How awesome to keep watching it evolve and knowing that this is not the end. This story still has so much to be told and I can't wait to see what other good things God will do.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Speaking Out

So tonight I attended a church event and some of the things the pastor said have me feeling really off. This is a church that I have been visiting on and off for maybe 8 months now. Once a month they have a women's night. This night includes fellowship, worship, a topic of discussion, and sometimes small group discussions.

There have always been a few things that I don't wholeheartedly agree with. I always feel slightly uncomfortable at some point. I accept that. Church can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially for someone like me that considers herself an amateur in the faith. I have always pushed down the angst I feel when I am told how to worship. Come stand here, everybody raise your hands, sing. These are places I'm already addressing with the Lord in my own time. Things I'm easing into and others that I'm head first into. But don't tell me how to worship. Don't tell me that the Holy Spirit will only come upon me if I do what you say. I don't believe that for one single minute.

Moving on.

The reason for this post tonight is because they had a women's discussion tonight with a few of the leaders from the satellite campuses come up and talk. You guys, if I wasn't there with my friend I would have walked out.

It started innocently enough. The first girl to speak is a makeup artist. She was so encouraging and uplifting and then the pastor asked her "Do you think all women need to wear makeup? Or do you think there are some women who are so beautiful they don't need to wear makeup? Be truthful." The connotation of the question was loaded. I felt so bad for the girl. The pastor ended up saying women have let themselves go and they should wear makeup so they can be respected by others. She "saved" the conversation topic by saying that it would make women more approachable to speak about Christ to someone.

It continued to get better. At one point she interviewed another pastors wife where the women shared her testimony. It was an all glory to God testimony as her story came full circle and you just knew that she was speaking from her heart how she really believed God had moved in her life. Basically, she's been a stay at home mom to 4 children and is now in a place where she gets to counsel and teach children in a Christian school. The full circle is that she had been wanting so badly to go back to school and get her Masters for the longest time. She thought as a black women, it would be dignified and noble of her to go ahead and pursue higher education. The pastor chirped in that she was doing this for self and shared how she talked this woman out of pursuing a higher education a few years back. God will open doors if that's where He wants you to be was her bottom line.


So, I need makeup for others to take me seriously but not a degree?

Then pastor admittedly said that she called the other pastors wife last minute today and told her she needed to come in for the Q&A. Pastor went on to say how she should be doing this and putting this before her family. Because first is the work in ministry and then is family.

I disagree. This mom worked all day and had to come home and feed four children and a husband. Then she had to drive an hour away for something she didn't have time to prepare for. Pastor said she shouldn't be home snuggling under the blanket eating popcorn with her children. Her children need to learn that our goal in life is to minister to others. Yes, yes, I agree. Teach your children that. But not at the cost of nurturing them. There has to be a balance. I agree that we are all called to serve our church in some way but I don't think it's at all costs to our family. I don't think that we are just supposed to put down our duties in our homes for the sake of the church. If everyone did everything for the church we would all be burnt out. That is not the point.

Lastly I want to point out that pastor said all women are called to be leaders. We are all called to be leaders in our area of work, whether that is in ministry or being the lead panini maker. Well, I have to disagree again. We are not all meant to be leaders. We are meant to lead others to Christ. To point them, to show them Christ. But not necessarily by being in a place of leadership. If we are all leading, what's the point?! Who would be left to follow?! We can't all be leaders. Sometimes that's not our calling. Sometimes God does not put us in a place of leadership. I think that's humbling and more common than being a leader. Despite what pastor states.

Oh friends, this went on and on. I'm cringing just typing it out. But I had to get it out. I've never been so moved to speak out against a message I heard quite like tonight.

I believe that we are called to build each other up in Christ. Not try to dictate how all our peers should live their lives. Who is this pastor to be able to say that she knows what the Holy Spirit is saying to anyone? I just feel so defensive for these women of God who are all doing amazing things in His name in their lives every day. I felt like they were personally attacked and put on the spot. What if no one in the audience had discernment to see where the lines should be drawn? Maybe I don't have it all right either, like I said earlier, I'm an amateur in my faith and understanding. But I just don't get a good feeling from any of what was said tonight.

We don't need makeup to work for the Kingdom of God. Degree or no degree is not determinate of if we can minister to others. Yes, He will equip us with what we need.  I believe that there are women out there who speak for the Kingdom and God made them beautiful. There's no doubt that being beautiful will open doors. But so does hard work. So does compassion. So do a million other gifts. Each one different that we've been given to help us advance the Kingdom of God. For example, some women are naturally leaders. Some are good communicators, others are great with finances, and then there are some who are great with networking. Each gift we have is something we can use towards the Kingdom. Beauty is a gift but not something that will make or break us.

We shouldn't have to drop everything when the pastor calls at the last minute and says we have to come in because she says that's our purpose in life. I believe there are so many women that are in great roles of leadership. That are able to minister to others in such a wonderful way. My question is did Mother Teresa wear make up when she ministering to all those people? Can someone with a degree still minister to others? What is the end goal? Can a stay at home mom still teach her children to grow up reaching out to others with the love of Christ even when their mom never leaves their side? Can someone who works at the bottom of the totem pole still bring glory to God?

The end goal is not fashion or style as this pastor has suggested. No, I have read no where in the bible where it says women are to lead with fashion and style. In fact, I KNOW that it says in the bible not to do such things.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. -1 Peter 3:3-5

I don't have all the answers. All I know is that we are to lead others in the way of Christ. To find their own purpose in the Kingdom of God. We should support and encourage each other. But not put each other down. I have lost what respect I tried to have for this pastor. I'm sure as a person she is very nice but as someone who is supposed to be teaching and leading, she left a very sour taste in my mouth. It's no different living as a Christian. We are sometimes the only glimpse of Christ that people see. Are we going to worry about if our makeup is done or are we going to worry about loving one another in our messes? I don't know about everyone else but I'm not going to paint a picture of something I'm not. That is not reality. This is my life. Messy, wearing jeans and sneakers, hair in a pony tail, house is in disarray, car needs to be cleaned, desk is unorganized. This is me. This is my life. And I'm going to let others see Christ in the messy because that's so often when we get through. Not when our clothes are perfect and our makeup is on. It's when we stop being fake and start getting real.

Do you guys agree or am I crazy?


Sunday, November 9, 2014

If We're Honest

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide

I started reading Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs. Surprisingly, it's such an easy read but I haven't finished yet. I have found myself carefully walking through each chapter in wonder and awe that just a little faith in God can have such big impact.

A few weeks ago I came home after a few amazing fall sangrias and thought to myself, "I am an adult!" I know, I know, after 13 years it's finally sinking in! I realized I had once been fun. I did things because I thought it was cool and didn't worry about answering to anyone. If I have a story to tell, it's usually something crazy. (One day I'll tell you all how I met Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, that's a good one, too.)

But then I entered a period of life where I settled. I don't say that like it's a bad thing, it was exactly what I had needed. I so needed that time of contentment. Of quiet nights and tv shows. Simple joy and laughter. Someone to open my heart up too. I needed to feel what it felt like to be in a committed relationship. Having someone else to run plans by before just doing them. It was great. But somehow in there I let my personality collapse.

I'm a mess and so are you
We've built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do...

As I was thinking on this, I realized that I want my fun back. I want it back anyway I can. And why am I living with these rules? Where did they come from? I have been giving myself these rules, and I don't even know why. I decided that if I want to eat ice cream for breakfast, I can. If I want to go out partying all night, I can. (ew, but I really don't want to.) If I want to regain my life, I can. I am not tied down. I am single and part of this season means doing things for myself. No rules, no regulations, no one to report to and no one to worry about. Truthfully, as long as I'm paying my bills and not hurting anyone I can do whatever I'd like! What a world I live in!

So at 1 in the morning on a Saturday I texted my friend and told him my plans. Maybe I just needed to confirm my authority with someone. After all, being an adult is a new concept to me, I still ask for permission first.

My first decision as a fun adult was that I was going to go to the Francesca Battistelli concert that I wanted to go to so badly. I refer to Francesca as my Sara for Christian music. Since I gave my life to Jesus last year, it was always Francesca's songs that I would hear on K-Love and think, yes, this is what I want. Her lyrics speak to the heart of the person that I am. I just adore her and have a reserved special place in my heart for her and her music. The closest she was coming was almost 3 hours away. One friend mentioned possibly coming with me but that was weeks ago and I had forgotten that I even once considered going. So I bought a ticket. ONE ticket. To a concert almost 3 hours away. Knowing I'll have to go in Monday morning asking the boss for permission (& forgiveness) to leave early.. Guess I'm still a little responsible after all.

Bring your brokenness and I'll bring mine
Cause love can heal what hurt divides
and Mercys waiting on the other side.

But I did it. I went to the concert and you know what? It was amazing. Every single part of it. The entire time I kept thinking to myself - am I really doing this? I can't believe I'm really doing this! I'm driving to a concert, by myself, 3 hours away. Woohoo! I may have even mentioned this point a few times to some strangers, I was so shocked I did it!

Don't pretend to be something that you're not.
Living life afraid of getting caught. 
There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down
at the cross..

Of course, because I'm still in a season of hurt it was very reflective for me as well. But driving down backroads and highways I had never seen felt like I was hitting the pedal and never turning back around. I considered it actually. What it would look like if I just kept going. I wondered if anyone would come looking for me. If they would even be surprised that I was gone. Where would I go and who would I meet and what new world would I build up for myself?

Thankfully, I still have a small dose of common sense and a lot of exhaustion, so I did drive back home after the concert. But not before I became a total groupie and waited to meet Francesca herself. One day I'll have to tell you the story of how I got to take a selfie with her, when the authorities were saying it was against the rules.

All in all it was so amazing. To be able to feel like I still had it in me, the drive, literally and figuratively, to go where I want. This is the second concert in my life where I went alone and so far I'm 2-0 for meeting the band after the show. Woop! *Air-High-Fives Self* It felt great to reach outside of my comfort zone and do something I wanted to do just because I could. I chatted with people I wouldn't have if I went with someone else. Not because of who they were but just because if you don't have the need to reach out to a stranger why would you? But I needed too. After all, I had been driving for 3 hours with no one to talk to but God Himself! I met a couple of amazing girls, stepped out and started conversations with complete strangers, and got to meet Francesca and Sanctus Real!

If we're honest...

I know God allowed for this opportunity. I sang praises to Him there and back and thanked Him for His power in my life. Though I haven't felt it lately, I know that one day I will feel like myself again and that is thanks to God and not myself. I chose to step out and be brave because Annie made it look so cool. I chose to step out and be brave because I knew God would catch me if I fell. I have been learning to depend on Him for protection and safety and in that also comes sheer trust. I learned that being brave is kind of fun! Wait til you hear about what other brave thing happened that week...

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It's what we need to be.*

*Lyrics by: Francesca Battistelli ~ If We're Honest <3
Here's some awesome pictures from the show: :)
Started the day with a double rainbow... <3

This is the best animal crossing sign I've ever seen, they even had a legit one deep in the woods. Turtle Crossing!

Somewhere far away in CT this cross stood alone on top of a hill. 
John Bauer opened up the show.

Sanctus Real

Francesca :)

My 'selfie' with Francesca!

Sanctus Real

Set List! (Total Groupie Status? Er, Possibly..)
Signatures & a little painting I did!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Brace Yourself

For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.
-Luke 8:17

"Lord, if you want me to go speak to a therapist, would you please somehow confirm that to me?"

I had been driving on the highway. Thinking thoughts that no one in their "right mind" should think.

Out in the middle of nowhere, on a road no one knew I was travelling - out away from my friends and my family. Who is my family? My family is made up mostly of people who I've come to love as my own- although there is no blood or marriage that says they have to love me back.

I wonder, if my car careened off the highway into a ditch and they found me unconscious... or worse... who would they call?

An address on my registration to a place I used to live. A place my grandmother called home since 1954. A place that she lived for exactly 60 years before my uncle put her in a nursing home without her consent. A home that is now vacant. All our possessions stripped and tossed away. No phone call. A recurring theme in my 2014. Just an empty shell. With ripped out wallpaper and carpets. With no answers, no consent, no understanding.

No one in my phone with the label Mom or Dad - no one who would be frantically calling wondering where I was. Why I didn't come home.

No boyfriend or husband who is expecting a phone call to say I've arrived at my destination. No texts to say everything's okay and I'll talk to you later. Recalling that I sometimes send texts to friends and they never respond. Most days my phone doesn't ring. Just a quietness that I've had to call my own.

I realized that if something happened that there would be no one who would notice. If it happened on a Friday night, no one would raise an eyebrow until I didn't show up to work on Monday morning.

Really - is this what it has come to? Work? That's what I have. That I could potentially go 3 days unidentified.

Later that night, driving back home on that same long stretch of 495 and I get a series of text messages. I'll look when I get home, but, "Lord - about what I said earlier? Please confirm if that is Your will for me."

I get home and that's when I see the text. The one that doesn't say much but holds back the flood gates for something I never anticipated to come sweeping over me. "Please, God. Why do I feel like she's about to say something awful..."

So I ask the question that gives way to the answer I hoped would be different.

Suddenly everything I knew has changed. Feelings I've dealt with on my own and haven't shared. She had it so much worse and I never realized.

"This is too much," I think.

And then I know.

This is so much more than I can deal with. Suddenly feelings of failure sweep back over me. I tried so hard to protect her. To keep her safe. I fought for us. Day and night and I tried to make a difference. To save us from the Hell we were living in.

Yet, it wasn't enough. My heart breaks for her. For her heart. For the pain she's carried for so many years. Suddenly, it all makes sense. Everything. I see things in the way Jesus does. With nothing but a broken heart and love. But unlike Jesus, I have no idea how to handle this. I don't know how to navigate this new territory. It's not my story to tell but oh, how does it impact mine.

In one instant, I've been forever changed.

I praise Jesus that his sacrifice for us covers all our emotions. Guilt, shame, abandonment, hurt, pain. I know her pain so personally yet I can't share all the reasons why. I still have to protect her. 

And God protected me from that. I am humbled and broken over the thought. But, I wish I could somehow take away that away from her. Bear the weight of this affliction that this little girl has been carrying for 16 years.

She confesses she told one other person. My mother. My mothers response? "That happened to me, too."

How much more, God? How much more of my own story do I not know?
I'm sick to my stomach.

Family, they are supposed to protect you. Not hurt you.

My heart craves even more. Please, God. Let your will for me be a loving kind man as my husband. One who will break the chain of history that has loomed over the generations of women in my family. I wonder how much more do I not know. My grandmother has asked questions that at the time seemed so bizarre. What does it all mean? Did this happen to her too? What about my moms mother? How far back does this go?

I remember the day God spoke to me about how He's going to bless my family. When I cried over having the true kinship of love and protection.

Lately I keep thinking about the man who sternly told me at a wedding not to break my (now-ex) boyfriends heart. His words echo in my heart all the time. He may have thought he was funny, but this man who was also a pastor could have had no idea how much his words stung. No one once told my boyfriend at the time not to break my heart. No one stood at my side and said you better not hurt her. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be, though? I long for that. For a sense of worth and protection. For someone to stand up on my side.

Someone should have protected her. Someone should have protected my mother. Someone should have protected me. 

Will all the real men please stand up?

Where does it end?

I want to erase my last name. Forget ancestry-dot-com, I don't want to know anything about these men. I hope they rot in Hell for the rest of eternity. I'm sure they will. Because no one who knows Jesus could ever be so volatile. Then I remember God. I remember He chose me. He gave me my name. My name that means "beloved one" and it's so funny because I've never felt like I was anyone's beloved one. But I am God's. He chose my name and one day He will give me a new last name. Which will change the generations to come. It will break the curse of evil. That day will not be just a day of love but a day of victory as we stand over Satan and say, "Not this time."

Oh, Lord. I need that person who understands the way a heart breaks when you are so little and you don't understand. A person who has compassion and experience dealing with powers of darkness. Because I've been through a lot and I've held a lot in - swearing never to share what my eyes saw and what my ears heard when I was just a small child. I don't know what I was expecting when I asked for confirmation. Maybe a bible verse or a blog post that said, yes, go. Let it help heal you. I know I'm not prepared or experienced enough for this. Oh, I've got my own share of these same exact things- things I forbid myself to think on- places too dark to go alone. I realize, I need that person.

Lord, If I find the one to speak the door. Let this be seamless amidst all the hard. In the way that says this is Your will. That you are okay with me seeking healing outside of solely depending on You. Also, please forgive me. I tried for 32 years to handle this on my own. I just don't know where else to turn and the road ahead is dark and scary. I am okay with pretending to be brave but for once I just want to be a kid. I want to redeem a sliver of the life that was taken from me. I want to find child-like-joy and child-like-faith and child-like-awe. I want to feel protected the way a child should feel safe in their own home. Is it possible to feel that safety as an adult knowing what I know? Knowing the world is broken and cruel and messed up? I pray, let it be so.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Puttin' On the Ritz

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where fashion sits,
Puttin' on the ritz.

It's been really hard for me. This past year. It's been the absolute worst. To say that I hate this would be an understatement. To say that I saw it all coming a year ago would be truth. I'm the type of person that imagines the worst possible outcome for myself and usually I am right. Suffice it to say it's become a sort of coping mechanism. If I prepare myself in advance, I won't be as shocked when the bottom drops out. Say what you want but when you grow up in the home I did and suffered in the unimaginable ways I did, when you lose both your parents and close friends to death, when lifelong best friends turn their back on you and get married without a phone call, when you live it, then you can truly get it.

But this past year I found God. I found Him in unexpected places that I never imagined I would. It's been great and real and such a blessing amidst such a cursed time. But that doesn't stitch back together my broken heart. To say I'm dreadfully approaching this holiday season would be another understatement. The thought of it can cue the tears instantly. I'm in such a raw emotional place right now. I'm in the exact place I expected to be. I knew things weren't going to work out for me. He called me crazy, I said wait and see... I'm not crazy. I mean, I am, but not in knowing that being hurt and let down is such a place of familiarity for me.

Everyone expects I have dealt with this. I don't even know how that's possible. But I can tell that's what they are thinking and feeling even if they don't say it. I can tell when they nonchalantly ask me how I'm doing, expecting the answer 'good' and accepting 'good' as an answer. I can tell in the way that the messages have stopped and life for everyone has continued on in it's usual way. If I begin to say something about how I feel the conversation carries on without a chance for me to get a word in. It's so frustrating. I feel so isolated in this great big world. Like there's no one out there who really cares about me anymore. I know this isn't true. I know people still 'care' but really, if I don't message, call, text, email them.... Then the world is quiet.

So how in Gods name am I supposed to face this holiday season? When every night I wake up crying because of the dreams that haunt me. When I find myself joining with a family that never asked for me. When I sometimes still wonder why they even keep me around.

I can't even really vocalize it. Writing this post I have that burning sensation in my throat where I keep telling myself 'Don't. Cry. Not. This. Time. Do. NOT. Cry.' But that's all I do anymore. 

Christmas was always my favorite. Don't ask me why. I suppose it was the hope that for this one day everyone would be on their best behavior and we could push past all the pain, for a moment of family and togetherness. Every year in my house my dad ruined our Christmas. One too many drinks takes a man from Jolly to Scrooge. Actually, Scrooge is a bad example, because he went from Jolly to Violent. Tearful holidays. Crying in bed wondering why I couldn't just have a good Christmas for once. I remember the days of waiting and waiting for a tree to decorate. One year it was bought on Christmas Eve. Right off the store display. Lights and all. No planning, no excitement from our end. Just lots of threats that we weren't going to get anything because apparently we were the worst behaved children in the world. Hard to reason with an addict.

Yet I still looked forward to it every year. I'm the girl who used to listen to her Christmas CDs in July. It was the whole season. The twinkling lights. The coziness. The decorations. The music. The food... The smell of the food! I loved the time spent with my grandmother decorating her house. Holding the knot in place with my finger while she completed tying the bow. The year we decided to hang different sized ornaments at different heights with a ribbon in her bay view window... I'm looking at you, Pinterest. Decorations at grams house went from teamwork, baking cookies and listening to holiday music, to me digging out her tree and setting it up by myself. Last Christmas I just knew that it was our last. I knew life was changing. I could sense it though I wasn't sure how I knew. Again, call me crazy... But now my uncle has put her in a nursing home and won't let us take her out. When I go to see her I often find her crying. She doesn't always recognize me. I cannot have full length conversations with her because she doesn't understand what I'm saying. She is so depressed she doesn't even try to look happy anymore. She wants to go home, she can't understand why she can't go home. My uncle doesn't even visit her. When I go, the nursing home asks me to buy her new shoes and pants and each time I have to say that I don't have the means to do that. It's my uncle. He has all her money and all the authority and all the power. But they can't reach him. He's no where to be found. He's dropped her and took off and I'm just wondering how a soul can be so mean.

So how could I possibly endure this holiday season? When I don't have a constant anymore. Everything has changed and the person who will listen to me and care and try to help, he left. He's gone and I'm left by myself wondering if maybe all my problems were just too much for him. How he so easily made the choice that he wanted to marry someone else after all this time. After he asked me to give it time. To take it day by day and I'm just wishing I had the guts to go through with ending my life last year. When I sat on the bathroom floor crying with a bottle of pills in my hand. Because there's nothing that has changed for the better. There's only so much a girl can endure.

And now I am crying. Because I can't help it. This is my life and it's so depressing and I can't get out of my own way. Cheer up, have faith, trust God.... I can hear all of you already. I've tried. I've tried all of these things a million times over. Desperate. Pleading.

So now I do what everyone wants me to do. I put a smile on. I buy Christmas gifts and promise I will bless people as much as I can because that's all I can do. It won't change the way they feel about me but maybe it will change the way I feel about me. I decide I'm going to decorate this year. Instead of crying when my sister puts up the Christmas tree, I'm going to make room to put it up. I will go through the motions and put on the faces because right now my life is like a play. Where I need to get into my role and become my character. I need to impress the audience. I need to convince them that this character must certainly be real. I will take my bow and I will let the curtain close before I let anyone see me cry.

This is what I have to do. What other choice do I have? This is life. I could sit still, I could kick and scream and cry and ask God for mercy, but each day creeps along faster and faster to the dreaded holiday season. How much does this season hurt? How many things happened this time last year that I still don't understand? Happy Anniversary to heartbreaking adoptions and break ups and broken promises. Happy Anniversary to a move I still question and to a guy who showed up at my house in a tux begging me to give it time because he can't live without me. Because so much of his drive in life is because of me. And now it's Welcome to RI. Take a look around and stay forever. Merry Christmas and Happiest New Year. Hope you enjoy what used to be my life. You obviously deserve this more than I did. Congratulations on being the chosen one of God and the chosen one for him. Love that family. Cherish them. Pray for them. They are amazing and you probably don't even realize how much so. But I guess that doesn't matter anymore, does it?

Suck it up, buttercup. This is life and this is what God designed. Like it or not. Friends or no friends. Future or no future. Hope or no hope.

So how the heck will I get through this? I don't know. Just like I don't know how I've survived every day since the end of July. It's been pretty painful and it's been extremely difficult. All I can hope for is that sometimes God allows his blessings to be delayed for His glorification. I don't like to say it, because then I get angry at God for delaying in something good simply so He can get the praises. All while I seemingly suffer this season alone. It's my only hope, though. That there are blessings just waiting. Around some corner. Each day I drive into work wondering if this will be the day that I turn the corner. Yet so far this road is just a straight path into the desert of loneliness. I question God a lot, but then feel convicted just the same... Who am I to question God? "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?" Romans 9:20-21 And furthermore who am I to even cry about a pain so small in the grand picture of the world when there are Christians halfway across the world being tortured and persecuted for their faith?

I don't know. I'm sure somewhere in here is a lesson about acceptance and letting God have control. That's all fine and dandy but when I let go some days it doesn't even feel like there's anyone there catching it. I'm trying to trust that I'm where he wants me to be. For the most part I've convinced myself of that. But sometimes I just wonder how this messy, broken, barren, quiet place is really where He wants me to be. Sometimes I can't help but think how I did this to myself. How I allowed my emotions to run rampant and push away someone I loved with all my heart. Someone I would have, and probably still would, do anything for. Can love really be one sided? Has everything been a lie? If the answer is no, that it was real at one point, then I am the one who blew it. Round-Robin.

I guess all I am hoping is this year someone will recognize that the people who are hurting don't always wear it on their sleeve. You know, not the people like me who can't seem to not wear it on their sleeve. Sometimes we only brush the surface of a persons true emotions. Too busy needing to bake those holiday brownies and wrap all those gifts to stop and have a real conversation. I feel it all around me. In every interaction I've had lately. It's been rushed and shallow. 

And please, celebrate life, celebrate family, give thanks for all the wonderful blessings you have - but don't let it become boastful. Silently the internet is competing to see who can brag the loudest. Who has the best family and the most wonderful husband and the cutest kids and the photos to prove it? I see it everywhere, everyday. Hello, MCM. (Ugh, by the way). Meanwhile some followers watch along wishing they have a small dose of all your blessings. Perhaps a little compassion and maybe a little reservation with the oversharing. Remember the true reason for the blessings we have and don't forget those that are hurting.

"Everybody needs a little loving around Christmas-time. Somehow you've gotta know you're gonna be alright."
-Hanson, Christmas Time

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Silent & Still

I know I need to write. In fact I wrote a post yesterday- but I can't share it...yet. It changes things. It changes the past and I'm not really sure that I am ready to be open about that.

But I know I need to write. So I will share what has been happening in my heart. I wonder if anyone can relate to these feelings or if it's just me.

The past few weeks, okay... I guess it's really been a few months now...maybe even a year... I have been trying my hardest. To be a better friend, more caring and thoughtful, more intentional. I've tried being happy and being brave and just really trusting God despite the outlook. I have felt like I have been spinning and spinning away- chaotic, though nothing chaotic is happening. Unrested, even though I am not really so busy that I can't rest. I've been trying to find God in every corner of my world and then I've been sharing that love online.

There is no doubt that I am one of those people who LOVES to share things. There's many reasons why I think that God made me this way.. But I love to share. Good news, good food, good books, good coffee shops... everything. If I stumble upon something great I want everyone else to know. I want everyone else to be as excited as I am. In the past my shares included amazing new music, new restaurants, cute little gift stores.

Instagram has been a game changer. Does anyone even read blogs anymore? I know I have way more eyes that see my IG account than my blog. So I share my heart away on IG. Yet, it has made me feel like a crazy person. Facebook has done the same. Following friends and strangers into their lives. Their beautiful, crazy, picture-perfect, lives. It is exhausting. I have felt myself trying to keep up. The friends who are blasting out project after project while I'm just trying to find my niche. Cute kids and families, pretty hair, stitch-fix wardrobes. I simply can't keep up.

Somedays I can filter out all of that and just see the goodness. I love to share the inspiration I have found from God. Whether finding solace in scripture or seeing His glory in the sky. But I have found lately that I'm just trying to keep up with all the others who are doing the same thing. Others who have way more followers than me. Who are pretty and smart and crazy-in-love with God.

Without realizing it I have been competing with my followers. Trying to keep up. It intertwines with my desire to get in line with Gods will. To be the person He created me to be. Surely if I can get to that place then things will start to fall in line for me, too.

I stayed up one morning until 4 am. Tossing and turning and never really falling asleep. Finally I sat up and yelled to God. What is it, God?? Why am I up? What do You want to say to me? I'm tired and I need to sleep and I can't face tomorrow or subsequent days without this sleep..... 

Then I proceeded to list off to God all the ways that I'm trying to do this life. I'm reading my bible, I'm sharing the news, I am loving others, I'm trying to face the day with courage and bravery and lean on my trust in You. Why is this not enough? Will I ever be enough? I just want to be better God. I want to stop crying, I want to be secure in You. I don't want to think about the past anymore. I want to forget everything and just move on. I want to discover the purpose in all of this and just be a better person. I am ready to get past all of this. I want to be enough so that people in my life and online stop unfollowing me.

At this point I'm bawling my eyes out in desperation. What in the world am I missing? What am I not doing that I should be? Because, truthfully, I'm tired of spinning and spinning my tires and still being stuck in the mud. Can't a girl get a little help, God?

Then like a soft whisper to my heart it dawns on me. I'm trying to get on God's path. Trying to fight through this wilderness to find the path that He has for me. But Jesus wants to meet me where I am. He wants to come with me. He wants to walk by my side in the wilderness and in the clearing. He wants to hold back the pricker bushes and the sticks that scrape-you-til-you-bleed. He wants to let me walk through the wilderness with Him as my companion. Not alone but with Him. I don't have to find Him. I have to let Him find me. Like a parent says to a child, "If you get lost, stay where you are and I will come find you." Though I'm not lost, per say, I am alone and in need of someone to come walk with me through this.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.... [Exodus 14:14, NIV]

I feel it in my soul that I already am where God wants me to be. I've been spending so much time trying to be the image of a perfect Christian instead of being more like the image of a perfect Christ. I'm trying to keep up with my peers when God is asking me to be still and let Him unfold His plan. I keep trying to get to the X on my map not realizing that's not where God wants me to be right now.

And lately I have been learning about how God doesn't need us. He created an entire universe without our help, why should I think for a moment He needs me to do anything in order for Him to make things happen. I'm also slowly learning that God doesn't wait for us to learn our lesson before He gives us something new. I've been searching for answers like my life depends on it. Like there's no way I can move forward until I make certain realizations. Until I find out the truths that God wants me to learn from this season in my life. But reading through Exodus lately tells me that can't be the case. Before the Israelites even fully understood what God was doing, He was already doing it. Putting people in place to unfold His plan to rescue those in distress. I'm also willing to bet many of the Israelites never really got it. Yet, that didn't stop God from showing His love and blessing the people at just His right time.

The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.... [Exodus 14:14, ESV] 

So if you see that I've been quiet on social media it's because I'm trying to be silent & still. [Both of these translations from Exodus have been major in my healing and growth this past year]. I'm trying to remove the distractions from my life so I can gain my footing. It's been extremely difficult to not share but I know this is temporary. In the end the things worth sharing will still be shared. When the time is right. I feel like I have been trying to prove myself to the world, to friends and family who expect that I would be 'over it' by now, to myself and to God. I found that I was sharing in an attempt to cover up the deep-seated hurt that still is buried in my heart. To convince myself that I'm okay. I am slowly realizing this isn't a quick-fix. I can't cover up my hurt with pictures of pretty flowers and inspirational scripture. So I want to keep my focus on being quiet enough to let Him minister to my broken heart. To let Him breathe His goodness into my life.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. [Matthew 11:28-30]

I don't want to be so distracted that I miss it. Too addicted to refreshing my newsfeed as His word sits on the table in front of me just waiting for my attention. Instead of doing things on my own I want to let Him do it. The realization that things will happen whether God does it or I do it is refreshing. The knowledge that He wants to take this burden from me, if only I would be brave enough to let go of it and trust it in His hands instead.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wishing I Was More Than What My Story Has Told

Photo Credit: Bing Wright

The past few weeks I have been angry.
Really angry. Hurt. Upset. And angry.

I know in a lot of ways I don't feel like I deserve the things I do not have. So I get that.
But I know I don't deserve to have been treated the way I was. And that makes me angry.

The fact that I cared so much about someone and they behaved in a way that shows the least concern possible, that makes me angry. 

I've turned my back on God. Not to shoo him away but I just haven't made an effort.
I know He's still there. When I do apply myself to His word, He has faithfully opened my heart to understanding beyond what I have ever been able to fully comprehend. I usually end up being blown away. But I don't want to hear about how God came through for the Israelites thousands of years ago. I want to know how He's going to come through for me now.

I've missed more church in the past few weeks than I have in a year. I don't even miss it. Which is so awful to say, but I promised honesty here.

My prayer life has almost stopped. It's certainly not as deep and meaningful as it used to be. I still pray for others but I'm not really praying for myself. I know I'm at a loss of what to pray for anymore... Yet, I also think it's more than that. I'm sick of praying about it. I'm sick of asking to see God move. I don't want to pray about it just like I don't want to think about it. In a way it almost feels like I'm fighting with God. Like He's the one who acted out of character. How true I know that isn't, but right now I don't even know what to say to Him.

You know the old adage? Your brain cannot process two different pains at the same time?

I have been in a lot of pain since last week. At times excruciating and debilitating. I finally went to the doctor on Wednesday when I literally could not get out of bed. He diagnosed me with a muscle spasm in my neck and shoulder.He told me it acts exactly like a charlie horse. Where the muscle tightens and cannot relax. Despite being out of work and despite the fact that the ibuprofen 800 and the muscle relaxers didn't touch my pain, I never prayed for healing.

I don't know. I think in some ways I didn't care. That I welcomed the physical pain to cover up the pain I've been feeling in my heart. But I have since learned you can't cover up a broken heart. Our hearts, or at least mine, does not operate in unison with my brain. Gee thanks, heart.

I think know, I fully trusted God. As I sit here in the broken pieces it feels like I was let down by the One we are told we can trust. I believed in Him coming through for me in every ounce of the situation. Yet, He let me down. 

While I know He is good - I know He can be trusted, it's like my heart doesn't care anymore.
I put my hope in the Lord and then I was disappointed. While He is not the one that disappointed me, He could have prevented it. He allowed this to happen. Truth be told, I'm sick of waiting for whatever His plan is.

I think about this and I just get angry all over again.

Because it feels like there are two sides.

There's his side and there's mine. and God doesn't seem to be on my side.

Right now it feels like it's just emptiness. The person I want to talk to, I can't.

Every single morning I wake up and quiz myself:

Like Peeta to Katniss, "You love me - Real or Not Real?"
Not Real.

Only backwards, "You left me - Real or Not Real?"

It's the reality that hurts. That causes it to sink in the very dark, lonely corners of my heart.

And I'm just so tired of feeling this way.
I want to pick up all my baggage and get on the bus.

Then I want to get off the bus in some far away place with no direction as to how to get back home and I want to leave my baggage on the bus and just go. Let my baggage be shipped off with no return to sender.

I want to start over. I want a pill that erases the bitter memories that won't stop replaying in my mind.

It's all so easier said than done. Yet, no one really understands that. Don't you think that I want to put this in the past? I find no joy in being held hostage by memories and hopes and dreams that are crushed. As much as everyone wants to suggest I move on, I want that too. 

I've asked God to send me someone else so I can affirm that He has a plan.
But partially, I'm just trying to cover my hurt. God knows it too.

I know the answer is simple. Move on. Get over it and move on. He had no problem doing it, so neither should you. I would sell everything I had to buy the one thing that would make this possible. If only such a thing existed. 

I'm sick of facing my pain because it's all I see and it's debilitating.

I sit in my quiet life, with hardly any text messages and even fewer phone calls and I just wonder how the heck did it come to this. I can literally feel the bitterness and hurt boiling beneath the surface in my blood. Everywhere I look, reminders are staring me in the face. It feels like one of those "Fun Houses" at the carnival that you can't wait to get out of. With mirrors and doom everywhere you look and you can't make heads or tails out of where you are going. It feels like crazy, over the top, chaos. Reminders are everywhere. It would take a whole other blog post to cover the insanity of all the ways it comes up throughout the day. Satan must be having a field day with me. Truthfully, it feels like I'm living in Satan's "Fun House" but somehow keep missing the exit, only to be spun around the punching bags and deceiving mirrors all over again. 

Yesterday I went to an arts festival. I had to hold my heart in place as I looked upon all the beautiful antiques that could have come directly out of my grandmothers house. All those cherished pieces thrown in a dumpster by my uncle who didn't consider calling first an option. 

Yet, I felt joy too. Because while I was there I realized the one thing that was missing. And I want so badly to fill that void of what was missing for next years art festival. It's scary and it's exciting and I'm so out of my league. Then I wanted to share the hope and dream with the one person who always encouraged me. Then I remember. I can't. He's not here anymore. He stopped believing in me. Stopped caring. Suddenly, it doesn't even matter to me anymore either.

So today, I just cry. I can't help it and I can't stop. I'm avoiding friends and I'm avoiding talking. Because no one gets it. Everyone wants to provide an answer or fluffy "It'll get better. Trust God. God has a plan. He wouldn't take away something good if He didn't have something better planned." This all may be true. Well, I say to that, I will believe it when I see it. 

I hate to fit myself into the category of Doubting Thomas - but I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for the pieces to fall into place. I've tried so hard to do things "the right way" and yet it seems like it makes no difference really. I'm tired of waiting. 

So why am I posting about it? Because I don't feel like writing today. It takes too long and I'm not in the mood. Because I know that only a few eyes will even see this post. 

Because God's not reading my journal so I doubt He's reading my blog.
He knows it all anyways, so no big deal there.

Never in my worst nightmare could I have dreamed up the brokenness I've been living.
Never would I have believed you if you told me this person would hurt me this way - just not a chance.
I'm still in so much disbelief - I need to keep reminding myself though, that it's real.
It's all so very raw and realer than real.

I have to keep reminding myself that someone else is in my place.
Loving the family I loved.
Loving the guy I loved.
Living the life I prayed would be mine.

And I'm just an outsider.

I think back to when my parents died. I don't think I grieved this hard. I think I just accepted the fact that it was over and there's no erasing death so I just moved on. I didn't ask questions, I didn't yell at God, I just carried on. I still hung out with friends, I still worked (doubles every day for 14 days straight), even though I cried, it didn't affect me like this.

I want to go back to being 21 again. I want to go back to being young and carefree. When life still seemed possible. When I felt like I had a future ahead of me. When I was ridiculous enough to believe that one day somebody was going to love me enough to stay. 

I'm coming through this desert of stone
These faces on the statues that I used to know
Wishing I was more than what my story has told
Or hoping that I'm dreaming in the day and this isn't happening
Gotta keep it altogether
Longing for a hand to hold
Keep clear of the shadows
Is there anybody, anybody?
Hello, is anybody listening?
Let go, as everyone lets go of me..
Oh oh, won't somebody show me that I'm not alone, not alone
Holding on to the memories of when I didn't know
        "Ignorance isn't wise but it beats being alone."
                                         - Kelly Clarkson, "Hello"

Friday, October 3, 2014

If I Hadn't

While I am someone who is always optimistic for others it is hard for me to do the same when it comes to my own circumstances. Lately, I have been challenged by a few friends to take my thoughts captive and speak truth over them. In a way that is conducive to how God operates, this same concept keeps popping up in other places.

How it works is simple, instead of feeling like I'm not enough I can choose to say, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." [Psalm 139:14] Instead of saying I'm not worth anything I can choose to say, "I am a chosen person...God's special possession." [1 Peter 2:9] Speaking scripture over ones own feelings in order to change what you believe can get you into positive-right thinking.

Don't get me wrong, the idea is simple but it can be hard to do. Growing up the way I did and the feelings that have been instilled from certain friendships and relationships all have reinforced the negative perception I tend to have of myself. It doesn't make it any easier that I don't like to give myself credit, even where credit is due, so sometimes speaking God's truths over my insecurity is a lot harder than it should be.

With this in mind, God has been working in my heart.

Today, I drove to Lincoln Woods State Park in RI. I've never been here before but I was armed with a camera and a purpose. My sister was kind enough to let me borrow her camera to get the feel for it to see if this is something I want to pursue, even if just recreationally. There's only so much I can capture on my little iPhone and sometimes it just leaves me frustrated. I want the intentionality of the camera. The resistance that makes each shot more purposeful, more thought out, more focused. I want to be able to capture the beauty of the world around me and I want photos worthy of framing. It's very hard to grab this kind of goodness through the iPhone camera. But maybe that's just me.

As I was driving I passed the sign on the highway for the exit I wanted to take. With no thanks to Siri (or whatever lady runs my maps app), she had me routed to take the following exit. Already I was a little annoyed with her. After all, she keeps getting me spun around in the city and as of late she can't seem to make up her mind. But as I drove the round about way, I saw some pretty great scenery. Farms and roads I wouldn't have seen had I taken the way everyone else does. It was so pretty in some spots I said I would stop on my way back to snap a few photos.

I drove through the park and felt a little overwhelmed. Since I've never been here before I didn't know the layout and there were a lot of roads that jutted out and went to small parking spots. I knew I wanted to get close to the pond so I drove until I could see a portion of it and then I parked. I wandered to the waters edge and snapped a few photos just trying to get my feel for the camera. Once I had my fill of that I walked down the road past the main entrance, the one I should have entered through. I wasn't too far past the entrance yet it was completely still with no one else really around. A car would pass by every few minutes. I was playing with the camera when my eye caught something. Then I realized what it was.

A small deer was crossing the main path. I was able to snap a few photos of the deer in a moment that felt longer than it probably truly was. I'm pretty sure on your first rookie day out in the field you're not supposed to capture something so beautiful. The fact that the deer lingered long enough for me to focus a few shots was amazing. Here I am in the woods and a deer just literally crossed my path.

Like, seriously? Only God.

This was only the beginning of me walking around and snapping photos. I couldn't help but thinking the whole time though, if I hadn't come through the back entrance, I would have never captured that.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I am such a "I shouldn't have" or "I should have" girl. Especially as of late, losing a relationship that meant the most to me, I can't help but call myself out on all the things I did wrong or didn't do right.

Yet, I realize in this moment "If I hadn't" should be what I choose to speak over those negative thoughts. If I hadn't gone the long way, I wouldn't have parked in the area I did and I would have drove past the spot that stilled me and took my breath away. If I hadn't taken today off of work to find rest for my soul in the great outdoors.. If I hadn't laced up my sneakers and left the house.. If I hadn't ... I could go back days and weeks to how this all lined up perfectly.

This is what I want to remember. God is lining my footsteps for amazing things even when I'm not expecting much. The "If I hadn'ts" of my life are going to be so much more important than the should haves and shouldn't haves....

"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old...I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." -Isaiah 43:18, 19

If I hadn't is so much easier to see in retrospect; once the pieces are put into place. But I want to believe it without seeing the pieces yet in place. I want this thought to be what helps me to live faithfully trusting in the Lord. Walking by faith and not by sight. If I can instill this thought to be the one I think, then when things seem uncertain I can be confident in the truth that I am right where God wants me. I no longer will have to worry about the past and can instead look ahead to the future. I can wonder how each step, whether right or wrong, has set me on the path that God is paving for me.

"She laughs without fear of the future." - Proverbs 31:25

I always admired this trait of the Proverbs 31 woman. Now I have the wisdom to be able to do the same. I love how God teaches us each individually. If I hadn't wrote this post I may not have made that additional connection! Wonderful.