Two weeks down

What am I even counting up or down to…

My second week in the Pacific Northwest was much better mainly because I was traveling and the reality of the move wasn’t directly in my face every second. I got to adventure with my husband and this time, we even got to bring Parker!

Yosemite was magical, amazing, beautiful, and even made me cry a bit (so shocking). The waterfalls were spilling over every peak and edge and the river was rushing in an intriguing and intimidating fashion. The lush greenery and hints of wildflowers created a canvas so perfect even Bob Ross couldn’t haven’t concocted it. I fell in love with her and sensed the magic that I envision John Muir himself was drawn to. Even though there was a lot of work to be done (mainly for Brent), it felt very relaxing, enjoyable and fun. We had a hiking guide with us every day and a few other friends/work companions which added to the experience. Somehow, everyone was perfectly matched for weirdness and friendship. We all got along as if we had known each other our whole lives. I was reminded of my doubts about moving and being afraid I wouldn’t make new friends and my uneasiness concerning feeling connected to others.

I learned a few things on that trip. I learned to appreciate my husband more, to see just how smart and amazing he is. I was able to watch him work, be himself, share his knowledge and engage with others. He is truly an impressive man. In my mind, I have always known he had talents and of course, he must know what he is doing because he continues to be elevated in this field. I have been on many trips with him and seen him take pictures, but somehow, this trip was different. The way he relates to people, the way he is himself, his honesty and authenticity, it draws people in. He is warm and inviting. He is hilarious and goofy. He is super smart about photography and art and fashion and social media and marketing (like way smarter than I thought). I don’t say that in a negative way, but I began to look up to him more and respect him much more than I had before. I think back to leaving Ohio and am reminded of my fear of allowing someone to take care of me.

At times when I feel afraid, I always reflect on Doubting Thomas in the Bible, how he didn’t believe Jesus was raised from the dead until he saw him in person and saw his wounds and touched him. How I have seen miracles and life change over and over again, yet I still find myself hesitant and doubting Gods goodness at times. How I walk into a space trusting His plan but with lingering doubts in my mind and heart. I moved across the country because I believe that is part of God’s plan for my life. I left my job and son and community and friends because I believe that there is something even bigger happening. I was scared. I still feel scared in moments. I did not have a lot of answers (and I still don’t have a lot of answers) but God continues to remind me that He is with me and He sees my every worry.

Everything I could consciously be concerned with has been taken care of and He even shows up with relief from things I didn’t know I was troubled with. Every moment I feel stressed about an outcome, He has given glimpses of hope. Every anxious feeling I sense is replaced with ease and laughter. When I worry that I will feel alone, He gives me comfort and when I am scared that I won’t be taken care of, He reminds me just how cared for I am.

Years ago, my husband had a literal dream and without elaborating too much, the dream detailed how God had a plan for him and it included freedom and him going outside to play with Jesus. I was reminded of this dream last night, as God has continued to open doors and offer up multiple opportunities for our future. Even since we have moved, God has increased our opportunities, He has answered more prayers and continues to shower us with blessings and kindness and joy.

I do not know if this goodness will cease at some point. Sometimes I think my husband and I endured so much pain and brokenness in the first 40 years of our lives, that we won’t have any more during these next 40 years. Or maybe we will just never experience pain and suffering in the same way because we have a hope and faith that shifts our way of experiencing heartache. Maybe we are storing up goodness for when that day arrives…

I am just along for the ride, praying my decisions align with Gods plan, praying I can glorify Him in every moment and being grateful for every season I have walked through.

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Week one down

It’s been one week since we departed Ohio for the Pacific Northwest. The drive was uneventful (especially compared to our February blizzard experience). We made really good time considering we were towing a U-haul trailer and believed we needed to drive under 65mph to be safe. We arrived “home” Wednesday early evening and I promptly began furiously unpacking. Unpacking turned into crying which was not very helpful to my task at hand, but probably healing for my heart. I completed my unpacking and settling by Friday. I probably should have drug it out longer to distract myself but I’m not much of a procrastinator so…

Our apartment is super cute. It sits on the Spokane River and is within walking distance from everything (AMC, Lululemon, MOD Pizza, Nordstrom etc). There’s a really awesome paved trail (Centennial Trail) and we can take it all the way to Idaho if we want. I imagine myself skating along it or us buying bikes one day and riding out to Idaho for adventures. Parker loves walking along the trail, sniffing every smell and seeing all the new friends. Everyone loves him already (how could you not)? Every place we eat has allergy friendly options galore. Gluten free options always, oat milk everywhere, vegan, vegetarian and probably some other stuff I’ve never even thought about.

Not working has been strange. I mean, I assist Brent with his work a lot so I am by no means laying around day dreaming, but it’s definitely different. I have way less interaction with people which is in many ways peaceful and calming. My tendency is to overfill my schedule and life but my insides yearn for solitude and quiet. This downtime is probably very good for me as I process all the changes. I do miss familiar faces a lot. I cry a little bit everyday.

Something very surprising that has happened is that my anxiety has risen. I don’t feel it in the forefront of my brain all the time, but my body knows it’s there. When I walk Parker or run an errand, I quickly become aware of the lack of comfort: I don’t know this area, I don’t know anyone really. I find myself being challenged in new ways, to evaluate my perception of others and to turn to God much more. I can logically talk myself out of a complete freak out/break down, but it’s unnerving to say the least. I think everyone I see is probably unsafe. I am hyper sensitive to everything and am nervous driving or venturing out in my own.

It’s strange how much security I drew from my life in Ohio. I had no idea I was so comfortable. I am feeling emotions I’ve never felt, fears I don’t recall ever experiencing. I find myself constantly praying, asking for security, a sense of safety and for the ache inside of me to leave. I would not have guessed for this to happen. I did not think leaving would be this difficult. My feelings well up in my throat and are almost uncontainable. I want so badly to think my way out of my pain. I want to convince myself that this isn’t that hard, but it is really hard and I need to be ok with that.

A younger me would be running from this, doing drugs or seeking validation to avoid myself, obsessively cleaning to “process”. Even though this pain cuts so deeply within me, I will run to it. I believe this experience is growing me to be more brave, more bold, more confident and more capable of leaning on God alone, before all others, before any worldly thing. I believe this process is on purpose, to teach me about being myself at an even greater level. I have almost nothing to distract me, I’m alone with my thoughts constantly, and I do not think that is an accident.

Brent asked me today if I just wanted to move home. He feels guilty for my pain. It reminded me of the day I told my mom I was pregnant, twenty years ago: she said, “you can always just come home” and somehow, I had enough wisdom to reply, “if I do, I will never learn to handle hard things or grow.” I can always go home. This is not permanent. In fact, if I’ve learned anything in the past five years, it is that nothing is permanent.

I trust whole heartedly that I am here for a reason. I do not know the reason but I have faith it exists. I believe my husband and I are doing this together on purpose. God has affirmed so many things along this journey and I cannot ignore Him. I believe, no matter how much I dislike it, that Matthew is in Ohio for a reason. And I trust that the bigger picture is way more important than my sadness. I will continue to grieve my losses. I will allow myself to cry as much and as hard as I need to. But I will not accept my feelings as fact and I will not run from this painful experience. Comfort is for napping, discomfort is for growth.

It’s exactly what I wanted

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but sometimes an answered prayer comes in a form that includes challenges and hard decisions and maybe some difficult feelings.

Approximately four years ago, my husband and I were in a small group and we all separately wrote done impossible dreams. Mine was to travel with my husband, to be fully dependent upon his work and to be able to adventure together. His was a similar one even though we had not fully discussed that as our one ultimate and impossible desire. It seemed, at the time, like a truly unbelievable notion. My husband was a server in fine dining but had a gift and passion for photography and fashion. I was working full time and was the primary income. Nothing was wrong with our household structure but we both were praying for a shift.

When I opened my studio, I knew that it wasn’t permanent. I sensed that I would leave it. I believed it would grow and become super sustainable and then I would walk away. I’ve said that since day one. I was clearly given that message and have been preparing for that day ever since then. I thought, in recent years, that day had come. When my eczema was so bad three years ago, I thought that was it. When the discs in my back flared up and I could barely stand, I believed maybe that was my time. But both those times, life made it clear that I was not to leave, not just yet.

The walk from that day of documented dreams to the fulfillment of them has been packed with shifts, physical pain, excitement, tears and adventure for sure. As I watched things begin to transition, I think deep down I never truly saw this hope becoming a reality. I prayed for it but a part of me, the fearful part of me, never wanted to change, relinquish “control”. In the end, I asked for a dream I wanted that I also was most terrified of. I had a million reasons why it never was right, why it never made sense. I never had peace…. until recently.

And to clarify, my peace is in the decision but not in the feelings fully. I know, without a doubt, that we are meant to move. I know that there is something greater in my life than the comfortable job and space I’ve been filling in Ohio for the past 20 years. I knew that the moment this opportunity was presented and yet, it has been the hardest to process in my heart. How can I walk through something in confidence yet feel 100% terrified?

I have never been taken care of. I started working at 14 years old. I’ve never trusted someone to care for me. I grew up without a sense of being cared for and learned quickly to be everything to myself, my son, my life. I would never depend on anyone for anything. I’ve never allowed myself to be that vulnerable. I have never fully put myself out there to possibly fall on my face. I became a mom and business owner and worked as hard as I could to control every moment of my life, to be successful, and I have been living in a life of comfort for a long time. Yes, we have had hard times and yes, my sense of control has been false, but I know for sure that truly my life has been and is so good.

And yet here we are, uprooting that all, moving across the country, leaving my job, leaving family and friends, our church, our support systems, everything. People say, “you will make new friends” but what if my heart doesn’t want new friends? What if I’m so full of all the friends I have and don’t want to make space for new ones? What if I’m scared to leave my friends and now watch their lives from afar? People say, “there’s something more out there for you” and “God has a plan” and I believe both those things so deeply which makes leaving so much harder really. The truth of the situation only makes my hurting heart seem less important because in the end, it doesn’t matter that this hurts, because it’s what is meant to happen.

I am so grateful for the dream coming true. The testimony of this answered prayer, the walk to get here, it’s all been so amazing and has grown my faith and confidence in ways no self help book could have. But I’m hurting right now in ways I didn’t know possible. I’ve only ever left a space to run away from things. I’ve never walked away willingly, leaving good things behind.

So for now, when someone says how good it’s going to be, I will smile but inside, I have a million things to process and feel because I actually love my current life. I am having a hard time imagining a greater group of friends, a more special relationship with my son, a closer bond with my small group girls, a more loving group of women to lean on than my Hot God Couch or a deeper confidence in my work abilities.

And then enters my Jesus, who promises greater things than I can imagine and I lean on that simple truth and walk.

They say change is good

I know it’s inevitable. Every day, every moment, something is shifting. As a massage therapist, one of my biggest things is, “there isn’t stagnation.” Our bodies are always progressing or digressing, our lives are always ebbing and flowing, the seasons, the minutes in a day, the sunlight, all constantly moving.

I’ve found it to be true, that even the smallest of changes can create really huge emotions. For instance, when someone tells you dinner plans changed, sometimes you’re super pissed, angry, betrayed, let down, sad, disappointed, you name it. Super small things can really feel hard sometimes even though we can logically see that it’s not such a big deal. I’ve definitely found myself in a puddle of angry tears over some pretty minuscule stuff before.

I guess it should come as no surprise that I’m in a huge season of mourning and loss all jumbled up with excitement and anticipation. After years of dreaming, it is official: we are moving across the country.

I never felt at peace about leaving Ohio until now. I always found reasons to stay. I wanted our debt to be gone. I didn’t want to have to rebuild my business. I couldn’t bear to leave my family or friends. I kept thinking a move would happen far in the future or possibly never at all. Deep down I wanted to stay in Ohio, with my comfort and dependable life forever while also yearning for mountains and adventures every moment.

Leaving people and a life feels so permanent but if I have learned anything in these past four years, it’s that nothing is permanent, don’t cling too tightly to any space or tangible thing. When we moved into our apartment a year ago, we settled in expecting to live there for 3-4 years. I couldn’t have imagined a move across the country, leaving my business behind, totally switching gears and being a stay at home dog mom.

I believe this is the right decision even though my heart wishes it wasn’t. I know that it is time to embark on a new adventure, one where my husband and I get to grow closer and expand our influence. I know this will be a good thing for our family and I trust that the outcome of this is even greater than anything I can fathom.

Stuck

I’m sitting in my car.

I don’t want to get out.

The heat is on high, just how it like it. I’m warm and cozy. I turned off the radio and the lack of distracting sounds is calming. All I hear is the whirl of the defroster and my brain.

But my brain isn’t comforting and cozy right now. It’s actually really sad and crazy and bipolar (not clinically but momentarily). This happens often. I finish work or an activity and I drive home quietly only to arrive in the parking space and feel compelled to stay, inside, safe. No one can ask me a question. I don’t have to entertain my dog (whom I adore). I don’t have to face bright lights or temperatures I dislike. I can’t focus on dishes in the sink or a dirty bathroom. I’m alone and at times, that’s all I want.

Sometimes I think I can just stay in the car and be productive. Technically, I can perform a lot of tasks from the safety of my Nissan and with the assistance of my cell phone. I can answer emails and listen to podcasts. I can read or write a blog post. I can daydream. I can just be.

And then reality hits. I can’t idle my car forever. I have to get out eventually. Even though I don’t like the wind and rain right now, I have to endure it. And solitude and silence is awfully desirable but I know the path that leads to and it’s not a good one.

These are the moments when I dream of running away. Moving or selling everything and just disappearing. Everything and almost everyone feels dispensable (even though I know that’s temporary and false).

Yesterday I witnessed a car accident and as the police were trying to back us up off the exit ramp, it was raining and I couldn’t see well. The office yelled at me and I immediately yelled back, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM DOING!” Then I started to cry. When I just want to hide away from the world, I definitely don’t want to be reprimanded like a child. Even my warm car couldn’t protect me from that unexpected hurt.

It’s weird to think about all the things that we see and feel and process subconsciously. The things that effect us and make us yearn for a hiding place. I didn’t imagine my reaction being so extreme (and maybe it’s not really). And why did that make me feel like a kid? And why did I cry anyway?

I weighed myself this morning (usually not a big deal) but today I felt annoyed by the scale. The number really wasn’t different than it’s been for the last six months but for some reason it made me angry. Then I looked in the mirror and thought maybe I looked a little heavier. I don’t know. Why do I even care?

I’m sure certain parts of this stem from my period coming next week (sorry if that’s TMI). But I know that some of these thoughts and feelings are deep inside me all the time. And if I just hide in my car forever, I won’t ever get through them.

So I’m stepping out into the rain….. again.

Woah

You ever think you’re in one place mentally/emotionally and then realize, “woah, I’ve got some serious work to do!?” You’re walking around feeling all healed from some wounding or confident from some childhood abuse only to be confronted with a new level of depth and shifting that needs to happen.

Welp, that’s me right now.

I’ve mentioned it before so if you’ve been keeping up, you would know that I have a lot of past hurts related to self worth and body image. You may also know that I’m in a way better space with those issues now. In fact, I’m in the healthiest mindset I’ve ever been in concerning my appearance and weight and fitness level.

So why the heck do I find myself crying to my counselor, trying to work through some issues I thought were other people’s fault and I realize, “nope, it’s me!” I’ve been annoyed and judgmental only to see that my own insecurities and issues are the true source of my sadness.

Let me break this down more clearly cause I see I’m kinda speaking in code:

When I gave birth to my son, I was 320lbs. I ate everything I wanted with no discipline or regard for health. If I wanted a candy bar, I would eat 10. I ate fast food daily. I had no sense of fitness. I didn’t workout. I laid around and did basically nothing. I was in a relationship with someone who also did nothing. He played video games all hours of the day and night. He smoked pot and ate a diet of junk food and alcohol. Together, we were a really great pair of unhealthy people.

When our relationship ended, I began a path to wellness. Some of my motivations weren’t the greatest. Some of my methods weren’t the wisest but all in all, I was moving in a better physical direction.

Fast forward to January 2018. I was maxing out all my lifts at the gym. I was running and skating and rowing at paces I’d never seen before. I felt great. I was in the best physical shape I’d been in maybe ever. I had a good handle on my eating, tracking all my macros daily and being “good.”

My husband however, has less of an interest in working out and isn’t overly concerned with his eating habits. He’s honestly a fairly typical American. Some days he is more motivated and other times, not so much.

Lately, I’ve found myself annoyed a lot. I am constantly trying to not be mean or judgmental but my attempts fail. I know I want to be a kind and supportive wife but what ends up happening is just the opposite. My intentions are good but somehow, my actions are less than good. They are at times, downright awful. And I know I don’t like the way I’m feeling or behaving, yet I am unsure how to fix this situation. I keep thinking if he would just workout and eat differently, then I could feel differently.

Then comes the WOAH….

This is about me. This is because I see some parts of myself in him and it terrifies me. I want to believe that I’m so different and separated so far from that part of me that I become a mean girl. A conditionally loving wife. A borderline passive abusive human. I am all the people who made me feel less than growing up. I am the parts of my father that influenced my eating disorders. I am the words from my brother than caused years of pain and self hate. I am the very thing I have worked so hard to overcome. The change that’s missing is within my heart and it has to begin with grace and a deeper sense of love for myself.

Woah. Woah. Woah.

I spent a lot of yesterday crying. Full of shame. Sadness. Regret. How did this happen? Why would I treat this person whom I love so deeply in a way that doesn’t reflect adoration and unconditional love? And how was I somehow redeemed and accepting of some of the ugliest parts of my past, yet still hiding from this part?

Man, life is weird.

I know none of this current revelation negates my past growth. I do love and accept myself a million times more than I used to. I do not let the scale dictate my joy or value. And I do still believe that fitness and self care and health are important for myself and my husband. But my delivery and my heart in this matter are due for an overhaul. It feels somewhat paralyzing. How do I genuinely behave in a way that is supportive when I don’t have that within me right now? How can I be the person I aspire to be for him when I am struggling to be it for myself (and just now am recognizing it?)

Relationships are hard. Especially the one we have with ourselves. Growth is a never ending journey. Intimacy with ourselves is a continued process. What I love about this struggle though, is the surfacing of my thinking will only make me a better human and wife. This feels hard and sad and is unknown territory but I am walking into it confident of an extraordinary outcome. And I firmly believe that my marriage and life will only become stronger and become elevated higher as this plays out.

Praying for everyone who struggles with deeper layers of unconditional love. You are not alone. Keep peeling back the layers. Continue to tear down those walls. Keep becoming more and more intentional and dealing with the tough stuff. It’s always worth it and as you learn to love every tiny aspect of your being, you will surely be able to love everyone else better.

It’s been a while

I haven’t really posted in while. I’ve had a lot of things that have come up and wanted to share. I guess some thoughts in my mind about the value of my words kept me from writing anything.

Lately there have been two main themes that keep reoccurring in my life.

One: God ALWAYS fulfills his promises

Two: I can do ANYTHING with him and I can do NOTHING without him.

These two ideas have shown up consistently in Bible studies and devotionals and my reading and sermons. I think it’s extremely relevant to my whole life but it’s in the forefront of my mind for our life in the last year for sure. I think about all that my family has endured since November 25, 2017. I go back to all the big things that happened; the car driving through the house, my husband’s grandfather passing away, living at my husband’s grandma’s house and having the basement flood, moving our home, moving my business location and culminating with me breaking my ankle on March 5 of 2018.

And in all those large moments, God showed up, and made promises, and He fulfilled them all. But there’s all these small things that nobody knows about that He has also shown up for. My tire totally blew out while driving on the highway on our way home from Wyoming. We were going almost 70 miles an hour, hit a bump and within seconds, my tire was completely deflated. It was so hot and we don’t have AAA (well, we do now but didn’t back then). How is it that we were one exit from someone who could fix the tire and it cost less than $20. And not for one second was I worried or stressed.

I think about someone trying to get into the house when my son Matthew was home alone and how he was protected. How this crazy person who was apparently on drugs or drunk was banging on the door and threatening to break in yet Matthew stayed safe.

Honestly, every day is filled with frustration, disappointment, financial concern. And every day is an opportunity to freak out or remain calm. Every day is a chance to step aside and let God do what only He can do or try to take over and make a potential mess.

Most of my life has been spent in that really messy space. Let me restate that: most of my life has been spent in the dirtiest, lowest, most humiliating and disgusting spaces. My attempts to find love typically were full of abuse and unhealthy self sacrifice. My pursuit of joy resulted in years of drug use. My desires to fit in caused me to do and be a human who was deceitful and lost. I made tornado size messes and wondered where they came from. I was full an anxiety and fear and attempted to control every aspect of my surroundings while simultaneously being completely and utterly out of control.

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that success comes from within. From some space of gumption. Some deep drive that we muster on our own. That our “luck” is not supernatural.

I remember laying in the emergency room with my broken ankle and God clearly told me that in this experience, my husband would be elevated to a stronger and more confident husband and leader of our household and photographer. If we take our life back three years prior, when my husband broke his ankle, I remember God clearly telling me that this was now the time for my husband to pursue his dreams. And I have seen all those things come true. Our life has changed in all the best ways because of these circumstances. We have become different people. Our marriage has strengthened. Our family has grown closer.

I have been reflecting on the confidence that God instilled in me about the outcome of those situations. How I was immediately able to speak truth over my healing and how I was able to see that be fulfilled. How our tangible lives have been blessed but also how our faith and hope has increased. We are not people who read bibles and attend church and pray but feel empty inside. We have become a family who walks in the truth of our destiny. We believe wholeheartedly in the goodness of our Heavenly Father because we know Him so intimately.

I watched a sermon last night from Elevation Church. It was titled “Everything Must Go.” It was about how stores have sales and get rid of things that are old and not profitable anymore so they can make room for new things that are better, more desirable and of course, profitable. It was equating that to life and how as we grow and change, the old things have to go and new things need space. I was looking back at all the things that haven’t been profitable in my life. How I created space and gave energy to things that had no real value or had value for a moment and then it was gone. I see clearly that my husband breaking his ankle and me breaking mine and the car driving to the house and all these things big and small, how they created space and shifted things towards a better place, A more emotionally profitable place, and more lifelong satisfying space. A space that has greater impact.

And this testimony has become a voice of truth in other peoples lives. I can take what God has shown me and speak that over someone else’s tough situation and because of my beliefs and my words, maybe someone will have a small amount of belief in their own situation. I believe God is using our family and these tragic experiences to show just how good He is. How His reassurance and love can create people full of grace and expectant for goodness even in the face of scary things. How our previously hardened hearts are soft and patient in the struggles. How we can walk into a space and regardless of what it looks like, we can know that what we see is not reality. Gods truth is the only reality we need and rely on.

And I believe that if that is true for us, it is surely available to everyone else. That our situation is not unique. We are not hand picked for this growth or love. I encourage anyone reading this believe, even in the smallest capacity, that there hard time is for good. That the struggle is only going to make them stronger get and is a valuable process or renewing and restoration. And if you do not believe in God, that’s ok, because He is still there, rooting for you and rearranging things to have the best outcome.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬