Friday, December 31, 2010

Everything and Nothing....2010 in Review

I have everything and nothing all at once. Yes, I'm just cool like that.

This year has been life changing. Nothing short of incredible. Yet, when the clock strikes midnight on Friday night, I'll be 31 and single. Yup....everything and nothing.

All in all, 2010 has been a great year for me. I started the year with a job interview in January that turned into a job back in Texas. I left Kansas City in May and moved home. I was apprehensive at first - I felt like I was giving up a lot of freedom to move back. It is liberating to live in a city 'alone' and I loved that aspect of KC, but the draw of family brought me back.

When I started my job in May, there were a lot of changes I had to adjust to. First and foremost - a commute. I had a nine minute commute in Kansas Texas, it is 45 minutes - minimum. That also meant that I had to start getting up earlier. I'm not a morning person, and I love my sleep - so this has been an adjustment. I also moved into a position that was pre-existing. Prior to this, all of the jobs I have had were new positions that I was able to create and develop - that is my forte. In addition, I had a boss. A real boss....and that was a challenge. I am used to reporting to someone, but not really being 'supervised' on a daily (or hourly) basis. The other challenge on the work front - I didn't have an office. Early on, I was in the main office with the admin, student employees, and all the traffic.

How quickly things changed! My boss left in July - she took early retirement from the university - and we moved into our new building in July - so I finally had my office. From there, the wild and crazy ride began. I have certainly learned the things I love about my job and the things I could live without. It is helping me shape my goals and direction for the future, which is good. Before moving back, I really didn't have clear 5 year career goals. I am starting to define those more each day. More on that another time.

Outside of work, things have never been better. 2010 has been good to me. I have escaped a lot of negativity I felt like I dealt with in the midwest. I have spent a lot of time with my family. I would not trade the past eight months for anything in the world. Some of the things I have enjoyed in the past eight months:

  • Mother's day with my mom
  • Sadie's birthday (and not having to fly in for it!)
  • Pool time with the kids and watching Sadie really swim
  • A girl's weekend with Denise in Austin - complete with Sixth Street & tubing on the river
  • Dawson's first birthday party
  • Getting to see Christen and Autumn this summer
  • Memorial Day & Labor Day at the lake
  • Too many Ranger's games to count
  • Going to Ranger's playoff games - and a WORLD SERIES Game!
  • Seeing Tim McGraw in concert....Twice!
  • Big XII Championship game in Cowboy's Stadium
  • Homecoming in Stillwater with Jess and her family
  • Catching up with old friends
  • Spending time with my cousins and aunts (and uncles)
  • Going to the Showcase college basketball games with my dad
  • A strengthened and renewed relationship with my Heavenly Father

I could probably go on an on....just looking at the list overwhelms me with the blessings that I have been entrusted with. I have an incredible family, and I am lucky that I enjoy spending time with them and have the opportunities to spend time with them that I do.

I do my best not to take any of it for granted. I do my best to focus on the positives each and every day. I do my best to count my blessings. I have everything a person could ever need.

Yet, when I lay down at night, there is always the haunting feeling that I have nothing. Some of my strongest desires are not met. Some of my most heartfelt, deepest prayers have not been answered yet. I am a 31 year old, single woman - and I'll do you one better - I haven't been on a date since I was in high school. Yup. And that was only once. I never would have pictured my life this way. What single 30-something would? When my head hits the pillow at night, or when I sit still long enough to let my mind and body rest, if I allow my mind to lose focus (which I admit, happens a lot), all the insecurities and inadequacies and doubts slam me in the face. It is then that I say I have nothing.

So at the end of 2010, the year in which I have made one of the biggest changes of my adult life, the year in which I have experienced more blessings than I dare ask, the year in which I have loved deeper and stronger than ever, the year in which I really 'got' what God was all the end of this year, I stand alone. I stand lonely. But I will continue to stand clinging to the promises He has given me. Better yet, I will not stand at all....I will choose to kneel and cling to the promises. May I be found worthy.....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010 has come and gone. This is the first Christmas since I moved to college that I have been home for all of the preparations and did not have to travel at all. What an incredible blessing!

Our Christmas was low-key this year, but the season was full of family and love. I started the season feeling less than excited for Christmas for a few different reasons. The end of the semester is one of the busiest times for me, and for the first time in years, I worked until 5:00pm (really 5:30, but who's counting) on the 23rd. I love Christmas because of the message and the magic, but it really is different when there aren't children around. That's a lot of what had me down prior to the holiday. I'll just go ahead and say it - as much as I love and cherish my family and wouldn't trade them for the world - being single at Christmas just sucks.

So....I made sure my season was f~u~l~l! haha From Thanksgiving weekend through Christmas day seems like a whirlwind. I've decided it would be much easier if I didn't work. Food for thought. Or wishful thinking. Take your pick.

Some of the pre-Christmas activities around here:

  • Attending the Dallas Symphony Orchestra with special guest Michael W. Smith - it was awesome. That's the only word that can be used. I went with my mom, cousin, and my mom's friend. We had dinner before the performance, and our seats were in the choir loft behind the orchestra so we were able to see everything. Simply breathtaking and a perfect way to start the season.

  • Sadie's Christmas program at school. This was the first year I have been able to attend, and I was so impressed. The great thing about going to a church school is the Christmas program is actually about Jesus - not Santa. Afterwards, the school had a 'reception' for the kids with cake and punch. I felt so blessed to be a part.

  • At the reception after the performance - please note my mom's incredible ability to take candid pictures of me ;-)

  • Decorating the house with a little of my own flair. After decorating my own place for the past few years, it was fun to blend some of my personal style with my mom's while incorporating some of our traditions as well. I was pleased with the outcome, and already have a lot of ideas for next year!

  • Pampered Chef party at our house. My mom and I booked a Pampered Chef party back in early fall for the first weekend of December. I had never hosted a party like that before, and it was so much fun! We did a make-and-take candy party - four stations of candies (chocolate dipped pretzel sticks, pecan turtles, pink ice (peppermint chocolate), and Oreo balls. Yummo.

  • End of the semester pot-luck at work. Man, did we have a lot of food. I was blown away with the cooking skills of some of my co-workers, and we enjoyed a great time of fellowship and food away from the hustle and bustle of the telephones and people coming in.

  • ICE Exhibit then dinner at the Gaylord Texan with the family. It was cool (pun intended). This year's theme was Charlie Brown Christmas, and the whole concept was fascinating to me. The entire exhibit was made of ice and was housed in a tent kept at 9 degrees! Thankfully we had friends go the day before us and warned us that although they hand out parkas, you still need something for your head and hands. I am not a fan of the cold, so I appreciated the warning. We had a great afternoon as a family - exploring the exhibit, sliding down the ice slide, admiring the decorations in the hotel, then enjoying dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants.

    • Time with my Gran-Gran. My mom's mother - my only living grandparent - joined us for Christmas this year; we are truly blessed. She was here when I got home from work on the 23rd, and left on the 28th. We had a great time of fellowship, shopping, looking at Christmas lights, and playing games each evening. We spend Christmas eve at North Park mall looking at decorations and eating Chinese food, then went to church together.

    • Unexpected and fun visit with old friends. Ian called the week before Christmas to say that he was in town for a class, so I was able to spend an evening catching up with him and Jason - both college friends. It had been many years, and was like putting back a missing piece of a puzzle.

    • Annual pilgrimage to Neimans downtown to look at decorations. Mom and I try to go down there every year, and have yet to be disappointed. This year they partnered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the bigs and littles created the decorations. They also partnered with design students from the University of North Texas to design some of their trees. As I have no creative bone in my body, I was more than impressed with their creations.

      Through all of this, I was busy trying to make homemade gifts for some friends and family, as well as being incredibly busy at work. Right before we left we hired a new Learning Specialist who will start on Jan 3rd and have completed all the phone interviews for our new director. Things are progressing with the staffing of our center, and I am anxious to see the changes that take place in 2011.

      I'm sure there is more, but I can't think of it right now. I can say without a doubt that I have never felt more blessed. My brother and I decided months ago that we did not want to do gifts as a family because the experiences we have had with our parents this year are priceless. I would not trade the past eight months for any gift in the world. Instead of filling our Christmas morning with loads of presents, our day was spent eating omelets (a tradition in our house), playing games, then going to the Cousin's for dinner with my Aunt & Uncle, and my Cousin and her family and gifts with the kids.

      Opening & trying on the skirt and shirt I made her.

      Another example of my mom's candid photos of me - haha

      All and all, Christmas 2010 was wonderful. I love the constant reminder of the One who we celebrate. As cliche as it sounds, it is my prayer for myself and for each of you that you keep a little Christmas in your heart all year long.

    • Tuesday, December 28, 2010

      Arguing about God

      I learned my lesson a long time ago about arguing WITH God....but arguing ABOUT God is such a different story. I told a friend today that I wasn't going to talk to them about God anymore. How Christian of me, right? Truth be told? I didn't feel bad for saying it - in fact, I felt rather relieved.

      It seems I have a lot of friends struggling with life and relationships right now. It breaks my heart to see, and as a problem solver, I always want to step in and fix those problems. However, it is not my place to fix it all. This is something I am learning (sometimes better than other times). The hardest part is when it appears the problems/issues have been brought on by conscious decisions. It makes me sad and frustrated. The most frustrating part is blaming God.

      One of my best friends is from a background almost as different from mine as possible. At first, it was the differences that helped the friendship grow. Our first conversation, almost 8 1/2 years ago was about God. He was struggling with the end of a long relationship and through mutual friends was told that I had good insight and strong faith. (What a compliment at the time.) As our initial conversation took shape, it was clear to me that we had different views on God. The basics were the same - belief in the Bible, that Jesus was the Son of God, and salvation is through Christ. Everything else had different twists/spins on it. This was one of the first times in my sheltered life that I had experienced someone who did not believe in God that way that I do.

      Over the next eight and half years, a friendship grew. At times it was healthy and positively challenging, too frequently it was co-dependent and unhealthy. I learned a lot about myself during those years - but from the friendship and from the places that God had me during those times. There were a lot of days (...weeks...months....even years) that I pushed God away. I got tired of the frustration of the people around me and what I perceived as God not answering prayers, so after many (0ne-way) conversations with God about my frustrations and his lack of changing things, I just quit praying all together. Real mature on my part, right? haha

      One of the best things I have ever done for myself was move back to Texas this May. I had known in my heart for a while that it was time to move, and despite my desires to explore the world and look to live elsewhere, I knew all along that the first step to getting back on track was to move 'home' (literally!). That meant, however, leaving behind my home of the past 7 years, good friends, amazing coworkers, a lifestyle befitting of my severe introversion, and the proximity of my best friend. It was hard. It has been hard. It has also been amazing.

      God brought me right where I needed to be (geographically) so that He and I can bring me where I need to be spiritually and emotionally. Am I there yet? Geographically, yes; Spiritually and Emotionally, not yet. That's okay; it's a process. I am loving the changes I am seeing in myself. I sleep so much better at night. I have less guilt. I love deeper. I appreciate small things more. I have less stress. And above all, I have a better understanding of God and my personal relationship with him.

      For the first time, I truly understand that God is and should be different for everyone. I am comfortable with that. We all pray differently, we can read the same passage of the Bible and get something different out of it, we can experience the same situation and come out with different understandings and meanings. God is amazing like that.

      Funny thing about all of this is, the more I become comfortable with God in this sense, and the more at peace I feel, the more I see those around me struggling. I'm sure it was there all along, but my selfishness had blinded me to it. Now, my eyes are opened a little more.

      So, back to this friend. He is again struggling with a difficult relationship. It is much easier, yet harder at the same time, to be experiencing this from 500 miles away. This has become one of the most frustrating experiences in a long time, and it is ongoing. First of all, it is hard to see a friend hurting. It is hard when you can not do anything to ease someone else's pain. It is hard when some of their pain comes at the hands of another person. What is really, really, really hard is the constant blaming of God. I can not handle that. I don't know how to answer someone who says "well, this is what God wants for my life, so this is how it is," or "God wants me to be miserable, so I am." I mean....where do people come up with this stuff? I think it stems from the "Genie in a bottle" Matthew 7:7 theory of God - whatever I ask for, I'll get. Like that's all there is to it. Imagine a world where that theory held up - I ask God for a million dollars, and I get it - because I asked. I asked God for a husband - and *poof* there he is - because I asked. I asked God for children - *poof* a house full.

      There is so much more to it then that. I have tried and tried and tried to explain my perception and what I think. I might as well beat my head against a wall.
      The God I believe in wants me to seek HIM with my whole heart. I believe that my God wants me to prosper - but not in the material sense that I have so long wanted to believe. My God desires for me to know him fully and seek a greater understanding of Him - not for my days on earth, but so I can fellowship with him and inherit all He has for me in eternity. I have chosen to read a little further from Matthew 7:7 - verse 21 says "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." To me, it is pretty cut and dry. I guess you just have to be ready to listen and receive.

      What a frustrating last few weeks it has been. I have let this situation creep into some of my other insecurities. I do not for a minute doubt my faith, but I have doubted my ability to express my faith. I have doubted my level of friendship. When I said last night I would no longer talk to this person about God, I even doubted my devotion and level of commitment to God. I sat across the table from my mom at lunch the other day (P.F. Changs - yummo) - and told her how frustrated I was because I felt like this one person was trying to steal my joy. How sad. I know that is not the entire truth - and I know this person is not being malicious in his words. He is merely struggling to find answers. Here's where I get to a part not everyone may agree with. I don't necessarily feel it is my place to 'teach' him these answers. Aside from my frustration, I feel strongly that women are not meant to teach men in matters of spirituality. That's not to say that I would never answer a question or point someone in a certain direction, but I don't feel that it is my place to teach him and be that support for him. I have time and again encouraged him to talk to a pastor or another man. I have even given suggestions as to who and even offered to make phone calls to set things up. Nope - he's having none of that.
      I'm at my witt's end. I don't know what else to do except continue to pray. I have decided that some people just want an easy answer and want God to be 'easy' for them. I don't know what else to do.

      At what point is it being selfish? At what point is it giving up? Is self-preservation a smart move? What about those you leave behind? I'm confused, frustrated, and done at this point.

      Wednesday, December 1, 2010

      Remember how I was going to post more? Yeah...see how that's turned out so far?!?!? I started this post about three weeks ago. I'm going to do better....really, I am.

      Welcome to December, the month that I cry more than any other month. It doesn't take much to make me tear up on any other day really, but December....the whole month takes the cake.

      Let's start with Jesus (a naturally good place to start!). Of course I think of Jesus every other month, we're on a first name basis, and talk frequently. But in December....well, in December, lot's of other people are thinking about him too. He's everywhere. (Ok...I know he's everywhere all the other days too, but you get the point). It brings a smile to my heart and I just want to shout from the rooftops how much I love Jesus!

      And another thing.....I have been overwhelmed this season with the commercial aspect of Christmas. I am not anti-Santa (yet) or anti-gift giving, but my heart has been burdened this year. I don't know if it is living back in Dallas (a very materialistic and shopping-centered city) or if it is my line of work, or God working on my heart, or all of the above and then some. Bottom line, I look one way and see greed and materialism and I look the other way and see devastating need despair. It is overwhelming and consumes my thoughts these days.

      I know a lot of people who are hurting this year. Not just around Christmas but with life in general. It is painful to watch. I am blessed that the Lord's protection is on me during this time. I feel like for the first time in a long time I am right where I am supposed to be. What I am trying to figure out is why I am in this position to witness all of the pain and hurting. I feel helpless. In this season of giving and loving, I feel like my love is not enough. It isn't. I wish I could will Jesus on those who are hurting, but I can't. I can't force anyone to turn to him or to believe in him. I can not require anyone to make Him the center of their life, the passion that drives everything they do.

      But I can do that for myself. And I can offer my prayers. And my shoulders. And my ears. And my checkbook. And my love.

      Monday, October 11, 2010

      Time to get real

      I don't blog a lot. I always promise I will blog more, and I think of things to write all the time, but truth be told, I'm hesitant to write. When I first started this blog, no one read it, which was perfectly fine with me - it wasn't for them anyway. Then, as I went through my surgery and recovery process, more people started reading. That was great. It then became a place that I could update about my pending move and job change. Well, that's over. So now what?
      I don't have an amazing story. I don't have any dramatic or traumatic life events. I have the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart. My daily struggles, my mini triumphs. I have a God I love, a great family, a job I think I'm good at, a long commute, and a dog. That's about it. The words I do have and often desire to write about, I hesitate with because I am not sure I am comfortable with everyone reading or knowing about. Just being honest. I had a twitter conversation with a friend not too long ago about how comfortable it is to share these thoughts and feelings with virtual strangers, but how weird it often feels to know that family and/or some friends might be reading. I think the bottom line is that I am a pretty private person. I think constantly (not exaggerating!) but I don't like to share those thoughts. There can repercussions when someone knows what you are thinking, and what you are feeling. I also do not always like to be asked about stuff. I might want to say something about feeling frustrated, or lonely, or excited, or nervous, but that's just want it is. A statement. Once you put it out there, people know about it, and then the follow up questions start. For some reason that makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I've even pretty much stopped sharing on Facebook, and have considered blocking some people on my Twitter for these same reasons. Weird enough, what I have found is it is different over email or blog comments.
      That being said, there are some things I am just going to get over. I want to blog, so dang it, I'm going to. I'll warn you now, some days it might not be pretty. Some days I might contradict myself. And most days it will not be interesting to you. Oh, well. It's my blog, and you have already been warned that I lead a pretty dull life.

      So...why not start this off with a bang, huh? Below is an excerpt of an email I wrote to a friend a while back. I think it explains a lot about me. My friend/mentor Carol posted on her Facebook asking for stories of God's faithfullness. Like I said, I don't have any dramatic life stories - no terminal illnesses, no loss of a job, nothing like that at all, so at first I didn't think I had anything to contribute. BUT....God is faithful all the time - not just in the drama, and that thought stayed with me for a couple of weeks. One day over my lunch break (which I rarely take...) I sat down at the computer and just started typing. This is what came out (slightly edited because orginally there was a lot of rambling):

      My story of God’s faithfulness is not spectacular like some people’s. I have never had a horrific or tragic incident in my life. I grew up in an incredible Christian home with two parents who are as much in love now as they were when they married 37 years ago. We weren’t wealthy growing up, but we weren’t poor. I have always been loved and provided for. I am blessed. I came to know God at an early age, and have never once doubted his existence or love. As many people, I struggled through my teenage years to determine if my faith was indeed my own or if it was my parents'; come to find out, it was my own, with a little tweaking as I grew into my own person and set of beliefs. I have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and have always had a good job. On the surface I should have no complaints. However, I struggle. Daily I struggle with one thing many people take for granted. Despite my best efforts or best intentions, despite the words of many, I struggle. My constant battle each and every day is to be happy. It sounds so simple, but to me, it is a large ocean I navigate every minute of every day. Some days the ocean is calm and I become confident things will remain that way; other days the ocean is full of large, crashing waves and I fight to keep my head above the water. On the average days, the waves are not as large, but exhausting nonetheless.
      When I think about my life, the things I imagine/imagined for myself, and the reality of where I have been and where I am, many things do not match up. I love people – I love to be around people, to help people, to encourage people, and to spend time with people. I have always desired to have close, significant relationships with others – great groups of friends; kindred spirits to walk through life with. I have always longed to be a part of a group. The reality of my life is nothing like this ideal. For many reasons, most of which I do not know or understand, I have always been on the outside. I have never been one of the ‘popular’ kids – at school or youth group, or even as I got older, but I always had friends in every group. However, I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. In college, I know a lot of people. I was instrumental (or rather God was instrumental through me) in introducing many people who became lifelong friends themselves. I watched as friends I knew became part of a group with other friends I knew, but I always felt like I was on the outside. Maybe no one else saw it, but it contributed to my feelings of being lost and alone, and caused a lot of pain. Through my whole life I have trusted God. I have clung to his words and his promises – promises to never leave me or forsake, words spoken over me reminding me that he has a future for me, plans that he has made specifically for ME. I pray for that and cling to it every day – otherwise the waves will take over, I will lose my battle and sink into that huge ocean of depression and despair.
      Now you know the ugly truth – the me that I don’t let people see. You see, I am very good at putting up appearances. I don’t ever want to be the trouble maker, the person who calls attention to myself, or the person who pulls attention away from someone who truly needs it. I know there are people all over the world hurting even more than me, so I push my hurts and pains away, ignoring them and trying not to expose them. I desire someone to rescue me from my pain – to throw me a lifeboat if you will, but I don’t want to take someone else’s place in the lifeboat, because they need it more than me.
      I put on a good face when I am around others, and I say all the right things at church. But truth be told? Acting this way challenges faith more than I could ever have imagined.
      Since I am being honest here, I have thrown myself in to my work. With a lack of significant relationships, my job is the one place I can see tangible evidence that I have been productive and worthwhile. I sometimes work 60 hours a week so that I can feel like I have made an impact somewhere – but truth be told, I don’t even love my job. I want more than anything to be happy, and I fight for it every day. I have overwhelming desires and needs that I think are not being met. I desire and long for love and acceptance.I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will make a good wife and mother – my heart aches and longs for that opportunity, but I’m 31 years old and have't been on a date since high school.
      I know my story is not very touchy-feely, and it doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy ending – yet. I am still very much a work in progress. I tell you all of this because I know deep down that the truest testament of God’s faithfulness is living inside of me. I can feel it every day. He has NEVER left me, and I have never felt completely alone – even in my darkest hours (and there have been many), I could feel his presence in my life. When I have put myself in destructive situations, he has saved me. When I put myself in harm’s way, he has reached down and orchestrated my safety. He has a future planned for me, and a destiny far greater than this world could ever promise. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who my God is and what he can do. I don’t know what his plans for me are, but I know that he has them – I have seen the evidence in my life. In the midst of the drowning waves of the ocean, I know He is with me.
      So, yeah, there it is. That's me. Those are my thoughts. And some of my actions.

      Thursday, October 7, 2010

      Light Bulbs, Ah-has, and/or Fireworks

      I've been reading a lot lately, and I've been thinking a lot lately. You have a lot of time to think when you average two hours in the car a day. I usually listen to sports radio, and lately they have been playing an "I Am Second" commercial featuring clips of Josh Hamilton's video. It is powerful. You can watch it here - I'm warning you, it's powerful. The word that really stands out during the commercial is "Surrender". I've literally heard it three or four times a day for the past month or two. Funny how it sometimes takes you a while to hear something, ya know? But this wouldn't leave me alone. I'd be thinking about something totally different or working on something, and that word would pop into my head.
      In most cases, it doesn't take me long to figure something out. I typically look at an issue/problem/challenge, and the solution just hits me. Or so it seems. This time, the word had to work its way into my brain before I fully figured it out. It took me going to the website and watching the whole video. In it, he says:

      "You can do with me what you want to do with me, but I Surrender......"

      WOW. Light bulb moment. Ah-ha moment. Fireworks going off. What ever you want to call it. For the first time, this Southern-Baptist-raised-church-every-Sunday-and-Wednesday-camp-every-summer girl realized what it truly means to surrender.
      And it just keeps coming....
      The next night as I was falling asleep, I was in that stage where I was more asleep than awake, but still had conscious thoughts, and something else hits that moment, if someone were to ask me what I desired more than anything in this world, or what my deepest passion is, the answer I would have to give them is "to be a wife and mother".
      Whoops. Light bulbs, fireworks, ah-ha - here we go again. (Needless to say, I didn't fall right to sleep at this point!)

      Somewhere along the way, I got it all confused. I convinced myself or decided that surrendering meant I "gave my life to Christ" as in, I'm not going to hell when I die. And that if I loved him and said I loved him, it was okay to have other passions and other desires. The thing is, I know better than this. I've always known better than this, it just wasn't 'clicking' with me. So, it's back to square one - although, it's not really square one. I've got a lot more perspective and experience backing me up.

      Surrender. Fully Surrender. Do what ever you want with my life, Lord. I fully surrender. I surrender my desires. I surrender my wants. If you desire for me to be single, I will serve you. I surrender. If your desire is not for me to have children. I surrender. If your desire is for me to have the job I have. I surrender. I fully surrender.

      For the past few days, I have repeated some songs over and over in my heart -

      Clay Crosse's "I Surrender All":
      I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
      Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
      But these castles I've constructed by
      the strength of my own hand
      Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand
      In the middle of the battle I believe I've finally found
      I'll never know the thrill of victory
      'til I'm willing to lay down
      All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
      So I'm laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours
      I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
      Though the price to follow costs me everything

      I surrender all my human soul desires
      If sacrifice requires
      That all my kingdoms fall
      I surrender all
      If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
      If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
      If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
      My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain
      So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
      And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly lay
      I surrender all the triumph for it's only by Your grace
      I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise
      Everything I am, all I've done, and all I've known
      Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
      Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
      If all I have is all that You desire
      I surrender all

      Judson W. Van DeVenter's hymn "I Surrender All": (How many Sundays have I sung this song in my life without every fully 'knowing' and owning the words?)
      All to Jesus I surrender;
      All to Him I freely give;
      I will ever love and trust Him,
      In His presence daily live.
      I surrender all,
      I surrender all;
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.
      All to Jesus I surrender;
      Humbly at His feet I bow,
      Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
      Take me, Jesus, take me now.
      All to Jesus I surrender;
      Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
      Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
      Truly know that Thou art mine.
      All to Jesus I surrender;
      Lord, I give myself to Thee;
      Fill me with Thy love and power;
      Let Thy blessing fall on me.
      All to Jesus I surrender;
      Now I feel the sacred flame.
      Oh, the joy of full salvation!
      Glory, glory, to His Name!

      So much more I want to share, but I am very overwhelmed. I want to share about some of the things I have been reading, because I am so amazed at how I am being fed by nontraditional methods. However, I want to take a minute to thank someone, because she said the right thing at the right time. I have been frustrated and discontent for a while, and those feelings were growing stronger every day. To the point where I have been thinking about making huge life changes - although I just made some HUGE life changes! I posted on twitter one day (Sept 20 to be exact) "I'm in a funk. It has lasted three months. Need solutions. Need inspiration. Have motivation. Need direction." Megan replies to me - "Are you doing church? Getting fed?". She might as well have hit me between the eyes with a 2x4...! So, thanks Megan - I owe you one...BIG Time.

      It's getting late and I need to leave the office, so I'll wrap this up with the promise of more soon (I finally have wireless internet at home, so I'm on the computer more - finally!).

      Until then...the goal - To Love the Lord, MY God, with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind! (Luke 10:27)

      Sunday, August 1, 2010

      Growing up is hard to do

      Last weekend I went to Kansas City for a quick visit with my friends, and to help finalize everything with the house since the lease was up at the end of July. It was a very bittersweet trip.
      To break up the trip on the way up, I decided to stop by Stillwater and Lawrence to take pictures of the campus so I could decorate my new office with campus photos. It as a great road trip, and I enjoyed the much needed alone time in the car. After I left Lawrence, I headed up to Smithville to have dinner and some lake time with Liz and Aaron. Tons of fun and good conversation. Saturday was spent doing things around the house and catching up with my best friend, then Sunday night I had a much needed dinner with Sari before she and her family move to Chicago. Then Sunday night was a great surprise dessert with Byron! He was in town from STL, and it was SO good to catch up with him. Monday I had set aside time to visit with everyone at the office, starting with an early breakfast with Cathy. After our almost 2.5 hour breakfast, I was able to quickly catch up with everyone in the office. As I was leaving, my heart ached because I realized how much I miss them all. I work with some pretty great people at UTA, but none of them are the friends I have left behind. The rest of Monday was equally hard, saying goodbye for the last time to the house I loved, saying goodbye to my best friend were excruciating. I cried pretty much the whole way home. And was weepy most of the week too. Growing up and moving on is hard, but I just keep reminding myself why I made this change. I know that I am here for a reason, I just have to keep my eyes on my goals. That's not going to change the fact that I deeply miss all of my friends, but who know what the future holds in Texas!

      Monday, July 19, 2010

      My favorite quote

      "Treat people as if they are what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

      In college, I had this quote taped to my desk in my dorm room, and later in my apartment. When I got my first 'real' job at KU, I put it on my bulletin board in my office. It reminded me of my 'philosophy of education', and I liked how it made me feel when I read it, and how I related it to my chosen career field. You see, when you go to interview for jobs in higher education, they will always ask you what your philosophy of education is. My philosophy is that everyone is an individual - that every person who walks into my office brings with them a unique set of circumstances, backgrounds, issues, and ideas. In my work with them, I prefer to focus on their individuality and in that, I seek to treat them as if they already are what they could be. When I have a freshman in my office who is failing a course, I don't focus on their failure - I focus on the success that they are capable of.

      As I unpacked my new office last week, I came across this quote again. It made me pause, and I realized I we should use this philosophy in every day life.

      Friday, July 16, 2010

      I have learned....

      ....that you CAN always go home again
      ....that you're never too old to let your parent's spoil you
      ....that no matter where I have lived, the South is where I belong
      ....that I love the person I am
      ....that patience really does pay off
      ....that God IS in control (...not Rebecca)
      ....that there are so many things bigger than me and my wants, needs, hurts, etc.
      ....that it feels good to stand up for myself and stand my ground
      ....that God IS in control...oh, I said that already? Well, it's true!

      At the end of April, I packed up the past seven years of my life, left my house that I loved, left my best friend of eight years, the most amazing co-workers I have ever had, and some great friendships, and moved back home. Literally. Yup, I'm 30 and living with my parents. I'm gonna be honest, it was hard on me mentally at first. I left for college two days before I turned 18, and only really returned for one summer. I took pride in the fact that I was independent. I liked that I had anonymity in a city and no one checked up on where I was or asked where I was going. I liked doing a lot of things on my own. But....I missed my family. For a couple of years I had entertained the thought of moving back, but I think I liked the idea on paper more than the reality. However, there was this nagging and longing in my heart that wouldn't leave me alone. Last fall, I made the decision - I would move home with or without a job. If you know anything about me, you know that I am not good without a plan - haha - and this 'plan' wasn't really much of a plan! But, God being who He is....he came through and I have a job! It couldn't have worked out any better...and it continues to work out great.
      So, the last week of April, my parents drove to KC, and then we all drove back to Texas.
      Let me tell you, this has been one of the best decisions of my life. I really don't know why I resisted for so long. It has even been great living at home (and I'm not just saying this because my parents read my blog - haha!). Without having to deal with the upkeep of a household all on my own, coupled with a 45 minute one-way commute each day, I have had a lot of time to think, reflect, brainstorm, and just be still....and you know what I have learned? That God is bigger than me....that He is bigger than all of this. To anyone who knows me, there are two things that are apparent: I have a serious need to be in control, and there is nothing I want more in the world than to be a godly wife and mother. Ironically, those two don't work well together. Welcome to my world! You know what, though? God is bigger than both of them. We're (me and God) are working on me letting go of control....often through the little things. For example, I took an amazing first-ever girl's trip to Austin with my cousin/bestest friend (mom calls her's sister-cuz - that's a fitting explanation) this past weekend. Well, every road trip I have ever been on with anyone other than my dad, I have done most if not all of the driving....not this time. We took a car that I can't drive - never learned how to drive a standard! Just one of the small ways God is teaching me how to let go of some control. The other thing I am (re-)learning, I can't believe I ever let go of. Back in college and graduate school, I was blessed to sit under and learn from one of the most godly women I have ever known. I wanted to be like her in every way - as a woman, a wife, a mother, and a mentor. I quickly realized that it was the Jesus in her that I wanted to be so much like. I remember her telling me time and again that all I had to do was sit at His feet and stay in the Word and everything else would fall into place - that all I had to do was be so in love with Jesus that nothing else mattered, and he would take care of the rest. Well, Rebecca being Rebecca, I got away from that. Being in love with Jesus wasn't bringing my husband, or getting me any closer to having kids (in my mind at least), it wasn't getting me a promotion or a raise at work, it wasn't getting me any more vacation time, or any more friends, so I decided I had to do those things myself. Well, look how that worked out for me! So...back to square one - which I never should have left in the first place!
      The past three months have been refreshing, renewing, and eye-opening. I'm SO glad to be back in Texas - and glad to be back at square one again.
      More later...back to this pesky thing called a job - haha (I love it though...don't get me wrong!).
      Happy FRIDAY!

      "He who getteth wisdom loveth his own soul; he that keepeth understanding shall find good." Proverbs 19:8

      Friday, March 5, 2010

      Friday Funday???? Not so much...

      You know how everyone dreads Mondays? I dread Fridays. Seriously. I told you I was strange, remember? I love Mondays, it is a fresh start to a whole new week. It holds a certain promise of things to come. Fridays on the other hand, are the exact opposite. My usual thought on Friday is "Oh, crud, I haven't gotten to this all week and I've got to get it done today!" Thus, my lack of affection for Fridays!
      There are a couple of good things about Friday, though, and that the the quiet calm that falls over my office and the promise of the pending weekend. You see, college students love Fridays, and do their best not to schedule anything on Fridays, so I get a break in the action!! I usually come in on Friday mornings and fly through tasks that have been interrupted all week. Lucky me!
      So, I am bring productive, and it feels so refreshing! I am getting files cleaned and organized, lists made, and tasks checked off the ever-present to-d0 list.
      Top that off with a beautiful 50 degree sunny day in Kansas City, and I am a happy lady!

      Thursday, March 4, 2010


      You hear all your life that the most popular choices are not always the right choices. That to do what is best is often difficult. I've been experiencing that a lot lately. I have made a huge decision to move. I am looking forward to a new job, new challenges professionally, new opportunities and outlets for my creativity, being closer to my family, essentially establishing the next chapter in my life. I am excited about it, but it is also difficult. Parts of me are torn and will be for a while.
      When you leave a place that you have been settled into for so long, it is hard. I have made the right choice, but in some instances, it is not the popular one. Even within my own thoughts sometimes. My brain runs 100 miles an hour, it often runs in five directions at once. One direction is the excitement, the other direction is nerves and anxiety, there is a separate direction for relationships that will be disrupted, torn, and severed.
      This is a difficult time. I'm trying to finish one chapter while I'm starting another. This chapter has been long and complex and is full of memories, emotions, love, and security. I'm scared. I'm sad. I'm hurting. I'm anxious. I'm hopeful. I'm excited. I'm blessed. I'm human......

      Tuesday, February 16, 2010

      Just Listen, Rebecca!

      If you know me, you can imagine I have heard that line a million times in my life. I figure there are two main times a person is told to/urged to listen - when a solution is needed, or when a mistake is made. Honestly, I don't like to listen, unless I ask a question. When it comes to the first scenario - when a solution is needed - I am a problem solver; a figure-it-out-er. I would rather come up with my own solution than listen to someone else's. To be honest, I usually think my solution is best anyway. Not to be arrogant, but I rarely make rash decisions, I look at situations from multiple angles, and often times I can look at a situation and figure out a solution by just looking at it. When it comes to the other scenario - when a mistake has been made -I'll just be honest again - I don't like my mistakes pointed out. I'm sure I have some deep psychological issue that leads to this, but from my perspective, I'm a perfectionist. I take my actions seriously, and I do everything I can to keep from making a mistake, and when I do make mistakes (which is often - I may be honest, but I'm not delusional!), I usually catch them quickly.

      So, all that being said, I don't like to listen. I'm not very good at it - just ask my parents! So these last few weeks have been very interesting for me. I have been hearing god's voice in some of the most obscure places and circumstances. What is so interesting about it is that all during college and my early adulthood, I remember being so frustrated because people would always say they 'heard' God's voice. I never felt like I experienced that. Sure, I would recognize things in readings or could hear through another person's words or teachings, but I always felt like I was on the outside of something that everyone else had experienced. It was very frustrating for me, and I even read books on the topic of 'hearing God'. Then, for a few years after that, I stopped trying to listen all together. I was frustrated with my life circumstances, and I figured that if I hadn't heard him before then, it just wasn't going to happen. Silly, me!

      Suffice it to say, some major things have been going on in my world lately, and I could not imagine trying to make the decisions I had had to make without listening! What has truly blown me away about the whole process is that I have been given a peace about much more than I could have every imagined. It is amazing what happens when you just listen!

      Wednesday, February 3, 2010

      Breaking the silence.....

      There is a very legitimate reason for my lack of posting on my blog in the past month. SO much has been going on, but until now, I feel it was in my best interest to keep it off the internet. I'll write this post how I like to read things - first the news, then the details! So...for the news (if you do not yet know):

      I'm moving to TEXAS!!!!!!
      Ok, now that that is out of the way....haha! I have accepted a job at the University of Texas - Arlington effective May 4th. I have always said that I will know when it is time to move back home, and for the past year I have felt that time rapidly approaching. At one point, I made a decision that I would move at the end of the semester even if I had not found a job. He always does, God had a plan of his own! When this job came along in late October, I wasn't serious looking because I wanted to wait until the end of the school year. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity, so I applied. Lots of pieces fell into place - including the morning after I saw the job posting the supervisor of the new job called my current supervisor about the job. The new position is working with a program called Supplemental Instruction, and the center I work in at UMKC is the International Center for SI. I had a phone interview between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and went down for an in-person interview the Friday before MLK Day.
      I am excited about being closer to family, and I am looking forward to this career move. This has not been an easy decision for me; in fact, I think this has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make on my own. I will leave behind some amazing co-workers, a program I have build from the ground up, friends that have become a second family, an amazing city that has four real seasons (!), and many other things. However, at the end of the day, my family is the most important thing to me, and to have an opportunity to be closer to them is priceless.
      As the next ten weeks fly by, I have a lot of things to finish up in Kansas City....but on the other hand I have many things I am looking forward to.
      When I told my director at work about my decision, he was incredibly supportive and encouraging. He even told me that the hardest part of the process was making the decision, but that once the decision is made, it will all be easier after that. Let me tell you...that is so true! I struggled for weeks and weeks about the decision, and experienced a few sleepless nights, but now I am feeling like my old self again. Even better, I can feel God's hand in all of this. I have been reading and praying and thinking a lot lately, and I can feel the Spirit moving. I can't wait to see where this all leads!

      Sunday, January 3, 2010

      2010...what do you have in store?

      Goodbye 2009.....hello 2010!

      Wow, 2009 was quite a year. Looking back, it was more eventful than I originally gave it credit for. I moved to a new house; sweated out the loss of a job and change of job responsibilities; spent a week in Vegas, a couple of different week long trips to Texas, and a week in New York; celebrated and mourned my 30th birthday; had major, life changing surgery; gained three new baby cousins - Andrew, Keller, and Dawson; struggled with some life altering decisions; and many other things I can't think of right now!

      To be honest, there were many times that 2009 was overwhelming, frustrating, and hard. There were other times that it was fun, carefree, and exciting. Through it all, I can look back and say I am truly blessed.

      Over the past couple of weeks, I have given thought to New Year's Resolutions and their validity. I have never really made New Year's Resolutions, and if I did make any, I sure didn't stick with them long. Sure, there are many things I would like to do, and are on my list of things to accomplish/change. I want to do something cool; something great; something inspiring, or at least interesting. When people ask me what I've been up to, or what's been going on in my life, I want to have something to say other than - "oh, the usual; go to work, go home, repeat." I loved the movie Julie & Julia, and found it to be rather inspiring. I want to do something like that, only different. One thing I am certainly trying to incorporate into my every day life is to do things differently once in a while; branch out. It could be something as simple as buying a different kind of cheese (yes, I have done that) or trying a different kind of wine (doing that, too), or it could be more extreme (I'm still coming up with an extreme). I am toying with the idea of training for a half-marathon, but I'm still not sure about it. I haven't been doing a very good job of training for my 5Ks, so I'm not sold on this half-marathon thing yet. So, for 2010, here is my short list of "want tos":
      I want to:
      • Try new things weekly
      • Try many new recipes (I always collect them, then don't try them!)
      • Continue to set monthly exercise goals and work to achieve them
      • Purge many things that have accumulated in my house
      • Write more hand-written notes to friends & family
      • Take more time for myself

      On top of those, I'm hopeful for a major life change in 2010. I would love for 2010 to find me living south of the Red River once again. I'm not sure exactly how that will happen or when it will occur, but it is a goal. As I anticipate that transition, my heart is aching and hopeful at the same time. I love Kansas City, and I have met many great people here. My heart aches at the thought of leaving these relationships. However, I am hopeful for the future, and confident that this is the best decision for me and for my future.

      What about you? What are you looking forward to in 2010?