Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Day That Heaven Touched Earth

My brother got married this past weekend. And it was beautiful. Beautiful in the sense that I know Heaven touched earth on a rainy and cloudy afternoon in May. Not only did we see it in the sushine that showed it's face only for a brief moment of the wedding ceremony but I saw it in other ways too. 


I saw it as Jessica (yes, my new sister in law and I share not only a first name now but a last name too) stood in the rain taking pictures. Any other bride I know would have been panicking about her hair or makeup. And possibly on any other day she would have, but not that day. I saw it her eyes that a little rain shower wasn't going to ruin a second of that day. She was determined to enjoy every moment. She smiled, she laughed and she said screw the umbrella. I think she would have danced in a thunderstorm if it meant she got to marry my brother. 


I saw it as I watched my brother and his groomsmen taking pictures together. I've known the majority of those guys since they were kiddos and it was a very cool moment to watch them all joke and laugh so hard together. I couldn't hear what they were saying (and probably didn't want to), but I know anyone could look at them all together and know they will be friends for life. My dad told me on Sunday about how just hearing all the groomsmen being in my parent's basement hanging out the day of the wedding made his heart want to burst open. I think it's because there is just something about watching little boys who used to play 3 Ninjas together turn into men who face life head on together that just hits you right deep down in your soul.


I saw it on my parent's and Greg and Brenda's face during the wedding. You could see the pride and happiness. I could feel Heaven as our two families circled Joe and Jess in prayer during the wedding. It felt powerful to hear her dad and mine pray for their life together. I've learned lately how much power there is in circling something or someone in prayer so I know their was power and greatness in that Souders and Loftus prayer circle. For so many years we watched Jessica and Joey do life together. They faced really big highs and really hard lows and there was a time when we weren't sure how their story would end but in that moment we all believed God can redeem any situation and that God had redeemed theirs in the best possible way.


The moment though that I saw Heaven the most was during the first dance. I'm the first to admit the first dance is always sweet but it's not like you pay attention for that long. But this dance had everyone in the room watching. And it wasn't because they came up with some coordinated routine or they looked like ballroom fancy dancers. It was because my brother was singing to Jessica the whole time. And something about that moment found me holding my breath and crying tears of happiness. Then I realized that everyone around me felt the same way I did. You could see on both of their faces the love we all strive for. I think everyone wanted to be loved as much as Jessica loved Joey in that moment and everyone wanted to love someone as much as Joey loved Jessica in that moment. I also think in that moment everyone could have felt a little jealous, but I don't think anyone did. I think for me it made me want to strive harder and pray circles around the promises from God that I will have that kind of love in my life one day.


I read a book years ago that talked about what Heaven would be like. And the author said he hoped it was like a wedding. Lots of laughing, dancing, wine and love. I hope that too and now I'm confident Heaven will be a lot like the day my brother married his bride.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Lot Like Love

I have this theory. Or maybe it's one of my weird quirks, but if I date someone, no matter if it's one date or 10 dates, after it's over I have to get rid of the bad juju. Weird right?

We all know I love to eat out so when given the choice if I'm planning a date (which I'm always doing lately because I live in the dating world of "whatever you want to do") I want to go to my favorite places which causes a problem in my brain later. Why? Because now when I think of that place the last time I went there was either on a bad date or on a good date that didn't pan out. So as soon as either one of those things happen I immediately try to revisit those places with someone I love to remove my bad date (or bad relationship) juju. 

This last guy, although short lived, I can't get out of my brain. It's like the bad juju is following me everywhere and I can't shake it. I went to all the places we went (minus one because it's expensive and in Clayton and although it was wonderful I don't know anyone who would eat bone marrow with me and split a $65 bottle of wine so I'll just avoid it until the end of time). But still here he is. Invading my thoughts. And making days that would just be normal pleasant days a little bit grey.

And because I'm me, I have to over analyze and then psycho analyze why I'm feeling this way. And I think I figured it out. It's because he genuinely talked to me. He wanted to know me, the real me. Probably for the first time in 6 years I was completely just me with somebody other than my friends and family. I said what I thought and felt at every turn. I was open and honest about everything. I was vulnerable. It felt great. So obviously the fact that the real me, the vulnerable me, the me that laid it out on the table was rejected might just take a little time to get over. And I should probably give myself a break about it.

I promised myself that this season of life was about love. And me beating myself up over the could haves and should haves is not love. Me wishing for something to be different is not love. Me letting my days be crabby because of this situation is not love.

When I was in the midst of this short lived situation I felt happy and wonderful. And part of that was of course, because of him and the way he was treating me. But I also think a part of why I felt that way was because of me. Because I was completely and totally me. So I'm reaching for that girl again. I'm finding her and nurturing her voice, her honesty and her truth. Because that for sure looks a lot like love.

You know what else looks a lot like love? Buying myself some flowers. Cause I'm worth it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Becoming Love

Change is so hard for me. Transition is so hard for me. But do you know what's worse? Being stuck. Stuck in a pattern of life you can't seem to get out of. Stuck in a mindset that always invades your thoughts. Wanting to move forward but not knowing how or where to start. But about a month ago I took the first small step into a new season of life.


If I'm honest with myself the last season of my life would probably be called Lonely, Lazy and Loveless... And I put myself there. I willingly stepped into that season and let it consume me. While it was happening I knew I was getting deeper into it, but I just rode the wave down. I hadn't truly had a season like this since my early 20's. My anxiety was building over everyday things. The depression that I hadn't seen since that time was invading it's way back in from time to time. But this time was different than the last time. Because although it invaded I was still in control. I looked my Anxiety, Loneliness and Depression square in the eyes and said hello. I acknowledged them every time they showed up. And I felt everything they made me feel without shame. And then I would do everything in my power to usher them out the door. I would let those feelings wash through me and over me but I would never let them stay. But of course one night, the dam broke. Because you can only fight something by yourself for so long. Luckily my sister was there to pull me into her boat. Sometimes you just need someone to say they understand.


So as of this past Saturday I officially said "Peace Out" to that season of life and am fully embracing the new season. I was going to call this new season Becoming. But after already being in it for 3 days I've decided it's going to be called Becoming Love. Because in the 3 days I've been with my sister, brother in law, niece and nephew I've seen love and lots of it. It's all about becoming my best self, loving myself, and loving the people that surround me. (And if some romantic love came in the picture I wouldn't object to that at all...) This season feels like joy already.


I read recently that the words you use become the house you live in. So Becoming Love is the house I want to live in. What house do you want to live in?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ingrained In My Soul

One of the best things I've ever done for myself and my faith was to start working with the student ministry at Christ Church. I'm at the beginning of my 3rd year of volunteering with them. And I love it. I, with my amazing friend Caitlin, lead the senior girls. Every week it's a new adventure.

Sometimes it's hard. Hard because my 31 year old self still remembers what it's like to be a teenage girl navigating through life and faith. Hard because there are questions I sometimes don't know the answers to. Hard because although I can remember being a teenager, I wasn't a teenager living in a social media world which only adds to the pressure of being a girl and keeping your beliefs and morals intact.

But mostly it's rewarding. It's rewarding seeing the girls love Jesus with their whole hearts. It's rewarding when they answer a question and I realize how grounded their faith is. It's rewarding when I see them reach out to each other in ways you do when only complete trust is there. It's rewarding watching them be completely themselves and you know they feel like they're in a "safe place" when they're with you.

I'm always looking to improve the ways we lead the group. Looking for ways to be more vulnerable with the girls so they in turn will be more vulnerable with us. I'm always hunting for new ideas to equip them for life outside of our group. I want to challenge them and prepare them as much as possible for next year when I won't see them once a week. I know most of them will go away to school and our goal has always been for them to leave us with a love for Jesus that can get them through life, because life is hard.

This year I started something new. Every week after our fearless leader Robb finishes the lesson we break into small groups. He gives us questions to go over. But before we start in with the questions Caitlin and I hand everyone a blank note card and some markers. We then give them a verse to write down. I read it slowly, they write it out, then because we're girls we, of course, decorate the note card to make it cute. They decorate while we go through the lesson questions. Then at the end they take the verse home with them.

Caitlin and I tell them that we want them to put it up somewhere. Somewhere they'll see it every day. Somewhere they'll read it every day. Car, bedroom door, bathroom mirror, etc. Our hope is that these verses became ingrained in their souls. That at times of good and times of bad they will remember that God is in control. At times of light and dark they will remember that God loves them. That their soul will always be able to find peace even in unrest because these verses will shape their outlook and complement their faith.

The funny thing that has happened though is that every week while the girls write out the verse, I write it out also. Then every Wednesday night when I get home I grab some tape and climb up on my bathroom sink (short people problems) and place the newest verse up around my bathroom mirror where I'll see it everyday. And every day while I brush my teeth and wash my face I read the verses. Suddenly those are the verses that are getting me through crabby moments at work. Those are the verses that are getting me through feeling discouraged about my dating life. Those verses are the verses that I read over and over on Sunday evening while praying for friends whose hearts are breaking with grief right now. Those verses that I hoped would become ingrained in the girls souls are the verses that are becoming ingrained in mine.

My bathroom mirror

Isn't it funny how God works? My goal was to encourage the girls and get as much scripture as possible to permeate their hearts but in turn it's done the same for me.

Signed: #christchurchgirlslovinggod

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Dating Update

Some lovely friends of mine have been asking for an update lately.

My summer was all weird dating experiences so I'll give a rundown of the gentleman I met.

The Lawyer- I was originally impressed with him right out of the gate. We talked for a couple days and then he asked to meet up for a drink. We decided to meet at Global Brew. As soon as I saw him I knew it probably wouldn't be a love connection cause he was not my type and I don't think I was his. But there didn't seem to be anything wrong with having a drink and making a connection even if it was just as friends. Apparently I was wrong... As soon as the waitress brought my drink and said that it was $5 he immediately looked out the window pretending to be completely interested in the bird that just flew by, basically to avoid paying. (Sidenote: I am more than capable of buying my own drinks, but I think that if someone asks me out they should most definitely pay. Or at least not fake seeing something out the window to avoid paying. You all may not agree with that, but I am daily around great men who have always told me that chivalry is not dead. Part of being a man is providing so I fully expect that if YOU ask me on a date you will step up to the plate, be a man, and provide. End rant.) Things just got weird from there. He bragged about how much he travels for work and how much money he makes. I continued to bring the conversation to neutral easy topics. Then he acted like it was ridiculous that I started at my job as a teller and through hard work moved up the ladder. Apparently no one is anyone who hasn't just walked right into a management position somewhere. Needless to say I drank my one drink very fast. As we're leaving we walk out to the elevator and I press the down button. He then says "It was nice meeting you, but I'm taking the stairs." Obviously I was so repulsive that he couldn't even ride the elevator one floor down with me. I looked back at him and said, "No worries, I'll just wait right here and wait for you to leave the building so we don't have to see each other downstairs." And that was The Lawyer.

The Financial Analyst- I actually went on three dates with this guy. They were all decent dates. He was nice, funny and we had a good time together. The problem was I wouldn't hear from him at all between the dates that were all at least a week a part if not a couple. So basically I always felt like I was a side thought or option. He didn't treat me badly when we were together and he was nothing but respectful, but there were literally no phone calls or texts in between except to arrange a date. And before anyone asks, yes I did reach out to him. But he would reply to my texts with one word or sentence and usually hours later. And the one time I tried to call him to have an actual conversation he didn't answer. So yeah... I don't want to be smothered by any means, but hearing from someone in between dates is a definite must.

The Grad Student- This is the perfect example of most of my interactions while online dating. We started talking back and forth. He seemed to have lots of the qualities I'm looking for. We talked for a couple weeks. Long extensive messages. Lots of joking and lots of "Oh cool! Me too!". But he never made any move to ask me out or imply that a date was ever going to be in the works. I literally had the coolest and most fun pen pal ever! I could justify the pen pal thing for awhile because he was busy with grad school... And obviously living 5 min away from me made things extra super difficult to meet up because of that long drive to see each other. (Can you sense my sarcasm???) And then basically he just quit talking to me. As in one message we're talking about brunch and then the next message... Crickets. I guess he didn't like that my favorite brunch food is crab cake benedict? Who knows?

Every Other Guy- Any halfway normal guy that I've started talking to just quits talking out of the blue. And all the other messages I get are from weirdos. These are the opening lines most commonly used these days:
"You in a little black dress. Me taking you on the most romantic date of your life." (I've gotten this same message from the same guy 4 times this summer. He has no picture up. I assume every time that he's a serial killer.)
"Wanna chat?"
"Wanna hang out?"
"How do you feel about guys who like feet?" (I've gotten this message three different times from the same guy.)

This is what I'm working with. I joke about it a lot, but if I'm being completely honest it's been hard lately. I'm trying to do my absolute best to have patience. I'm doing my absolute best to trust that God is in control. But it's hard. It's hard to trust. It's hard to not feel like the absolute one thing I want most in life is never going to happen. It's hard not to be discouraged. But I'm trying my best. Trying to concentrate on doing things that make me happy, surrounding myself with people that love me, and searching out new people and new experiences. I'm hoping that if I do those things they will one day lead me to the man that I'll spend the rest of my life with.

Signed: Have a little faith...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Living Life in the Gray

I tend to be an all or nothing person. I don't do things halfway.

And I'm kind of realizing that's not necessarily a good thing. Because when you're all in you tend to get burnt out. Exhausted. You give up. You tend to beat yourself up after one mistake or slip up.

I either eat clean or I eat junk.

I either workout 5 days a week or I don't work out at all.

I either keep everything in it's place or I'm a messy disaster.

I either like you or I don't.

I'm either excited about a date or I'm not.

I'm either blogging a couple times a week or not at all.

I'm either reading my Bible and doing devotions everyday or I'm not submerged in the Word at all.

Is anyone else like this? Or is it just me?

So how and where do I find balance? How do I move myself from an all or nothing to someone who can do things halfway. Life is not black and white. My feelings and emotions and motivations don't have to be black and white. Gray is good. Gray means balance.

And that's what I'm striving for now.



Signed: How do you find balance in your life?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Back to Reality

Vacation was ah-mazing! So relaxing. So fun. So lovely.

But here's the problem... Since we've been home I've kept my vacation state of mind. Obviously I've been working, but other then that I've continued to relax every night after work aka I've been realllll lazy. I've eaten out almost every meal aka not eating healthy at all. And on top of that Lindsay and I have been planning to switch bedrooms since before vacation and every time we've had plans to do it something has come up aka I'm living in limbo because half my room is packed up.

My life is unbalanced and out of whack!

As much as I loved vacation I'm not in Cancun anymore. I'm in Edwardsville. I've got to pull it together. I've felt so blah and my self-esteem is in the crapper. I know that's a direct correlation between eating crap food and being lazy. It's got to stop!

Today I'm getting out of limbo.

Today I'm going grocery shopping.

Today I'm getting stuff done.

Today I'm bringing myself back to reality.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Signed: This girl cannot and will not be a hot mess anymore!