I Am That Girl

When I was a little girl….and well into college, I used to pray that my life would not be normal. From an early age I wanted to serve God in a grand way.

Of course, I assumed that would include marriage and a family. Duh.

Growing up, there were always a handful of “older” single women in my life. I remember them as fun and dynamic. They were involved in ministry and poured into my life in some form or fashion. That’s why I knew them. And loved them.  But as much as I admired them, I did not want to be one of them.

I always thought marriage and a family was a given in life. Until it was not.

The other day I was in Target, walking down the aisles.

Thinking.

Daydreaming.

About life. God’s plans. My plans.

And in a moment of clarity, I realized I AM THAT GIRL!!!

I am the “older” single woman.

Who is fun and dynamic. Involved in ministry. Who still dreams of marriage but has accepted that it might not be in the cards. At least at this point in life. Who is going for it. Regardless. Living life to the full. No matter the season.

And the truth is… I really like being that girl. Her life is pretty great. 

What I judged in my youth, is actually a gift.

Getting ready this morning, I had a bit of a hangover. A vulnerability one. Because when I wrote about my year without romance, I opened up my heart a bit too much. I feel like I showed my guts to the world. And they spilled out a little.

Because I’m 38 years old. A grown woman.

Friends my age are navigating life with teenagers. Mortgages. College funds and daycare. Parents who are sick. Possibly dying.

And my deepest struggled is still boys??? Are you kidding me???

But it is. I could lie and pretend it isn’t. But then I would be keeping a secret. And living from a lie. And lies destroy us. And then we eat our feelings. Or worse.

And I don’t think I am alone in this.

When I think about the people I care about,  I think there are plenty like me.

Who are living lives they never imagined. Or judged in their youth.

Maybe you are one of us. Maybe you are the mom where your life and family look like a crazy hot mess busy. And you always swore your kids would not act like that in a grocery store. Until they did. All the time. And maybe you realized life isn’t about being the perfect mom. It’s about being available. And messy. And it’s beautiful.

Or maybe you are that career gal. Sex in the City style. Or suburbs. Who is working her way up the ranks. You’re a leader. Shaping the future. Of a company. Of a planet. Of a generation. Getting to invest in people. Earning enough to give in ways you never imagined. You own your own home. You travel when you want. You do what you want. God is allowing you to use your gifts and talents and you are a person of influence. And while it wasn’t the life you dreamed of, it’s actually pretty great.

Or maybe you are that married lady. (Or single woman) Who is amazing. Whose life is blessed and beautiful. Whose relationships are fulfilling and job is awesome.

But.

You long for babies. And it creates an ache deep inside that won’t be silenced. That cries out to God. Over and Over. And over again. You have done everything you can. To make the dream come true. And then later, silence the cries. But it won’t work. The longing won’t fade. And so you live your life. Full and amazing. To the best of your ability. Trusting God is writing your story. All the while, hoping and praying. That maybe one day. You’ll get to see a flutter of a heartbeat grow to maturity. And you have learned to live with the pain, Maybe it has actually become a place of ministry. Of healing. Of hope for others. And even though you would you trade it all in tomorrow, you see God’s hand. And know that He is with you on the journey.

I think in some way, we are all “that girl.” The one living someone else’s life. Dreaming of a different one.

I just finished a book called “Looking for Lovely” by Annie Downs. It’s all about how she looks for God in everyday moments. To see and acknowledge His hand. In her life. If there are any chubby girls in the house-this book could be our manifesto. If you want to see your inner most thoughts on paper, she spills her guts in the first few chapters. To set up the story.

Brene Brown calls it Daring Greatly. A life of gratitude. Leads to wholehearted living.

Ann Voskamp wrote 1000 Gifts. Same idea. Finding joy by being thankful.Seeing the gifts amidst the pain.

If you are reading this and think you might be “that girl.” The one you loved but didn’t want to be. Or judged and prayed you never would become.

Embrace her. 

Take a moment and find the lovely.  The beauty. Be thankful for the good. Find the joy. 

It’s there.

Because our God is good. He writes beautiful stories. With plot twists. Climax. And denouement.

You might just be in the middle of a really powerful tale of God’s love and redemption. That seems to be His favorite theme.

 

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives In My Head

okay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Going Second

I used to work at a charming little bookshop called “by the Book”.  It was right after I quit full-time ministry and before I became a teacher. I loved it. I have always been a reader. As a child I spent my money on two things. Candy and books. Books were and still are some of my best friends.

As much as I loved working at the bookstore, there was one season I loathed. Returns. Every quarter, a bookstore is allowed to pull all the books that have not sold within a certain time frame and send them back. Small bookstores need this in order to keep their shelves fresh and doors open. It really is a nice perk.

If you are the employee, however, this requires lots of boxing and schlepping and details. Three things that I don’t especially enjoy. It was like a really long tedious scavenger hunt. Searching for books that had been miscategorized or improperly shelved. My boss would hand me a 40 page list with the doomed titles circled in red and the hunt was on.

Later when I managed my own shop, I was amazed that certain employees thrived on returns. The challenge. The sense of accomplishment as they surveyed the stacks and stack of books that had been found. The list conquered.

I was not this employee. It was an exhausting chore. Sadly, I would gather all the books that would never go home with a loving fan. No one would dog ear their pages, scribble in the margins  or hand them off to a friend because, “You just have to read this.” No. These books were the unchosen. Unloved. Soon to be forgotten.

And inevitably, I would get distracted by one of the titles or the cover. It would pique my interest and I would sit down cross-legged and begin to read. 20 minutes would pass and I would think to myself, Maybe if we put this in Women, it would sell or If people could just see the cover then  someone would buy it. So I would rescue the ill-fated book, take it to the Women’s Section and give it reprieve for a few more months. Needless to say, follows directions is not one of my strengths.

It was on one of these days that I found a beautiful book that gave voice to an idea that had been brewing in my heart since my return to Maui. I can still remember the feeling of discovery as I sat on the carpet, my forehead pressed into my fists with the book open on my lap. It was called “Permission to Speak Freely”, by Anne Jackson. What blew me away was what the author called the “gift of going second”. She explains that when we are brave and share our story with someone-not just the pretty parts that can be pinned on Pinterest for the world to emulate. But when we confess the hard stuff, the dark stuff, the nitty-gritty honest struggles of the day-to-day, we give people the opportunity to open up as well. Or as the author calls it, the gift of going second.

Something in my soul started tingling. I call it the Holy Spirit hot flashes. When God puts his finger on my heart and whispers “Pay attention.” Sitting there in that bookstore years ago, I had no idea that He would be calling me to a lifetime of going first.

Sharing what the Lord is doing/has done in my life is easy for me (now). I am so amazed by his love, blown away by his grace and overwhelmed by his affection that it’s hard to keep my mouth shut. He rescued me so dramatically and thoroughly from a life of despair that it is impossible not to tell my story. It just flows freely from my lips, making it’s way into everyday conversations.

It has not always been this way. I had an incident in junior high that taught me to never be myself. To keep the real me untouchable so that no one could ever wound my soul like that again. So I learned how to blend. Vowing that I would never let someone know all of me. When I was dating and engaged, I began to let my walls down. But soon after we were married, I faced the greatest rejection I could imagine. When the person who says I do, changes their mind. But it would be years before I left. So I did what I had always done. Put on a brave face and blended into the background. Dying a slow death. Longing to be known.

It was when I moved back to Maui six years ago that I knew something in my life had to change. What I was doing was not working. In recovery they say, “We are only as sick as our secrets,” so I decided I would choose one person to reveal all of me to. My thinking was, I got myself in a mess by trying to do it on my own. I do not want to ever do that again. So this time around, whatever was going on in my life, one person would know it all.

Enter the Blond Bombshell. Gorgeous. Inside and out. I had known her before I got married. She actually threw my bridal shower. Coming out of a broken marriage, my biggest fear (besides ever being rejected like that again) was becoming bitter, hollow and angry. To me, the Blond Bombshell was everything I wanted to become. Kind. Warm. Inviting. Loving. Fun. Gracious. Charming. Generous. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Besides all that, she is a wonderful wife and incredible mom to two grown kids. But the main reason I chose her to help me navigate my way out of the darkness was because her life has not been easy. She was born with spinal bifida and has had to learn to walk four times in her life. Three times while raising children. And there is not a seed of bitterness, anger or pity in her. She has made peace with all of it before the Cross. That is why I choose her to be my secret keeper.

And I’ve told her some doozies. And she has walked me through some heart wrenching seasons. But she was also there when my heart, which had been frozen in fear, started beating again. And she was there when my dreams began to blossom. And she has been there, cheering me on, when I began to fly.

I write all of this because in my dream scenario, this blog would help others find freedom. That by going first on some hard issues, others might have the gift of going second. A lot of what I write might feel raw but the reality is I have been working on these issues for a while now. With the Blond Bombshell and the other amazing women God has brought into my life. My hope is that by being honest, vulnerable and transparent, we can get some conversations going and in the words of Goodwill Hunting, let the healing begin.

Love, Love, Love

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

 

Here is the actual excerpt from Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson.

“Sometime later I was at a concert with a youth group I was working with. I noticed a girl sitting by herself and really felt God pressing on me to talk to her about porn. What an awkward conversation to start! But I did and after I was done sharing she broke down in tears. It turns out she had been trapped in porn since she was 10 years old. She never felt like she could tell anyone, and she thought she was the only one, so when I told her about my story, she realized she wasn’t alone. She was able to start confessing and start healing. Fast forward to today. This girl got counseling and eventually got licensed in counseling herself. Now she has a ministry to help women who are trapped in sexual addictions. I gave her the gift of going second and now she’s giving that same gift to thousands of girls.”

If My Life Had Gone as Planned.

When I moved back, it felt like everybody and their brother got married.

228374_1023509794376_7833_n1924049_90079045182_883_n

And it was awesome. We had lots of fun.

Cardboard Sledding

And then, they all started popping out the babies. And that was pretty sweet.

P1010725

P1010954

But then apparently, babies change things.

My social life as I knew it changed.

9933_1239584426080_1123368887_738734_4533721_n

So I stretched my wings and met some new people.

4th

And that’s when I met these crazy girls.

11836_356422375236_853870236_10011489_3484764_n

And they changed my life for the better.

11858_514727636130_159900869_30590181_1198773_n

We went on long drives in Blanche.

P1030085

And got our craft on.

15557_515140658430_159900869_30604086_3656668_n

And laughed.

11858_514727676050_159900869_30590189_574700_n

A lot.

538232_3767799829885_225769560_n

And became dear friends. Who walked through all kinds of seasons together.

It was wonderful.

And then…

They hung around another year.

157036_1688306683856_5574954_n

And our friendship went even deeper.

We talked about God. Our hopes and dreams for the future.

246909_531712253820_579413_n

We went on crazy adventures. Talked about life, love and boys.

253976_531710816700_5990371_n

And then Alyssa moved away.

551288_10200581716281715_221977758_n

And fell in love with this guy.

861367_577310943680_547637443_o

So of course, we went to the wedding.

IMG_1298

560530_4434694701840_269856683_n

IMG_1346

IMG_1314

And had a ball. Catching up, laughing and dancing the night away.

IMG_1587

And now she and her sweetheart just moved back to Maui!! And brought a little extra something to the party.

(Sorry Kins, I know it’s not the most flattering shot)

IMG_4979

Risa stayed on Maui a little longer.  And our friendship went even deeper. We had a blast. Late night laundry chats. Laying in my bed eating ice cream. Talking about everything under the sun.

(I also got to know this amazing lady)

IMG_0305

P1030171

And then in a fairytale, Risa met a boy at Young Life camp. And they fell in love. He popped the question. The stars magically aligned and Alyssa and I got the privilege to help her pick out her dress.

(Ring the Bell, Baby)

IMG_1774

So of course, we went to the wedding.

here comes the bride

Here’s the handsome man who swept her off her feet.

IMG_2124

IMG_2130

IMG_2346

And now, they have a little bun in the oven.

FullSizeRender

And I can’t wait to meet him!!!

This is just a snapshot of a few of the amazing women that God has brought into my life. And I adore them all.

Sometimes when we are in a season of life that we wish was different, we can overlook what is right in front of us. I’m so thankful that my life has not gone according to plan. I would have missed out on so many amazing relationships and adventures. I would not trade anything for the the friendships God has given me. If I were married with kiddo’s I would not have been able to invest in these women with the faithfulness, depth and drop everything mentality that being single allowed me to do. I try very hard to not take it for granted. Because it won’t always be this way.

So, the question of the day.

Is there anyone or anything in your life that you are overlooking because you want things to be different? Are there people you could be investing in or things you could be doing because of the way God has designed this season of life? What is keeping you from going for it?