It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry If I Want To

(Okay…so maybe not quite my birthday…but kinda close!!! And the title for this came after writing the below…)

I’ve felt the urge to write and it’s been awhile. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m to share right now so I’m just going to keep on typing and see where this all leads…

Times have been full. Full of me, actually. And I don’t mean that in a self-centered way but in the most self-loving way (Mark 12:31). At nearly 40 years old, I’m finally discovering who I am which is who I’ve always been…but for me, it’s all new. I’m basically meeting myself in ways I never have before and I’m learning to embrace and love myself like I never have before. It feels pretty weird simply because it’s so different than what I’m used to, but it’s all soooooo good. So good.

It’s a little hard to believe that I started this blog over six years ago and six years ago, life as I knew it was so beyond anything I ever expected. And yet, it still is…and maybe it will always be…or at least until I finally let go of what I’ve expected, of all my expectations.

But that goes without saying what I’m about to share…that about two months ago, Pink’s latest and greatest song came out and it has rocked my world. I’ve listened to it REPEATEDLY since it debuted. Literally, I’ve set it on repeat and it’ll play over and over for hours and I don’t tire of it…because it resonates deep in my soul, it’s my heart’s cry…and it just so happens to be playing right now on repeat…

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?
Read more: Pink – What About Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

After about two weeks of repeat, I told my best friends that these words seemed so similar to David’s…the man after God’s own heart. To me, this song is my modern-day Psalm…” The sentiments are all too familiar…

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Psalm 13

I know there’s so much going on in the world. SO MUCH. And honestly, I have always been so wrapped up in everything and everyone else going on around me that I couldn’t see my own needs. And to take it one step further, I felt shame for even having any needs with everything going on around me.

So today, at nearly 40, I have balance like never before. I grieve…I GRIEVE over the world and all that is happening, but it doesn’t consume me like it used to. But also, like never before, I feel all of my own grief…yes, dammit, I’ve had so many expectations of what I expected at this point in my life…and I know they’re all healthy, good desires…namely, for love, for intimacy…for marriage. And it just hasn’t happened. And I don’t know why, but there’s something about turning 40 in about 3 months that presses on me in a way that I have to fess up to so I can let go and be free. Again, Pink’s words couldn’t be further from my own truth…

I don’t want control, I want to let go
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
‘Cause now it’s time to let them know we are ready
What about us?
Read more: Pink – What About Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

And by the way, I thought I was excited about this upcoming birthday until just a week ago when I found myself a weepy mess in a conversation with my best friend. I realized how fearful I was of how I could feel it [40] just coming for me and how I had now way to stop it.

So I write because, yes, I know there are big problems in the world and, yes, if there is one thing I am sure of it is that Jesus is my everything.

But then, there’s my humanity. There’s my need for affection and intimacy and sharing this life with someone in a way that is different than the most intimate relationships I have…and let me tell you, I have THE BEST FRIENDS in the world. Truly, THE BEST…the deepest of friendships I could ever ask for and I’m holding on to them for dear life now and forevermore.

And having been single for 15 years, I’ve heard it all…about God’s timing (which I’m well aware of and agree with) and that maybe it’s not God’s plan for me (which I don’t believe and will not come to agree with). I’m also not seeking pity. I guess I just want to lament like David did…and I’m pretty sure God’s absolutely comfortable with this.

In so many ways, personally…and globally, the world doesn’t make sense to me. But I’ve also learned I don’t need all the answers…I don’t need it to make sense.

So I’m not seeking answers but just to be…to be heard in my confusion and grief in all things.

Because the good news is, this no longer consumes me. While I’ve learned that these emotions will be there whether or not I choose to acknowledge them, I’ve found that when I actually feel them and face them, then I am set free.

Free to feel hope, hope that is genuine. And to express gratitude with the same authenticity…to experience true joy is everything.

David cried out his grievances, but he also expressed his hope…

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13

At the end of the day, I too, practice gratitude. I am SO GRATEFUL. So effing grateful. Just a few things that immediately come to mind:

  1. My health
  2. My family
  3. My inner circle…that I’ve waited so long for
  4. My large circle…full of people from all over the world and I’m pretty sure I’m likely to encounter someone I know wherever I go in the greater Phoenix area…and none of this is taken for granted
  5. Doing whatever I basically feel like doing outside the hours of 8-5 M-F
  6. Wine
  7. Potato chips
  8. Chocolate
  9. Saguaros
  10. Sunrises and sunsets
  11. Warm Hugs
  12. Experiencing new places/cultures and the people I get to meet through these experiences
  13. Hiking, yoga and all kinds of physical movement
  14. Deep connections with strangers
  15. Love
  16. Peace
  17. Self-compassion and care
  18. Laughter
  19. Work I enjoy with people who are like family
  20. SO MANY PEOPLE I LOVE AND AM DEEPLY LOVED BY
  21. Everything…just everything

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So there you have it. Me at 39. In practicing gratitude, I know that everything around me changes. And when I couple that with acceptance, I may have just found the secret to the good life.

After all, Jesus didn’t say it would be easy…

32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16

Take heart and hope, friends. I’m becoming convinced that the Hope of the world is counting on us to change our way of thinking so that we can be the Hope of the world and the change that we all seek.

xoxo

Desert Life

I can hardly believe that this time last year I was kicking off my final month in Japan, nursing a sprained ankle over a missed step because I was so overcome with tears all while wearing a beautiful kimono (a memory I’ll never forget marked by my deep emotions and His deep love)!!!!

**See my friend's arm holding the ice to my ankle!!!! Also, see the puffy eyes from the bawling that just went down.
**See my friend’s arm holding the ice to my ankle!!!! Also, see the puffy eyes from the bawling that just went down.

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And now, I’m back in the desert with much CONTENTMENT. Ah yes, I unwrapped this precious gift a couple months ago shortly before this selfie was taken.

contentment

My Father surprised me with this one. In fact, when He gave it to me on top of this mountain, I wasn’t even sure what I was receiving but I responded with tears of joy hidden behind those big sunglasses! I’m so grateful that He knows exactly what I need.

And apart from His love, this could be the second greatest gift I’ve received.

Being back in Arizona has been nothing short of amazing…simply because when you have received the gift of contentment and circumstances would try to dictate otherwise, you cling to it with all that you have and amazing is all you receive in return.

So that being said, the last few months have had its struggles…

My job challenges my mind and emotions on every front. I deal with people at a level like never before. The financial need I tend to wears on me bringing out some ickiness within…and the ickiness I have to face in others can bring me to tears like nobody’s business…effectively dealing with mean people is a skill I’m cultivating in my new line of work!

And last month, I said good-bye to the very best of friends here. She moved on to a beautiful and exciting adventure, which took her and her husband to another state…

photo

I decided to give e-harmony [another] go round. My three-month membership expires this Friday and in the last three months I have had no dates and am still single…that’s the short and sweet update on that!

So on the heels of my last post, with all sincerity, I can say that I am full of so much joy and peace because these are the gifts that contentment brings…

Sidebar: Except when I’m on social media…HA! Without getting into too many details but enough to keep things real here…between all that is going on in the world (since sadly, this is mainly how I know what is going on in the world)…and all that is going on in the lives of others (which of course always seems to be moving along in such a more desirable way than my own), social media can really overwhelm me with questions, and pain…and comparison and envy…and just lots of icky things…

But I’m not giving up on social media because He never gives up on me. And all those icky things surfacing through my many circumstances are working themselves out because my Father is the Giver of Grace and I am Grace’s greatest receiver.

He has given me new eyes to see the beauty of the desert like never before. What used to be dry and desolate now represents much beauty and life.

desert place

A most remarkable friend so sweetly encouraged me that “some beautiful things only bloom in this place…the cacti (so prickly) bloom too” and shortly thereafter shared this spectacular picture posted by our mutual friend on Facebook (another reason to not give it up…there is good to be had there!).

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And I rest in the hope of that…that in the ickiness and prickliness within and around, beauty blooms…

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of helping a new friend launch her summer line of clothing for her amazing business…in which another incredibly talented new friend captured this…

because im happy

There is so much life in the desert. There is so much joy found in contentment. I’m beyond grateful.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. -Hebrews 12:1-2

Whine and Cheese

I’m really good at whining. And it’s something I’ve decided I want to not be so good at. After all, nobody likes whiners…I mean, who on earth enjoys listening to complaining that comes in the tone of a whine?

And sometimes I find myself share my gripe, but end it on a positive note…not sure why but it’s what I do.

Case in point…

Friend: How’s work?

Me: So hard, so much information…I’m in a call center…tied to a headset…but, I’m super grateful for a job with great benefits!

It’s my very own version of whine and cheese! A whine ended with some cheesy, half-hearted sentiment.

But just in case you are wondering about my new job, work in a call center is very structured and efficient. I have two scheduled 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch each day. I actually like structure and strive to be efficient, but the job in and of itself is pretty tough and the people I speak with aren’t always pleasant…not to mention, I believe I interact better in person than on the phone…

BUT, I get to rely on Jesus in a new way for wisdom and strength. And for the most part, those precious breaks and lunch are quality time with Him.

I’ve been reading the sweetest little devotional that often points to Jesus’ suffering and I know it sounds super dramatic to compare my current work struggles. But the fact of the matter is, He’s not apart from it.

And I have no doubt He’s led me into this role, but I guess I expected it to be pretty effortless and a little more fulfilling. Instead, I’ve found out how much more I need Him and am reminded all the more that nothing will ever fulfill me as He does.

Again, not to sound dramatic, but Paul rejoiced in prison…and let’s just say that being tied to a headset is a bit confining!! So I want to be like Paul and choose joy over whining.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Acts 16:25

While I’m struggling in this position, the good news is I’m not jumping ship, which is where my struggles would have taken me in the past. I’m sticking with this simply because I know He’s in it with me…and I’m certain it’s where He wants me. And believe you me, after the adventures I’ve had as of recently…a cubicle in corporate America complete with a headset is of an entirely new kind that I’m trying to embrace as much as the others.

headset

I know I’m still on the steep part of the learning curve and trust that things will level out. And while this position offers constant challenge and the opportunity to help people, I’m not sure that you’ll hear me raving about my passion on a headset.

That’s some hard, but good truth for me!

And my hope is that moving forward, there’s less of a whine in my tone and a passion that stems from being with the One I love wherever that may be.

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3

Living My Story

This week marked six months of living in Osaka, Japan.

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WOW. Seems like all I can say…

Thank you, Father, for your grace. There is no other way… is what comes next…

Most times, I’ve been flying high. But I’ve had my share of moments where I’m curled up in fetal position, bawling my eyes out.

But that couldn’t be further from me. I feel everything. Deeply. So if there is joy, I’m the happiest of them all, but when there is sadness, I’m the one with the biggest pile of snot rags.

snot rag pile

And I don’t want to live my life any other way. I am most alive when I’m feeling deeply. And I’m so grateful that I’m becoming more and more free in this.

This morning, I woke with the news alert on my phone of the death of Nelson Mandela. And this part of the article really spoke to me:

“One of the most difficult things is not to change society — but to change yourself,” Mandela said in 1999 at a tribute to billionaire businessman Douw Steyn who had made his Johannesburg residence available to Mandela as a retreat after his prison release in 1990. (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/05/opinion/battersby-nelson-mandela/)

The writer went on to say:

To this day, Mandela’s weaknesses, his turbulent youth and his sometimes tempestuous relationships with women can still detract from the iconic status that Mandela achieved in his own lifetime.

But, the responsible airing of his weaknesses — including his own acknowledgment — in fact humanized Mandela and focused on his extraordinary strength of character and commitment in overcoming both his weaknesses and adversity in his own lifetime. It augmented Mandela’s greatness.

Shortly after God continued to speak to me through this:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

Earlier this week, my CNN app alerted me of the tragic news of Paul Walker’s death, which happened on his way to an event for Typhoon Haiyan hosted by the non-profit organization he founded. I read more articles in the days that followed and was touched by how he lived his life fully.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Indeed, there is no other way to live than with a heart wide open to receive the fullness of life He offers. And in receiving this, to embrace the shifts and changes that come in the process.

The last six months have stretched and grown me in ways beyond measure. Yet, much of the time, it’s like I’ve regressed. Because if I had to sum up how I’ve felt, what comes to mind is: helpless. dependent. inefficient. inept. frustrated. exhausted.

But with surrender comes so much joy and peace, plus an infinite supply of love and grace.  And that’s what makes it all worth it. This life is all mine and all for me.

While I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be a blockbuster movie star or the president of a nation, I’m living my life completely and authentically. I’m sure of the way I’m walking and I trust the One who is by my side with each step.

And I say this, not because my current status involves living in a foreign land. This experience just happens to be a part of my story as does everything that came before… and it’s all much different than the story I was writing!

But boy oh boy, is it a beautiful one… here’s a recap of the last chapter:

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THANK YOU, FATHER. Thank you for life entrusted to you that is beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you for writing the best stories.

~Your favorite daughter~

xoxo

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; -Hebrews 12:2