2018

It’s a natural thing, it seems, to become more aware of our hopes and dreams, our shortcomings and our failures, in these few days between Christmas and the New Year. No matter where you look, there is no shortage of blog posts and articles outlining all of the ways that we can become better versions of ourselves in the next 365 days.

It’s overwhelming and quite frankly a little annoying sometimes.

But as I sit here, still in my pajamas, and fix my eyes on what lies ahead I am overcome with this feeling of humility. I feel so small and insignificant under the weight of the things I know 2018 could bring and the things unknown. And there just under the surface I am surprised to find feelings of unworthiness. Unworthy of the calling that God has placed on my life and will be bravely stepping into later this year. Unworthy of the grace upon grace upon grace that was poured out to me over the past couple of years. Unworthy of so much that it catches me wholly by surprise today. The feelings sent me tripping over myself towards Jesus and His truth, swallowing a lump in my throat as my good, good Father brought me to these words this morning.

“You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power. Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding.” // Psalm 139:5-6, GNT

As someone who seeks structure, predictability, and routines (enneagram type nine, right here), it seems completely out of character to also be someone whose life will likely be uprooted in 2018. The reality is that this Fall I could be setting off somewhere for a four month, full-time child life internship or I could be moving to Illinois for grad school.

I honestly just have to laugh and point to God as my direction for all of this because if it were solely up to me, none of this would probably be happening. I’d stay here, in the only place I’ve ever known besides my college years, and settle into a predictable and stable life. But all praise and honor to our Father in Heaven, who knows exactly what we need, because there is no doubt in my mind that it is He who is guiding every step of this journey that I’ve been on for the past two years. He is protecting and surrounding me on every side, a beautiful reminder that I was graciously given today.

I am reminded in these last few hours of 2017 that as scary as the days ahead may feel – to literally not know where I will be living in eight short months – that they have already been written by a truly amazing Father who loves His children so dearly. I am reminded of my worth, my identity that surpasses anything I could dream up here on Earth. Where I may feel small and insignificant, God looks at me and sees a masterpiece.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” // Ephesians 2:10, NLT

 

2017: A Year in Review

January

The year began with snow the first weekend of the year! It hardly ever snows in this area but any amount brings me so much joy!

2017 Year in Review

February

In February, I got into antiquing with my Mom! One weekend we explored downtown Gastonia, which I’d never really done – surprising, since I came here a lot as a kid. I just loved the remnants of the “old” mixed in with the new.

April

April was definitely a highlight of 2017 for us as a family! For most of my life my family talked and dreamed about one day taking a family vacation to the Grand Canyon and this year was the year those dreams finally came to fruition! It was a week full of joy and love and beautiful sights that left me in complete awe of the God who created it all. We saw Celine Dion in concert for the second time as a family on our first night in Las Vegas and walked down memory lane in Williams, Arizona where we stayed most of the week. My Dad remembers stopping in this town on the train as a kid when his family would journey from California back to New Mexico to visit family and my great-grandfather worked as a dishwasher here in the 1930s. We even made the much anticipated roadtrip to New Mexico to visit the town where my Dad was born and visit with his cousin who shared so many photos and family stories!

Read the Post

Homegoing

On Saturday, my family and I got to go “home” and by home, I mean to the part of North Carolina that my extended family has called home since arriving in this country in the 1600/1700s. Homegoing, indeed.

Caswell County in North Carolina is a rural place. It is place where it isn’t so hard for me to picture what it must have looked like back before the roads had asphalt and the homes had electricity. It’s a place where time seems to slow and a special sort of peace sets in, far away from the distractions that more urban environments harbor.

Back in the Spring, a distant cousin invited our whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) out to the home in which my great-grandfather Joseph Ezra built with his own two hands. The home has fallen into disrepair and will be demolished soon, but he wanted to invite all of his descendants out to see it before that happens. There is an inherent tie that I feel to this area of North Carolina anyway since it is where half of my family has lived for so long, but to stand on this piece of land, looking at a home that one of my relatives actually built – that was truly special.

Homegoing

This is the home that my great-grandfather brought his new wife home to after their wedding in February 1907. More than 100 years ago. They would go on to be married for 70 years until my great-grandmother’s death in 1977. In every picture I’ve seen and every story I’ve heard about them, they were the cutest little couple around and I am so grateful that I am their great-granddaughter.

Around the back of the house is a fig bush that is actually the same fig bush that my great-grandmother would pick from when making her fig preserves.

Homegoing

This walk down memory lane and through my family’s history meant the world to me and I am so happy to be able to soak up as many experiences like this as I possibly can!

Fall Update

Well hello, friends!

It’s been way too long since I have posted anything here, which seems a little crazy to me! Once upon a time I was a semi-regularly posting blogger and now I’m lucky if I find the time to even think about writing.

The first official day of Fall is this Friday and I could not be happier, even though my house has looked like Fall since the first week of September. Fall is truly my favorite season and I am just ecstatic to have football on TV, leaves falling down, and temperatures (slowly) beginning to drop.

Something I’m super excited about this Fall is the start of community groups at my church! Since I first started attending this particular church in January of this year, I really haven’t been able to devote a ton of time to cultivating a sense of community there. Each and every Sunday I just feel at home and so grateful that God brought me there so when they announced new groups were starting this Fall, I jumped right in! And guys, God has been everywhere in this group…and it was only the first official week!

Truth be told, I’m usually somewhat hesitant to be in a position where I might need to share some of my personal journey of faith. It’s not the neatest of stories and is filled with loss and grief but also grace upon grace upon grace poured out from Jesus. This past week, our first official meeting together, I found myself sharing a snapshot of my story – the two losses that I experienced two years ago this week. Soon after I spoke about it, I found myself sitting there in my chair overthinking all of what I had just shared and began criticizing myself for speaking up. I think I have the fear/worry that others might think I share my story to get pity or to have others feel sorry for me which couldn’t be further from the truth – but there I was thinking it.

A few minutes later towards the end of group, we were asked to reflect on what we thought God was saying to us and showing us through the week’s sermon and our reflection of it. One of the other women in the group spoke up and shared how she enjoyed hearing the stories of the other group members and how it was encouragement to her given that she and her husband were in the midst of a very difficult year. In this year alone they had lost three close relatives and I was just momentarily awe-struck by God’s work in that moment. It was then that I realized that it was things like this that make it so important for us to share our testimonies and our journeys with those around us, especially when they are so full of God’s grace and love.

There I was second guessing myself for sharing some of my story and experiences when what I shared was actually having an impact on someone else going through something very similar. She spoke of how encouraging it is to hear from someone on the “other side” of this when she clearly is still in the deep throes of grief. I nearly teared up right there and the entire time that we prayed together as a group to close out our time together I just found myself thinking, “Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God for bring all of us together in this group.”

And so today, on what is actually Gratitude Day (Sept. 21) I just felt like I needed to share that experience with you all. In Colossians 2:6-7 we read, “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.” (CSB)

That couldn’t be more descriptive of me lately – “overflowing with gratitude.”

God is able to produce the most amazing stories and testimonies out of some of the messiest of circumstances and that is something always worth praising and rejoicing over. I can’t look back at the 2 years of losses and hardships any other way but through joy-filled eyes because I know exactly where Jesus was in every moment of those experiences.

Amazing grace, indeed.

What Matters Most | Whole30 Recap

Whole30 Recap

Here I am, sitting at my computer on Day 30, sipping my cup of Whole30-compliant coffee.

To be here, having completed my first Whole30 feels like a gift, you guys. And I know that probably sounds way too sappy and I get it. I mean I’m just one person out of the millions, probably, who have already done a first, second, and maybe third Whole30. But for me, I am just grateful to be here, in this moment.

I had an inkling when I first decided to do Whole30 back around Memorial Day that my life was going to change. That was probably because I bought/read every book on the subject and everywhere in them was talk about food freedom and how this was going to change my life. It was never really a secret to me that the root of my food issues and my biggest roadblock with living well and eating healthy was me. I knew that stress eating was a real issue in my life (teaching is stressful, you guys) and even though I knew ways to counteract that and knew that I needed to get more active, I just simply didn’t do it. I made excuses that my schedule was too busy and that I just simply wasn’t strong enough.

Dear Whole30, thank you for shutting me up about that last part.

My parents and I decided to do Whole30 together for several reasons. For starters, I live at home and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do Whole30 on my own without huge amounts of temptation. For my Dad, it was a chance to see how a Whole30 way of eating could affect his high blood pressure and kidney function (he has chronic kidney disease due to a rare autoimmune disease). My mom was a little reluctant (and shell-shocked at every turn when I told her all the things we wouldn’t be able to have), but jumped in with us too. She also has high blood pressure and she actually ended up experiencing the most profound changes.

So how did we do?

For my Dad, he lost over ten pounds and has had lowered blood pressure of the past month. This past week, though, his doctor told him that his potassium numbers were a little high so we have now had to shift him to a low-potassium renal diet. My “pet peeve” with this is that there aren’t that many low-potassium recipes that are also Whole30/Paleo approved but we are trying to find a balance between getting his potassium back in check while also following what we now know and believe about nutrition (So many gluten/grain ingredients…*shudder*).

Like I said above, my mom probably had the most substantial changes of the three of us. Her blood pressure has been significantly lower, guys. Like, down to only taking one medication instead of two. Around the second week, she was experiencing very low blood pressure and her doctor began tweaking her medicines a bit. The fact that she has been able to completely stop taking one of her medications is pretty amazing to me! At first, my mom wasn’t sure how much of Whole30 we would carry over into “post-Whole30 life” but now that she has seen these changes, I think she is open to transitioning to a Paleo diet with me.

As for me, my biggest transformation has been my mindset and my outlook on wellness and nutrition as a whole. Like I shared in my halfway recap, I began doing yoga this month and joined a gym about halfway through. In fact, sometimes I found myself forgetting that Whole30 was wrapping up because I truly went into this not as a 30 day thing, but as a springboard for a total lifelong change. I knew that I wanted to try and follow a Paleo diet after Whole30 and that sentiment still holds true. With all that I have learned about food and nutrition through the Whole30 books and in Practical Paleo, how could I go back to the way things were?

I truly feel excited and hopeful for what the future holds! July was a great month!

Copyright © 2018 Messy Milestones · Theme by 17th Avenue