Unexpected

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If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that we don’t get to plan life’s twist and turns. We can try, sure, but trying is one thing — life actually going that way is an entirely other, and you’re a rare breed of lucky if that actually works out for you.

To be completely honest, I never expected that my life would offer the path that it has thus far. I didn’t expect myself to “settle down” — for lack of a better, if terribly overused, phrase. 

My disclaimer now, and perhaps the point of this post, is that I hardly view myself as settling. Instead, my life was rocked by a totally changing, overwhelming, incredible love story. I have said this countless times, and I wholeheartedly believe, that the reason the Lord called me to stay rooted in Phoenix was to find this love.

And my, oh my, am I so grateful for it.

I think about this sometimes. I don’t think I’ve ever told the boy this much, in as many words, but he really has changed my life, in the most cliche and the absolute best ways. The future that I once saw as an endless string of running — off to the next city, the next place, the next opportunity — has slowly molded into one a bit slower, a bit more intentional.

If I’m being completely honest — and again, that is the point in all of this — I think the future I once envisioned for myself involved a lot of running. Not in the literal sense, but rather the figurative one. I’d be lying if I didn’t look at a vagabond-type lifestyle as one that offered a route for escape whenever the going got tough. It may have been hard in some ways, but it certainly felt easy in others.

I no longer have the option to just run. If I did, I’d lose the very thing that has become most important to me.

And you know what else I’ve realized?

That’s not a bad thing.

I am by no means stuck. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. The Lord called me to grow roots, and now, I am blooming. My heart blooms with the possibility of love and a future that I never imagined wanting but now I deeply ache for (eventually); my career blooms with opportunity and growth; my own sense of self blooms with peacefulness and presentness.

If I’ve ever had a true testament to my faith, this realization has absolutely been it.

In actuality, and according to one of my dearest friends, I’ve “always been that type of girl.” The type to fall in love fast, hard, quickly, and long for something lasting. It’s just been that previously, nothing has lasted.

This one has. This one took a trial of faith and blind optimism, as well as a whole heck of a lot of trust in the urgings of my own heart.

And, of course, guidance from the Lord.

To say that my trust in my relationship and my trust in the Lord go hand-in-hand probably sounds naive, or love blinded. But I truly believe that. I believe that the Lord offered me this relationship as a way to prove that He does provide, and He provides so abundantly, so long as you trust and obey his will and his Word.

He called me to stay put.

So I did.

And, without looking, He offered me the most wonderful love I could have ever asked for… the sort of love I didn’t even dare ask for.

I remember reading an article one time about how the butterflies went away for one writer’s relationship after a while, and how that was okay because they were replaced with an overwhelming sense of security and love and warmth.

I’m proud — or maybe actually humbled? — to say that I feel the same way, but I do still get those butterflies when the boy walks in the door every night. But when I think of him, it’s not the same heart-pumping, nervous anticipation I’ve felt before. It’s calm. It’s comfort.

It’s wonderful.

I apologize, truly, for what is essentially a rambling love letter. But I just so deeply hope that you, dear reader, understand that this is more than just about my abundance of love for my boyfriend. That’s well and good and so very true, but this is about more than that. This is about giving into the unexpected and getting what you never knew you so deeply longed for as a result. This is about trusting what you are called to do, even if it goes against every other desire you thought that you had. This is about believing in the surprised that life has in store.

It’s infinitely better than anything I could have planned out for myself.

Testimony Tuesday: The 5 Year Plan

It seems that everybody has a 5 year plan, and we are no different. We spent some time talking about our plan when we were driving back from California, a place that we both adore and would love to live in one day. In fact, that, in a nutshell, is what we discussed: where we would go.

The boy loves San Diego, and I like just about any place west of the Arizona border. I wouldn’t mind if we were in Northern or Southern – I’m a California girl at heart and I’ve come to the official conclusion that I always will be. That said, I’m from the North. I was born in Sacramento, where my dad still lives, but the majority of the family is in the wine country, and it’s there that I think of when I think of “home.”

So, needless to say, when the boy said that he thinks it would make the most sense for us to move there, so we could be close to family, my heart swelled. I may have cried a little behind my mirrored sunglasses. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to love him more than I did in that moment (although, I’m sure I’ll get proven wrong about that).

That said, it makes my heart so happy and hopeful to know that we are on the same page about where we’d like to end up. Even if it’s not in five years exactly, or even if it never actually happens, having that sort of synergy with someone is an incredible feeling.

And I’m so thankful to the Lord for bringing the boy to me.

The thing is, I could have left right after college. I could have ignored what I felt God was truly calling me to do – that is, to stay planted – and run after a job opportunity across the country. And for a while, after choosing to stay in Phoenix, I wondered if I was actually going against God’s will. I questioned if I actually stayed because it was comfortable, if I was just too scared to take the leap.

It was an uncomfortable place to be, to be frank. I felt like God’s reasons for keeping me in Phoenix were unclear. Sure, it was great to be close to my mom, and I found a church community that I loved. But I also felt sort of stuck, and disappointed in myself for not being the girl who left after college, like I always thought I would.

And then I met the boy.

Now, I know that sounds kind of lovesick and I’m not afraid to admit that it probably is. But I was really cautious at first. I was so scared of getting hurt again, but the Lord made it so easy to see exactly why opening my heart to the boy was the right choice. The Lord even gave me the opportunity to look at what “could have been” had I made some different choices in that time, and I have to say that I’m so thankful for that too. I’m a bad “what if”-er, and the Father knew that. I know that’s why he gave me the chance to see, even for a day, what could have happened had I made a different choice.

I’m so thankful that I didn’t.

Looking back, it’s so easy to see that God kept me in Phoenix to meet the boy. It’s so clear to me now, but that’s how perspective often is, isn’t it? I was clearly meant to grow roots here, at least for now. That growth has gone beyond my relationship, though, and extended to my family, my career, my finances, even my relationship with the Lord Himself. I’m so thankful that I listened to His calling. I’m so grateful that I stayed.

That said, that’s really what the 5 year plan is, too. Sure, we have an idea of where we want to go, but I also wanted to end up on the East Coast or across the pond as soon as I could after throwing my graduation cap in the air. And yet, here I am: happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. I have Him to thank for that and no one else, and I know that if we trust in Him to guide us through the next 5 years, He will provide with exactly what we need. Whether that’s in the Valley of the Sun, or in the lush hills of the wine country, or somewhere else entirely, it’s just a matter of trust.

It’s always a matter of trust. Trust, and love for the Lord above all else. The Lord may have opened my heart for a romantic love, but He has also shown his grace and power and kindness so fiercely for me in these past 2 years, that my love for Him, the King of kings, has only swelled infinitely as well.

Amen.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith
– Matthew 21:22

Testimony Tuesday: At Peace

I have little to say today, other than I am thankful for peace. I am thankful that we are given the opportunity to find peace and love in our Savior and that there are moments, like the one I felt driving into work this morning, where peace overcomes us so fully, so completely, merely because we know that the Lord Jesus is with us.

I always hear people talk about moments when they know the Lord’s hand is on their shoulder, and how those moments are usually the big, monumental ones. But for me, I feel closest to Jesus in times of serene contentment. Perhaps it’s because I’m an inherently emotional person, and it’s in those moments of calm that I feel God urging me to be present with Him, or perhaps it’s something else, some divine reason that I don’t yet have insight to. Whatever it is, that’s where I feel most connected to the Father.

I used to look at this and worry, because I didn’t have any monumental moment to speak of, and that made me feel less than. But that’s ridiculous, I’ve realized as I’ve continued to walk through this journey with Christ. He comes to us each in different ways, which is something I’ve firmly believed since the beginning. And if He comes to me more vividly in moments of peace, then so be it.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to see Him most clearly through the fog of emotions that tends to cloud me during those big moments in life. I can only pray that I will, that eventually, I will immediately snap to Him as things happen, instead of seeing His work retrospectively, as I often do now. Or maybe I won’t, because maybe our relationship is meant to be much more calm than the rest of my life. Maybe He is supposed to be my source of steadiness.

He knows how He wants to reveal Himself to me, and all that matters is that I trust Him to do so in the right moments.

For now, those moments are tranquil, and I am grateful for them.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
— Proverbs 3:5

Contentment

I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment lately. I suppose it’s a normal thing for me to be thinking, considering how generally content I have been with my life these past few months.

But, because life is funny that way, my overwhelming contentment has also led me to question it a little bit.

Full disclaimer: by questioning it, I don’t want anyone to think I’m overthinking this. I have a bad habit of overthinking everything… until lately. And I think my lack of overthought and my general peace with life are going hand in hand.

Instead, my questioning comes more from a place of wondering what has allowed me to feel this general happiness and peace now, why I couldn’t always find that at previous times in my life, and how I can work to ensure this attitude sticks around.

And the answer?

Trust.

Matthew 6:25 says “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” 

I’ve thought about this a lot lately.

One of my struggles with faith has always been trusting in God’s plan. I’ve talked about this before – I always want to know what He’s up to, and I want to know if I agree with it. But as I’ve worked to let go of that need to control my life, a life that He is really meant to plan, I’ve found so much peace in what is put on my path.

I think an obvious part of why I am so prone to overthinking every detail of every situation is because I like to be in control. But trying to be in control and trusting the Lord aren’t compatible activities. In fact, the only thing I should be trying to control is my trust in God’s plan, and that is what I’ve been working towards every day.

And guess what?

It’s working.

Instead of focusing on the “Big Picture” and trying to plan “What Comes Next,” I’ve been focusing on finding contentment in the little things. I relish in the feeling of my cat purring on my chest, or the smell of coffee roasting. I close my eyes and listen to the pitter-patter of the rain when it’s just barely sprinkling, and peek out at the sun that’s still shining through the clouds.

I’ve tried to purge the negative and unnecessary from my life. Even if it means never knowing what that person I no longer talk to is up to on Instagram, it frees up space in my day and my heart to focus on the positive. I’ve worked towards forgiving people, and myself, for little things that really don’t matter in the long run… and even for some bigger things that I’ve been continuously holding on to. What happened in the past, has happened. Even the mistakes I’ve made have led me to this place and this moment. And as for the mistakes I’m bound to make in the future? Well, those will all be a part of the journey, too.

I’ve put my effort into being present, into being here and now, instead of focusing too much on there and then.

Contentment is more than having everything you’ve ever wanted; in fact, I don’t think it would be there even if that was the case. Contentment, to me, is about trusting that everything you need will be provided… somehow, someway. He’s got His plan, and He loves us. Trust that. Trust Him. Find peace.

It’s working for me, at least.

10 Days In

Here we are, a week-and-some-change in to a New Year, and already I’m slacking on my resolution to #BeABetterBlogger.

However, I’d like to think I have a pretty decent excuse.

I’ve been busy.

The first ten days of 2017 have been more of a whirlwind than I ever – and I repeat, ever – could have imagined. I’d like to pause here and insert a shout out to J & M, who have been incredibly supportive of said whirlwind. I’ve spent the first ten days of 2017 feeling a bit disoriented and a lot of a mess, but I think that the past few days have really solidified that old saying that “every storm runs out of rain.”

Let me offer a little background here.

I kicked off this year in the most wonderful way. I’m not a big New Years person, but this one was a good one. I’ll leave it at that.

However, despite the wonderfulness that was New Years Eve, right before 2016 came to a close, I got hit with some bad news. It’s not my news to share with the blogosphere, but suffice to say that it certainly rocked me a bit, and it sent my first few days of the new year into a tailspin. I found myself reexamining some decisions, questioning priorities, the whole 9 yards. It was as if God had put a big old, flashing sign up that said WAIT, and I had no choice but to obey.

And damn, I’m glad I did.

The results of that news gave me an opportunity to revisit some lingering “what ifs.” As some tough and, frankly, shitty decisions have made their way to me in the past few months, I’ve been stuck with this endlessly nagging feeling of wondering, “What if I chose differently?”

I prayed a lot about it. I prayed for guidance and for trust in that guidance, and I was lifted up by sweet souls who reminded me that God’s plan and our idea of the right plan are not always in line – and that’s the point. And so I kept trusting in His plan, or at least I felt like I did. I thought I was wholeheartedly trusting in the decisions I was led to make, but then this news came and shook me to my core and I very quickly realized – I wasn’t wholeheartedly trusting anything. I was still wondering, and, gracious as He is, God offered me the opportunity to look back at the lingering what if.

And you know what?

He proved Himself to me… yet again. By allowing me to retreat into the alternate reality of a different choice, He showed me that it would have been, flat out, the wrong one. It would have caused me more stress and heartache than I ever could have imagined, even if it might have been wrapped in a pretty little package.

It’s just amazing to me how, even in what seems like the most petty of problems, the most ridiculous of situations, and the least necessary priorities, He shows himself. And when it comes to the bigger things, He shows himself even stronger.

All of this realization came when I finally – finally – got back to church last Sunday.

So, basically, this is my long-winded way of saying that I’ve decided to completely revamp my New Years resolutions. Instead of focusing on a list of goals of things I want to accomplish this year, I’m going to put my entire energy into one thing: trust.

Trust in Him. Trust in myself. Trust in the plan. Trust in guidance.

2017 will be the year I learn to open my heart to trusting in what matters. Because there’s no point in wondering what if.

Attitude Adjustment

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just realize that you are completely, totally, blissfully content with life?

That happened to me this weekend.

I was sitting with my partner in crime, Kacie, in her kitchen. Her mother had just made us the best pulled pork sandwiches. We had spent the afternoon being the ultimate Arizona tourists, going from the candle shop to the soap shop to the olive oil shop – where, I will shamelessly admit, we spent a lot of time dipping artisan bread into exquisite olive oils that we were never going to buy.


We went for coffee at the most adorable, most Arizona-y beer and coffee shop. We sipped wine on the patio of an equally as adorable and Arizona-y wine cafe. We sipped more wine while listening to coyotes howl from her backyard.


Kacie and I were just sitting there, with her mom, talking about all sorts of things. We talked about religion, about politics, about traveling, about family, about weddings, about dresses, about future plans, about past plans, about past decisions, about literally everything under the sun.

And it struck me:

I’m happy. 

Now, I should make a disclaimer.

This is not the “I’m finally happy after the longest time” sort of happiness. I have spent most of this year extremely happy, actually. Yes, it’s been a transitional year, both personally and professionally. Yes, some decisions were not so easy and even downright heartbreaking in certain aspects. Yes, there have certainly been struggles that I’ve had to face, deal with, and move past.

Life is not a walk in the park, people.

And the happiness I am currently experiencing is because I have finally stopped expecting it to be.

I am supremely guilty of hanging on to this notion that everything has to feel good to be good. That sounds weird, but in my head it makes sense, so just bear with me.

Basically, I was convinced that I would know something was right because it would be easy. And that, my friends, was the issue.

I find myself now hanging on to a new notion: that not all things worth having come easily. I like to compare it to climbing a mountain – no one actually enjoys the physical aspects of climbing a mountain. What we enjoy is challenge, the accomplishment, and the reward of getting to the incredible view at the top with your endorphins racing and a smile beaming. We enjoy the rush. The result. It doesn’t mean we enjoyed every step of the climb.

So, no. Not everything lately has been the easiest. Working three weeks straight of overtime was exhausting. Physical therapy hurts. Breaking up with my boyfriend sucked. Being thousands of miles away from the people closest to me is hard.

But I’m still really freaking happy.

Because I’ve made the decision to be. I know I can handle anything that comes my way. I’ve handled the hardest parts of my life so far and I’ll continue to do so with whatever God feels like dealing out. Because ultimately, He knows the plans He has for me… what happens next is up to Him.

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All I get to decide is how to feel about it. All of it. Even if it’s heartbreaking, even if it’s terrifying, even if it’s hard…

I’m choosing to be happy about it. Because, you know what? Life is beautiful, trust is comforting, and happiness? Well, it’s a pretty damn great feeling. 


Sweet Serendipity

So far, my September plans have not gone… well, as planned.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there’s no point in being upset about that.

Life happens. Things change. Relationships come and go, friendships ebb and flow (that unintentionally rhymed). Ultimately, what matters is how we look at the changes and the curveballs that are slung at us, and how we respond to these unexpected twists in our journey that matters.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “the path.” Now, if you’re my family, you’ll laugh at that. If you’re not my family, you’ll give me a quizzical eyebrow raise and ask what sort of new-age tangent I’m about to go on. (Not, of course, that there is anything wrong with new-age beliefs. Anyways.)

I was watching Serendipity the other night. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, despite its horrendously rom-com attributes, and in many ways because of its total rom-com-ness. I can’t help it; there’s something about a love story set primarily in New York City, focusing on the chance meetings and encounters that life brings along that is just captivating. I don’t care how predictable or cheesy the film is. Serendipity will always be one of my favorites. Plus, John Cusack is in it. You have to love it, simply for that reason.

While I was curled up on my couch with the kitty on my lap, watching Sara (no H) and Jonathan try to navigate the web of the world and find each other again, I couldn’t help but think – maybe we should all be a little more serendipitous in our daily lives.

We try, so hard, to plan life. We set goals, we work hard to reach our goals, and when we are going along that “path,” everything feels like it’s right on track.

And then, something happens.

And suddenly, we feel a little bit – or, if you’re me, a lot a bit – off track.

But why?

Because we’re so focused on following the plan that we don’t even take the time to see the possibility… and potentially, the benefits… of jumping off the path, even temporarily.

Life isn’t meant to be planned out. It’s as simple as that. Everybody says it, and everybody is romanticized by this idea of chance… but not enough of us live by it.

So what’s the point in being so intoxicated by it, if we aren’t actually going to let ourselves believe a little bit in it?

I am wildly aware of how terrifying it is to trust in chance. However, I have also been lucky enough to experience how rewarding letting fate take its course can be. I stumbled across an internship about a year and a half ago… it has now blossomed into (what I hope is) a promising career that I absolutely love. But I wouldn’t have ended up here, thriving and excited to go to work every day, if I hadn’t trusted in the random opportunity that happened to fall into my lap.

Sometimes, living serendipitously doesn’t have the happiest results. Sometimes, like John and Sara, it separates us from our “true love” for years – to the point where we’re engaged to others and they are too. Sometimes, all serendipity means is a life lesson.

But that is okay.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy to decipher, and it isn’t always meant to be planned out.

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Sometimes, we just have to throw our hands up, let the plan fly away into the wind, and scream out, que sera sera.

Whatever will be, will be.