Running in Wide Spaces.

I wanna go
Do something kinda crazy
I wanna go
Drive all night with you right next to me
I wanna go
Feel the pounding of your heartbeat
When we get up high, won't look down, we won't look back
Yeah when I die, I wanna know I lived like that

Gosh its almost been a year since I last wrote on my blog. I am 26, going on 27, and its really amusing to look back on my posts, because I barely know that girl anymore. A year of living on my own, traveling internationally, working my third summer at Wind River, then coming back home to my parent's Midwestern smalltown-world, was honestly the craziest and best thing I've done for myself.

There is something satisfying about looking back on a very full year from the same seat I've written most of my blog posts. Nothing really has changed here, at home I mean. I got into the habit of calling the house I rented with several other girls in Kentucky "home", but really when it comes down to it. . .this is home. Like I posted on Instagram my first morning back: its 10 AM, I roll over and realize I have no commitments. For the first time in over a year I can lay around and sleep in and not have to worry about anything. I'm on vacation in my parents home, and it feels so good! It's been real, folks. Everything from a borrowed mattress to couches, pool floaties under mosquito netting, wooden floors, bunks, on planes and in the back of trucks. Now I'm in my room in my own blissful bed. My dog is snoring by my side and I'm surrounded by the people I love most. Dorothy was right...there's no place like home. 

The relationship I not so subtly wrote about in my last post--all the way back in February?--came and went. Recently a friend said to me when I asked him what he was doing the rest of the year, "going home." "Why?" I asked. "Oh, well I'm done running." It hit me between the eyes. Everything is for a season, and in these months of gallivanting around the country and even the world, I ran and saw and did everything I've always wanted to do. Missions was my biggest dream for years. . .I got it out of my system and it was life-transforming. But I'm happy. I did what I had to do when I had to do it. Am I called to missions? I'm open to it, but honestly the frantic call I always thought I had isn't there anymore. And that is perfectly fine. I'm taking my life a day at a time. No more super-planner me who has all her ducks in a row. It doesn't always work that way. And I'm so happy to just settle in to my parents home for a few months while I get myself on my feet. It's like I'm on vacation. . .I still have responsibilities, every missionary needs to re-coop, and I am milking this first week as hard as I can. Next week. . .next week I can start a job hunt and worry about the dead car in my driveway.

I always thought it was just my family, but I've come to realize through my travels that the Midwest is truly a sleepy, laidback style of life. Maybe I'm not permanently called to it, but it really is good. Very familiar, yet I'm exploring my neighborhood, my dog, the closet in my room, mom cooking breakfast in the morning. . .with fresh eyes. I haven't been home since Christmas, and when I did it was only for a couple of days. An average life here consists of graduating highschool, going to college (oops, somehow missed that one, ;) ) getting married (also behind,) having a few kids, buying a nice house, maintaining that house, and retiring. Oh, and continuing to maintain the house. I've always had a different mindset. I needed to experience every facet of this big, wide world, with my passions and colorful personality. I don't think that will every go away. . .I fully intend on being the cool grandma who wears rainbow socks and pink lipstick. But after Kentucky then Thailand then Colorado, I'm seeing the worth in just settling back and enjoying slow, every day life. It has its merits. "Oh, well I'm done running."

I wanna run in wide spaces
Fly like the wind in high places
Rushing like water on my face
With your handing in my hand
I wanna dance into the moment
Kiss ya like ya never been kissed before me
I would go anywhere you wanna go
With your hand in my hand

 "Go" by Cody Fry has been my theme song since going back to Wind River in August. It embodies the wild limitlessness of Colorado, but even more, the new me who believes I am capable of doing whatever I set my mind to. It captures the dreams of spending my days with a man who mirrors me and fits the piece to my puzzle. It is the dreams of my past and future. And like the music video depicts, it speaks of the simplicity of childhood. I'm back to my roots, this small town in Midwestern USA. Where life is a little slow and exactly what it should be for this season.

I wanna go
Make pictures look like postcards
I wanna go
Take the train and watch you sleep right in my arms
I wanna go
Where we don't know where we are, climb something high, don't look down and don't look back
Yeah when I die, I wanna know I lived like that

Its kind of crazy how living in a third world country will change the way you view literally everything. I probably use social media more then every before (gotta post updates on my workouts and pics of mountains and adorable Thai kids!) but I could care less about the number of "likes" I get or how popular my feed is. I still love shopping and buying new clothes, but there are practical purposes to them now, not just mindless pleasure.

There is purpose in everything, no matter how mundane or simple. They say once you've experienced another culture, especially in places likes Southeast Asia and Africa, that we in the US take things for granted, and I was thinking "eh, culture shock won't be a big deal, blah blah blah." Hah. I was so wrong. We take everything for granted in the US. Whenever I'm tempted to complain or forget to trust God for (I was going to say life, but DAY seems more appropriate,) I remember things like the precious children I met and played with at the Fountain of Hope orphanage, the literally hundreds of prostitutes selling their bodies in the Red Light District of Chiang  Mai, the struggling Christians who make up the religious minority, or the little old lady in one small village who's feet were crooked from years of work. She had always done her washing and cooking outside, and my team was able to buy her a tiny gas stove. . .we had to teach her how to turn it on.

The things I saw and did still boggle my mind, and most of the time it feels like a dream. Everything was completely opposite of my comfortable existence in my little Midwestern town, or even my exciting life in Kentucky over the winter and spring. Different then the long days ministering at Wind River, high in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, where our biggest inconvenience was bad WiFi signal. In Thailand I slept on floors and endured heat like I've never before experienced. My ankles, legs, and arms were covered with insanely itchy welts from mosquito bites. I wept over children sold as sex slaves and talked one-on-one with a prostitute who said "no, I don't like my job. . .but it's the only way I can support my mother. Someday. . .things will be different." The Red Light distract mainly attracts white male tourists from America and Europe.

The love I felt from the beautiful people of Thailand will always be in my heart. A short week in the US. . .and I was back to full-time ministry on the ranch. Folks, I'm exhausted. And I'm done complaining or wishing things were different. Yeah I still fully, 100% believe that if you have a dream you have to work hard to achieve it, and success isn't going to magically drop from the sky. But everything for a season, and learning to be a Mary in a Martha world is REAL.

So many things in this world I wanna do
And when I die I want to know you did them too. 



The ENFP life. . .and online dating.

You know the feeling when you let it all go and let God? Yeah that just happened. It's that gut wrenching desperation to know Him more. It usually happens after I've been wandering for some time, trying too hard, giving too much, not getting poured back into. When I'm doing it by myself. Answering my own questions. Rewind a bit with me for a minute, because I'm going to talk about personality types. It's important because my personality type plays big time into everything I do, say, and think. Oh, and so does yours. I encourage all my close friends to take the test (16 Personalities is the free version of Myers-Briggs,) not only because it's amazing insight into their brain and heart, but it was one of the most essential things for me to FINALLY understand all my weird little quirks, inconsistencies, and seemingly unstable thought process. Hah, but aren't we all a bit "unstable" at times? ;)

Ok, so I'm an ENFP, aka Entrovert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. This is important because yes I'm an extrovert, but ENPs only make up like 5% of the population and are thee most introverted of the extroverted types. It applies to my smack-in-the-face encounter with God just a few minutes ago because let's just face it. . . I'm burnt out. See, I go, go, go until I've poured out everything I have. . .and. . .let's call it my "love tank" needs refilling. Only not everyone views life and releationships the way I do, so I recede into a dry little hole and hide for a few days before I come back out again. It hasn't been that simple this month however, with all sorts of real-life audulting situations and lots and lots of work. Not that I'm complaining. I like my job and need the hours. But this is on top of constantly emotionally supporting everyone around me, being super social at work, and basically getting little to no alone time. This isn't to say people don't energize me. I am a true extrovert in that way. People and people's stories are life. They keep me pressing forward and make every day an endless adventure. But yeah, the love tank. I love so deep and so hard, and then I crash. Only I haven't really gotten the chance a couple weeks to do so. Which is why I'm holed up in my little nook of a room trying to type on an iPad since my laptop is in an unhealthy state and at a friends house awaiting a new keyboard. And then I have to wonder. Do I really have to give emotional support to everyone I feel close to? Of course, to some extent. But maybe I invest way too much, and maybe it isn't as radically soul-inspired to them as it is to me. Maybe I'm actually burning myself out. . .and I can't even help it.

I'm realizing the older I get how much I depend on being stimulated. I hate the feeling of boredom and uselessness, so I'm constantly looking for new projects and things to keep my overactive brain satisfied. Well, life isn't always like that. It's healthy to sit still and listen for God's voice. He can only meet me face to face when I am actively seeking Him. When I want Him. He's always there, I just have to remember that I don't need to do this alone, and invite Him over for a nice long chat. It finally happened this afternoon after wallowing along and trying way too hard to do everything exactly right. It came with tears and honest to goodness out-pouring of all my fears. Literally begging for His sustenance. A simple dialogue with my huge, bigger than life, very alive, so powerful, Kings of Kings--my heavenly Father--and poof! The soul is gratified and life seems a little less daunting. He's got this. This whole crazy new stage of life, this not having the answers or being in control. He has it all, and I am re-centered in that knowledge.

So yeah, take the personality test. I've met several ENFPs, but few that have been so accurately-text-book-definition as myself. Kind of scary, actually. But also so eye opening into the intricate world that is my mind. And your mind. That is one of the many, many reasons I love so much. Each individual is so incredibly unique with their own, specially designed talents, gifts, likes, dislikes. How can you not want to reach out and touch every living thing? It's all that dynamic difference and uniqueness that makes this world so colorful. Oh wait, but this is my ENFP self speaking. ;)

Ok, so that was a major rabbit trail. I wanted to talk about online dating. Haha, big change of direction, right? Also, depending on your background, totally controversial and maybe seemingly desperate and even unnatural. I was exactly where you are, so no judging, just as I ask you to read on with an open mind. If you can't say anything nice, don't comment. Thumper was right. . .just don't say anything at all.

Notice a theme here with singleness and relationships? It's been on the brain for a long time, was just too afraid to talk about it before. So over that! One seriously positive, anti-ENFP trait I've learned is that honestly, this is my life. God works differently in every individual, and if something is good for me because I have evidence that it is. . .then it IS good, even if it is unpopular or not normally accepted. The same goes for stumbling blocks. Something may tempt me or make me stumble, but is perfectly fine for someone else. Now don't go reading between the lines and assume I'm talking about sin issues! I could take this entire article and talk about grey areas vs black and white, but that isn't my goal today. I view online dating as one of those (many) grey areas, much like preferences toward modesty, Bible translation, music, etc. Again, if you disagree that's ok, you need not read further! Saying this in love. :)

I believe that God can bring me a husband. In fact, I know He will. I want to be married, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that He planted that desire, thus I have His promise. I've explored the idea of perpetual singleness, and while I know that is a possibility, I really do believe God has a husband out there. . .somewhere. And when it is time, He will reveal that man to me. How exciting is that? I remember when I was about 13, taking a walk around the neighborhood. I'd recently been turned on to the idea of romance, and the innocent thought of one man waiting for me. . .MY man, the only man I'd ever hope to love, my prince, my knight in shining armor. My soulmate. Yes, I've always been a sap. But I started praying for him that day, even though I was still so young, really dedicating prayer for that special, sacred union. As I grew older I learned that romance doesn't necessarily come at eighteen like so many other girls I knew. "My man" wouldn't come falling from the sky or riding a white horse. I'd get hurt. . .over and over again. . .waiting for him. Attempting to meet him. Funny how looking back, I am so glad none of those potential relationships took flight. I was immature, and those men weren't "my man." The wounds sting, the scenarios weren't fun or pretty, but they have been the turning point in my life again and again. Without those heartbreaks, I wouldn't be the woman I am today. Oh yeah, and then sometimes you turn 26 and are still single. . .and lessons learned, you still can't help wondering. . ."will it ever be my turn?" Any single in their late 20's and 30's know the hopeless fear that love will never find them. 

People call me desperate for turning to a dating site. Hah, wow, did I just admit on the World Wide Web that I'm advocating online dating, worse, that I joined one such (desperate, scandalous, trusting-in-self-rather-than-God,) website!? Yep. Think I just did. And you know what? It's ok. We are so quick to judge. Hey, I did it too. And no, it isn't desperation. I don't think online dating is the answer or the only way I can meet someone. There are lots of good guys out there, and yet, maybe it's ok to step out of the "safe" avenues and into unconventional highways. This is the 21st century, folks! I never thought I'd join the online dating world. It was below me, full of unwanted, unattractive, DESPERATE people. I mean, you had to pretty much be at the end of all things, totally destitute and hopeless, or my favorite line "obviously no one wants them." Ouch. God forgive me for being so hateful! I'll tell you something really cool though. God asks us to follow Him in all things. You knew that, but I'm just reminding you. Because we often take it for granted. My theme for the end of 2016 and now 2017 on my blog is "expanding comfort zones." It isn't rebellion. It's going out on a limb and exploring all the amazing, frequently missed ways God can bless us if we patiently accept the blindfold and walk straight into the unknown. 

It's like Abraham, remember? He began walking in the desert with all his riches and entire family, because he trusted God when He promised great, unknown blessings. Blind faith. That's why my heart has changed towards online dating. But it's a lot more than just that. It's one of the many ways God is expanding horizons and revealing Himself more, everyday. He can and will bring me a man. . .however and whenever He wants. And if it just so happens I meet him online, it's ok. I'm not desperate, just exploring another side of the coin. We are supposed to be proactive in everything, releationships included. Far too many people are waiting for answers, and not just in their love life. Your probably getting sick of my saying this, but stop using God as a shield to hide behind. Take the resources He's given and start climbing mountains. 

There is my ramble for a quiet, rainy afternoon off. Maybe I'm incriminating myself here, but honesty is the best policy, and I like to update on life whenever I can. Now to find some pretty pictures and transfer all this over from Evernote to Blogger.

Do you ever feel like your living in a daze? Every day I wake up in my little brick house. My house. I don my uniform (very ill fitting uniform, but still quite official looking, ;) ) head off to work, come home in the evening and catch up on a show and texting (my phone has become a huge asset since moving out--I have so many people to keep up with!) or go out with friends, sleep, then do it all over again. Life continues. It's awesome and weirdly freaky. Like I'm a totally different person. Maybe I am. All I know for sure is that I'm going to keep following and seeking and obeying, and maybe this crazy thing we call life with write itself into a story. Hard to imagine that in a few months I'll be headed to Thailand. What? Seriously can't wrap my mind around that one. We serve an incredible God. So don't let the ups and downs of life keep you down. Take it from me; trust goes far. Give Him your heart, and Jesus will take care of the rest. 

"And the pain falls like a curtain
On the things I once called certain
And I have to say the words I fear the most
I just don't know

And the questions without answers
Come and paralyze the dancer
So I stand here on the stage afraid to move
Afraid to fall, oh, but fall I must
On this truth that my life has been formed from the dust

God is God and I am not
I can only see a part of the picture He's painting
God is God and I am man
So I'll never understand it all
For only God is God

And the sky begins to thunder
And I'm filled with awe and wonder
'Til the only burning question that remains
Is who am I

Can I form a single mountain
Take the stars in hand and count them
Can I even take a breath without God giving it to me
He is first and last before all that has been
Beyond all that will pass

Oh, how great are the riches of His wisdom and knowledge
How unsearchable for to Him and through Him and from Him are all things
So let us worship before the throne
Of the One who is worthy of worship alone" 

God Is God, Steven Curtis Chapman 


At The Alter | 2016 in review

Relaxing Sunday evening, listening to worship music while soup simmers on the stove. My jaw has finally stopped aching, at least for the time being. Found out yesterday after visiting Urgent Care that one of my wisdom teeth is abscessing, so guess who'll be losing her Wisdom in the next couple of weeks? That would be this girl, right here. Exciting (much sarcasm) stuff.

On another note, I'm super happy to have my laptop back. The reason I haven't blogged? Besides having an incredibly busy (as in non-stop socializing,) schedule, this little baby decided to temporarily give up the ghost. Beauty of having friends with techie roommates. Laptop is back up and running, and man does it feel good to have my fingers flying away as I type. It's been too long. I haven't been able to play the piano (one of my biggest emotional outlets,) but not being able to write has been semi-torture. No, but really. I've wanted to say a little something about 2016 for awhile--pretty much since my laptop "broke" around the new year.

Can I just say how amazing our God is? I seriously cannot even begin to imagine everything that happened last year. Literally, its like my life has made a complete 180. I discovered this amazing trick called surrendering to God. . .and life changed. Its been a very long and tedious and sometimes seemingly hopeless journey. But there IS hope. Really, I've given up so much fear, and for once, I am really, truly happy. Truly happy. I'm a happy person by nature, but that deep, inner soul peace--it isn't something I've experienced this fully since before I was a teen. It's like, I really don't need to worry anymore. It wasn't my time for a long time to "shine." To see my dreams fulfilled. I've written a lot of very similar posts in the past, especially on my old blog. Trust is such a difficult concept for me. But this summer I had to give up a dream, a really big dream. And once I started realizing it wasn't all about me, layers of self-pity, insecurity, and bone-crushing fear began melting away. How I wish everyone could experience the power of Jesus! All those prayers that seem unanswered. . .cryng out to Him from the mountain-top, most literally for me this summer. Crying out and begging for stability. Life isn't about stability. It's about taking chances and finding peace. With yourself, with the world, with family and friends. But mostly yourself. Once you can learn to love yourself, and I don't mean in an egotistical way. Love yourself for who you are. Once you can learn that, with all your messes, mistakes, imperfections, awkwardness, and failures, you begin believing--not just knowing, but believing--that you are His child. And that is the most fulfilling sensation in the world.

And worship. Really, really pouring out everything at the alter of our Lord and Savior. The most impacting act of worship I've ever seen was this summer at the ranch, when we hosted a conference for The City of Refuge. Its one of the main reasons I'm going to Thailand this year. (wow, it's actually 2017. . .and I'm actually going on a missions trip?? Whaaaa??) My life with never be the same. I watched broken, battered, deeply scarred women really, truly worship the only Man who has ever valued them. Worship and adore Him, because He is their Father. You and I haven't come close to experiencing that kind of pain, and yet, all our insecurities as women are similar. The speaker one night asked the women to call out words they identified with. Words like "worthless," "failure," "defiled," "unwanted," "dirty," and "hopeless" were replaced with God's definition: "worthy," "perfect," "randsomed," "wanted," "washed," "saved." How do these reminders not soak into your soul and change your whole perspective? Not an eye was dry in that room, for we stood on Holy Ground. You could feel Him in the room, see His smile, enjoy His touch. He was basking in our acceptance, in our belief that we are His daughters, they we are perfect in His image. Wow guys, such a deep, deep love! "Are you hurting and broken within, overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling. Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling. O come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ."

In 2016, I found Jesus again. Not that I'd lost Him. He never leaves. But I found that rich, rich bounty of fellowship. The bond that exceeds all others. When I first arrived at Wind River someone asked me why I was there. My answer? "I want to have a relationship with Christ." See, I let discouragement get me down. I couldn't remember peace, only fear. Let me tell you this, there is nothing quite like mountains to still the soul and chill the heart. They wound their way inside of me for the second time, so that when I close my eyes I literally long for their stern towers, plunging caverns, and spiraling peaks. God is in the mountains. He is in the sunsets, the way the western sky burns and softens by turns. Rich, flaming orange, fading into subdued purple, cushioned in clouds. Once, sitting on the massive mudslide behind the ranch with one of my best friends, looking down at the valley, I was struck by the sheer beauty. Mountains cradling the earth on every side, a glorious sky. And in the clouds, I promise I wasn't seeing things. . .something like a cross. Maybe it was just a fantasy, but at that moment, it was so very real, like a direct promise. Prayer became my anchor this summer. I'm currently trying (McAruthur Bible in a year, y'all!) to get a better reading schedule, but prayer. Prayer is a powerful tool. Much more than most people recognize. Oh, I'm not saying that you'll pray and things will start magically happening. It's this conversation with God, very personal, very tangible. On the mountain, I would get so transfixed, so caught up in my prayers, that everything else faded away. I couldn't see anything but me and Jesus. And He listened. He listens. 

There is one ever prevailing fear on the Mountain Top. It's the fear of coming down. On a very physical and metaphorical level. Physical, because the ranch has been life-changing to me. I couldn't-can't-imagine a more real family. Metaphorical, because reaching the summit of a relationship with Christ can come crashing down in moments. There is a spiritual high, and then things happen. . .life happens. . .and we lose focus. I was scared, coming down the mountain. But I found something I didn't think possible--I can have the Mountain Top Experience wherever I am. It's called surrender. It's called trust. It's called finding God in the impossible. It's about knowing that He is Greater, He is Higher, and He controls it all.

And so I find myself in my little house in Kentucky. And life is really good. Really, really good. Not perfect, but pretty awesome. All the confusion of the last several years is gone. It's just me and Him, every day. I went from a scared girl to a woman full of hope and excitement for the future. I'm ready to follow, wherever He sends me. To think, last spring I was working a job I absolutely hated, saving for a summer away from home. Come fall, I finally found the means to move out, landing my current job at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. And the people. My "family" is big, and they are true and loyal to the core. I met my soul mates in 2016. Precious women and men that have enriched my life in the deepest way. Thank you. Thank you for giving me courage, thank you for believing in me. Thank you for pointing me to Christ, and living an example of Him, to me. I am facing 2017 with an expectant heart. I literally cannot wait to see what lies ahead. 
Onward and upward!!