Life Lately–Adventures in the PNW

I’ve sat down and tried to write this post a million times. I don’t know where to begin. 

If you are wondering why I changed the title of my blog page, it’s because a chapter of my life has ended, and a new chapter has begun. Life has brought a new wave of changes, and I’m looking at them through the window of the past and the future. How I got here is complicated, and where I am going is also. I don’t know what is ahead, but I wanted to share with you, my readership, where I have been and what I am planning. Just know, that nothing is for certain these days with me. Everything is about to change. Everything has changed. Life won’t ever be the same. 

Here’s what I mean. In the past few months I have taken the 2,000 mile journey from my home state of Illinois to the state of Oregon. I have picked up every scrap of the life I had in Illinois and carried on the back of my worries. I gathered up all of my courage and my memories and drove and drove and drove. It took me four days, and I battled two blizzards in the mountains. I pushed through every doubt and fear, and have found myself here, in the suburbs of Portland, on a new adventure. 

For years we have felt the pull to move, the tug of an unsatisfied life. I have fought with the depression that closed in on me when I was living in my hometown. There was nothing there for me. I won’t deny the experiences I had, or the life I lived as being a part of me– a necessary part. I met some amazing people, and learned a lot of valuable lessons. There was a lot of good things that happened to me there, and through it all I became a new person. Sometimes when I look back, I don’t remember how I got to where I am, but I know that I am not who I used to be, not the person who used to look in the mirror and wish that she could be more lovable, could be more understanding, and not so full of bitterness and sadness. 

There have been a lot of challenges. Mostly money. We saved up for so many years to finally find this life, to feel that we were able to move to a place we had never visited, so far away from home and everything we ever knew. That’s the funny thing about this, and the great thing too, I guess, is that we don’t know anyone here. We have no family. And that’s what makes this such an adventure. A new  beginning. A start from scratch. 

We quit our jobs for this. We picked up everything we have and decided to throw it at the wind in an effort to find a new life. We know the things we have been promised. The light that is there, and the beauty that comes when you trust, when you have faith in the unknown. 

So here we are–jobless, in a new city. 

My core fears are being challenged. My type A personality is worried about the fact that I have applied to a dozen jobs and heard nothing. I have always gotten quick responses. But I think that this is a test. Do I trust Him enough? I hope I am passing. You may not believe in a god, and that’s okay, but I do. I believe that He has my best interest at heart, and here, here is where He guided me, so I’ll push through all of the doubt and into the light. I can’t be in the dark anymore. I can’t fight to feel something greater than myself. And here, somehow, I already feel at home. 

I may know no one. But there are people here who look at me, curious. 

I may not know what lies ahead. I may be a little afraid, but fear does not mean I lack faith. 

So I push forward, bright with the possibilities my future holds, and open to a world of new beginnings. A fistful of chapters.

I am so excited to share with all of you the adventures that lie ahead, and the things I will find here. Are you ready for the journey? Because I am. 

Gathering my walking stick–the continuation of a heartbreaking journey.

I want to take a moment to apologize for my hiatus. Life has been a whirlwind lately. A good one, but a little insane nonetheless. I recently picked up a second job, got promoted there, and am working on working as often as I can to save up money for the next part of my life. 

I’ve had a revelation. One that’s extremely good. For so long my bones have been aching for adventure. My heart has nearly ruptured beneath the weight of dreams that have had the inability to come to fruition. Of childhood desires that have been unable to grow beneath the stunt of life. And now the hand of God has reached out and written “soon” on my soul. I can feel the tension rising as I know the answer to his promises. He does not falter. He does not joke. He is not a liar. I see the next step. 

You see, he promises that He will be a “light unto our path”. Always. What some people fail to realize, however, is that that light only illuminates our next step in life. It does not bring forth the entirety of our life trajectory. We may be propelled to action with that one step. If we knew the complete future of our lives maybe we would be compelled to act differently. And He knows that.

Besides, the benefit to our not knowing the whole plan of our future allows us to remain entirely dependent on Him. There are two types of people–those who see an obstacle and spend the next year crying and worrying about it, attempting to find the right tools to chip away at the obstacle until we are able to tackle it; and those who see the same struggle and rely on the only one who can take that mountain and completely shatter it. I am not saying that always relying on Him is easy. Heck, I’ve had a hell of a time these past few years attempting to understand the direction in which he was leading me. It felt like for so long that he was leading me into the wilderness with nowhere to turn but the quicksand. At some points it has even felt like my ankles have been dragged into that pitfall, and I am slowly being suffocated by a swelling desire to find something to accomplish. I have just felt so damn useless. 

And that’s the truth. 

Useless doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

I just see this whole, vast world with a belly full of aching people and I feel as though my efforts to make a difference are being overlooked. I remind myself daily that we may never know the footprints we leave on someone’s heart when we attempt to continue down the rugged path and inspire others. But yet there is still a longing so deep and so unfulfilled it can only be from my Heavenly Father. 

And that’s when I remind myself that only He can know the desires of my heart–because He placed them there. He formed them deep in my soul the day he formed me in that secret place in my mother’s womb. They say that in heaven a day is like a thousand years. I sometimes wonder how long He had with me to form every facet of my being before He nestled me deep inside my mother and made her life a little better when she discovered she was pregnant. 

So why is it so hard to trust when we know He formed the roadmap eons before we met Him? Because trusting often implies that we know we do not have the answers. We have made trust to look as though it makes us weak. It’s the same reason that strong-willed people sometimes struggle in relationships. If I’m admitting anything here, it’s that sometimes my will gets in the way in life, and it can be hard to combat, especially when I know that the compass is right in front of me, in the form of clasped hands and a mouth full of jumbled prayer words. 

I know this blog entry is long. But tonight, I’m feeling passionate. i’m feeling vibrantly loved. My heart is overflowing with the biggest sense of joy because I know I have been doing the right thing. And my Father is happy for my patience. It feels like it has been centuries. But sometimes He likes to take the forty-year route instead of the week-route because he knows you need the exposure to trials, and he is trying to build your heart up for something bigger than you could know. Patience cannot  be obtained from immediate gratification. The lesson to be learned is through those trials. And sometimes the journey is hard. Mine has been beyond difficult these past few years. 

The other night, however, I felt him tap me on the shoulder and say “It’s your time, you have been patient. You have trusted me.” 

So, I gather my walking stick, because this journey isn’t over yet. A revelation is not the end of the trials I will seek. There will be a lot of uphill climbing from here. Good thing He has hydrated me–refreshed my soul from the weary desert land He knew He needed to guide me through to encounter a spiritual break through. 

I am not perfect, but the longer I remain exposed to the fire, the less it burns, and the more refined I become. 

 

The Importance of faith in a “me-oriented” world.

I just want to take a moment to talk about the rewards of continuing to grow a strong faith in your relationship with your maker. I feel that so many times we are focused on our needs, that we become unaware that our faith desperately needs to be revamped. Our faith has the constant potential to become a powerful tool to move us in ways we would otherwise be unable to accomplish on our own. And while it is not wrong to ask God to help us out when we are struggling and just need some money to make it through the next set of bills, or to pray that will we be blessed with a new car that doesn’t stall every time an important day comes up, our faith should be exercised in a wider range of ways than our own selfish needs. Sometimes, we ask for things because we want them, not because they are a need, and that’s not always wrong, but maybe if this is how we think it is time for a perspective change of sorts.

I have been listening to a group of messages about this topic the last few weeks and putting into practice some life-changing beliefs about faith. First of all, I think that people sometimes fall under the confusion that says, we should do everything in our power to make our lives work out, and then when we cannot do something we should ask God for that item. More like “God helps those who help themselves.” The problem with this mentality is that there are a lot of flaws that come with that plan. For starters, we each are like horses with a pair of blinders on. We can see the path ahead, and the plans that we have made for our five year hopes and so on. We have the ability to know some things, to see some destinations ahead and to walk towards them. However, we cannot see to the left or to the right unless we turn that way, and in this we are prevented from seeing in all directions at once. God can see all things, forwards backwards and sideways. He  is able to know when a car is whizzing ever quickly towards us.

If we allow ourselves to only be tuned into our plans, dreams, and desires, and then focus on Him when we feel we are struggling, we will not get very far. He wants the only best for us, and I have a small feeling that when we do not listen to Him, all the time, He will do everything in His power to draw us to Him even if that means we have to go through some circumstances that derail us from our originally intended path. Do not be upset, because this is His way of ensuring we are not run over by the car coming towards.

On the other hand, if we step out into faith every single day, we allow ourselves to be opened up to His plan and only His plan every day. It does not mean that our path will be easy, it does not mean that we will flawlessly do everything He requests of us each time either. What it does mean is that instead of wandering around, hoping that our five year plan for our career or our family will work out, it means that we have now been given the opportunity to tune into the daily plan He has for us. Maybe that does not mean having children in the next ten years, but imagine how much different our lives would be if we had not tuned into that blessing? We might not be able to have everything we want, but there is an entire new level of blessing we are given if we our faithful, I promise each one of you.

Secondly, if we are consumed with helping ourselves, we might miss the chance to see the others in need all around us. I am not perfect, I often have selfish moments and I am trying to work on that. But tuning into the Holy Sprit has given me so many opportunities on a daily basis to connect with those around me and bring restoration to their lives as well. If we want to leave a legacy for others to admire and respect after we are gone, just think about it. Some of the most remembered characters in the Bible were faithful in every circumstance to their Lord. For Noah, there had never been rain before, and here God had instructed him to gather supplies and build an ark because the world would be covered in a flood–one hundred years later. Can you imagine the torture of being made fun of every single day for following the ultimate plan of the Father? Like I said, definitely not easy, but here thousands of years later we teach about his faithfulness. If he had been unwilling to listen, we would not be here today. Just let that sink in a moment.

Living a life that is faithful, every day, to a higher power can be terrifying. I was told a while back that after school was over, we would figure out what to do next. My husband and I had been looking at going away to school, but then some things happened that made us reconsider that plan after all. God instructed us that we would have something big happen after that, but we weren’t sure what that looked like. After a few weeks, I became distraught, not understanding why the answers weren’t clear to me right away. But after listening to these messages I felt His hand on my soul telling me that it doesn’t matter what I’m supposed to do, it matters that I am, right now, in His presence. The more time that I spend daily removing my focus on me, and how I feel, and place it on Him, begging Him to fill me with more of Him and less of me, the more that I am rewarded with the blessings of overwhelming peace. I was so stressed out every.single.day, and now, while stress does still creep up a lot, I feel rewarded with a much larger sense of peace in all things. Because I know I am ultimately listening to the one who not only knows me best but knows just what should happen ahead at all times. There is positively no feeling like this one. And if you are longing for peace, struggling to find it, please understand it is attainable.

I will write more on this later, but I hope right now this gave some perspective to chew on. I know this topic is not easy, but it is so very worth it in every way to delve into the promises that we have been given if we are faithful in everything. Even if we do not receive the fruit of these blessings in our lifetime, they might be passed down. But the truth of the matter is it should not be about the blessing, but the heart process it takes to get to the destination. Our lives will be able to impact the world if we allow the whisperings of our maker into our every day existence.