Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Eve Eve 2015

A year ago today I landed in America. A year ago today I had an excitement of something I thought was going to be my forever. I look back on that day and I used to think it was perfect. But it wasn't. There was so much uncertainty. So much forced. Nothing was real. As much as I wanted it to be real, it wasn't.

These last ten months have been the hardest I've had to endure. There are days when I wake up and forget who it was that I was in a relationship with for eleven months. Other days I wake up and my heart is so heavy and hurt that I can't help but think about it.

Last week, I was out to dinner with Taylor, Nicole, and Sammy. We were eating at Burrito Gallery, one of my favorite places here, and in the middle of a conversation. All of the sudden a song came on that was on a playlist my ex made for me when we first got together. I hadn't cried about him in a while and then out of nowhere, the tears began to flow. My friends were great in reminding me of what I'd come through and how strong I'd been and that it was OK to cry. I think that's been my biggest issue - it's OK to cry because what I went through was painful and it hurt and crying is a good thing.

You may read this and think, "Geez, you're still not over that guy?" Let me assure you - I am over him. I'm not over what he represented in my life. For eleven months I thought he was IT. I was made to believe we were on the same page until shortly before the end.

Breakups are painful. Change is painful. Transition is painful. And I went through all of those things. Being allowed to mourn shouldn't have a timeline stamped on it. It takes as long as it will take.

Today as I sit on my couch and reflect on the last year, I am so thankful for the friends I've made here in Jacksonville. They have encouraged me, believed in me, prayed for me, laughed with me, and allowed me to cry and be myself.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Life in the Journey

Over a month, actually. But, hey, I've been busy.

I've been thinking recently about all that God has used in my life just to put me where He wants me. I have been back and forth to Europe, let go from a job in Georgia years ago, was a Concierge at a 5 star hotel, went to seminary in Boston, and dated a guy I thought I'd marry but I'll never see again, all so that I can be right where He wants me to be.

See, this is why I will not ever begin to comprehend the mind of God. It is way too vast, way too mind-blowing, and way too creative for me to begin to comprehend.

Last week I went on a cruise and every night I'd go out to the balcony and look out over the water. It was kind of daunting. First of all, the ocean freaks me out thanks to that terrifying shark movie Spielberg came out with a while ago. Second, trying to fathom just how deep the ocean has to be to carry the weight of a ship is mind boggling. But it caused me to think about the depth of God's love for me and how vast his plans are. In my finite mind, my plans can only extend so far in my head. I'm so glad I don't have to plan out the rest of my life. It's hard enough to plan out a few hours in the day.

I've also been reminded lately of how much I don't want to be exposed. I try so hard not to let anyone see my fleshy parts. Unfortunately, the longer you hang out with me, the more exposed I become. I talk a good talk about being "real" with people but I've been a hypocrite of that. I hide behind insecurities and have discovered just how much I have to run to Jesus with it.

So, other than working and planning out my year of theatre with my new set of kiddos, this is what I've been learning.

Oh yes, transition is still a huge part of life. I'm still amazed that the grocery store is open on Sundays here. And football. I've watched 3 football games today. And I don't even like any of the teams. I just have missed watching college football.

Go Canes.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Jesus and Kindness

Jesus and I have had a tumultuous relationship in the last five months. When the break-up happened, I was angry at him. "Why did you bring home for nothing??" was my constant question.

But it wasn't for nothing.

I have made some really great friends here in Jax. I've gotten to watch my niece grow up and become a person she gets excited to see. I've gotten involved in a Bible study. I've gotten to see my best friend several times because we are so much closer in distance now. And I'm pretty sure all that prepared me to get a job right here in Jacksonville teaching Drama :)

So for about a week I was reveling in joy and then I found out that my ex had moved on and my heart felt broken all over again. Except this time, instead of asking Jesus "why?" I let him sit in the pain and hurt and rejection with me. I let him comfort me with kindness and remind me that He is in the business of pruning and molding me for what is to come.

Today, I was at boot camp and as I ran in the heat, I started thinking about how much life had changed but changed for the good. And I realized I'm not the person I was when I was with the ex. I'm different now and for all good reasons. I'm reveling in the kindness of Jesus because it is in that kindness that I want him to join me in the suffering.

I'm ready for a new start in this city that I have just discovered that I love. I'm so thankful for my new friends here and the fact that I have started to put down roots. He never does anything without good reason. And while I may not ever understand why He chose the path He chose for me to come back, it's not for me to look back and wonder. Instead, I look ahead to great and awesome things.

Monday, June 22, 2015

An Open Letter to Pastor Tullian

It was revealed yesterday that Tullian Tchividjian, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian in Ft. Lauderdale, had to step down because of an affair. Tullian was my pastor from 2009-2010 while I lived in Boca Raton. It was through his preaching that I came to understand what grace really was and that we are all broken sinners in need of the Gospel. You can criticize all you want, but Tullian's sin is no different from your own or mine. Unfortunately, he's just in the public eye and because of that, he is assumed to be untouchable.

A lot of people criticized him for breaking ties with the Gospel Coalition. I have nothing to say on that except that I'm glad he did.

I support Pastor Tullian and stand with him as he walks through most likely the darkest valley he's ever had to walk through. I'm pretty sure he doesn't read my blog, but in case he does, the following is to him:

Dear Pastor Tullian,
I want you to know that I am heartbroken over the events of what happened and caused you to step down from the pulpit. However, I also want you to know that it doesn't surprise me. It doesn't surprise me because you aren't a superhuman Christian. If anything, we all put you on a pedestal and expected you to never fall.

God only uses these things in our lives as part of our story. I can only imagine that He is using this to work in you for whatever purpose. The story of Joseph comes to mind, particularly towards the end of Genesis. "What man meant for evil, God meant for good." Your sin is no different from mine or from the people who sit in church and heard you preach every Sunday. When God exposes us, He does it for a reason and a purpose.

Just know that you are loved by many, prayed for by many, and that I along with others feel that God can only work good in this situation.

Praying for you.
Allison

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Wait.

I'm sitting in a beachside cafe in Jax Beach and trying not to think about it. "It" being the interview yesterday. It went really well and I was told I'd hear something by this afternoon. A "yes" or a "no." I try to remember that if it's a "no" it's just His protection from something in order to save me for another opportunity. Or perhaps He wants me to wait more.

The waiting is almost unbearable.

Trying to see the forest through the trees is difficult. I just see trees. Massive, large, trees.

The other day I was babysitting my niece who is now a very active almost-9-month-old. She crawls EVERYWHERE and wants to put EVERYTHING in her mouth. On this particular day, she was headed for a cord next to her baby swing. She's a fast little thing and the minute I turned my back, she was headed for it once more.

"No, no." I told her in a gentle voice. I don't think she knows what "no" means but I say it to her anyway. She'll be two before I know it  and she'll be telling me "no" soon enough.

Lauren looked at me, then back at the cord. I watched her crawl towards it again, a smile spreading on her face as she reached out for it.

"No, Lauren." I moved her away from the swing and tried to distract her with another toy. She grabbed at the toy, then threw it on the ground, turning again once more to the cord.

Interesting what babies find fascinating. It's a cord for crying out loud. The thousands of toys she has that make music and talk are much more worthy of her attention.

But no, she wanted the cord.

This time, I gently pulled her away and stood up, deciding it best to go into another room. She got frustrated really fast and let out a wail of dissatisfaction.

"Sorry, kiddo. That would hurt you if you put it in your mouth." I kissed her chubby cheek and tried to get her to smile at me. She does and by the time we're in the living room, she's moved on to Sophie the Giraffe, one of her favorites.

I stopped to think about that for a minute. So many times I've been heading for something that ultimately could hurt me in the end. The jobs I've applied for have all had potential but when I get a response (or not as most of them have not let me know either way) I immediately resort to thinking I'm a loser and am not good enough.

I don't think about the fact that there could be something I'm being preserved from. God has me in a holding pattern for a reason.

I'm thinking of the analogy of  Lauren and the cord. "No, don't go towards the cord. I promise there's something better."

So I'm waiting. Still waiting. Unsure of what is going on, uncertain of where I'll end up, everyday anticipating something will come. Like today. A "yes" or a "no."

Please, Jesus, let me hear a "yes" soon.










Friday, June 12, 2015

Sad.

Today was rough. I knew from the moment I left BFA that grad day would be hard for me. It's even harder now because I've been feeling all day that I left for nothing. I didn't get to see my kiddos get their diplomas, I still don't have a job, and the whole reason I thought I was coming back doesn't even exist anymore.

I haven't thought in "German time" in a long while, at least a good two months. But today, my heart and mind was on my small group girls, my choir kiddos, and my theatre kiddos all day long.

As the day in America draws to an end, I wonder how many of them are still awake across the pond celebrating. I wonder if they've said their last goodbyes and my heart aches for those who won't see each other for a long time.

I know my time in Germany ended for a reason I might not ever understand. But today of all days, I wish it hadn't.

If anyone from the c/o 15 at BFA reads this just know I love you and miss you greatly.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

South Carolina Part 2 - Magical Monday

On Sunday evening, we went to church so Brie could speak to the youth group about her upcoming venture in Germany. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, there was only one kid who showed up but he just happened to be someone who was interested in missions. It was also a time to get to know others that David and Lyndsay worked with at the church. Afterwards, we headed back to their house for some grilled chicken and another episode of Naked and Afraid (this show is addicting, y'all!)

Monday is what I like to refer to as "Magical Monday." All of us are history buffs and being that we are also seminarians, the thought of getting to go to an actual monastery was pretty sweet. We got a behind the scenes tour of the monastery which also happened to be Henry Laurens (the guy Mel Gibson portrayed in The Patriot) former plantation. We saw a slave cemetery and talked to three monks. Yes, that's right. THREE MONKS.





What did you do on Memorial Day? Bet you didn't talk to three monks ;)

So after our tour, we were invited to the farm of the man who gave us the tour. His family goes to David and Lyndsay's church and they were absolutely precious. First, we picked strawberries



Then, we were invited back into the farmhouse for some delicious homemade zucchini pickles, zucchini muffins, and homemade organic strawberry ice cream. To quote Brie, "What is this day?!"



All good things must come to an end and after we left the farm, we grabbed lunch (Bojangles...I'm telling you, dieting was completely thrown out the window) and watched one last episode of Naked and Afraid (#addicting) and I had to drive back to Jax.

This trip was just what I needed  in so many ways. It was good to see friends I hadn't seen in a long time. It was bittersweet to tell Brie goodbye, but just knowing what awaits her excites me. I fell in love with Charleston and so wish a job had worked out there. Who knows. Maybe one day.

All in all, I'm thankful for the blessing of friends who come alongside you when you need it the most.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Refreshed in South Carolina

Last weekend, I met up with three of my dear seminarian friends from Gordon-Conwell in a little town outside Charleston. I was going to say goodbye to my friend, Brie, who is leaving for Germany in a few months to do ministry there. The bonus was getting to hang out with Lyndsay and David at their new home and see David preach at their church.

Upon arriving, I was exhausted after having worked all day and being on my feet. However, the exhaustion quickly faded when I saw my friends. We ordered in pizza and watched an episode of Naked and Afraid. I have to say that when I'm with Brie, laughter is never an issue. We laughed a lot.

On Sunday, we went to church and David preached a simple, but wonderful sermon on the Gospel and what we're making our gospel. Afterwards, we hung out while David preached at the 2nd service and then headed into Charleston for brunch and walking around the city. Stay tuned for Part II....

Brie, Lyndsay, and me after church

Love my sweet Brie Brie!

BRUNCH!!

Writer's Block, Bloody Mary, and Water (Lyndsay is preggo)

Southern Breakfast Sandwich (bacon, pimento cheese, fried green tomato, fried egg...yeah, no dieting on this trip)

Southerners love our RC

Southern Belle through and through

City Market

First Presbyterian Moncks Corner


Saturday, May 16, 2015

It Still Hurts

You know how you think you're finally over something and then....well, you discover you're really not. Three months ago, my heart was broken into a million pieces. It was much worse than any heartache I'd ever experienced, mainly because the person who did it was a person I thought I'd be spending the rest of my life with. I'd never experienced anything like it before. I left a whole world and entered a new one for something I thought was going to be forever.

When you want to believe the best in someone, you will do whatever it takes to prove they are being honest with you. And when you leave something behind that you loved and cherished more than anything else, you will do the same.

I'm still trying to make sense of it all. I don't know if I ever will or if I'm supposed to.

In the midst of my hurt, I've started to take account for things that have happened that might not have happened had all of that ever occurred.

- I get to see my niece as much as I want
- I've made new friends in Jax that I could've never met
- I've seen old friends more often than I think I would have
- I've lost 21 lbs

And I would say I've grown closer to God, but if I'm completely honest, I've been frustrated with Him. Angry is probably a better word. And as someone once told me - "You might as well tell God you're mad at him because he already knows."

So I'm sitting in this. All of it. The hurt with a person who deeply wounded me. The anger and frustration at God and wondering why He had to use such a drastic move to do whatever He's going to do next in my life. The huge hole in my heart that misses my kiddos and my friends in Germany.

If you're a regular reader, please pray for me. I'm just really sad right now and feeling a lot of emotions that I'm trying to work through. I know it won't all go away in a day, but perhaps soon I'll start to see a small glimmer of light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.






Monday, May 11, 2015

Oh Yeah, I Won

That 8 week challenge I mentioned a few weeks ago?

I won!

20.7lbs and 4% body fat are gone!!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In the Middle of What?

Six months ago if you'd asked me what I thought was going to happen when I got back to the States, I would have never dreamed in a million years that I would be sitting at my parents house, recovering from a broken heart, and trying to figure out two very different kinds of transition.

I don't know what's happening next. I have no clue. But I think, for me, that taking it a day at a time is all I can do right now. 

Maybe I'm just meant to take a year off from teaching next year and finish my Masters, maybe start a new one. Maybe I'm meant to live life in the same city as my family for once and discover what that's like in my thirties. 

I. Don't. Know.

And I think it's OK that I don't know.

We're all living out a story and I'm tired of comparing my story to yours or hers or his. When I do that, I'm only missing out on what my story is telling others.

This has been the hardest two and a half months of my life. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are You a Bear or a Goat?

No, I'm not talking about Chinese New Year.

On the retreat weekend, we watched this clip by nursing scholar, Brene Brown. It literally takes about a minute or two to watch and speaks volumes.

If you're just lazy and don't feel like getting in touch with your visual learning side, I'll sum it up for you in a nutshell -

The clip shows a fox and a bear with the narrator (Brown) talking about the differences in empathy and sympathy. It shows the bear going "down in the dark hole" with the fox and simply just being there. It then shows a goat representing sympathy coming down and trying to "silver-line" the situation. In the end, the bear just puts his arm around the fox, signifying empathy.

In the last two months, I've had a handful of friends who I would consider the "bears" in my life. They've gotten down in the hole with me. They've listened, they haven't talked and tried to tell me everything will be ok. They've let me cry on the phone, let me cry on their shoulder, and curse and vent about it all. Some of these "bears" include Tammy, Lindsay, Heather, Laura, Brie, Ashley, & Bridgett.

There have been a few goats. They mean well, but really, they don't know what to say so they just make up the first thing off the top of their head that is automatically supposed to make me feel better. I don't think the "goats" read my blog but I'm not going to list them, regardless.

So, are you a bear or a goat? It's ok if you're a goat. I'm pretty sure we've all been goats plenty of times because let's face it - when life gets hard for people we love, we want to make it better.

But in the last two months, to be completely honest, the best way to make it better is simply to just shut up and be there for them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Retreat

This weekend I got to attend a women's retreat hosted by Coaches Honor, a ministry started by my aunt and uncle. I was apprehensive about going. I knew about 2 other people going and even though I like meeting new people, my heart hasn't exactly been in a warm spot lately.

The theme for the week was on the Prodigal Son. If you've read Tim Keller's Prodigal God, you know that the story isn't about the wayward son, but more on the father's heart for his son. In each breakout session, we talked about which son we were - the older or the younger brother.

We also shared stories. Lately, I've discovered that I'd rather get to know someone's story than be surfaced and this weekend provided many opportunities to hear other people's stories. It made me see that in the midst of the crap and uncertainty I've been walking through, that it's just a part of the story I'm telling.

This quote from Paul Miller was on the back of the t-shirts for the retreat and pretty much sums up life for me today:

"Often when you think everything has gone wrong, it's just that you're in the middle of a story."

I hope one day that all I've gone through with an unforeseen break-up, living in the middle of confusion, and transitioning back from another place will be helpful to someone else going through a storm of their own. Everyone has a story. They're all different, but we all struggle with pain and rejection and wounds that are deeper than we'd ever let anyone else see.




Monday, April 6, 2015

A Story of Loss (in a good way)

Six years ago, I started working out with Kim. I lost a total of 70 pounds in a year 1/2. In the last three years, I put 40 pounds back on due to stress of seminary, then moving to a country whose main diet consists of bread, cheese, potatoes, and beer. Not to mention desserts and pastries from the local bakery.

When I came back in December, I wanted to start getting fit again b/c my fat jeans had turned into jeans that hardly fit anymore. I struggled in Orlando because I couldn't find a rhythm (though I know why now) and then when the break-up happened and I moved back to Jax, I decided I needed something to keep my mind occupied.

Kim was glad to have me join again and three weeks ago I started with boot camp and personal training. My goal is to lose a total of 70lbs once more. Originally back in 2009, my goal had been 85lbs and I was only 15 away from that but sadly, that never happened. This time, I'm not quitting.

I've lost 14lbs so far and I'm so excited about this. It might not seem like much, but last week I was able to get a dress from Ann Taylor Loft and I haven't been able to shop in a store w/o plus sizes for three years now!

There's a reason for everything. I don't think if the break up had ever happened I would have taken weight loss seriously again. But I'm doing this for me. Nobody else. I can't wait to see what the final outcome looks like.

Sometimes loss can be a good thing. As much as I'm still mourning what was, I am coming to realize what I gained in the aftermath.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

She Brings Me Joy

My counselor told me last week to seek things out that bring me life. It didn't take me long to list the three things right now that are life giving and joy-full. I applied for my last seminary course to be started in May and I'll FINALLY Have my MA in Educational Ministries in August. YAY! I also applied every and anywhere that was hiring for a theatre teacher or where I felt I could best use my gifts. I've heard back from a few, mostly 'thank-you-but-we're-hiring-from-the-inside', but still. At least I know where I'm not supposed to be. And God has opened my heart to new directions. I want to be closer to my family for once in my life. More or less because of this baby here:


I'm probably biased, but my niece is the most beautiful child I've ever laid eyes on. And I've gotten to spend so much time with her in the last three weeks. She always makes me smile and is the happiest baby in the world. It also helps that she thinks I'm hilarious. It doesn't take much for her to laugh at a silly face. I can have a horrible day and when I go over to visit, my whole world is made better.

Lauren brings me joy. And I need a lot of joy in my life right now.


Friday, March 27, 2015

What to Say

Watching the news about this Germanwings plane crash has really hit home. They keep showing a map of a continent and countries with which I'm so familiar. And today and yesterday my kiddos in Germany left to go to their various mission trips around Asia, Africa, & Europe. I couldn't help but be somewhat concerned for them. And I know they're resilient to flights and airplanes, but it still got me a little worried.

Not to mention I've just...missed them. Especially this week. I think because I know had I stayed I would've been leaving on a mission trip with them. And if I'm honest, I haven't really given myself a chance to mourn Germany like I thought I would. When I got back to America it was one big whirlwind and the person I thought cared so much about me and my life there, really wasn't interested in hearing about it except a few times. So I kept it all inside and soon life here became more about my relationship with someone who inevitably knew it would end before it was given a chance.

And now...nobody really asks me about Germany. That's not a plea or a cry for anything. It's just honesty. The questions now are more about what's next, how my heart is, how I'm doing...which is all well and good and great. But do the last 2 1/2 years I spent in a country that I love with amazing people not count for anything anymore? I was there a lot longer than I was with him.

I finally came to a place of reconciliation with myself, at least in the part of the journey that's led me to Jacksonville. I know that I'm here right now and that I don't have any idea of what's next. And the best thing I can do is choose to live in the circumstances given to me. I can't fight it and really, if it wasn't for my parents, I'd be on the street right now. So as low and as crummy as I feel right now, I know that I have to continue walking in it for as long as it takes.

On a random note, if you want to contact me, email me at allistroud78@gmail.com. I don't know how soon I'll respond, but since I'm off FB inevitably, it's a good way to keep up.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mourning

Nearly a month ago, my world was rocked and what I thought I'd moved back to America for was completely shot into oblivion. To be honest, I have no idea what I'm mourning more - a relationship that I thought was going to be "it" or the continent I've lived off and on for 12 years and left to pursue the former.

I signed off Facebook and although it happened around the same time as Lent, I did it more for my mental sanity. I didn't want to be bombarded with all of the questions and, selfishly, I didn't really want to see anything going on in Kandern for a while. I just needed my head to breathe if that makes any sense.

Everyday I wake up and feel either worse or better than the day before. I'm essentially transitioning from two different experiences and feel quite alone though it all. My best friends are spread out all over Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, and Europe. And because I didn't really give anyone any notice that I was getting off Facebook, I'm not in touch with a lot of people. I guess you take the good with the bad? I don't know.

There seemed to be somewhat of a light at the end of this long and dark tunnel - on Monday I had a job interview in Ft. Lauderdale to teach next year. As I was driving on 595 and then onto Federal Hwy, I could feel my spirit begin to awaken for the first time in 3 weeks. I'm not saying that living back in South Florida will solve all of my problems because I know that I can't escape them. But at least I know it's a familiar place that I know with friends and a church waiting for me.

So, this is where I am. Just sitting and waiting and doing my best to keep my mind occupied. Walking in the pain is something that comes with all of this and I'm definitely doing my share of that. I'm just waiting to feel like myself once again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This Describes Everything.

Yes, there has been heartbreak. Yes, the expectation of what I thought would be is dead. But today a friend sent me this song and it is exactly what I needed to hear....

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again - Danny Gokey

You're shattered
Like you've never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you're never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

Monday, February 9, 2015

Paradise and Mickey

Hey, guess what? I'm not talking about community in this post.

In the midst of all of this transitional crap and sanctification, a ray of sunshine came out. My friend Erika took me on a Disney cruise on Friday. It's our 3rd cruise and we're now trying to obtain Gold Member status (you get Silver on your 2nd). I'm sure many of you are like "Why the same cruise? Why a Disney cruise without kids?" Um...because it's amazing! And kids? There aren't kids in the adult section of the ship nor are there kids in the spa, which is where the majority of our time was spent.

Yesterday we both splurged and decided to get this spa treatment involving chocolate. Like, we were essentially wrapped in a chocolate body mask and after that came off we got a full body massage. I KNOW!!!!!! I came out of the treatment literally feeling like a million dollars. And my skin has never felt so soft!! Nor have I ever spent 100 minutes in a spa treatment before. 100 MINUTES!!!!

The cruise was pretty much awesome. I'm tired but it's a good tired. I got a chance to process some stuff with Erika and catch up on life with her, too. We definitely spoiled ourselves rotten but I feel that sometimes you just have to do that.

Now, I'm back on the couch job hunting and slowly getting back to the real world. It's nice to escape for a few days. I'm so glad Erika was able to do this.

Also, could you (whoever you are that read this) please start praying I get a job? Even just a part-time, answering phones, whatever kind of job? Thanks.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What I Missed/Am Missing/Will Probably Always Miss

Tonight I came to Barnes and Noble to have some 'me' time. It's kind of something I've done off and on for the last month.

I went to a spin class tonight and it kicked my butt and I loved every single minute. It helped that the instructor played "It's Gonna Be Me" by Nsync. According to my Polar Fit watch, I burned 679 calories. I also burned off a lot of stress and some emotionalism (is that a word?) that's been plaguing me for the last week or so.

I realized last night just how much I miss my Kandern community. John and I were talking and he said, "Tell me about BFA. What do you miss?" The tears flowed freely (so freely in fact, that through my tears I told him, "Now you've opened the flood gates!") and I opened up and told him that I missed going over to the Martins after school. I missed sitting in Kristy's kitchen and just talking to the girls and hearing them shush Drew as he played his Wii. I missed the atmosphere of Audrey's tutoring sessions and how she would always stop what she was doing and ask me how I was doing. I missed Abby's excitement over getting a role in a play and Anna's sweet smile while she talked to me over a cup of Senseo flavored coffee. I missed Drew's inquisitive "What are you talking about?" "Wait, what happened?" and the inevitable "Nothing, Drew." I missed taking down the Tree of Trust and just venting and laughing and just being in a home that felt like partly my own.

Then I told him about the Stemples and how Jen and I would meet for lunch. How Ellie always smiled when she saw me. How the last time I was with them we did nothing but sit on the couch and watched a Christmas movie and ate döner kebabs. How Jen would meet with me every Friday and hug me and encourage me and assure me that life was just like this. I was normal and all of what I was experiencing was normal. I told him that I felt like a part of their family and going over to their house was like going over to my own.

I told him I hadn't always been such a planner and that many nights I'd sit on my bed and be messaging with a fellow BFA co-worker and in a few minutes she'd be over at my house sitting on my floor and laughing with me.

I sound like a broken record (or a skipping CD? What do we compare that to now?) but the hardest part of being back here is that I've lost that instant community. Sometimes I wake up and I feel like it's all over and I've completely acclimated. And then I get out on the 408 and realize I have no idea where the heck I am.

I think last night had been the first time I'd really opened up and I think that it really hit me that I wouldn't be back at the Martins or the Stemples. Or that randomly messaging a friend and asking her to come over in five minutes was really a thing of the past.

It comes and goes and as much as I want all of this to be over and as much as I just want to feel "normal", in a sense I know it's just beginning.

Today my encouragement comes from the first few verses in Ephesians 2:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-7)

Thanks be to God....even in the sanctifying process of transition.

Monday, February 2, 2015

So...Transition's Not Over...

I'm sure many of you read the title and thought "Duh. Of course it's not."

I know it's not. For goodness sake I've only been back a month and 9 days.

I guess it feels longer. Sometimes I think that last semester was a year ago already. Other times, it feels like I was just there. I guess, in essence, I was.

Last week was rough. As you read in my last blog, I was struggling with loneliness. I still am. I'm yearning for community and a "real" job.

Over the weekend, I realized I was closer to community than I thought. On Saturday, a new friend from my small group and I went to dinner and to see a One Act play put on by the high school where she is a teacher. Watching it made me yearn to do what I love to do - direct - and as spectacular as the actor's were, all I could think about was how I would've cast it using my BFA kiddos. Nonetheless, it was nice to go out with a new friend.

On Sunday at church, I walked in and instead of feeling like I knew no one, I was immediately able to start up conversations with three people that I've started to get to know. I sat down next to John before the service and said, "I know people here!" I know I sound like a kid but I kind of felt like it. The new girl in school is starting to make friends.

There are still sides of transition that aren't fun and sides that I wish wouldn't rear their ugly head. The fear of not having money seems to always creep its way inside my head and those fears come out in snippy remarks and with an attitude that I'd more or less like to repress. Or it comes out in my oversensitivity. If you know me well at all, you know this is something I've always struggled with. In the Spirit, my overly sensitive nature can be a beautiful thing. In my flesh, it's ugly plain and simple. Mix all of that with transitioning to a new place and being in the center of confusion 90% of the time and it does not make for a fun person to be around.

Wow, if you don't know me I probably haven't given you the best impression just now.

The thing is, I just want to be done with it all. I want to have a normal job again where I have a salary. I want to call up at least three girlfriends and say, "Hey, there's happy hour tonight. Wanna go?" I want to be the caring girlfriend who is always sweet and kind and caring to her boyfriend and doesn't let the insecurity of transition and past relationships bombard her thinking.

I remind myself daily to give myself grace to get through all of this new stuff. I remind myself that God hasn't forgotten about me and even in today's Jesus time I read the scripture in Matthew that says "Fear not, therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matt 10:31).

My sweet mother made a great point this morning on the phone - "Allow God to meet you in the midst of your transition. He wants to use this time to show you who you are so that you run to Him and not to anything else."

So, that's my prayer. That my Abba would constantly be the One I run to during this time of wanting to forget that transition takes time. That it's not an overnight process. And that all along, He's not abandoned me or forgotten the desires of my heart. The desires to be in community, to have a job, to just be an all around nice person. The desire to just be in His presence and let Him take control from me, living out this season of uncertainty.






Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Frustration of Loneliness

My struggle this week - discovering that I'm lonely.

I just came from a large community with a lot of friends. Like if I wanted to, I could've scheduled coffee dates for the next six months with people in Kandern. I was the one who planned stuff, who liked to travel with my nearest and dearest there, who loved it when my neighbors were some of my closest friends.

Now I find myself in a large city with a lot of people. And the person who was the most social, is now the least social of anyone.

I talked with my former roommate, Justina, on Friday and she told me community was something she was missing, too. It was not like it was in Kandern. Other people who have left BFA previously have told me the same thing and I heard it long before I left. But once you're in the middle of it and experiencing it for yourself, it's not real.

I know it won't ever be like it was in Kandern. The walks to and from friends' houses are over. Walking to the cafe to meet for a coffee date four out of five days of the work week are done. I guess I'd just like a community of girlfriends of some sort to at least meet up with once a week.

Also, this isn't a blog to say that there haven't been people who have reached out to me. That would be a lie. I'm just expressing the desire I have for community again and to feel a part of something once more. And in this stage of loneliness. it only brings me closer to the One who created us for community, which is a sweet reminder that once more He knows my heart better than I know my own.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Abundantly is a Great Word

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

If you're like me, you've heard that verse a few times in your life, possibly at the benediction during a church service. Or if you're a seminary student, perhaps your professor used it to dismiss class like a few of mine did at Gordon-Conwell. Regardless, many of you have heard it before. Maybe unlike me you've just not really paid much attention to what it says and it's become something you've gotten used to hearing.

Yesterday, I really listened to what these words were talking about. "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us..." I kept repeating that in my head long after the service ended yesterday.

For the last two weeks I've let myself start to worry a bit about money and bills and everything in between. Not only that, I've started to miss teaching. I mean really miss teaching. I like the K-2nd graders I see twice a week, but let's be honest - once you've taught high school and middle school, it's hard to get back into the habit of little kids.

Perhaps I made the mistake of going back and looking at pictures from High School Musical. And a few of my former kiddos have contacted me telling me how much they miss me. So there's that.

And it's been hard to find community here. Don't get me wrong - I love the small group I'm now a part of with John as well as the church - but I miss being able to see friends on a daily basis. I'm not giving myself enough grace and I know it. I've only been in Orlando 2 weeks (on Wednesday) but I think I'm somewhat guilting myself into thinking that it's wrong to have so much free time. That I should be doing more. And in all that, I lose sight of all that God is doing in and around me.

Ok back on track here. So Ephesians 3:20-21. Where does that come in? I'm getting there.

Yesterday after church, I was waiting around for John to finish tearing down and this woman approached me and introduced herself. We got to talking and she asked me what I did - which to be honest, is kind of a hard question to answer right now. I teach. Or I taught. Or I was teaching but now I'm here. So I told her I had been teaching Drama and Choir in Germany for the last 2 1/2 years. Immediately, she gave me the email address of a high school principal at a local private school. Then, she introduced me to another person who is the choir director at another public school in the area. Another friend told me how to go about applying at another private school and by the time John and I left, I had a plethora of information to get me started on applying to other schools here.

This is where Ephesians 3 comes in. He is able to do far more than I could ever dream or imagine. Like really, six years ago when I had to resign my job, I had no idea the journey was just starting for me. And I love that it says "far more abundantly." In definition, what that word really means is "present in great quantity; more than adequate; over sufficient"  . I love that - more than adequate, over sufficient.  

Also, this is not my way of going on and saying "And now because of this verse I will not ever worry about anything ever again." Ha! I'm not sure I'll ever reach that level of excellence.

But it's a good reminder that He cares for me far more than I'll ever know or understand and that his plans for me exceed anything I could have ever planned for myself.









Tuesday, January 13, 2015

712 Things to Write About

In the midst of transition, my re-entry counselors in Germany stressed that I take time for myself. For someone who is used to being "on-the-go"all the time, I've found this kind of tricky.

Yesterday, I decided to create some space for myself and drove to Barnes and Noble. I had some paperwork to fill out for a substitute position at a school here and figured it would be good to do that in a cafe-ish atmosphere.

It took about 5 minutes to complete the paperwork and so I just kind of sat and observed people around me and then decided to walk around the bookstore. I found myself in the journaling section and picked up a journal entitled 712 Things to Write About. It sparked my interest and I picked it up just to browse through. Two minutes later I found myself at the cash register and then back in the cafe to scour its pages.

The writing prompts range from "List Five Favorite Smells, And What They Remind You Of" to "Write the Interior Monologue of Someone Waiting for a Blind Date to Show Up" and "Write 12 Lines of Dialogue Spoken at the End of a Long Day."

I don't really make New Years Resolutions and let's be honest - it's been 2015 for nearly 2 weeks now. But I am making a point to write in this book once a day throughout the year. Maybe some days I'll have time for an entry or two. Regardless, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and right now in the midst of many days of sitting and pondering and discovering this new city, it's nice to know that I have something to occupy my mind.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Everyone Speaks English...and Other Observations

So I've officially been back in America over 2 weeks now. I've been asked several times how I like being back. To be honest, right now I'm completely in the honeymoon phase. I'm like a kid in a candy store whenever I see just how much there is right around the corner. The area of Orlando that I'm living in is not far from a Target, Old Navy, LA Fitness (gym), Publix (grocery store), bank, post office, drug store, and most importantly - Starbucks ;)

Yesterday, I ventured out to run some errands. One of the first things I observed was that I was still expecting people to speak in German in public. Walking into the bank yesterday, I found myself going over in my head what to say in German just out of habit! It didn't take long at all to realize - "oh, wait, this is all in English..duh!" I still felt a little shell-shocked making the transaction with the bank teller but he was nice enough and I don't think he could tell that I felt completely out of my element for a bit.

Another observation - people are just really helpful here.....and whether or not they mean to be, I find it.......annoying. I hate to say that and sound rude, but you have to understand that I've just come from a place where you're not really offered tons of help in a store. So yesterday, I decided to spend my Yankee Candle  gift card from my colleagues in the music department at BFA. I walked in and was immediately greeted and surrounded by one of the employees. She told me everything that was on sale, everything that wasn't, the 75% off display, the 50% off display, and so on and so on until I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

"Do you need coffee beans to smell in between the candles?" This was just one of many questions she asked me along with - "Still deciding?" Which then made me feel like I needed to hurry up and I hate being rushed or feeling like I'm being rushed. Again, I know they are just being helpful and nice. Maybe I just went on an off day.

So today I'm venturing out again. Maybe the more I do it, the less overwhelming it will feel. I do have to brag on my boyfriend because he is always asking me how it's going and how I'm doing with all of this. And I really like what I've seen of Orlando -which granted, because it's such a big city, isn't very much ;)