Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting Older, But Certainly Not Old

Next week I turn 30. I think I’m supposed to be experiencing some sort of conflicted feelings about this, but honestly, I’m not.  People keep saying things like, “Oh. How are you dealing with that?” in a tone that indicates I’ve just shared that I have a terrible illness instead of that I’m turning 30. Maybe the freaked out feelings will come, but so far they haven’t. Maybe it’s because I feel good about the things that happened in my 20’s and for where I am in life in general. I feel immensely thankful for this to be the case. However, it does feel strange to think of being such an age. How did this happen?

I was grocery shopping a couple of days ago at my local Kroger. All the college kids are back in town and they just look so young. Like children, really. Which is strange, because I’m supposed to be their age. Like in my heart, I’m supposed to be 22 still. I saw a group of girls standing in a circle, obviously seeing each other for the first time since getting back to town.  They were so young and tan too, probably because they just returned from some grand summer adventure. And I felt like saying, “Hey! You girls! I just wanted you to know that I used to be young and fun! I had this group of best friends when I went to MC and we were so fun! And I had the most fun summers! Just wanted you to know!” But I didn’t, because turning 30 doesn’t mean I have to turn into a creeper too.

During my senior year at Mississippi College I was a part of this group of students called the Executive Council.  We did all sorts of things on campus, and I still feel lucky that I had the chance to belong to that group.  We would meet for hours on Monday nights, and I would always walk part of the way back to my dorm with my three good guys friends. We would part ways in front of the cafeteria and I would walk the rest of the way back by myself. Because I was a very sentimental 22 year old, I would spend the rest of the walk thinking about how much I loved going to school at MC and how I’d better live it up because I knew it wouldn’t last forever. 

It didn’t last forever, and I was sad when it was over. But more good times came, then I was sad when those were over too. But then even more good times came. That’s the thing about happy seasons—they don’t last forever, but we can always be sure another good one is just around the corner. When I think about it, I guess I’ve always been pretty good about trying to enjoy today and not chasing tomorrow or yesterday. Maybe that’s why I’m ok with turning 30.

To commemorate this big day I’ve rounded up some pictures of past birthdays. I do hope you enjoy them.

This is a birthday beach trip that we took during our senior year of college. I had only just met Will and we weren't quite dating yet, but somehow us girls came to the conclusion that the fate of our relationship rested solely upon whether or not he had the foresight to call me at exactly midnight on my birthday. I know you'll be relieved to hear that he called. Whew. 

This is a special surprise Mexican fiesta birthday during which my friend Megan read a delightful card in an unidentified Latino accent. I located this card during my garage clean out, but no worries I saved it. It's available for viewing in my garage closet. 

Imagine coming home to find yourself in icing on a cake, dressed up as a cowgirl. I really think this speaks for itself. 

To wrap things up, here is a pre-birthday confession. People have always thought I am  younger than I really am, but it seems never so much as they do now. And just in time too, because I really can't think of a better time to speak to a lady about her youthful appearance than upon the approach of her 30th birthday. It's not at all uncommon for a client to find out my age and say, "Oh, I thought you were like 22." And I think to myself Bless you precious child  and put a happy face by their name in my head. So here is my birthday prayer-Dear Lord, please let me grow as much and have as many happy times and friends in my 30's as I did in my 20's. Please help me look to you in everything that I do and in every decision I make. Please, PLEASE don't ever let me lose my counseling license because the licensing process is not something I can survive twice in a lifetime. And please let me look 22 forever and ever--or at least until I turn 35. At that point I feel it will be reasonable to increase it to maybe 26.  Amen. 


Friday, August 21, 2015

The Big Sale

It's going to be a big day around our house tomorrow. We are having our first ever garage sale, which I like to refer to as The Big Sale. The idea started this summer when we spent a lot of time cleaning out various areas of our house, including the boxes in the garage that have been sitting there for an entire year. Will and I both have a slight tendency towards hoarding, and some of these items that we cleaned out included, but were certainly not limited to--every single invitation to every single event of my friend Sara's wedding weekend (she's been married 7 years), the directions that Will's dad wrote out for him when he was making his original pilgrimage to Mississippi College for orientation, and cards to commemorate every life event 2008-2011. 

Anyway, we are really making an effort to fight our hoarding instincts in this house, so when I saw how much stuff there was to give away I started wondering if we could sell it. Thus The Big Sale was born. My official partner in The Big Sale is my good bestie and college roommate Sara. I want to stress that we were potluck roommates who roomed together all four years of college. Clearly we work well together in all endeavors. Here we are our senior year. I want to publicly acknowledge that I know there is a way to crop this, but I'm tired and I don't feel I have the energy to figure it out at this time.

What? You mean you don't have a professional portrait of you and your college roommate? Here's another of the whole group.

Just think girls.  One day you could be frolicking together in coordinating black shirts taking friendship pictures and 8 years later you could be hosting your very own Big Sale together #fancylife 

I heard rumors that such a sale is a lot of work, so I started doing some research. And it turns out that there is a whole culture of people who love nothing more than to run about in the wee morning hours hosting/shopping at garage sales. These people had a lot of very specific tips to share via the internets, and I am greatly appreciative for these words of advice from the professionals.  

I am weirdly fascinated by the idea of a neighborhood garage sale. I grew up in the country, and though I'm sure people must have had them, I don't recall ever seeing a garage sale sign out by my house. So I'm fascinated with them in the same way that I'm still fascinated with trick or treating on foot in a neighborhood. I love the idea of being at a garage sale visiting with neighbors and people from around town. It all seems very quaint and early 90's to me.  I suspect these ideas are naivety on my part and that they will die a slow, sweaty death tomorrow morning at 8 when I've already been up for 4 hours.

If you live near me I do hope you will pay us a visit tomorrow.  We have lots of good stuff and I might even make some cookies. Sara and I had an official lunch meeting this week about The Big Sale (which her mom pointed out we should write off for tax purposes--I like the way she thinks) and we decided that our criteria for success would be making a profit--any profit, no specifics to bring us down--and having a general good time. Please come help us make all our dreams come true!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Do you know about the book Jesus Calling? It's a book of short devotions with something written for each day of the year. The thing that makes it unique is that it's written as if Jesus is talking to you (which perhaps sounds odd if you've never read it but I promise it's not). I would say some of the major themes are trust, thankfulness, and peace. A special friend gave me my copy a few years ago when I was going through a hard time and I can definitely say it's my favorite devotion book. 

Something I really enjoy doing is going back and looking at what I highlighted or underlined in past years. It makes me remember things that I've gone through before and I feel so thankful for God's faithfulness.  Yesterday I was reading and something stood out to me:

"Accept each day just as it comes to you. Do not waste your time and energy wishing for a different set of circumstances. Instead, trust Me enough to yield to My design and purposes. Remember that nothing can separate you from My Loving Presence; you are mine."

In my book I had underlined the part that I've underlined here.  I bet I underlined that two or three years ago, and oh boy, did I need to underline that back then. I also needed to write it on 500 sticky notes and post them all around me and tattoo it to my body. And I still need to remind myself of it often. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's gone through a time of discontentment. There are some circumstances that we can reasonably make an effort to change, but I'm thinking of situations that we can't necessarily control. We can find ourselves feeling discontent about a huge variety of things and it can lead to lots of different feelings--frustration, sadness, impatience, helplessness, comparison, and loneliness come to my mind.  

And certainly we are right to not be ok with our circumstances sometimes. There's nothing wrong with doing our best to make a negative thing better. But after we've done that and things still haven't improved, well, if we're not careful the discontentment might come. And it seems to me that if we hang out in the land of discontentment too long, it's easy for resentment to set in. After resentment comes bitterness, and being bitter leads to nothing good. The worst thing about all these negative feelings is that they don't change a thing. They don't improve our situation at all--they suck our joy, keep us feeling bad, and might even cause us to miss out on something that we need to learn.

This isn't a fun or easy idea, not at all. But I think sometimes we have to make a decision to try our best to take our eyes off the bad and refocus them on the good. To remember God's faithfulness and count our blessings.  Here are a couple of verses that I think can be especially powerful in a season of discontentment:

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old." Psalm 77:11

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth." Job 19:25

On days when we're not sure of anything else, we can be sure that God is always good, is always for us, and that He will finish the work He started in us. And that is a reason to be thankful indeed.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Counseling Anniversary and My Video Debut

It’s been about a year since I left a regular, forty -hour a week job that provided delightful and practical benefits such as retirement, insurance, and paid holidays to begin counseling at a private practice as my primary job. I had already been with Crossroads Counseling for a while and had been planning on making the change, but it was still a big decision and a huge risk. I knew that it could potentially be a huge disaster, but I also knew that God had opened up a million doors for me to walk through and I felt sure of what He had told me to do. And so I took what is certainly my biggest risk yet and left the safe job that made me feel drained for the risky job that makes me feel alive. 

 In the last year I’ve developed a term of endearment for self-employment—I like to refer to it as “Living on the Edge”.  Anyone who is self-employed or who has a self-employed spouse knows exactly what I mean.  I don’t know when I’ve ever been so excited for a change, but I knew things wouldn’t be easy all the time so I tried to have realistic expectations. Even so, trying to imagine something isn’t the same as actually experiencing it. There was a particularly difficult season where everything seemed to go wrong. It was confusing and scary and every emotion I felt told me to just give up because this job would obviously never work. I started feeling crazy for thinking it would.

I had a particularly meaningful conversation with a co-worker during that time, and he reminded me that God doesn’t play jokes on us, doesn’t change His mind when He leads us to something, and that I could trust I hadn’t heard Him wrong several months before.  And I remembered that sometimes we have to put our trust in what we know instead of what we feel.  So that’s what Will and I tried our best to do, and of course everything worked out.  In fact, it worked out better than we had ever hoped.  Why did we ever get so worried?

Working in private practice at Crossroads Counseling is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’m so thankful for the freedom to see clients without being bogged down with other things. I’m thankful that I can arrange my schedule to have time to speak, to teach, and to write. I’m thankful for the clients that I’ve come to truly know, love, and enjoy so much.  And I’m especially thankful for my Crossroads family. Everyone—my co-workers, our director, our administrative assistants—have always fully supported me, encouraged me, and treated me as an equal.  The other day I listened as a counselor who is much more experienced than I am referred clients to me over the phone, and I could have cried about the kind words she used to describe me. You just don’t find that everywhere. 

Last April Mutual of Omaha contacted me about making a video for their Aha Moment tour.  I spoke a little about making my decision to become a counselor and some of the things that go along with that.  I’ve been waiting for a while to share it, and now seems like the right time. Do take a moment and prepare yourself for the strength of the accent you’re about to hear.

At the end of this video I talk a bit about purpose. We all have natural gifts, talents, and abilities. The only thing I’ve ever been really good at is connecting with different people and making others feel comfortable. I never would have imagined that those things would have turned into my job, but I am a truly certain that God will take our lives and do more with them than we could ever ask or imagine if we will only follow Him and trust that He has good plans for us. Just like counseling comes naturally to me, you have something that comes naturally to you.  Maybe you’re great at decorating a house or making a delicious meal. Maybe you’re wonderful with kids.  Maybe you’re super organized or great at budgeting. Maybe you’re an expert at making spreadsheets, growing a beautiful garden, or writing. Whatever it is that comes naturally to you and makes you feel alive, there is a way to find purpose and serve others through that thing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to make a career or job change, but rather that you embrace the special gifts God gave you and commit them to Him.  Who knows, maybe He will take them and do more that you ever asked or imagined too. 

Later on Mutual of Omaha will do some sort of voting campaign with these videos and the winner will get to make a national commercial.  I am certainly not expecting to be a national commercial star, but feel free to share this video if you feel like doing so. 

Have a good weekend friends. And let us all enjoy the brisk 92 degree weather and give thanks that it's no longer 130 degrees outside.