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!!   



I'm never quite sure how to broach the subject of singleness (which is why I haven't tried until now,) on my blog without sounding like I feel sorry for myself or am desperate. Yuck to both. I've wanted to write a post on it for awhile, as a 25-almost-26-year-old single gal, and have even started several articles. But they're never posted. It's a sensitive subject, right? Funny to me, how everyone has their own perspective, to fit their own agenda: one MUST find contentment in their singleness. | hey girl, it's totally alright to FEEL THINGS. If you want a man, cry all you like! | be aggressive | nope don't say anything, that's the man's job | well, you don't really know how hard it is, because your only such-and-such an age (aka, too young,) to understand | yeah but I'm only 19 and I totally know how hard it is to be single! | being single is the greatest, I have so much freedom | I just really don't feel whole, like there's something missing | never let your happiness depend on another person | it isn't good for man (or ok, paraphrase women,) to be alone | I waited until I was well into my 30's | I was married at 18 and had my first child a year later | if you talk about it too much, it'll scare the guys away | hey, be yourself. Girl, if you hate your friend for having a boyfriend, let it vent! | I think you get the idea, especially if you reading this post, because you're probably single too, and you've heard these scenarios more than once. There just isn't a remedy or "right answer," is there? Nope. Because everyone is different, every story is different. I personally am sick of all the negativity, and worse, all the attention brought upon singles, like we're diseased or have a problem that needs fixing. And no, that isn't bitterness either. See? We just can't win. ;)

With my move, new job, all that jazz, I've been viewing the ever beloved (much sarcasm,) topic of singleness through a different lens. Hey, I'm just going to be honest here. I really want to be married someday. I often wonder what it feels like to have a guy call me every night after getting home from work, or having the knowledge that I am loved. . .because why would he pick me? It's easy to get caught in pity-party-mode, feeling sorry for myself as I watch countless friends announce their dating relationships, engagements, marriages, and even pregnancies. See, the happiness goes both ways, but so does the respect. When I was a kid my parents posted a chart of 21 rules. One in particular, has always stuck: "be happy when someone else is happy." Sounds easy enough, but we are selfish creatures by nature, and even "mature" adults can envy and covet. Get the picture? When it comes to singleness, it's natural to feel joy for our dating or engaged friends, but the stab of bitterness or longing is very real. In turn, it is so, so important for people in relationships to recognize not only that their single friends still exist, but has feelings and a life, too. YES we'll be happy for you, but don't turn that happiness into an unknowing: "Oh my gosh he/she is the most amazing EVER. I literally have the best boyfriend/girlfriend in the WORLD. I wish you could have what I have. . .my life has been so changed. What was life like before?"

Just some thoughts. See, God has a plan and is doing great things in the lives of all His children. Sounds generic, but it's very true, as easy as it is to shrug off. I'm not here to keep you from settling, becoming desperate, or being that annoying poster on Facebook: "SAD. Do you know what that stands for?? SINGLES AWARENESS DAY." #buyingmyselfchocolate #princecharmingwhereareyou? #findingacornertocryin #whoneedsloveanyway 
Your feelings are validated, no matter who you are, or what your age. (Though the example above is actually extremely over the top. Don't do that. :P ) But your identity truly doesn't lie in that of another person. I feel like I'm sounding cliche, but I can't stress it enough. Society has convinced us that without a significant other, we aren't complete. In my own life, the ache for a partner is very real, but I've had (an everyday process, but it's working,) to remind myself that life goes on. And I can and have found happiness outside of a relationship. More so, I'm starting to accept that it just isn't time. Do you know how hard that is for me? Because since I was at least 18 I've felt ready. That's the cool thing about God. He knows exactly what we need when we need it. And He's never off by a day or a few years. The Great I AM is so much bigger, more powerful, more Holy and more Just then we give Him credit for. If He can move mountains, bring people from the dead, and part the Red Sea, surely He can bring me a husband.

Stop waiting, or better yet, stop looking. I'm not saying to stop wondering or feeling, because God's given you those emotions for a reason. But girl, (or guy, if you reading this,) please don't compare yourself because you're single. Don't feel like you need to prove something by jumping feet first into a relationship. Or to you who is overlooked or hasn't really dated much, don't give up hope. You are beautiful, you are desired, you are loved. How do I know this? Because God has created you perfect, in His image, and you are His daughter or son. Wow. Why then is it so difficult to accept that He is caring for us? Cry your tears, then wipe them away and face the world with a smile. HE loves me. Dream about your future someone, but don't let it overtake your thoughts. There is so much I can do with this time. Virtually plan your wedding, then find your passion and pursue it. I have talents and I can be an instrument in changing the World. Let your heart break. Let it heal. Embrace your female emotions, eat chocolate, talk about cute guys. . .and remember that you are Chosen. Jesus Christ has chosen YOU. I feel you so hard. Make it a point every day to let another piece of your heart go. . .and give it to God. Literally, hand Him your heart. He is taking care of you, He hears, and He understands. Whenever you are lonely, whenever you are afraid of the unknown, remember The One Who Can Move Mountains.

I'm not going to lie and say that there is a relationship in your future. Cause there might not be. And yet, God never places a desire in our heart without cause. Very few are actually called to singleness. But now, while you have the tools, prepare your mind and heart. Do what you can while you can. Do you see a theme to my posts, lately? I am still young (for those in their 30s who want to pull that card,) but I still feel the pain. I know the exhaustion of unrequited love, broken heartedness, (not sure that's even a word, :P ) and unfounded dreams. Maybe it isn't as difficult for some, but man, I just want to meet my guy, you know? Little by little, the more I lean into Jesus and give Him my doubts and insecurities, the more He is opening my eyes. Resting in the arms of my Savior is the best, sweetest, most fulfilling rest of all. I don't really think there is a point to this post, just a girl talking from her heart and hopefully connecting with yours. I know there are so many who feel the same, and I want you to know that there is hope! Oh, and a note to dating people; have grace. Don't forget your single friends. Life changes, you have a new focus now, but remember that you too were single, once. How did you feel? Stop talking about your guy/gal for a minute and really take a moment to listen. Other lives matter, and yes, we're happy for you. Just don't forget that we're in a different season. Like I said, happiness and respect go both ways.

From my little apartment  on a lazy Sunday evening, much love.
(not to be ironic, or anything. ;) ) 


Little girl, big world.

"Here I am. This is me. There's no where else on earth I'd rather be."

I'm sitting on my bed in my new room in my new house in a new State. And its one of the most surreal feelings ever. I'll admit, the first few days were pretty terrifying, especially when I found out my good friend and roommate was leaving for the holiday. . .and I'd be in the house. Alone. But I've made it through, and survival is what its all about, right? I've pushed myself when I just felt like breaking down from the loneliness, being by myself in a strange home, meeting and interacting with co-workers, finding my way (and getting lost, but that isn't a surprise, ;) ) around the museum, and separation from my family. I mean, I've spent lots of time away from them before, but this is my first real adventure completely on my own. I've got to say, all the anxiety aside, I'm pretty proud of myself. Oh, and have I mentioned how good God is? He has shown His Providence throughout this journey again. . .and again. . .and again. I am fully, 100% confident that this is where He wants me. Pretty crazy cool, if I do say so myself. :)

So while I'm updating, let me tell you about my adorable, cozy-brick house. On Sunday I spent all day moving my stuff (literally, pretty much everything I own in the world,) into the master suit upstairs. Literally, its like having my very own studio apartment, with hardwood flooring, my bed in one corner (with the beautiful white comforter I got for my birthday last year,) a huge bathroom, and a walk-in closet. What more could a girl ask for? As soon as I got off of work today I took a shower, microwaved some leftover gluten free (its all about the details,) mac & cheese and chicken tenders, got on my comfy pj's, and settled in for an evening in my little sanctuary. Single-girl-just-moved-out-and-loving-the-independent-life essentials include my Disney animals adult coloring book, my stuffed animals (because even 25 year olds need them,) journal, tablet & laptop, nail polish, a book, (just in case I run out of things to do,) and my Bible. Honestly its really weird, keeping my own schedule, eating whenever I want, etc. . .but now that I'm feeling more settled in, I'm totally loving it.

I mean, tonight I did a load of laundry. My laundry. In my laundry machine. Incredible. :P I filled the dishwasher. I showered in my very own bathroom. I even dragged a cupboard no one was using into my nook so I have extra storage space. Its all about atmosphere to me, and with some of my decorations from my room back home (like my turquoise ceramic bird and Audrey Hepburn poster,) and string lights. . .which I have yet to put up. . .I'm creating a private haven. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and a friend invited me over, but until then I get to sleep in and just enjoy it all.

If you've never been to the Creation Museum, I can now say first hand how amazing it is. Funny to think I'm working at a place I'd never actually visited until this past Sunday. I keep thinking about Night At The Museum and the Smithsonian and how much I just love stuff like that (guess that makes me a geek,) and then I remember I'm actually working for a museum. . .but not just any museum. Answers in Genesis has been a big part of my life since my parents first read A Is For Adam to me as a kid. Its super cool to represent a ministry that upholds such strong Biblical values. Also I really love working in the cafe. The work is very easy, but the atmosphere is pleasant, very laid back, like a big family. I'm praying they keep me on through the winter, as I'm only seasonal staff at this point. The projection for next year's ventures is: work at the museum until I head back out to Wind River, go to Thailand for a month, then go back to the ranch for the rest of the summer. God might have a different plan, but it helps me a lot of have a long term goal in mind.

So friends, that is a little update on-life-in-the-now. I honestly could ramble on about my house and room forever, but I'll spare you any more detail. I hope I can encourage you today to spread your wings and take the bull by the horns. . .God has a plan for each of us, and like I've been reiterating again and again on my blog, sometimes its up to us to take that first step.

  Adventure is out there. 🙘