Hidden in the Harbor

Shortly after I moved to Florida and after my husband and I were married, we found ourselves “church shopping.” For anyone who has ever been in this position before you know just how exhausting this can be. Before even moving to FL I was on the church hunt on a much smaller scale, but living in a higher populated area made this an even more exhausting experience. Which city? What denomination? How far do I want to drive? How big of a church? The questions were endless and my husband and I were already over it before we even began.

Where we lived at the time, there was a super convenient short cut road that we used quite frequently to get to the bank, grocery store, McDonald’s – it really came in handy more than we care to admit. Since we used this road quite often, we kept tabs on any new construction that was happening, but one project caught our eye more than others. A new road. One that was gated. One that had guardrails. Where in the heck did this road lead?! Another gated community? You have got to be kidding me. A private residence? We could respect that. We were so curious as to where this new road lead that late one night my husband so desperately wanted to pull the car over and walk down this road surrounded by nature to see where it ended. I convinced him otherwise being the level headed realist that I am. Cause after all, what if it was private property? I’m not about to be a newlywed with her husband in jail on account for trespassing!

Fast forward a month or two…We were on our way to a friend’s church to help him lead worship and we were using our ever faithful short cut road. Much to our surprise, the gate was open!

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Not being the type to care about timeframes, my husband decides we’re going to drive down this road to see just where it leads. All the while, I am slightly panicking in the passenger seat still thinking we’re probably trespassing. However, what we saw on the other side of this gate and at the end of the road surprised us in a more pleasant way. It was a church!

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And not just any church, it was the church my husband had found online in our ever desperate search for a new church home. What was even funnier (not at the time, but looking back now) is that we couldn’t find the church anywhere. We drove down the street with the apparent address and there was nothing there. What we didn’t realize was that the street also existed on the other side of this mass of trees and you could access it from a main road. But we never found it. That is until they constructed this back gate entrance. So when we realized it was a back entrance to the church we had ironically been looking for, we decided to go the next week to check it out.

That first week there was the first week of many, as this church would become our Florida church home. This church brought me the best job of my life, as well as other jobs for my husband. It provided a safe space for us as a couple during both pregnancy losses. I was surrounded by love and support when my husband and I went through a separation. We both experienced healing, restoration, transformation, equipping, love, and countless other things while attending this church. I could probably write a book of all the things I have experienced while this church has been my home, and it’s only been a little over 3 years! There are no words for how much this church has meant to me over those years.

If you have read this far and you have been hurt by the church, don’t do the “church thing,” or you aren’t even a believer let me say one thing. Churches are full of things that cause hurt. Churches are full of mess ups. Churches are full of imperfection. All these things? People. Why? Because we are all broken people with our own personal junk. There is no such thing as a perfect church, and I’ve even had my fair share of frustrations with this church over the last three years. But hear me when I say there is a HUGE difference between churches that just give you a chance to check church off of your to do list, and churches that truly desire for you to grow in your relationship with your Creator. This church is the latter. Not once did they encourage me to give up. Not once did they let me fall away without pulling me back in. Not once did they leave me to fend for myself relationally or even financially. This church has been more than a blessing to me and of all my favorite Florida things, this church ranks high on my scale. I will have a huge hole in my heart when we move and I won’t have the pleasure of attending this church. So many things can be said about my adoration and appreciation of this place, but like I said it would fill a book. So if you happen to live in the Tampa Bay area or you are passing through at any point on a Sunday, stop in at Harborside Christian Church. I hope you find home here in the same ways that I have.

Harborside, thank you. Thank you for all the memories. Thank you for my collection of “Kurt Parker-isms” (they really make me wanna jump a pew and slap my momma!). Thank you for the life-long friendships that I formed within your walls. Thank you for being the Church and not just being a church. Your establishment has meant more to me than I may ever be able to express, but this is a start. Thank you from the depths of my soul.

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The Coziest Cul-de-sac

My husband and I have decided to make the big move from Florida to Illinois, and before doing so I have decided to record some of my favorite Florida places and why. Here is my first!

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This is the street entrance to the cul-de-sac that I have had the honor of working in for three years. This is no ordinary street. The residents on this street are top notch. I have never been a part of a more welcoming and friendly neighborhood than this one. There are people of all walks and ages, and each and every one of them have planted memories in my mind and heart. Rounding this corner almost always put a smile on my face, and my husband commented MANY times on how jealous he was that I had a job that I thoroughly enjoyed going to every day. It was so enjoyable because of the family I worked for, of course, but also because of the community surrounding their home. Whether I needed someone to take one of the kiddos off my hands or keep an eye on them while they were outside and I had to run inside. Whether I needed cream of tar tar or some other random baking/cooking item that I was short on. Whether I needed a baby snuggle after “my” littles were growing out of that stage, or a stiff drink, this cul-de-sac community has been like family in providing all of those things and more.

Psalm 68:6 NIV starts by saying, “God sets the lonely in families.” Thinking back to the very first time I turned down this street (using GPS and all), I was so lonely. I was freshly married, over a thousand miles away from all of my family, not content in my current job situation, and desperate for friendship. I remember thinking how nice it would be to live in a place like this, but only because the street itself and it’s homes are gorgeous! Little did I know I was about to enter into the neighborhood and lives of all that live in the cutest, most cozy cul-de-sac.

Once here, I was accepted and loved as if I lived here myself. I went from being a stranger to family in a tiny amount of time. The announcement of my move didn’t just hit the home of the family I have been working for, but it hit the surrounding homes just as hard. That is family.

I wish every neighborhood could be as blessed as this one. I wish every person took the responsibility of neighbor as highly as these people do. I wish every neighborhood adult sat in their lawn chairs talking and drinking adult beverages while watching the kids all play together. I wish everyone could and would knock on their neighbor’s door asking for a cup of sugar and it wouldn’t be considered “old fashioned” or strange. I wish doing life with people looked more like this more often. This cul-de-sac of people really does it right. No matter what their walk, they truly know what love and community looks like. And they live it.

So this is my number one favorite Florida place. I have lots of favorites, but this one stands out in my mind like no other. So if you’re one of these people I have mentioned and you’re reading this, thank you for letting me be your honorary neighbor! Thank you for all of the amazing memories. Thank you for loving me and caring for me over the years. Your lives will be blessed because of you being a blessing. Thank you times a million for showing me how to be a neighbor. You are changing the world, one cul-de-sac at a time.

January 2019

Every year on New Year’s Day I’m always a bit of an emotional mess. Mostly because I don’t handle change well and it is literally the first day of an unknown year, but also because I’m remembering all the things from the year prior. Too much to handle sometimes, and not always in bad ways. I love walking down memory lane and even despite my own fears and uncertainties, the year to come always ends up being perfectly fine struggles or not.

Another thing I have done in more recent years around this time is pray for a word for my year (if you’ve never done this, I highly suggest it!). This year caught me by surprise… Most of the time my word comes somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and this year I was panicking. I wasn’t hearing anything except “Re.” What?! That’s not a word! What’s the word that comes after?? Reboot? Redo? Refresh? Nope. God assured me on New Year’s Day that “re” in fact was it. Not my word for the year, but instead my prefix. After searching for definitions and praying about it for what seemed like most of the day, I found peace in that being it. Just re. After sharing this word (or lack thereof) with my husband, he suggested I take time after every month this year to sum up into one “re” word what that month was to me and blog about it.

So here we are, already into February and here I am loving my wise husband’s advice.

January 2019: REFOCUSman-focussing-camera-lens

There has been a TON going on in my life and in my family’s lives that January was a total refocus month for me. What are my priorities? What are my goals? Where do I want to be by next January? Focusing in on the important things in my life: My relationship with my Heavenly Father; My relationship with my husband; My relationship with family and friends. There are so many areas in my life that I needed to reset my focus on and truly take time to pray thanksgiving over. And with this refocus came several life decisions. Some small, some big. But despite all of my goals, I want to refocus my attention on my Heavenly Father and what HE wants for me.

Philippians 3:15-16 (MSG) says this, “So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” <– That’s what I want more than anything. To stay on the path GOD has for me and reap the benefits of being right where He wants me. So if you’re struggling with your 2019 goals, I feel this begs the question: Are you where God wants you? Do your goals match up with His? Do you plan your life around what you want or what God wants? Sometimes these questions are super hurtful to even ask ourselves, let alone ask someone else. But here I am boldly asking you: Are you where your Heavenly Father wants you? Or are you still chasing what you want? Seek first HIS Kingdom and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NIV – My own emphasis added)

 

Destruction

Destruction comes in a multitude of ways.

Mean words destroy the spirit.

False accusations destroy relationships.

Drunk driving can destroy your car or more detrimentally your life or the life of someone else.

Putting on weight can be destructive to your self esteem.

And storms, literal storms, can completely devastate a town or greater surrounding area.

As some of you may know (if you’ve read my bio) I was born and raised in the Midwest. After living in Florida and visiting other places, I have determined that Midwest is best. If you follow The Weather Channel or get notifications from the phone app, then you might remember a notification come through about two weeks ago telling of the destructive tornado that blew through Taylorville, IL. Well this is me writing to say that that is my hometown…

The feeling that your hometown has been impacted by such destruction hurts to the core. I was actually in town that weekend for my sister’s bachelorette festivities but we were in another town about 30min away when the storm hit. My dad, brother, and grandparents were all in my home in the center of town and they contacted us afterwards to tell us not to come home until the morning. {Thankfully we had a hotel room for the night anyways.}

Well, that next morning I was not prepared for what I was about to see. Driving through Taylorville was like driving through a war zone. The closer I got to my parents house the more destruction I saw and the more my emotions let loose. By the time I managed to navigate home and pull in my parents driveway I crumbled. All of our giant oak trees were completely down, our neighbors garage was just gone, and another neighbor had a tree on their home. My sisters garage was obliterated and the devastation and destruction was almost too much to handle. I sobbed until I went numb, and then changed clothes to help my dad and brother with the cleanup. I’m a doer, so I couldn’t just sit inside.

Over the course of that Sunday, everything I saw take place was anything but destructive. After all, the storm had already blown through and done the destruction. What I saw was community. People that normally don’t spend any time together spent the whole day helping. You’ve got a broken fence? I’ll help you move it. I have an extra pizza – you can have it! You have trees down? I’ve got a chainsaw and I’m ready to help! The generosity of the community increased in the chaos, and everyone was helping everyone. The level of patience was beautiful. The level of giving was astounding. All the aspects of that day helped me to see that the world really isn’t all that awful. We may not be all these things every day, but down inside our souls all these great attributes still exist.

This past Sunday I visited a church and John 10:10 was one of the Scriptures focused on. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” When I read that and think back to that horribly heartbreaking weekend, I think about the fact that destruction comes from the enemy. God isn’t the One making us feel destruction from all those examples I listed at the beginning of this blog. God wants us to experience LIFE. Not death and destruction. So although this storm created chaos and devastating destruction, there is still beauty in the details. Beauty and life in the generosity. Life in the fact that strangers banded together to help one another. Life in the community. That is something beautiful worth recognizing. Everything (except the giant oak trees) can be replaced and rebuilt. But the beauty of community is something that was created that day and the memories of that will last a lifetime. Sorrow definitely existed but I choose to believe it lasted only for a moment, cause JOY came that morning! (Ps. 30:5b) And joy in Heaven with the angels rejoicing over the love that was spread throughout the whole town.

So despite the sadness of losing the natural beauty around my childhood home, I recognize the joyous beauty in what came because of destruction. My mom actually took pictures of our home within two weeks of each other and here is the comparison:

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You can see all that was destroyed, but there is still beauty. This home is still adorable, and tornadoes cannot take away my memories. Choosing joy throughout the midst of destruction is definitely a choice, and it’s the choice I hope to always make.

Hand in Hand

Some of the best moments in life are the ones walked with someone holding your hand. I still remember the first time I held a boys hand, even if it was only for prayer in Sunday School. Holding my mom’s hand brought so much comfort in moments of fear or discomfort. Grabbing the hand of a friend when someone says something that they don’t realize is crushing that person’s spirit brings them peace. Holding the hand of your significant other whenever you want is lovely. Or even hanging on for dear life as your loved one passes from this life into the next. There is just something special about that feeling of being hand in hand.

For the last 3 years, I have nannied for the same family that has three of the cutest kids (but I’m also pretty bias). Anyone who has ever experienced being around kids knows that majority of the time you are holding their hand it is for protection. Crossing the road, walking through Target, or even simply just going for a walk down the street. You hold hands because it connects you and keeps a sense of control present. Thankfully these kiddos that I have loved on also love to just hold hands for the heck of it! Periodically I would feel little fingers feeling their way into a snug hand hold, and my heart would melt completely. I love holding hands if you haven’t caught on yet…

Well, today was my final full day with these kids, and in order for my heart to process that I need to write. So bear with me while I write it all out to get to the point. {For sake of privacy, I am only going to use their initials.}

A: The boy. The fabulously clean boy. You have been a blessing to me and my newness to Florida. You could have so easily been “all boy” and been the type to run inside holding lizards or bugs of many kinds, but your preference is cleanliness. And I applaud you. You were initially a tough nut to crack with your attachment tendencies and your picky eating habits. But quickly we grew to love one another and your shell began to break. Now 3 years later you LOVE nature (although you still stay clean), and you have grown into quite the fact guy. You always keep conversation rolling even if I am tired of talking, but I love your eagerness to learn. Keep going strong! Keep learning, keep growing, keep asking and seeking and searching. You have an amazing future ahead and I love you very much!

P: The middle nugget. You weren’t even walking when we began our adventure, and now I can hardly keep up with you! You have always been my little snuggle bug and you also love holding hands. You’re a lover by nature, and it shows in the way you love on your family even at such a young age. You love all things girl, and your babies are always your first priority. You have kept Miss Alia on her toes with your stubbornness and strong will, but really you’ve just been preparing me for my own children who will be just like you. (All thanks to my husband of course, not me. ;]) You are the definition of red head, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Keep standing strong in who you are. Keep loving your family with such fiery passion. I don’t even think I need to tell you not to give up, because you’re so naturally determined. You also have such a bright future and I love you so so much!

S: Homegirl. You are my spirit animal. You were born the same day I began my nannying adventure with your family. You really had no choice but to be my best friend. So small and so perfect, yet you have grown into one of the biggest and best personalities! Without even knowing it, you became my source of great joy and comfort. Holding your little infant self brought my broken heart healing when I lost both of my babies. Your snuggles and baby chatter actually helped me to not become bitter towards babies or the people that have them. You helped heal my heart just by your existence and have continued to bring joy with every day. You LAUGH. Girl, you laugh. And laughing with you has been one of my favorite things. You have a strong will, but a consistent spirit. You know no stranger, and the older you get the more and more I hope that sticks. You are my wild mini and I cannot wait to see you take on the world! “I love you all day and two minutes, with my Jesus and my cake.”

These kids… Y’all, I could write a book. I really could. All of the funny stories, gross encounters, sad moments, milestones, day-to-day fun loving stuff. There is so much and I was only there for three years. The beauty in the relationships I have with these kids is everlasting. I will take these moments with me forever, no matter where I am. So much of my time with them has prepared me for motherhood and you better believe I am stoked! There is no greater, purer, unconditional love than the love of a child. Even Jesus knew the importance of children and talks about it in Mark 10:13-16.

So as my chapter in these precious kids’ lives comes to a close today, my hope is this: That they always walk hand in hand with one another, with their family and friends, and with God Almighty. A, P, and S: May you never lose your sense of wonder. May you always laugh, love, and treasure every moment of every day. May you also never forget your love of Target. But even if you do, you best believe Miss Alia will come take you on a shopping trip. xoxo

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My Husband is Hotter Than Yours

You married a Backstreet Boy? Congrats!

You married Prince Harry? You go girl!

You married a model? Good for you!

But my husband is still hotter than yours.

When Jericho (mi amor) and I met, I was in a weird place in my life. The summer I met him I had a guy that I thought I was in a relationship with, a guy that I had a 5 day make out fling with, and I was at the brink of a post high school melt down. And yes, all those things took place at the same time…oh the scandal! If I’m known for being anything, though, it’s being honest. So I’m about to open a big bag of not-talked-about-enoughness. (It’s a word, I just created it.) So brace yourself for the big “L” word…

LUST.

I used to be in a deep pit of lust. I struggled daily to keep my eyes to myself, and although I never gave attention to the porn industry, it’s no different in my mind than the problem of eye raping the men walking down the street. Almost every man I looked at I could find something physically attractive about them. The funny thing about lust that I have discovered over the last several years? No one really talks about it. Yeah, porn is an issue. Sure, pre-marital sex gets attention. But lust is a secret internal sin that no one really sheds light on. Not to mention, WOMEN STRUGGLE WITH THIS, TOO! So here I am, I’m about to shed some light and share some redemption.

Back to my crazy summer…

When Jericho and I met, neither one of us had ANY physical attraction toward one another. Zero. Zilch. Nada. He was short and “not my type,” and I was sunburnt and wearing a long skirt and sneakers. (I mean, come on…) We talked for a brief moment and went about our ways. Connected on Facebook as friends a month or two later and then through friendship started a relationship. As deep of a pit of lust that I was in, I still did not experience any attraction towards him, even a few months into dating him. How is this possible when literally every guy I came in contact with had some attribute that I thought was attractive?! So this is where it gets cool…

Because there was no physical attraction, it kept me in a place where I could focus on who Jericho was, not just what he is. And let me tell you, I fell in love with him because of his insides, not his outsides. And when that happened, it was like scales fell off of my eyes and he was the most handsome man in the world. What I didn’t know was going on behind the scenes was that God was working on my heart. He was preparing me for marriage and I didn’t even know it. See, when I met Jericho I was at the bottom of the lust pit, and after we began our friendship my problem of lust disappeared. I wasn’t seeing men as objects anymore, they all became brothers (and unless you have a weird relationship with your brothers, this is off-putting as far as attraction goes).

I only had eyes for my man.

As years have passed and as we have met more and more married couples or just men in general, I get blinder and blinder to lust. I see these men around me, and they’re all fine and dandy, but my man is the hottest man. And I don’t care what anyone says. I think God was not only preparing me for marriage, but also protecting me and my heart. Lust is damaging and dangerous. 1 John 2:16 says this, “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.” Me resting at the bottom of my own personal pit of lust was not okay for my soul. Lust is not what God had planned for me. God had a hot husband for me, and wanted my eyes to see just that.

I only HAVE eyes for my man.

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So take heart if you’re battling against lust. There IS redemption. Your journey may not be as seemingly simple as mine, but that’s because it’s your journey. Walk it with the Lord, and He will provide a way out. Don’t let sexual struggle take hold of your heart. Flee from it, because God has greater things in store for you! And He’s gonna give you eyes for your hot husband, too.

My Space

No, no, no… I’m not talking about the website where you share your top favorite songs and choose your #1 friend for the week. I am referring to a special space I have that I claim as my own. But here’s the fun part, it is not my own and it won’t be my special space much longer…

“Quiet Time” is a phrase that Christians use to describe their time with The Lord. Whether it’s time praying, reading the Bible, or just meditating on God’s goodness, it is a time for stillness and well, “quiet.” The Pastor at my church says something quite frequently that I took to heart quite literally. Probably won’t quote him correctly, so I’ll give you the gist of it. You need to have the same time and space every day to meet with The Lord. I never knew the significance of this until I created my own space and time, and it has been a game changer.

As many or all of you know, I am a nanny. For my schedule this means early mornings and sometimes late nights (there’s only so much time in the day!!). Because of this it became really difficult some days to fit in that specified time and space for God. SO. I decided to give what my Pastor says a whirl, and I created a time and space to do my quiet time regularly. Every morning, 7am, this spot:

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This little table and chair have become my sacred space every morning and it is sometimes my favorite part of the day. The kids I nanny typically don’t wake up until 7:30/8, so this allows me my time in my space. On the off chance they wake up early, they have learned to grab a stack of books and join in, cause Miss Alia is doing her “debotion.” My time with God has become something so special that I will never go back to sporadic quiet times again. There truly is something so meaningful about the same place, same time, every day. Heck, even Jesus took time to separate Himself! Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” Early in the morning? Check. Still dark? Check. Left the(my) house? Check. Solitary? Most of the time, yes. But even when I am joined by kiddos with a stack of books, it is still so important. They need to see consistency. They need to learn that this is something necessary. They need to see that no matter what, time spent with God needs to happen.

Due to schedule changes and life changes, my time spent in this special space is coming to a close. I won’t be able to be in this chair every day anymore, so I need to find a new space. Not gonna lie, when I realized that I cried. I cried hard. This has been such a sacred space to me that the thought of finding a new one was not a fun thought. But there is a season for all things, and I realized I haven’t had quiet time in my own home yet since moving in March. Not because I don’t want to, but because this other space has been my go to. So despite being super heartbroken at first, I am looking forward to it now! A new season deserves a new space I think. So will it be hard? Yes. Will it take some time to get used to? Absolutely. And I might need to try out a few spaces before I choose My Space.

So my point in all of this? Find Your Space. Find the sacred moment of your day to spend time with God, whatever that looks like for you. I can guarantee it will be the best appointment of your day. And if you can have a favorite Netflix/Hulu/Prime spot, you can definitely find a Jesus Space. Be encouraged, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy your time with the One Whom created it.

 

Nannies are friends, too…

Nannies are probably the best gift to working moms ever. Someone who is willing to make sure your home is in operation while you work and pursue your own personal passions? Gold. Someone to not only take care of your child(ren), but someone that can also keep up on your laundry, dishes, housekeeping, schedules, etc. Nannies are the bomb!

I have been a nanny for almost three years consistently, not to mention the 10+ years I’ve been taking care of children for various families. It has become my life in the last three years and I wouldn’t trade it for the world – I absolutely love it, and I am more than blessed by the family I have been working for. But despite the amazing aspects of being a nanny, there are some really hard ones, too. For instance: it is SO hard for me to make friends. I am 24, have no kids of my own (yet!), but most of my time spent is playing mom. So when it comes to making friends, where do I fit? Single ladies are hard for me to relate with anymore due to us being in two totally different realms of life. Young marrieds are hard to mesh with because most of my life revolves around taking care of kids, and it’s such a foreign concept to me to think about going out at night…#1 cause I’m exhausted, but #2 because that just doesn’t sound fun to me. (Have I ever mentioned I’m like a 70-yr-old grandma?) And unfortunately that’s when people my age hang out. Then you’ve got the mid-life married couples with kids that sometimes can’t take me for anything other than what I appear to be – a young, newly married nanny.

So where do I fit? This has honestly been one of the hardest things for me in the past few years. Not only did I move to Florida (wayyyy out of my comfort zone), but I’m also left with the task of finding friends. Friends are hard to make as an adult to begin with, but when “Nanny Alia” is only seen for that, it makes it 10,000x harder.

This is where I start to get all sentimental and preachy…

Shortly after I started my current nannying job, I quickly realized by boss was going to become one of my best friends. On a phone call home my mom asked how I was doing and how I was doing relationally, and I remember asking her if it was weird to consider my boss my best friend? Thankfully she said no, so I ran with that and ever since my boss and I have grown closer and closer and she most definitely is one of my very best friends. I am so unbelievably thankful she isn’t the type to poo-poo the nanny and treat them as only an employee, cause I know some people in situations like that and it breaks my heart. Kicking stereotypes in the face over here!! Up until recently, though, she was it for me in the friends department. (Only cause my other best friend who “gets me” moved away!!)

In August, I was invited to a birthday dinner for a friend, and I was so excited! Me? Actually getting to go out?? YES! While sitting at dinner surrounded by 6 of the most influential women I’ve ever met, I realized at some point, in some form or fashion I have taken care of all of their kids. I was the only one at the table without kids, and I was also the only nanny present. I was surrounded by some of the best moms and I was invited into that circle. I {embarrassingly} mentioned how it was fun for me to be on the flip side of things because normally I’m babysitting for someone else to go out, but it really meant the world to me.

So what’s my point? Nannies are friends, too. And when you think your nanny has a life of their own and that they don’t need you or your friendship, think again. Your nanny, babysitter, neighbor might just be longing for friendship and you don’t know it. Because honestly, who wants to go around asking for friends?? So to all the employers of nannies: You have an amazing person working for you that could potentially also be an amazing friend. To all the nannies: You are amazing! Don’t undermine your personality because you don’t always know how to “adult” – whatever that means anyways. To my new circle: Thank you for the invite. Seriously. You never know the power of an invitation.

This is in no way, shape or form me trying to advertise for friendship, simply just a way to bring awareness to anyone who might be in a similar situation… Women need community, so find your people and hold them close. Go get some dinner, dress up, wear cute shoes, and take all the pictures you can!

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Dear Dollar Tree Cashier

I love me some Dollar Tree. Yes, I shop there. Guilty! But there’s no shame in my game because I have found some really fantastic things there. Drinking glasses, wrapping paper, dog poo bags, puzzles, books, greeting cards, sunglasses, candy, the list could go on and on. I know some people wouldn’t be caught dead in a Dollar Tree, but I have zero shame going in as long as the store is clean and kept tidy (yes, I have a favorite store near my house). Well, one particular day I was not near the one by my house, and I had to go inside a different not-so-nice store…

Taking a turn for the serious, I have discovered that Dollar Tree sells pregnancy tests:

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After researching and asking friends that have used them, they’re actually pretty legit. My husband and I have been trying to start a family for quite some time, and since our two losses my cycles have become wonky some months. To spare details, let’s just say I get excited more than I should and take way too many pregnancy tests for my heart to handle. That being said, I keep them in stock in my bathroom for when the time comes that I think I might need to use one. Anyone that has ever had to purchase a pregnancy test knows that some can be quite expensive, so finding them at Dollar Tree was a relief for me, the lady that stocks up regularly.

On this particular visit to this particular store that I don’t normally frequent, I experienced something I have not been able to let go. I want to write it out into the world in hopes that someone will read this and not put someone like me through this again…

Dear Dollar Tree Cashier,

Did you think before you spoke? Did you consider who I was before you said that? A person. A human being just like you. Someone who feels deeply, and loves passionately. Someone who is struggling with the fact that I’m still having to buy pregnancy tests and not living out an actual pregnancy. So when I placed my stack of pregnancy tests on the conveyor belt, “uh oh” should not have been what came out of your mouth. Not every pregnancy is unexpected. Not every pregnancy is unwanted. There should be no shame placed on anyone for carrying life inside of them. For someone like me, hearing someone say such a rude thing makes me cringe even while I type this weeks later. What if it wasn’t me purchasing those tests? What if it was a teenage girl or a homeless woman? What if you knew my story and what I’ve been through? Would you still have said such a statement? What ever happened to customer courtesy? Have you ever stopped to think about how awkward it might be for a person to buy a pregnancy test? Maybe you should think about these things before you let unnecessary words seep through your lips. You never know who has a broken heart in the check out lane.

Am I still upset by this situation? I guess you could say that. But only because she doesn’t know what I’ve been through and she wasn’t thinking. We need to think more and speak less in this society. Go back to good ole Ecclesiastes 3:7b where it points out that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak.” That was a time to be silent. Just scan my items and let me go peacefully. Maybe ask how my day is. Smile at me. Be kind. Cause little did you know your two tiny words would hold such upset for me. Little did you know you would be a topic on my silly little blog. Little did you know I had to forgive you for what you said when I came to realize you have no idea who I am or what I’ve been through.

To everyone who has had a similar experience as mine, let me just say I’m sorry on behalf of anyone who has spoken unnecessarily to you. You are loved. You are a treasure. And you are held by the Creator Whom would never say such things to you.

Safe Place

Have you ever participated in a game that had a “safe place?” You know what I’m talking about, that sacred zone where no one could touch you? My siblings and I grew up playing tag, and the small concrete slab in our backyard was always the safe place. So guess where I always hung out? That’s right…the concrete slab. It got to the point where there became a time limit on how long I could stand in that safe place until I was forced to exit and most always tagged as soon as I stepped out of safety.

Another example is the floor is lava game. If you grew up in any fun household, you already know that this game is serious, and no one wants to die in a lake of lava. If you’re familiar with this game you already know where I’m headed with this, but if you’re not then allow me to explain. Everything, and I mean everything is a safe place *except* the ground. Even if one toe touches the ground, it’s gone man… Lava hath no mercy for them little baby toes.

On a more serious note, you have probably seen Safe Place signs hanging in various places. Most fire stations and libraries are designated safe places for children that are in danger. I honestly had not paid much attention to them until I moved to Florida and I see them ALL the time now! Shortly after I moved here I found a safe place of my own, but not because I was in danger, surrounded by lava, or being chased by anyone trying to tag me.

This was my Safe Place:

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This beautiful home became my safe place in a matter of one night. I walked through the doors and felt more love and peace than I’ve ever felt in my life! The people that lived in this house became some of my very best friends and their home will always hold an amazingly special place in my heart.

The night I entered through their door, I felt safe from what life was throwing my way. I had just lost a baby and my husband and I totaled our only vehicle. I was lost and feeling crushed by the world, and this home offered me a space to heal both physically and spiritually. After that first night, I continued coming here for a worship night that was held weekly, and honestly just on any occasion I could find to visit. Through all of the ups and downs of my life, this is where I found safety. That is until these sweet friends of mine followed the call from God to move to North Carolina.

“But wait! My safe place! You can’t leave! Where will I go now?!” These are the selfish thoughts that ran through my head when they told me they were leaving… What I didn’t expect was that I would encounter the Lord in amazing ways as they began the process of leaving my safe place in the hands of whatever new stranger would move in. I wept bitterly over this home, and it wasn’t even mine. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it gets even crazier…

As I’m mourning the loss of my safe place, God slaps me across the face pretty hard. Psalm 46:1 (NLV) says this, “God is our safe place and our strength. He is always our help when we are in trouble.” So what the heck… How could I replace THE Safe Place with a house?! The reason this house felt so safe in the first place is because The Lord resides there. Thankfully God showed me this BEFORE they moved so that I didn’t continue to act a hot mess and make anyone feel bad or uncomfortable.

As of a few weeks ago, they closed on this house and now it is occupied by strangers leaving me more than likely never to go back to this “safe place” of mine. But guess what? I’m okay with that. I no longer need to weep over “losing” my safe place, because God showed me He is the only Safe Place I need. Do I miss my friends? Of course! Do I miss the worship nights in this home? Absolutely! Do I still get sad when I drive by? Sometimes. But most of all, I know that when life gets hard I have the ultimate Safe Place to run to, and He never has a time limit on how long I can stay.