June 23, 2015

Finding My "Michelle".

Hey all!

So, I'm about to post an article on here, an article which I didn't write.

I follow Women of Faith on Facebook, and this piece titled "The Truth About Friendship" showed up on my newsfeed one day. The whole notion of friendship is a topic that has been heavy on my heart and mind as of late, so I thought I'd give it a read.

And wow, it seriously spoke to me. So here is the article, and please keep reading as I'll expand more on my feelings about it and why it's so precious to me. I would absolutely LOVE it if you read it! :)

"'The Truth About Friendship by Jennifer Dukes Lee'

That’s how I felt twelve years ago when we moved back to my husband’s family farm.
I wanted friends, so I joined a Bible study, an exercise class, and a stay-at-home moms’ group that met twice a month.
Yeah, everyone was nice. But guess how many of them wanted to be my actual friend? Approximately zero.
It was like every potential friend slot was already “taken.”
I’m not telling you this so you’ll feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this because someone out there feels exactly like that today. And someone else out there is trying hard to fit in, because that’s what women do when things don’t work out: We try harder like it’s our job. Embarrassing fact: This is why I own every Pampered Chef gadget and every Tastefully Simple spice known to man. I wanted to make friends, so I was a home-party ninja. (Yes, I realize how desperate this sounds). I wanted someone to like me, so I killed myself trying to make it happen.
I felt invisible to people, and in some ways, I felt invisible to God.
And then I gave up trying at all.
Then, Michelle found me, at the end of a long table at her church. (Maybe you met Michelle in chapter nine of Love Idol). Michelle saw someone whom no else else saw. She saw underneath the fiction I had tried to manufacture at the bathroom mirror. That made me super panicky, but also, a little bit likable.She liked me for me.
And soon we became friends.
I had a place at her table. And in her living room small-group study. And on her deck, with our feet propped up on the railing. And in the pedicure chair next to hers. And in the car on our way to a Women of Faith weekend. That was ten years ago. We’re still “dating,” as we like to say. We’re still watching sunsets, and getting our toenails done, and laughing at inappropriate times, and making fools of ourselves in public. We have loved each other through awesome days, crappy days, and meh days. We understand each other’s insides. And while we value our special bond, we are always looking to make space at the table. Because we both know how awful it is to feel alone.
Here are three things I learned about Friendship:
1 – You are not the only one.
You might think that you’re the only one who feels alone or invisible. You might also think you’re the only person going through a hard thing, struggling with shame, feeling nutty as a fruitcake on Christmas. Guess what? If you feel a wacky thought, there’s about a 99.8 percent chance someone else has that same wacky thought. I need to know this: my inner crazy is universal.Remember what C.S. Lewis once said? Friendship is born in that moment when one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

2 – You are not in competition.

When something great happens to your friends (or acquaintances), how do you respond? What do you do when they get the approval, promotion, attention, jean size, or dream vacation that you’ve been hoping for? Of course, we want to say we’re delighted for our friends. But somewhere on the inside, we might be a little envious. I saw a quote the other day on Pinterest: “Girls compete with each other. Women empower one another.” Comparing makes friendship a contest, instead of a community. We can all put down the measuring sticks and pick up the pompons. There’s more than enough goodness to go around, and before you know it, your friends will be cheering for you. Your soul will thank you, and so will your friends.

3 – You are seen.

We will all go through seasons where we can’t find a place at the table. There will be times where it seems like all the potential friends are “taken,” and we’re sidelined. On those days, repeat this over and over: “I am seen. I am known. I am loved.” You are not invisible to God.
God desires for us to be in community. After all, it was His idea. He loves community so much that He is actually Three –– Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He gets what you’re going through. He understands what it is to feel alone and abandoned. We don’t have to kill ourselves trying to make people like us. God may send you a Michelle. Or He may ask you to be the friend you want to have — to be the Michelle who has her eyes open for the lonely ones.
Scary, I know. But watch how you expand into your truest self when you take the first step."
I feel as though I could read that article a hundred times and still never soak it all in.
As most of you know, I moved here to the US from Canada exactly a year ago. It's been a good year, a really good year, but something that deeply discourages me is the fact that I haven't made any super close friends yet.

I've made a few friends, and a whoooole 'lot of acquaintances, but I haven't found a "Michelle" of my very own. Do you know what I mean? That best friend whom you can call up on a whim to just go for coffee, shopping, or hang out and watch movies in your sweats, just feeling totally comfortable.

Don't get me wrong, I have been blessed with many "Michelles" in my life (none of which who are actually named Michelle, haha!), but I'm not living in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or Alabama! I'm living in Maryland! And none of my "Michelles" are here on the east coast with me.

It's hard to admit that because not only does it make me sad, but it makes me sound like a sad person too. As if I'm the most anti-social person to ever step into this town. It kind of forces me to ask myself, is there something wrong with me?

I don't think that there is. Jarryd said the nicest thing to me the other day, "you know, you're not as introverted as you think you portray yourself to be". And, alas, I think he's right. I know that I'm a little awkward at times, but I've seen a whole lot more awkward from other people in my day. I mean, you know those people whom you say a pleasant "hello" to and they don't say anything back? They just stare at you like you just made the most absurd statement? Well I am not that way!!! I say hello! I smile! I'm friendly! And, I have a nice "resting" face too, (if you know what I mean)! I'm approachable!

But yeah, it's just been very disheartening to have lived in a place for a year now and not have any super closer friends. Especially when throughout all of my high school and college years I'd make all of my best friends within a month of meeting them.

I think I just have to consider the circumstances. Such as, I'm married and I live with my husband. I no longer live in a dorm room or on a college campus where I'm with the same people for every meal of the day.

Also, in the early college years, everyone is kind of in the same boat, (some) are away from home and therefore everyone is searching for new friends. Whereas, this year I got thrown into this town and community where everyone seems to already have their set of friends.

In conclusion, I can only keep praying about it. I can only keep being myself, staying true to my occasional "weirdness", and keep being approachable and loving towards others.

I need to keep up the Faith that God may put some really awesome women (who are my age, and live in the same area as me) into my life one day soon. I mean, it's certainly not a requirement for my survival, but it sure would be nice.

I can only keep focusing on my relationship with Christ has strive to be the woman He wants me to be.

And I have to remember, I "am not the only one", I "am not in competition", and "I am seen, I am known, and I am loved".

But seriously, I just cannot wait until I have that amazing AHA! moment that C.S Lewis once described. <3

"What? You too? I thought I was the only one".

June 10, 2015

5 Years Ago.

I took this photo in the car the other day while I was waiting for Jarryd to finish up his meeting, because what else do you do with your extra time than take a selfie, right? (Bless my heart...)

After I took the photo, I of course inspected it...
Where did all of these eye wrinkles come from?!

I didn't have those 5 years ago.... (perhaps I should stay outta the sun?)

Things are so different now than they were 5 years ago. I mean, isn't it incredible how much things can change in only half a decade?

According to my "On This Day" app on Facebook...this was exactly 5 years ago:

(Only one comment and one like? How embarrassing...)

5 years ago, I had just completed one year at Trinity Western University in BC, was about to leave on my trip to Israel, and had applied to go to school in Germany in the fall. I can't even imagine having so many exciting plans right now, at 24 years old.

And so when I look at who I was back then, and who I am now, I feel as though I have lost myself somewhere in between.

I'm no longer that care-free bleach "blondie" who's constantly hopping on a plane to who knows where or whose schedule is booked solid with social events and hangouts.

My hair is reverting to its natural "mousey" brown color, and sprouting random whitish-grey hairs. (I was wondering when that'd start happening...). Thanks to my finances, I'm completely tied down from leaving this country. These feet won't be stepping on a plane anytime soon from now (let's give it a few months though). My evenings consist of cooking, baking, and watching Netflix while consuming almost everything I've cooked and baked that day...alone.

I no longer have those dreams of taking off to the big city, pinning down a hustley-bustley career, and seeing the streetlights through my apartment window at night. I'm not that girl anymore.

But maybe it's less of me losing myself or my personality, than it is the plain and simple act of: growing up!

When I think about it, I really am a grown up now.

I have planned a wedding (and survived it), educated myself on US Visas, I know what a shared-secure loan is, I'm working on building my credit, I know how to resist the temptation of buying into every single coffee-stop craving, I know to ask questions like "is your apartment heated with gas or electricity? There's a huge difference.", I've almost been married for a year (I'm practically an expert on the male brain...), I have a concept of money (I know an overpriced blueberry from a reasonably priced blueberry), aaaaand I sing extra loud in church when they finally decide to play a hymn.

5 years ago, I didn't even know that half of those things existed, and if I did, it was something I cared very little for. 5 years ago life was about traveling with friends, hopelessly pining after boys, and spending way too much money on clothes.

Today, life is about making plans with my hubby, working hard for every dollar, saving money (or trying to save money), seeking wisdom, and striving to find God's will for my life. Trying to be a good wife, daughter, sister, auntie, and friend...someone whom my friends and family can be proud of!

The other day I listened to some old Taylor Swift albums, and she will always, always, always remind me of the girl I used to be. The reminiscing doesn't make me sad though, because I really like how things turned out for me. I love who I chose to be my prince-charming, I love the places that God has taken me, and I love this feeling of maturity and actually desiring maturity.

Well...maturity is a strong word. Truthfully, I am still that goofy and overly-sensitive 12 year old girl at heart who loves sappy Nicholas Sparks books and Taylor Swift break-up songs. :)
The bulletin board in my university dorm room, 5 years ago.

June 6, 2015

Mobile Blogging

Dear friends, It is currently my break at work, and I'm sitting on a bench out by the water. It is magical! And I gotta get my daily dose of Vitamin D, you know?
I'm also writing this from my phone, which is truly weird. I don't like it all that much...

I apologize for the lack of blogging! The truth, is that my MacBook battery passed away almost 2 weeks ago and blogging from my husbands ancient Toshiba laptop just didn't cut it for me. So yesterday I took a visit to the Apple Store and $79 later, got myself a charger. I know I know, it's a little pricey, perhaps I got ripped off, but I was desperate! The guy helping me even cleaned up some Adware from my laptop. Also, Delaware has no sales taxes, soooo yippee!!!

Time to return to work! I promise to blog soon-ish :)


June 1, 2015

Reflections on May.

Oh hello there, JUNE! It is SO good to see you again. :)

I've said it before and I'll continue to say it again, time just FLIES! And I'm just so glad that we are now in the month of when summer officially begins. Summer has always been my favourite season, and I think it always will be. (I have this obsession with being warm...I love to be warm...all.the.time)!

Other than the season changing as it naturally does, I don't know what the month of June will hold for Jarryd and I. I'm not one to expect that it's going to be a bed of roses. We live in a fallen and sinful world, and as a result I KNOW that everyday will have challenges and struggles of its own. I'm not a pessimist, I'm just being real. And being real is absolutely one of my favourite things about myself! I never want to be that girl who pretends to have her life totally figured out.

ANYWAY, June could be an awesome month, it could be a tragic month, it could be a totally uneventful month, OR it could be all of the above. Whatever the case may be, I'm not worried about it because I have Jesus, and He used a great man named Paul to inspire me.

In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul writes "...not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me". (NASB)

I'd just like to take the time to reflect on some of my favourite things that happened in May, events and moments that happened which I am nothing but thankful to God for!

1. The Apples of Gold celebration dinner:

As my 6-week ladies group came to an end, it was a hard realization that I won't be spending my Saturday evenings with those wonderful women again, but it was such a good feeling hearing "if you ever need anything, anything at all, we are always here for you! We are just a phone call away!" Those mentors are like my "moms" and "grandmas" away from home, you could say. :)

2. Visiting an Amish greenhouse in Pennsylvania, for the first time with a group of great ladies.
One thing I learned is that you can plant a flower in literally anything. This is where I ended up buying a little Bonsai Basil tree and sort of fell in love with gardening. Scratch that, I'm not in love with it, but it's definitely on my list of things to aspire to love one day.

3. Starting my job at Sandy Cove.
I can't believe I've been working there for exactly a month now. I have come so far, and tomorrow is my first day being the ONLY cook in the kitchen. Apparently they have alot of faith in me? Something I love about my job there is sitting out by the water on my breaks. The days can get really hot, but you don't even notice it with the cool wind coming up from the water. It's a great place to just pray and reflect on life.

4. Going for a hike at the Fair Hill Nature Reserve with Jarryd, on a beautiful sunny day.
It was soooo nice to get out of our apartment after being cooped up in there all winter. We have been to Fair Hill many times together (it's where he proposed to me), but still there are trails we haven't explored. So this time around, we ended up getting lost and were in a little bit of a panic because Jarryd still had to work that day. Thankfully we found out way out, exchanged high-fives with gratitude, and even had enough time to buy some ice-cold cokes before he had to take off for work. Phew! ;)

5. Playing Halo on XBOX Live with my sister, on her birthday, for 8 hours straight (bed-head all day).
It was awesome, (mostly because I am way better at it than she is, don't tell her I said so). ;) But personally, I'm thinkin' that Xbox Live really is the new "Skype". It's so entertaining. Now, a few weeks later, my sissy and I have now moved on to bigger and better things: Destiny!!!

6. Almost adopting a cat...almost.
Randomly, the cutest gray kitten showed up at our doorstep. She was totally tame, you could pick her up and pet her and everything. So we decided to buy all the supplies for her, food, litter box, ect., but by the way she paced every single door and window in our apartment, you could tell her real home was not with us but the great outdoors. And, we ended up letting her go. So yeah, we almost adopted a cat! Haha!

7. Having a cookout with family and friends almost every weekend! 
Those are the best ways to spend summer evenings for sure! The latest cookout we had just this past Sunday was probably my favourite. We went over to a friends place, (it is so nice having friends who are also husband and wife whom you can double date with!) and they live on a farm out in the country. They had us over for a BBQ with burgers, grilled veggies, fresh fruit, and cold beers. We talked for hours with them, and it was awesome!! I also got some sun which is always a plus. ;) But I'm telling you, I miss the farm life so much. There is no place like the country.

As I look back on the month of May, every single one of my favourite moments has involved people and growing in relationship with others (with the exception of the whole cat thing...). Material things are great and lovely and all, but the record clearly shows that the PEOPLE God puts in our lives are what make it so great!

So here's to friends, family, and making new friends! I'm ready for you, June! :)