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2016: A Reflection

Working on a college campus means that at least once a day I get asked some obscure question. Recently I had two students approach me & ask simply, “What did this year teach you?”. I chuckled it off, told them I’d get back to em’ & sent them on their way.

The thing is…they came back the next day…and then the next.

Eventually, “getting back to em'” was the only way to actually get rid of em’.

So, I found myself really thinking about it & the next time they returned; right before winter term ended, I had my answer–the year taught me to LET GO!

The year was marred by the death of my dad last April. For the rest of my days, that’s what this year will reflect in my eyes–the year I had to let go of my dad. As hard as that was to let go of, there was peace that came knowing that he had also let go–of his pain, of his cancer.

This year I let go of a job that I loved, but which held no further advancement for me. Letting go of that made way for an even greater career opportunity for me.

I also let go of certain relationships in my life; both romantic & friendship. Relationships that were going nowhere & were holding me back negatively. Letting go of the old ones has cleared paths for new people to come into my life in ways I never would have expected. And it has even brought restorations into relationships that I long ago had written off as finished.

I’ve let go of certain dreams, prayers & hopes. Though sad to see some of them go, letting go has left me more grounded & gave me a greater comfort in realizing what it is that I really want out of life. There is sometimes freedom in watching your dreams & desires float away & you can finally rest in the comfort of knowing you gave it the good college try.

This year I’ve cried an ocean of tears, but I have also laughed deeply enough to fill a concert hall. My heart has been broken this year, but has also scarred over & healed from pain I was holding on too. This year found me both angry at God one minute & then on my knees begging for His love & forgiveness the next. I have been weak this year, but also strong. I have taken things for granted, but have also been humbled in true appreciation. I’ve had moments of laziness followed by heavy wear & tear on the hiking boots. I have made many mistakes this year, but have also learned life lessons. I have lost…and I have found.

2016 has taught me, big time, to let go of any preconceived ideas of HOW I think things should work out! So (begrudgingly) I enter 2017 completely clueless. To a type-A planner, like myself, that’s a little terrifying. But I’m left with a sense of peace when looking at a completely clean slate.

Welcome, 2017!!! I have been waiting all year for you!

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2016-a year in pictures!

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Ready for a slow down…reflections from Psalm 90.

I’m learning to thin my plate. Trust me, this irony is not lost on me as I’ve been changing to a healthier eating lifestyle over the last 2yrs., but in eating & in my personal life…my plate is getting thinner.

I’ve always said that when I have too much time on my hands I tend to make foolish, destructive decisions. That fear has caused me to go 900miles a minute and since I’ve never been really good at relaxing I have a bad habit of taking on too much. A habit I’m trying to break.

During this past summer I could feel myself getting burned out. Between working 3 jobs (sometimes 4), worrying about family health problems, staying active in my church & community, plus the pressure (self-inflicted) that I put on myself to spend so many hours reading, working in the garden & house, writing, hiking, blah blah; my candle was burning up quickly & activities that used to bring me joy began to feel more like a chore. I started to have horrible stomach pains & my suspicions were proven true when, for the second time in less than 10yrs., I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer. The threat of a possible surgery caused me to examine my lifestyle & how I can de-compress, de-stress, & handle my behavior in a less-destructive way.


I took a 30-day hiatus from all social media, quit one of my jobs, cut back on a busy social calendar, took a vacation (days of drinking, nature & laughs) and got back into reading the Bible regularly. At moments I’ve loved having a thinner plate; I’m reading & writing more, I’ve finished “one day” projects around the house, & I’ve met up with friends for lunch instead of saying, “we should totally get together” via text. At other moments I’ve hated it; extra time = my mind over-thinking & worrying about things that don’t matter, having to re-budget after a loss of income, & guilt over sitting down to watch a movie (I know some of ya’ll can relate). It’s been a roller-coaster of highs & lows.


I’m studying the book of Psalms this year. Even though I’ve read countless verses here & there, I’ve never studied it as a whole. Very fitting that Psalm 90 happens to be the chapter I’ve been studying during this season of my life (isn’t it amazing how God does that?). Psalm 90 is written by Moses; a man chosen by God to lead His people out of slavery & the wilderness to the promised land of milk & honey. After freedom from Egyptian slavery, the Israelites spent the next 40yrs. wandering the desert wondering when the promise of their “promised land” was to happen. Boy, can I relate to that! Psalm 90 is Moses’ prayer for strength, that the anxiety he feels during the “waiting” will be a character builder. That the Lord will teach him to “slow down” & value his days, trusting that the Lord keeps His promises & is re-focusing him to be better equipped for the day that promise comes to pass.

Something that I struggle with, and I have throughout my whole walk with Christ, is I don’t feel like I “hear” from God. Like my prayers fall on deaf ears. I’ve got many journal entries asking God why He’s ignoring me, however, many scriptures throughout the Bible refer to God speaking in a “still small voice”. If you know me personally, then you know that the concept of a “still small voice” is foreign considering I’ve never been quiet about anything! In the past, when God has needed to get my attention, he does it brick-wall style, by something so dramatic that I have no choice but to pay attention. I feel this slow-down phase He’s bringing into my life is so I can become better attuned to his direction & voice (and I just now realized that this very moment while typing out this paragraph).

At some point maybe I will learn that I can cause myself so much less-stress if I just trust in the Lord in the first place.

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I feel closest to the devil when I’m bored indoors…

Wow, that’ a genius line! That’s on the level of, “needs to be a line in a country-western song” good!

Okay, enough bragging on my one-hit-title-writing-wonder-line (can you tell I’m in a fantastic mood.

                            It was a good day! 27

The weather was  all-star today. It makes it hard to be in a bad mood when mother nature is happy.

I was fortunate enough to spend the WHOLE day outside! At work I had sunshine on my face in active bliss, when I got home my dog was raring to go & get some warm-weather love on his body. When he saw me grab his hiking harness he immediately turned into a crazed, psychopathic, pony-prancing, kangaroo-jumping, rodeo-spinning bull, neurotic in his delirious happiness at what he knew was to come.

I understand that feeling.

Recently a good friend of mine posted a photo of herself out on the hiking trail & referred to it as her “church” (blog-bomb for Heidi H. Winking smile). Now this is a good friend (not just one of those “good-friend” terms people toss around to make them sound more popular. But an honest-to-goodness good friend). She’s one of the most inspiring, energetic, blissfully contagious people I’ve ever met & has been such a source of strength for me in my recent journey of living a healthier lifestyle. If I’m being honest though, I was a little taken aback by her reference to being outdoors on a beautiful Sunday & calling it “church”. I didn’t think it was wrong for her to feel this way, but something about the reference didn’t sit well with me. It felt somewhat…belittled…to me & I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it made me uncomfortable to compare the two.

So I did nothing. I pushed the thought out of my mind, knowing the answer would reveal itself to me in due time. When I was more accepting & open to dissecting it.

We had a medical setback in our family recently, which meant some time spend in the hospital visiting a relative of mine that I love very much. Unsure of the seriousness & future of the diagnosis it resulted in some stressful days (don’t worry, things have since balanced out!), however, the nice weather days that were granted to North Eastern Ohio, I spent them indoors…in the hospital…stressed out…crabby…short-tempered. When things settled down & I found myself with a free day off; I slept in, woke up & did absolutely nothing that day! I mean…nothing! I didn’t even get out of my pajamas! While to some, that may seem like a PERFECT way to spend the day, but for me, when I crawled into bed that night I felt…angry…bitchy…crabby…mean…hateful…pissed off. I didn’t even know WHAT  I was mad about, just that I was mad & felt like taking it out on someone (and unfortunately it was the rare day that my wine rack was completely empty, double bummer!)

Naturally I took out my frustration & vengeance on God (He got the wrath of Carey spewed forth. But after all, he’s God…so he was probably expecting it!). This came forth by way of cursing, defiance & self-loathing. I refused to read my Bible (that’ll show him!) & I refused to spend my time in meditative prayer (which I try to do every night before bed).

It was while laying in bed, fuming in hate, in the absolute quiet darkness of my bedroom that a thought popped into my head,”you didn’t talk to me at all today…”…and I had no excuse because I hadn’t. By doing “nothing” all day, I had distanced myself from God & opened the door for the devil to walk in, where he revealed himself in me by way of the vile things I was saying about myself to the Lord, the anger that I was displacing unto the Lord.

When I’m “bored” I make bad decisions. When I veg out & waste my time, I’m not showing God glory. Every second counts & is important. The devil knows when I’m at my weakest & that’s when he works his magic by attacking my thoughts (for what person on this planet doesn’t give in to negative thoughts when they’ve got nothing to do but “think”).

I HATE being indoors for to long. It’s no joke that it truly alters my personality. I’m passionate about hiking & I have a deep rooted love for nature. I did not realize it until that night but being on the hiking trail, being out in a nature that was kissed by God, was my church too! For that is the place where I feel closest to God. Where I know He’s hiking with me & where I ALWAYS talk to him. It’s where I think clearest, where my troubles seem manageable & where I can hear God talking & listening to me.

Now don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me, I LOVE going to my “home” church. It’s the church I’ve attended since I was a child. My most treasured 27.2memories, tears, & faces lie in that building. You NEED to have a church “family” in your walk with  Christ; people that support you & hold you accountable. God is in that place! But I CRAVE my one-on-one time with a God that breathed life into me. A God that knows the depths of my heart better than I do & therefore, he knows the way to get me listening to Him is by sending me outdoors on an open trail with a dog that loves hiking as much as I do.

I was judgmental in a way that I didn’t even realize I was being towards a friend that I hold the utmost respect & admiration for. How dare I ever judge how God decides to communicate with his children! How dare I ever assume that just because somebody chooses to attend or not attend your standard-brick-building-with-the-cross-on-the-door “church” that they have any less of a relationship with God than I do. I have no idea how God works in other people’s lives, when I’m (barely) beginning to understand how he’s working in mine!

I pray all the time, constantly, that God keeps my ears tuned in, my mind receptive, & my eyes open to his direction, voice, & guidance. He does just that whenever I’m fueling my obsession for being outdoors. I always end my hikes feeling light, relaxed, peaceful, with a full heart & a mind overflowing with positive thoughts, counting down the moments until my next hike in the sunshine.

And isn’t that what time with the Lord is supposed to feel like?

“The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.”-Deuteronomy 5:4-

See ya out on the hiking trail!

cheaperthantherapy1

 

 

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