Saying Yes & Following The Path Of Fulfillment

I have been struggling lately. I have been struggling with the question, “Who am I?” There are so many possible labels: a wife, a friend, a Christian, an advocate, a member of my community, a woman, a dreamer, a runner, an organizer, a finance assistant, a blogger. Yet when I consider those labels, I don’t feel I embody any of them completely. I have this unrelenting  want to add the word “BETTER” before each title. I want to be a better wife, a better friend, a better Christian, etc. All at once. All together. All to perfection. And as I wonder about who I am, I begin to feel overwhelmed with disappointment at my elusive potential.

That is where my biggest struggle lies: in the want to be “better” than how I perceive myself. Focusing on that want which seems so unfathomable, unapproachable, and unreachable, I recognize I am viewing my life from the base of a gigantic mountain. I can see multiple trails I could claim as my path, each with a directional sign reading who I yearn to be. Yet I feel if I choose one path, then the others will go unaltered. Never being explored, never being grown, never being conquered.

Smarter hikers than I would venture down a path to see where it leads and then retrace their footsteps to explore another trail. Stronger hikers than I would choose one path, complete it, and return to the beginning to begin anew. Not me though. I want to take all the paths at once without giving any specific label up. All or nothing is what I felt was necessary to give my life meaning and purpose.

I found myself praying at this multi-directional trail head for weeks. How could I be a better wife while simultaneously attempting to be a better friend and a better runner and a better active member of my community? There did not seem to be enough minutes in the day or energy in my body to keep up with everything necessary to make me into the person I felt I needed to be.

Then Sunday happened.

It amazes me in the ways God can speak to me. He either gives subtle nods that have me constantly second guessing if I’m reading the signs correctly or He drops something so obvious into my lap that I’m left dazed at my own ignorance.

Sunday’s sermon was that mountain being dropped onto my head, dazing and enlightening me into shame of my own stupidity.

A guest pastor gave the sermon. He was a director at Life Action Ministries, an organization that believes in calling people to authentic Christianity in order for the gospel to shine brightly out of lives transformed by God’s presence and power. He spoke about the brokenness of our world and the effects of sin on society. He talked about renewing our spirits to revive not only ourselves, but the world as a whole. And his method of doing this was by saying “YES!” to God every single day.

The sermon as a whole was specifically aimed towards saying “Yes” to God when it came to our faith and spiritual well-being. This pastor spoke on topics of selling ourselves short when it came to being followers of Jesus and how our actions today effect a number of outcomes tomorrow. Spiritually, I needed to hear this message because I am constantly worrying if I am a good enough Daughter of Christ.

However, the message hit me in all aspects of my life.

I began to see my life as a series of Yes’s and No’s. Sometimes I chose to say Yes to a path of my own and rely on myself to not trip on the obstacles along the way. Yet looking back, I know that when I chose to say Yes to the paths God directed me towards is when my life truly flourished. My best Yes’s were those where God led me!

One prime example of these differences in Yes’s were when I was led out of my pre-House lifestyle. House, as some of you may remember, is my young adults Bible study group. Prior to House, I had focused mainly on drowning my unhappiness with late nights and a careless attitude, dating the wrong people because I lacked knowledge in what I deserved, and caring more for earthly matters than my eternal soul. I sought pity. I sought relevance. I sought anything than what I had been taught through my Christian upbringing truly mattered. I was choosing to say Yes to an overgrown, boulder-strewn trail. I didn’t like who I was becoming, but the thought of turning off-course to a path of revival was scary. I felt I would be heading into that unknown alone, and I knew there were a lot of burning bridges to be mended before I could make it to the summit.

When the time came that I finally realized I no longer had the strength and endurance to cut my way through the briers of my own path, I turned to God. I knew I needed to go down the path of revival, but I also knew I couldn’t lead myself. Life Action puts the Path of Revival in good terms: my first step was to find humility. Then honesty, repentance, forgiveness, and obedience. None of these were easy obstacles on my own, but by saying Yes to God and His leadership, I began my journey.

And following God brought me to a beautiful clearing of my life.

I earned friendships with the most honest and supportive people imaginable. I went through many trials that ultimately grew me into a stronger and wiser individual. I faltered many times, turning back and looking at the path I once walked, but I never turned to salt. Instead, I might trip and scrape my knee, but I picked myself up and endured the pain until finally the summit of that stage in my life was reached.

Nonetheless, the mountain continued ahead, and life went on. I hadn’t reached the end. Instead I was given the option of continuing to say Yes to hiking up my current course or choosing another path. Free will is a gift from God, after all, and the choice was mine to make.

In the same way, sometimes I said No to paths I knew were the Godly direction and chose to go my own selfish way. And though those No’s brought a lot of growth and wisdom through life lessons, they also brought a lot of hurt and sorrow.

One such No was when I wanted to keep walking my current course, but there was clearly a blockade in the trail. God kept subtly giving me signs, but I shook my head No at Him and continued up anyways. I was in a floundering relationship where I provided support with hardly any in return. The trail I was attempting to climb was turning to sand and washing away under my feet, but I fought to move forward still. There were no tree branches to help pull me upward, there was no covering to protect me from the headwinds. I kept saying No to the signs God was handing me and instead tried to force love and adoration and respect into a relationship that never was bound to have those emotions reciprocated. I gave more and more of my heart until I had no more to give, and I came tumbling down the mountainside when the rainstorms finally gathered and let loose.

It’s amazing how when you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits into your life, how out of balance you will find yourself. You get to a negative space and you’re not sure how to “close the account.”

For me, when that unhealthy relationship ended, I found myself knocked out of breath from the avalanche. My heart was hardened from the fall. My happiness and willingness to listen to God ceased. My negativity was at an all-time high when I was at an all-time low. I felt isolated in my situation, feeling heavy emotions of depression and hatred for everyone involved. I chose to be a victim of the mountain, and I blamed everyone involved including God.

But He wasn’t who led me on that path, was He? No, I had chosen not to abide by His clear signs stating “Trail Closed Ahead” and wandered forward on my own. Looking back, it is so clear the paths He meant for me to follow instead. I stuck to my own crummy intuition though. I made excuses. I tried to convince myself the path was not as bad as it really was.

After the tumble down, I tried to shake myself off. I tried to be strong on my own. I defiantly began climbing a path of Self-Yes. I clung to other unhealthy relationships like a lifeline, I relied on pills and drinks to numb the pain, and I made decisions unfamiliar with my character for the sole purpose to hurt those who hurt me. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and my situation became worse due to my own leadership. My life became a dark, sunless void as I went further and further into the forested hills that I was creating for myself.

It wasn’t until I turned back to God that my life made a drastic change. (Surprising, right? If only I had remembered my lessons from previous “No Times” as well.) As I said No to my selfish path and Yes to God’s directions, I began to find rays of sunshine again. A light through the treetops showed roots to step over so I wouldn’t trip. A clearing brought warmness and happiness and laughter. The forest was dying away and I could see the next summit for which I was aiming. It was obvious that following God meant a life full of love and contentment.

And so I continued to say Yes to Him.

Life was great, and I believed the reason wholeheartedly was relying on God to direct me. I centered my life on Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

By taking the examples of what a God-pleasing life entailed, I attempted to live by this passage in my thoughts, words, and actions. And I found peace.

I know that if I had chosen to say No to reconciling with God, I would not be where I am today. God not only led me to a healthy and complete relationship with G, but he led me to stronger relationships with my family and friends. I was able to see those who were meant to be a part of my life and why I needed to close the accounts with others. My career flourished, my other responsibilities and hobbies blossomed, and I found contentment in the person I was. I loved myself and I was eager for the future God had awaiting me.

Transitional periods are tough though. I reached the summit of that beautiful hike on my wedding day. Since then I have found myself again struggling with my image.

Who am I?

I’m now a wife, but I find struggle in claiming that as my only label. As someone who once was overwhelmed with all her hats being juggled, that addiction is a hard thing to break. I sometimes find myself feeling guilty that I have “down time.” I knock myself for not jumping to return text messages to friends. I put myself down for not writing a blog post every day or allowing my workouts to go by the wayside. I want to be a great wife, but I also want to be a great blogger and runner and friend and, and, and…

It took the sermon on Sunday to remind me that maybe that’s the problem though — struggling with perfection rather than stopping to listen my Lord. Maybe I am confusing fulfillment in my life’s goals with contentment of the here and now.

I think it is time to readjust how I view myself and glorify God in all He has provided me.

Let me be honest with you, I had a breakdown a few weeks ago where I questioned what my purpose was outside of being a wife. I had put so much focus on preparing for marriage before the wedding that all other hobbies and past times were thrown to the curb. Now that life has gotten back into a routine, though, I realized I missed having things to do aside from making dinners and cleaning the house. Not that I feel any of my wifely roles are beneath me or not valuable, but because I feel I need to juggle more responsibilities to be valued in other areas of my community other than just my home.

I want to be relevant to more than just my family and friends. I want to be relevant to the world.

This is not something I believe is uncommon for a newlywed. After the excitement of the wedding, there are the slow times when you are attempting to distinguish your new self. While focusing on being the best spouse possible, you also want to remain an individual. I don’t think that want is a terrible thing, but I do realize it is not always inline with Godly ventures.

Sometimes a person falters as a newlywed by shifting too far to one side or the other. You may focus solely on being a spouse and lose yourself and the plan God has for you. Or you may focus too much on remaining an individual and not put in the effort necessary for a functional and lasting, God-pleasing marriage.

The key is to find a balance.

After Sunday’s sermon I realized that I am not reaching that balance and that I am selling myself short.

Who says I am not a good wife? Who says I am not a good friend? Who says I am not good in any of my roles except for my own sinful mind?

God led me to where I am today. He led me into my role as a wife, and He also led me into the role of being a finance assistant and a lifestyle blogger and a cancer awareness advocate.

In the same way, there were roles He told me to step down from because He knew I was becoming overwhelmed, tired, and distracted. Being the person I am, quitting anything, even for the sake of my health, is giving up. I disappoint myself by backing away. But God told me No for some responsibilities I felt compelled to complete. And it was when I listened to Him that my life was revived.

The roles I have in my life have continuously been rejuvenated. I excel, I receive praise, and I get promoted. Sometimes it is like a light is switched on in those areas, and I could trek full-steam ahead into unknown territories without any fear. And it seemed that even when I was hiking down one path, the others I simultaneously needed to focus on interwove with my current track. As I hiked the “wife path” those of friend, Christian, advocate, and others joined the route of my next big expedition.

So why should I not listen now to all the Yes’s He has before me? Why am I struggling with my current roles and wishing for even more to cascade down onto me? Why should I not strive to find fulfillment where I am so that I am prepared for what He has coming around the bend?

Today I say I will.

I say Yes to what is before me and I say Yes to being content with who I am right here, right now.

I choose to say Yes to God in performing my current duties to impact myself and others in a positive way. I choose to say Yes to God in finding fulfillment with who I am right here, right now. I choose to say Yes to God for the plans he has ahead of me and to lead me to the best outcomes possible in an unknown future.

I choose to say Yes in loving where I am and who I am right now, and trusting in God to mold me into a better version of myself each and every day. His purpose comes first, and everything will fall perfectly into place as I move forward in His peace.

Climb the mountain, not to plant your flag but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.

For those interested, here is the sermon as a whole for those who would like to witness this powerful message also:

Happy hiking, my friends, 

Wedding Shots: Ceremony Details

Incoming: the next few weeks my “Wedding Wednesdays” will be featuring none other than OUR WEDDING PICTURES! I was beyond excited to find the adorable rose gold flash drive in our mailbox this past Friday from our amazing photographer Staci of Dear Olive Photography. Over 500 images captured our wedding day beautifully, and, yes, some tears may have been shed.

Now I’m not going to share every. single. photo. But I am going to share a few highlights of the day including our ceremony details, bridal party portraits, couple portraits, and reception details. I am so in love with these pictures, and am excited to share them with the blogging world. I hope you enjoy the next few weeks!

G and I fell in love with each of our rings upon first viewing. As someone who wears jewelry every day for work, I have a bit of OCD when it comes to matching metals. I like to wear all gold or all silver, and only mix when necessary. So I chose mixed metal rings so I would always match no matter what necklace/earring/etc choice I make. My engagement ring is platinum and my wedding band is rose gold. I plan to get another rose gold band for above my engagement ring in honor of my first child. G’s ring is rose gold as well with a tungsten carbide center. He chose the rose gold due to its uniqueness, and it just so happened to match mine as well!

Our main decorations were candles at both the ceremony and reception. Otherwise, I kept things as simple as possible. The candles were all mix matched in styles and heights. For the guestbook table, I used a wooden trough I found antiquing for our programs, and a galvanized “S” given as a gift. The church had a hydrangea arrangement downstairs I was able to borrow. Our friend drew a beautiful chalk board welcome sign. We wanted the aesthetics of the day to be downplayed as the ceremony itself was the most important part, so we kept everything effortless and rustic.

Inside the sanctuary, I kept the woodsy/outdoorsy feel. My cousin had a few cherry trees needing removed on their farm, so my dad went and cut ten logs about two-feet tall. The logs were weathered and mossy, and were so beautiful for acting as runners of the aisle. I printed snippets of 1 Corinthians 13 and rested them against the logs so the passages were read as you walked to your seats:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

The last phrase, “Love never fails.” sat at the altar where our tree ceremony was set. (You can find out more about our tree ceremony here.) A rose gold sequin runner lay across the altar under our little evergreen, and other pops of pink were found in scattered bouquets placed along the aisle.

Ugh. I adore that smile G gave me when our eyes first met when I began my walk down the aisle.

And then about twenty minutes later…

… we were officially Mr. and Mrs. G.

Next week I’ll be sharing a few more, but until then, friends, 

And I Thought Life Would Slow Down…

Somehow I thought Life would slow down once the wedding was over. What a naive little bride-to-be I was!

Hello, friends, and let me apologize for my absence this month so far. I know, I know, I promised many upcoming posts on the adventures of being a newlywed and delicious recipes and fun DIY home decorating ideas and, and, and…

I’m sorry.

This is my first post in August. I’m sorry. Life has been so hectic for G and me over the past month, and I am finally catching a little bit of breath tonight to at least sit down and let you all know why I have been MIA.

First off, G and I are in the process of buying a house! YES! I realize my only post of House Hunting was in mid-July, but this process has been ridiculously fast-moving. I’ll be back-dating a post or two to talk about a few other houses we viewed, but I also plan to discuss the whole home-buying process and the do’s and don’t’s associated with becoming first time home buyers. Trust me, we are learning a lot as we go through this purchase!

We were supposed to close this Friday, but some things fell through on the seller’s end and now we are in limbo. Waiting for a closing date is a lot like waiting for a roller coaster to get over the first hill — we’ve been left suspended in mid-air, filled with excitement, but fearful of what may be waiting around the turn. Please keep us in your thoughts as we continue to wait for the next step in becoming home buyers.

To make home buying even more chaotic, G is beginning a new job next week. I could not be prouder of him, but WOW! Could this blessing not have waited at least one more month for closing to be over? Talk about stress! But seriously, my husband is one of the most hardworking people I know, and I am so impressed at his resolve to leave a job he loves to pursue something that will be better for our family in the long run. Not only is he receiving a pay increase, but his new job is sending him to school (beginning in September already!), offering him full benefits, and promises to train him into a managerial role within five years. Knowing the person he is, I wasn’t surprised he chose this option as he is always talking about creating the best foundation for our family. But, again, I could not be a prouder wife.

On top of buying a house and beginning a new job, G is also in the final legs to receive his license. This past Friday we went car shopping and found the perfect work truck for him to call his own. Our quaint home is now filled with a very proud wife and a very happy husband. Life is good.

I also took a more prominent role in the planning committee for Pink Tie Ball this year by being nominated and accepting the role of Secretary and Marketing Manager for the committee. This means a bit more responsibility on my plate during week nights, but since G will be working longer hours now, I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead of me. Planning has already begun for this February 2019 event, and my committee members and I are excitedly rushing to get all our ducks in a row for the best event yet. Stay tuned for more on this event as preparation takes place.

With the closing called off this Friday and all items set for G’s new job and license renewal, we would have loved to have a free weekend to simply lounge around. Timing is everything though, and this weekend is the wedding of one of my best friends. As a bridesmaid, that means G and I will be traveling a bit for the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception, but at least we’ll be having fun to help dissolve the stress of this past week!

Aside from the craziness of our own lives, our brother and sister-in-law welcomed the family’s first grandbaby into our lives on July 28th. Our beautiful nephew, Zion, is happy and healthy, and is giving G and I an excuse to leave town for a few days to visit come September. We could not be more thrilled (to both meet Zion and to have a mini vacation!)

All in all, August has been a ride of emotions. Thankfully though, once this weekend is over there are no imminent plans. I’ll have my evenings mostly free since all housing items are completed on our end, and I anticipate getting back to regularly blogging with you, friends, very soon.

Thank you for not abandoning me,