Anchored Soul

Friday, March 29, 2013

I just finished filling up a journal. (I'll talk more about what goes into a journal of mine another time.) I've been working on this journal for just under 2 years...That means I was 20 when I started this one and I'm finishing it now at 22. 

The journal...
This journal covers a very distinct season of my life. It has been full of other "mini" seasons, but those two years had a theme...LETTING GO. 

And as I was finishing up this journal, I realized something...These last two years have been about letting go AGAIN. I've let go before. 

I play it tough, but letting go is by far one of the hardest things I ever have to do. I totally drag my feet when it comes to letting go. 

August 2010, celebrating "20" before I moved to do student teaching.
The days around the time I turned 20 were so difficult. I look back and am absolutely THRILLED that they are over. Things were ripped out of my hand and I held on soooo tightly that I made letting go way harder on myself. Yet, I think I NEEDED that. I needed to let go and I needed letting go to be difficult. 


Letting go (the hard way) made me more like Jesus. I see that now...This week, this holy week, with Easter just a few days away...I see how the last two years have made me more like Jesus. And all of a sudden, the last season of letting go is totally worth it.

All the tears, the sense of being lost, the pleading, the clinging, the sleeping, the wondering if things would ever work out....And then the hoping, the drinking up wisdom, the moments of joy when I saw God or helped others see Him....They have blurred into one big, "hard, but good" time. 

September 2011, Celebrating "21".

I don't want to write too much, but I don't want to be vague either. 

I want you to see and be encouraged and I want to remember. 

The last two years I was letting go of so many things. It can be summed up in this: I was letting go of what I thought life was (is) supposed to be. I was letting go of things that had given me a sense of direction and purpose and getting to understand and treasure things that OUGHT to give me a sense of direction and purpose. 

I need to rewind. 

Me at 13 (stole this from somebody's FB album)
At 13, I was looking into colleges. I was planning my life and putting my previous years of hard work in school to work. I was finishing up jr high and was planning my road through high school so  that I wouldn't waste ANY time. I wanted my life to count. I wanted to make I difference. I wanted to accomplish big things. I, I, I. 

Slowly but surely, I let all of that go. I came to be enamored with what it meant to be a godly woman. I went from saying, "I want to be a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of kids and maybe even get into some kind of social work to help counsel them along the way too!" to saying, "I see that my role as a woman is to be a helper to men. I don't know what that means exactly, but I just want to do whatever God wants me to do.

I saw the beauty of being a godly woman...I saw the beauty of marriage and family. I let go of me and began to see my role in the body of Christ. 

July 2006, during a mandatory "time of silence". 

At 15, I had  a firm foundation in Christ. Now I had a better idea of what it was to be a Christian woman...But, I had more to learn. I went to a leadership conference/ spiritual BOOT CAMP and came away with so many of my questions answered. For the first time in my life I heard and saw that I was created to live for the glory of God. I had spent the last two years listening to every radio preacher I could tune into, reading as much Bible as I could, and really trying to understand WHY I was alive. 

On my application to the conference, I remember summing up my reason for attending the conference as this, "After I got saved, I began to think, 'I'm saved, now what?'. They told me to read my Bible, pray, and go to church....So, I read my Bible, prayed, and I go to church...Still, I'm asking, 'What's the now what, after the now what?'..." 

July 2007, same conference, second year...FYI we were dressed up for a hoe down. 
I left that conference with a CLEAR vision of exactly what the now what, after the now what was!!!! I know it's basic and I know that I was on a journey towards seeing it. I am so grateful for the men at that conference and the time that God gave me to SEE why He made me! I left that conference with this quote by John Piper, "God is most glorified in you, when you are most satisfied in Him.". I left that conference knowing that my purpose was to make much of God...All the time, in all things.

  I left that conference feeling FREE to be the godly woman who served those around her and was pouring her life out to know God and make God known. 

May 2008

At 17, I had come a long way. I had shed many tears. I had had soooo many doubts and struggles. I had said goodbye to old friends, old habits, old movies, old music...Old things that drug me down. I had grown closer to my Mom and made a few new friends, I had formed new habits, found completely different movies and music to enjoy...I was FREE to know God and to make God known. I was pouring my life out to do just that. Then, something new came my way. The opportunity to plan and prepare for my life as "wife and mother". I was accepted at Whitefield College and the journey began. 

My brother's birthday...The desk in the background was my study zone. 

Again, I had let some things go, made some tough decisions, and had serious direction. This was like that leadership conference all over again...Day after day, month after month of AWESOME lectures, books, and a chance to write EVERY SINGLE DAY. I loved it!

January 2009. None of us knew that 8 months later, my brother's first truck would be loaded with everything he owned as he moved out. 

Then...Came 2009 and 2010. Things went a little downhill, but I was okay. My brother ended up moving out. 

2010 began as a year of "dreams come true". I went to EVERY SINGLE place I had EVER dreamed of going. I got to spend time with some awesome people, go to another conference, and see my brother. 

NEXT2010 in Baltimore, MD, May 2010.

George Washington's Mount Vernon, May 2010

Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, September 2010. 

NYC, December 2010

I dealt with some hard stuff by seeing some family members and going to places full of memories that I hadn't seen or been to in a long time. I spent the month of July WRESTLING with God about what I would be doing that fall and dealing with the consequences of my own apathy. 

I moved to New England to complete my student teaching. I went to a great church, taught at a wonderful school, and for the first time in my life was SURROUNDED by a group of godly young women (and their families and friends). I loved it... I knew that I told God when it was over, I would head home. That time came. 

March 2011

Then, came 2011. What I thought was a year of HELL. I battled depression. I was SICK. And people around me were always asking me what was wrong with me. I was up and down and all over the place...Always crying and seriously just ready for this thing called life to be over. I'd get to the BOTTOM and just be CLINGING to God, crying out to Him. I read Martyn Lloyd-Jone's, "Spiritual Depression" and stayed in Psalms and Proverbs. That's seriously, probably some of the only Bible I read for most of that year. I was questioning God in what He was doing and what I was supposed to do. 

July of 2011 was amazing...I ended up at the Ranch for about a month. My mind was completely off of all the stuff in my "real" life and I was surrounded by people that love God, love to talk about His Word, and every single day was spent ministering to people or being ministered to by people. Still, the struggle was not over. I ended my time "helping" and things got worse again....Just when I thought it would never get better. It did. 

February 2012

Just like that, a major prayer was answered. I was okay. I still had more letting go to do. The rest of 2011 and really, up until recently, were marked by a toned down version of the first part of 2011. I was still up and down, but not nearly as bad. I was still questioning God and feeling TRAPPED. I didn't have answers. I didn't have direction or security in the day to day. I was gripped by FEAR. 

From December 2011 to March of 2013, the specifics of my life were given to me only as it was time to do them. I'm black and white. I ask a million questions and I form a million answers in my head. I need to know what is next, why it's next, and what it will lead to. I knew I was a Christian, I knew I was called to be a godly woman, and I knew I existed to know God and to make Him known...Still, I was caught up in the HOW. I need my today to lead to a good tomorrow. Not generally, but SPECIFICALLY. 

Now, I see that the last two years have been about letting that go. Over the last two years, God has been teaching me about how to walk with Him in faith the way that Jesus did. Depending on Him and looking to Him 100%. 

From December 2011 to March 2013, I haven't known what was next. Today, I have no idea what I will be doing next week. I'm writing this on Wednesday night and I don't even know what I'm doing on Friday. ZERO idea. 

For the last fifteen months or so, every couple of months, something comes up, somebody has a need or somebody needs help. I pack up my bags and I head out like Mary Poppins, Jesus until the wind, Holy Spirit changes direction and then I wait to see what will be next. I have taken care of people in their 80's, worked at a coffee shop, helped my Mom run her house, painted buildings/gardened/cooked/cleaned/ministered at the Ranch, helped my friend Heidi with her house, and none of it was ever planned or expected. All of it was dropped into my lap weeks before it was to begin. 

From the time I was 16, I was talking about "living on mission wherever God placed me"....I guess, at 22 I'm there...I got here kicking and screaming, crying and doubting...But, I'm here and I'm free. No conference, no college, no man, just God and His Word leading me, guiding me, protecting me, and making me sure of this: 

I am known by God and He is making me into the image of His Son, Jesus. 

By the grace of God I am what I am and His grace towards me was not in vain, I labored more abdunatly than they all, though it was not I but the grace of God that is in me. 

Now I see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know just as I also am known. 

I'm glad to be sure again. I'm glad to trace the patterns of God at work in me life. I'm glad for the direction He's given and giving me! I've seen my sin and I've seen His grace!

As I finish this post, I have so much truth bubbling up...Truth that has led me to HOPE IN GOD. There is a rap running through my head too. You can listen to it and know that all of this...All that I wrote, all that I've learned, and all that I live for is because of Jesus. This Sunday we celebrate that He died and ROSE AGAIN. 

He rose from the grave. He defeated death - first His and now mine! I have walked through the shadows and by God's grace and mercy, I have seen the LIGHT. A fountain of living water was brought before me and now I am overflowing that living water. 

You'll Thank Me Later

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Excuse the reference to Monk in the title of this post...I love Monk. My family says it's because I AM Monk. Whatever the case, I use those four words almost DAILY.

Just so you know, I'm really not nearly as bad as Monk. We just have a lot in common, but I'm normal about it. 

Today I've got something special up my sleeve. I am not known to share recipes. My motto is, "If you like something I made, come back to my house and I'll be sure to make it for you." :) Nice, right? I always smile when I tell people that! 

A few weeks ago, I saw this recipe on the side of a box of Pillsbury cake mix. Chocolate, peanut butter, m&m's, and peanuts, it really doesn't get much better. I bought everything I would need and whipped up a batch. So simple and so awesome. 

They look pretty impressive too! 

Sometime, I'm going to make these things from scratch, but for now...A box of this, a container of that, and YUM is sure to happen. 

If you buy the cake mix, you'll see the recipe on the side. You'll see what I changed, do what you like! 

I wasn't a fan of the m&m's except for the way they LOOKED on the bars...I pulled them off my bar and ate them on the side. The peanuts on the other hand? Amazing! Like I said, you'll thank me later. 

If you give them a go, I'd LOVE to hear about it! 

What's your go-to dessert? 

What was the last awesome dessert recipe that you found?

The Book Shelf: Echoes by Robin Jones Gunn

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A few weeks ago, I read another book for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. 

This time around, I was reviewing "Echoes", the third book in the Glenbrooke series, by Robin Jones Gunn. I was looking forward to going back to the small town of Glenbrooke. 

That being said, I was disappointed to find out that the main setting for the book was not a small town in Oregon. I also found it very difficult to relate to Lauren, the main character. With those two things always on my mind, I just couldn't get into this book. 

If you're a huge Gunn fan, read the book. Lauren is a lady that many can probably relate to. She is searching for so many things, she's not really running from anything, and Gunn really reveals the heart of Lauren's character. As usual, Gunn keeps it clean and writes pretty well. 

With that in mind, you might just enjoy the book more than I did! Check it out HERE

What's on your bookshelf? 

Do you have a favorite spot to read?

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All thoughts and comments are my own. 

The Scenic Route: Let's Pack Up and Go to South Dakota

Monday, March 25, 2013

It was February 14th. I got a text from my brother saying, "I'm in South Dakota". I quickly called him to see what in the world was going on...He should have been at work. Turns out, he got some time off and decided to take a road trip. Just a few hours later, I was in the car with my mom, brother, and sister on the way to South Dakota for some unexpected time in no man's land. 

After lots and lots of driving we made it to Keystone, SD the next day. My brother moved away four years ago and I haven't been able to see him for three years. It's a long story and not one I'm going to share here...We talk and text and skype as much as we can, but for now, being able to see each other in person just isn't going to happen on a regular basis. 

That being said...The spontaneous trip to South Dakota had me in tears. I wanted to go so bad...It would cost money, it would take time, Heidi had just had her baby and I was supposed to be there helping her, and then the biggest thing: SNOW may make traveling unsafe and stupid. 

Everything came together though and I am so grateful. 

I drove and drove and drove...I had a place to go and someone very special to see. We hit snow off and on. There was only one point where we actually had to stop because I couldn't see at ALL. Stop we did and then continued  few hours later. 

From the backseat...

I learned that traveling at night is actually better, it was me and a bunch of truckers. I learned that I love Wyoming. The speed limits there were 75 if I remember right. I was reminded that "are we there yet?" is a very logical question to ask. 

I learned to stop ONLY if I NEEDED gas or somebody NEEDED to go to the bathroom. Every single stop meant wifi and wifi meant people were checking FB and Bingo balls...Apparently , I have some addicts in my family. 

On the way there, we had a mission: GET THERE. We didn't stop unless we had to. On the way back, we took our time and did a little bit of sight seeing. 

Almost there!

We didn't stop there...I just like this picture for some reason.

We met up at the hotel, unloaded our stuff, and then headed out for a very long day of fun. 

First stop was Mount Rushmore.  We stopped there eleven years ago on a very similar trip. It was fun to go back. The sky was so clear and blue, but it was very very cold. 


I loved seeing my brother, but more than that I loved seeing my brother and sister see my brother. They miss him a lot and still look up to him a lot. My brother is definitely not perfect but he can be one of the most helpful, loving, caring, strong person I know. He is an excellent listener, has the ability to reason very well, and is always wanting to FIX things. 

Since the hiking trails were closed, we opted to spend a lot of time in the visitor's center.   

And I followed everyone around with the camera.... 

My brother was clearly quite tired of being told to wait and smile. I love candid pictures, but I also like to catch people SMILING...

 Good luck! I had NO idea that he had blown a bubble. 

Clearly, candid is just better! I love this picture. 

Visiting with this ranger was fun. He was from our old neck of the woods and has traveled a lot...Maybe I wouldn't mind a job like that someday?!?! We'll see...Anyway, to humor us, these two did the activity book and helped us learn a lot about Mount Rushmore. 

This is my Mom's favorite picture from the day. I'm not crazy about it, but I'm sure we'll all be glad to have it in another three years. 

That was  A LOT of pictures...and I still have more to share another day. 

To Be Done

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Earlier today I came "back" and gave you a post about the most important part of the last five weeks. 
Now I just wanted to take a minute to unload a list of happenings...I've been:
* Driving A LOT - here, there, and everywhere.
* Making a bee-line trip to South Dakota to see my brother for the first time in 3 years - I'm NOT a spontaneous person, but that was the very best crazy thing I've ever done. I'll write more about it another day. Again...I bawled my eyes out. 
* Enjoying time with the people at the ranch - being there almost every Wednesday night and Sunday along with "just because" visits in between has been good for my soul. There is just 
something about being around people that love God...epsecially in the middle of hard times.
* Being a bit crazy with my friend Heidi and her two kids - it's not all diapers and house work...We've spent time taking pictures, running errands, painting, cleaning up things outside, planning a garden, BAKING, learning to make (the best ever) granola and artisan bread, crafting, crocheting (infinity scarves...that take FOREVER), butchering trimming a disaster of a grape vine, sorting clothes, discussing God's Word, learning about how Moms affect their new born babies, chasing sun, laughing at the wisdom that comes out of the mouths of three year olds and the faces and sounds that come from babies....In short, enjoying the life that God has given us. 
* Reading - my Bible, books for me, and the favorite book's of a three year old (over and over and over again). I forgot how much I love reading to toddlers. 
* Dinner parties with friends to celebrate birthdays and trips. 

* Putting together busy bags for a very busy three year old who is having to learn to entertain herself. 
* Watching my brother and sister prepare for their roles in a play that has now come and gone - With two leading roles and lots and lots of practices, it's kind of sad that it's over. It was fun! This year I only went to a hand full of practices, but I did get to enjoy the entire last week of preparation. The actual performances were an absolute blast. I cry every time at some point during play season...This year it came at the first dress rehearsal. There they were, 13 and nearly 15 up on the stage hamming it up singing and dancing and looking amazing.....Lines memorized, choreography learned, and costumes finally put together....There I was, sitting out in the audience with a grin on my face, a happy heart, and tears trickling down my cheeks as I realized, "They've done it again!". 
* Going to a conference and meeting up with my friend Corina (who I also haven't seen in a very long time) - It was great to sit under the teaching of some people who are DEDICATED and PASSIONATE about discipleship in the home, the church, and the community. These are people who are interested in being disciples committed to God and His Word and helping others do the same. All the while, their lives revolve around helping others see that God has given them the same calling and grace to be and make disciples as well. 
* Winning my first BINGO in a long time - I got a golden egg and brought home $10. Just to be clear, I play maybe 20 games of bingo a year at the little community events that happen around holidays. And going out with my family for a night of bowling, visiting, and bowling alley food. 
I told you...It's been full and it's been good. Now I'm taking this day to rest a little bit. I'm not sure what the next five weeks hold.
 Instead of thinking about it or trying to figure it out, I'm trying something new. I'm trying to rest in the fact that God does know and that He will bring whatever is next to me as He has every single time before. 
This time, instead of being anxious about it or trying to make all of the decisions myself, I'm praying. Not about specific options or choices, but just praying that He would lead and guide and keep me right where He wants me. 
Peace, ladies...Peace and joy. Those are what I want to be marked with. Who knew that five weeks could show me what I've been trying to see for the last few years. 
I don't need to make lists. I don't need to make black and white final decisions. What will happen will happen and I can be His. 
I wish I could explain to you what I'm thinking and what I've seen. For once, I can't. 
I just KNOW that I KNOW that God is in control and I am called to DRINK His Word and be full of the peace and joy that knowing Him brings. 
No pressure. No plans. One day, one step, one moment at a time! 

Five Weeks

Good morning, ladies!!! It's been five weeks since I posted. I've checked in here and there, but for the past five weeks, I've pretty much been completely OFF LINE. 
This marks the first post. It also marks what feels like the first day of spring. This is the first post of 2013 that I'm putting together in one of my favorite spots...My porch swing on the back patio under a blue sky with birds chirping and sun shining. 
It's still pretty chilly...Even though the grass is green and our dog is lounging at my feet, I'm wearing a sweatshirt and am not sipping on a glass of sweet tea. 
Anyway...The last five weeks have been so FULL. I've enjoyed time with my friend Heidi and her two kids. I've been reminded what an exciting time it is to have a baby in the house and what a challenging time it can be for the toddler who came before them. 
I've enjoyed the last bits of winter and have thoroughly enjoyed the days that almost feel like summer. 
When life changes big time, I always step back and think about LIFE. I step completely outside of everything I know and just really think about things with an eternal perspective. I try to look at things that are important and try to see the fickleness of things that really don't matter at all. 
Try it...Make a list. And then go back to living life with a focus on what does matter. It's so refreshing. 
With those thoughts on my mind, my time with God in His Word has been having so many similar themes....Clearer sight has come in so many areas. 
I've been looking at:
* Battling temptation by hoping in God - If there is one thing that makes me a Christian, it is hoping in God. If there is one thing that will keep me Christian, it is hoping in God. Psalms, Ephesians 6, Hebrews 3 and 4, 1 Peter, and so many other places have been used to keep me seeing this truth. 
* Life being war and God fighting the battle for us - We pray, we read, we obey, but all the while, it's God and His grace that keeps us standing strong. Everywhere I read or listen, I've been seeing this theme. 
* The role of faith in my DAILY life - I'm working my way through Acts now and this is the theme I'm focusing on as I do. 
* The power of prayer - Talking with my friend Corina this weekend reminded me of the things that God has done and let me watch Him do as He led me to pray, kept me praying, and then answered according to the promises in His word. 
*God's plan- I saw this as I read through Romans in a way that I'd never seen it before. Read for yourself and be amazed at the intricate things God is doing for His people. The verses about the Jews and the Gentiles are what really stood at this time around. 
I've spent a lot of time with a lot of people during this time. 
I've stepped back and had time to think and breathe and become refreshed. 
I have mounds of laundry to do, I have weeds growing like crazy in every patch of garden I keep, and I feel like I've just been on the run....BUT GOD has been doing some amazing things in my heart and mind and life. 
It's a mess. And through it all I'm okay because my eyes have been on the things that actually matter.
What's been going on in your life over that past five weeks? 
What are you seeing in God's Word right now? 
Are things and time neat and tidy or messy for you?