My New Normal

I’ve lived in Miami now for 7.5 months and I’ve been married for 4.5 months. Life is so different now than pretty much anything I’ve ever known. Except for two short years, I’ve lived my whole life as a single gal in Texas, and let me assure you in case you were curious, South Miami ain’t nuthin’ like Bowling Green, Ohio. <cricket, cricket> Preach. Dear friends, pull up a chair and let me share with you some of the ways that my life is different now that I have voting privileges in Miami-Dade county.

  • There are ducks everywhere around here. Ducks on parade. I assure you, I see a handful of ducks on a daily basis. They are in the canals, the parking lots, people’s yards, the parks, the lakes, EVERYWHERE. I like ducks, as a general rule, but unfortunately these are kind of ugly ducks. And I hear they are mean.
    IMG_0225 IMG_0247 IMG_0270
  • Miami, while seemingly an international city, is not so big on international food like I would prefer. Pho? Oh no. Indian? Not a chance. Forget about the Tex-Mex. (See how I just made that international? šŸ™‚ ) There is, of course, a ton of island foods…Cuban, Jamaican, Haitian, etc. You want yuca or plantains? Why you are in luck – it’s everywhere! Both are cheaper than potatoes and bananas here.
  • Y’all the driving…oh, the honking and the frightful driving here…of course folks complain about the traffic. That’s as ubiquitous as college students complaining about parking. The traffic is whatever…it’s bad everywhere. But the moves…right turns from the left turn lane, driving northbound in a southbound lane to avoid the line at the light, cutting in front of someone at the light who isn’t pulled up far enough for your tastes, ay Dios mio! It’s distressing.
  • Do you all remember the Friends episode when Monica moved in with Chandler? Sometimes that’s how I feel… I live with a boyyyyy!!! Friends, I became an RA my junior year of college and lived by myself ever since…that’s 14 years of living solo to 4.5 months of married cohabitation. I live with a boyyyyyy!
  • BUT! I have a buddy to do something with all the time! My first three months here were painfully lonely and I am hugely comforted that I do not have to be lonely again.
  • Sharing a bathroom is hard. I see the value in a bathroom with two sinks. šŸ™‚
  • I realize just how hard it is to stay in touch with friends long distance.

Some days life feels so regular, so normal, that it’s hard to believe that Lance and I haven’t always been living together. There are days when I miss Austin and everyone there so much it hurts. I often remind myself of the advice I was given about how long it would take to settle into a new city. It’s been easier, I think, to settle into the new marriage than to settle into the new city. It helps to go exploring, try to restaurants, activities, etc. It also helps to be a part of a church community. It’s a slow but sure process. There are definitely parts of my new normal that I’d miss if things suddenly changed, and that’s probably a good sign.

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Words Matter

As a general life rule, I believe that words matter. I get prickly when I’m referred to as a “girl” or a “guy” because I am neither of those. I don’t believe it’s funny to call a friend a derogatory name and claim it’s “just joking.” The words we choose to speak make a difference and impact those around us. I feel very strongly about this.

Except, apparently, if I’m talking to or about myself.

Y’all, I have terrible self-talk and it is shameful. For review, here are a few examples:

  • “I hope dinner is good enough tonight.”
  • “I didn’t get enough done at work today. I don’t know what I did wrong.”
  • “I messed up the timing on dinner. I’m sorry it’s going to be ruined.”
  • “I didn’t do a good enough job making the grocery list and managing the coupons so we overspent.”

My list could go on. Certainly, you get the picture. In the last few weeks, I’ve realized that I’m constantly telling myself that I’m not good enough. That my work is not good enough. That my efforts at XYZ are not enough. This is the message that I’m giving to myself in my brain or out loud a number of times throughout the day. Sheesh! When did I get to be so hard on myself? When did I decide that I wasn’t good enough for me? I doubt I’m the only one with the tough self-talk, amiright?

I think that part of tackling Enough! as my word for 2014 is changing how I speak. This is definitely a difficult habit to break and accountability is never a bad thing, so feel free to check in on my progress from time to time. I need to remind myself that I am a good cook. Dinner will be good. I work hard every day and give it my best shot. That’s all that I can do or can be expected of me. We are not going to go broke because IĀ  missed a sale or a coupon. There is enough time, money, food, energy, and me for what is needed every day. There is enough.

Many years ago, I had this terribly weird habit of saying, “I just can’t take it!” in response to a variety of situations. The Internet is loading too slowly? “I just can’t take it.” It’s a bazillion and one degrees outside and I’m melting the minute I walk outside? “I just can’t take it.” Someone acts a fool and irritates me? “I just can’t take it.” Then one weekend, I was at my grandmother’s and I said it one too many times in front of her. We were in the Walmart parking lot, I believe, and she grabbed my arm something fierce and said, “you stop saying that right now! Your brain will keep hearing that and start to believe you can’t take it and that is false!” I was so taken aback that there wasn’t anything I could do except stutter that I didn’t really mean it and okay, I would stop. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say it again. I’ve thought about that moment over and over again the last few weeks as I’ve wondered what message I’m sending to myself every time I open my mouth with some variation of “you are not enough/you didn’t do enough.” What lies.

Scarcity wants me to believe that I am not enough, but I am no longer buying what is on the shelf. If you struggle with negative self-talk, I encourage you to consider the message, the lies that have been sold to you. I encourage you that you are enough. You have enough. I’m sure I won’t be perfect in my efforts, but henceforth, I’m working to remind myself that I’m enough, regardless of the situation. Won’t you join me?

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Enough!

It’s nearly the end of January and the new year is well underway for everyone. Last year I shared that I am terrible at resolutions. I kind of think they are bogus as I don’t really know anyone who is keeping up with their resolutions by the time that September or October rolls around. I’ve seen projects (ex: 365 photos or 52 books) that seem to last longer and give a person something to strive for over the course of the year. The last few years, I’ve gotten on the One Word bandwagon and used that as my “north star” for the year. Why this works for me is that it’s easier to keep track of one thing that is an umbrella for anything else that might come my way. Where I still struggle is staying with it and accountability. So I’m back here on the blog to share with you my word – and my journey with it.

As 2013 drew to a close, there was much chatter around the words that people were choosing and that chatter increased as the calendar flipped into January. But I didn’t have a word. Nothing spoke to me. Nothing came to me. I just had nothing. I “tried on” a few different words, talking about some of them with Lance, prayed about them and there was just silence. Then an Internet friend of mine, Abby Norman, posted a blog about scarcity and suddenly there were stirrings. She linked to another blogger, Esther Emery, who incidentally I already followed on Twitter. Then I spent hours reading about scarcity and the hold that it can have on us – the lies that we believe because of scarcity – what we are willing to settle for because of scarcity. I thought about all the days when I had worried over not enough time to do all the chores, a lack of money to pay the bills, when I had had melt-downs over getting everything done in an impossibly short amount of time, this, that, and that other…all in the name of scarcity. And I knew. I knew this was the year of defeating the lie of scarcity in my life.

This is the year of Enough.

OneWord2014Enough

Enough says that there is plenty of time to rest on the Sabbath. Enough says that we have enough money to pay our bills. Enough says we will not go hungry. Enough says that I am a good wife, friend, family member, colleague. Enough says that God loves me and takes me as I am. Enough says that I do not have to worry. Enough says that stress and melt-downs are fruitless. Enough says that it will all be just fine. Enough is liberating.

Last year I created a Joy/Blessings jar and put in it happy memories and moments/things that were a blessing to me. Honestly, I got a little off track with it after I moved to Miami. Somehow, though, when I opened it up at the start of this year to look at everything, the jar seemed full. It was wonderful to sit quietly and look at each slip remembering what prompted me to write. I wrote about things that I had since forgotten. It was excellent to revisit the joys of last year. It was also a great reminder that I have, not just enough, but an abundance of love around me and that I am capable of finding the joy in situations that seem heartbreaking. Part of my year of Enough will be to renew my Joy Jar for 2014. I can’t wait to see what joys I’m reminded of in January 2015.

Joy Jar

Joys and Blessings

Please check out some of Esther’s blogs on scarcity and the terrible role it plays in our lives. I wish that we all can defeat the lies of scarcity and know that we are enough, that what we offer to our friends, family, communities is enough. Insecurity sucks, y’all and I believe that “enough” is the antidote. So cheers to having and being enough! Welcome to 2014!

Am Enough, Have Enough, Do Enough

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Leap of Trust

This past spring I gave a talk to my youth group about trust. I spoke to them about my challenges with trust and how I daily work to trust God with my friends, my relationship with my-then-boyfriend, and my job. I shared with them that sometimes in my life I want to see the whole map: all the roads, the rest stops, the possible ways to get from here to there, every twist and turn, and even the detours that may lie ahead. I want to know it all. Lay it all out so I can plan! Unfortunately, trusting God doesn’t play out like that. More often than not, for me it is like being in fog. When I drive to work on foggy mornings, there are times when I can barely see the buildings on the sides of the roads, let alone the freeway signs that I know are coming up in half a mile. You know what I’m talking about here? Trusting God means that I walk through the fog, not being able to see what is more than a few steps in front of me, and forget about what is off to the sides. Gotta concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.Ā  I don’t always (aka rarely) get to know what the plan is in advance. Hence: trust.

teaching on trust

Also this past spring I initiated a nation-wide job search. Lance and I talked about it and agreed that if God saw fit to send me to Macon, GA where I didn’t know anyone and knew nothing about the city, then we would go. We would trust that God would provide community and take care of us. It was a little difficult to say because my friends and family are extremely important to me, but I think that deep down I didn’t really think that God would send me to Macon, GA. Y’all, God has not opened the door to Macon. He has, however, opened the door for me to go to Miami. I have recently signed paperwork to accept a job at Florida International University to work in student conduct in Miami, Florida. It might as well be Macon, GA. It is exciting and scary all at the same time. It is the densest fog I will have walked through in quite some time when all I desperately want is a map. But I am daily choosing to believe and trust that I will be provided for in every need that I have.

god trust fall

You should know that I hate trust falls. I hate them. HATE. Probably couldn’t pay me to do one in all honesty, even if every person who I trusted beyond measure was there to catch me. So while you may look at this picture and think “could it get any cheesier, Gibson??”, it isn’t like that. This really illustrates the challenge I have with trust sometimes and how hard it is for me to do it. This includes the good Lord who catches me every time I take a leap of trust with my heart pounding, feeling sick to my stomach, throat dry, and thinking, “still – really – even this time?” Even this time. Even in Miami. Even in the chaos of my life right now.

Everything right now is moving about a zillion miles a minute. As a result of the job, Lance and I have moved up our wedding date. I’m packing so my apartment is in disarray. I’m having to say goodbye to my friends and community who I’m used to seeing on a regular basis. My heart is in Austin and my roots are nine years deep. I’m wrapping up one job and starting another. But there is so much possibility in front of me… I can almost hear it whispering my name as the days go by and I get closer and closer. I am excited to explore a new city and to be married (EEEK!!) and to learn a new job. I am challenged by the process of continuing to trust God more in all of this, but every step of this process is designed and intentional. None of it is or was an accident. Y’all, trust is tough. But I show up every day to give it my best shot. And every day I feel met and blessed by what I find.

It takes a village to plan and execute a wedding and a move. I would be a hot mess without my village so thank you from the bottom of heart to each of you who has carried, is carrying, or will carry a part of my load between now and September 28. You are also showing me how to trust. Y’all rock my socks.

This song was a bit of a foundation for me in the last 6 months. Just thought I’d share it.

P.S. When I get settled, I promise my food blog will make a come-back. I have recipes for chicken teriyaki, pork chops, egg dishes, breakfast bars, and tidbits to share on canning. There is much to write on and share with y’all!

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Filed under Adventures, Community, Faith, Trust

What Do You Say?

I love words. I like to write. I like to read. I like to play games with words. I like to use fun and different words when I speak sometimes. I like to learn new words. But sometimes, words just aren’t enough. Sometimes there just aren’t the right words. Or I can’t find the words to adequately express what my heart and soul are feeling. The words come out sounding trite and empty compared to the depth of the emotion on the inside. For someone who loves words, sometimes there just aren’t words and I’m left wondering what do I say?

max quilt

Jedi Max: July 1, 2004 – May 21, 2013

My last blog post here, back in March, was about my friend Jay and her son Max, who was valiantly fighting brain cancer. I shared about the value of community and how we were not made to walk alone. Just over two months later, it still stands true and the size of Max’s community is enormous. Max’s community rallied for him in ways that I would not have thought possible in such a short time span. For me, it is just proof that we were indeed meant to live in community and not walk through hard times alone.

Last night Max passed away and it was amazing to see the community shower love and support on the Simmons family. Given the comments and sentiments shared, I am confident that their family was being sent every good, comforting, and peaceful thought, being prayed over, and grieving in community. My heart was absolutely broken to see the news. The whole time Max was getting sicker, I still continued to pray and hope for healing, for some change for the better. And in the moment of the news… what do you say? How do you comfort a mother who has faced what I hope I never will face as a mother? How do you offer comfort to a six year old sister who won’t grow up with the relationship, the joys and the pains, of an older brother? How do you console a father and husband who can’t fix it? Words simply are inadequate, yet it’s all we have.

What I know deep in my heart – what I believe is Max’s legacy that we should all etch into our psyches’ – is that he has helped prove there is still goodness in the world and in people. There is kindness in the world, in all places. Fox brought a movie for Max to *hear* – not even watch, because he was unable to do so, but to HEAR because he was so excited for its release. This movie? It’s not even in theatres yet. Go ahead Fox. Kindness. Saturday Night Live and Gray’s Anatomy made encouraging videos for Max. They don’t know him. But they know the power of an encouraging word, especially from famous people and how that can make you smile. Goodness. The Kyle police department made a video for Max. They took the time out of their day to send joy and love his way. Kindness. People from all over made the effort to send Max the world when he wasn’t cleared to travel. Their family got so much mail that Jay had to have a big-ole-cart to get it all out to the truck!
mail crate
Everyone stepped outside of themselves and made time to make Max smile. Over and over again, folks donated to various campaigns to help pay for medical bills and travel, and to try to send Max and his family to France. We were all concerned for something larger than ourselves. Never again doubt or believe that there is not goodness in the world. Max’s story has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is goodness, kindness, and a helping nature in the world – far and wide – it exists. For me, that is his legacy. I know for others there may be a different legacy as his story impacted us all differently. But those are the words I choose to give to his passing.

Max, you left a legacy of kindness and goodness in my life and for that I am thankful.

Jay, out of this your legacy for me is that you have shown me what motherhood is about and the kind of mother that I hope I can one day be to my kids… You are strong, inspirational, and fierce.

For Jay, Scott, and Katie – the words still seem inadequate, but you are loved and continually wrapped in prayer, and if any of us could take the pain away, we would. I don’t know if this will help or not, but when I am sad, music seems to speak to me more so than usual and I heard this song this morning on the radio and thought of you all. In the meantime, your community will continue to stand with you because you are not meant to be alone. Not now, not ever.

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Blessed by Community

Last week I tweeted “I love being in community. It’s pretty much how we were made to be. And it’s such a blessing.” In the moment it was in response to the overwhelming display of love, support, and joy from my church family for my recent engagement. That particular Sunday at church was one of my favorite Sundays as Lance and I were loved on by everyone we know at Covenant in celebration of us. That isn’t meant to sound egotistical, but rather it was a reminder that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and it is good to be a part of that something.

In the same time span that all of this joy was transpiring in my own life, my dear friend Jay and her sweet son Max were experiencing the total opposite as they were receiving the news from Max’s doctors that four new tumors had grown in Max’s brain and spine. For months upon months upon months Max’s scans have been clear. His chemo appears to have been working. Then suddenly, here we all are. Jay and Max’s community has banded together once more to support and pray and encourage. We are made to be in community. Jay and Scott are not made to walk through this alone.

i can fight cancer
When Max was battling cancer last year, he went through Make-A-Wish to go to Lego Land. How stinkin’ awesome is that?? It was an amazing trip and a blessing for their family. Now Max is sick again and he can’t go through Make-A-Wish because you can only do that once. Makes sense. But Max would like to see the Eiffel Tower. What a cool thing for an 8-year-old to want to see! What is even more cool is to see how Jay and Scott’s community has come together to make Max’s wish come true. People are making decals for Max. There are fundraisers for Max. I have friends who don’t know Max who are trying to help. People who don’t know Max, but know Max’s circle are willing to donate time or resources to encourage others to donate money. Community. We were made for it. We were made to help and support each other. We were not made to walk alone.

max in legoland

I am humbled when I think about the number of people who have rallied around this precious 8-year-old boy to make his wish come true. In the process of working to make this happen for Max, we are encouraging his family. I believe we are restoring other people’s faith in humanity. We are showing goodness, kindness, love, mercy, and compassion to a family who is tired, worn, broken, and heartsick that they are facing this battle one-more-frikkin-time. I am so honored to be a part of Scott, Jay, Kiki, and Max’s community. It’s how I was meant to be.

jedi max icon

Community is not just about the celebrations of joy and giddiness. It’s about walking with someone when they hurt. It’s about sitting with someone when there is nothing to do but be present. It’s about springing to action because I have something to contribute. It’s about celebrating when Max gets to France and poses with his fiercest Jedi-Max pose in front of the Eiffel Tower. And it’s about being thankful and giving praise when Max beats cancer, one more time. It’s community y’all.

If you have ideas on how else we can mobilize to get Max and his family to France, speak up. If you have something you’d like to contribute as a perk to the indigogo campaign, please let me know. We definitely welcome financial contributions if you are able and feel led. Please keep Max’s family in your thoughts and prayers. You can read more about his story here: http://jedimax.com/ and the indiegogo campaign I’m a part of can be found here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fulfill-max-s-wish/x/2616588

However, there are several options available to you under the “Want to Help?” link on the Jedi Max blog. Lots of choices to suit your fancy. šŸ™‚

Could they be any cuter??

Could they be any cuter??

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Joy and Blessing Jar

At the end of 2012, a friend of mine shared a photo on Facebook of a craft project that caught my eye and stayed stuck in my brain. It was a decorated jar intended to hold notes you wrote throughout the year documenting your blessings. The idea is that at the end of the year, you can dump out the jar and review all the great things that happened to you over the course of the year. I thought this was such a splendid idea! I hung on to the idea through the first several weeks of 2013 until I was finally able to make my very own Joy and Blessing Jar.

Joy and Blessing jar
I have no idea if this is all the rage on Pinterest or not because I refused to go look and see if others were doing this too. I didn’t want to be influenced by the creative design of the rest of the world, or feel like I was coming up short in my own decorations. Comparison can be so damaging. So one weekend I found the largest jar I had, and set to work. There are a couple of Bible verses on there, some positive, inspirational words or phrases, some lovely stickers that make me smile, and it all blends into my fabulous Joy and Blessing jar. My plan is to write down special things that bring me joy or that are blessings to me throughout the year. Only I am the judge of what makes it into the jar. It could be as significant as a large financial gift (I should be so lucky! šŸ™‚ ) or as seemingly small, but heartwarming, as a kind word or smile from someone I don’t know in the grocery store. I’m excited to look back on all the moments that made an impact on me at the close of 2013. It’s going to be so great.

side 1
For now my jar sits in my living room next to my television so I get to see it every day and it makes me smile. Even just looking at it reminds me to be mindful about having a joyful attitude and being aware of blessings. I appreciate the mindset reminder on a regular basis. It wasn’t exactly a goal or resolution for me this year to count my blessings, but I do like that I’ve completed a crafty project and that I’m being more positive. Maybe in December I’ll share a list of what made it into the jar. Now there’s an idea. šŸ™‚

side 2

side 3

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