you say

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Unexpected.

A theme I’ve been living out for the last 7 years of my life.

Just when I think things are “calming down” or “settling in”, I find change and growth just on the other side of the same breath.

Since moving to California 3 years ago, I’ve found myself creating roots. Roots deeper than I’ve experienced in my adult life. I made the big move, walked through months of adjustments, and settled into a life and job that from the outside, stood in line with where I “should be” in life.

I had the 9-5 job.
I was working in the field I went to school for.
I had benefits and a steady income.

And I was miserable.

Now, I will 100% admit that I learned more in that season than I ever expected. I learned a lot about myself, about management styles, about persevering when you feel like throwing in the towel. I never want to disvalue the time I invested, the relationships I built, or the skills I learned (personally and professionally). But, when push came to shove, I knew it was time to move on.

So, I did what any rational, calculated millennial would do – I quit without knowing where I would land next.

It’s that feeling deep in your gut, in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, that you are making the right decision. No matter what other people think. What they expect. What they believe is “right”. By all means, let people speak  wisdom and encouragement into your situation, but at the end of the day trust what you know and stick to it. As hard as that can be.

That was 8 months ago.

And I don’t regret my decision for a second.

By the world’s standards, I’ve stepped outside of my experience, and moved “backwards”. But in reality, I’m happier and more content than I’ve ever been. Even in the midst of growth and discomfort.

It’s funny, when people ask me where I’m working, I automatically feel the need to rationalize why I’m working where I am. As if I somehow have to validate my decision to step away from what I’ve known for the last 7 years of my life. As if my worth and success rests in their hands, in their opinions. And let’s be clear, most people don’t expect that explanation, or need reasoning for my decisions. It’s something I feel as though I need to offer to them, to “explain myself”.

We are so good at living into what others expect of us. Or rather, what we think they expect of us. We try to be what others want us to be, instead of what we are meant to be. Who we are meant to be.

I need to be reminded daily that my worth is not in what I do, how well I perform my job, or what milestones I’m meeting. My worth is in who I was created to be. 

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
– You Say by Lauren Daigle
So, here’s to being enough. To fighting the voices in our minds that somehow convince us that we aren’t enough. To believing we are strong and loved, worthy of belonging. Let us work hard and strive for greatness, but remember that we are worthy even if we fall short.
Unexpected. 
Lean into the unexpected. You never know what joy you’ll find in the journey.
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awake my soul

Man, this has been the most exciting/busy/wonderful/encouraging month of my life. Here’s the last month and a half in a nutshell.

Quit my job.
Packed everything I could in my Sunfire.
Drove to North Carolina.
Moved all of my stuff out of my car and into the Coleman house.
Started looking for jobs.
Went to the bakery. Just a few times.
Started house sitting for a month.
Packed everything back in my car and moved it to the Austin house.
Went to California for my cousin’s wedding. It was beautiful.
Came home and continued searching/interviewing for jobs.
Went to the Parkway with the siblings for a gorgeous sunset.
Ate barbecue. Several times.
Kiffer and Sarah got their house.
Started helping get the house ready to move into.
Got the job that I wanted.
Packed up my stuff yet again and moved it into my own room.
Went to a Parkway sunrise.
Went to the White Squirrel Festival. Yup, that’s a thing.
Moved some more.
Hung out with the most amazing family ever. They are wonderful.
Went hiking in DuPont.
Had a moustache party. Which may just have been the funniest night of my life.

As you can tell, I’m enjoying life just a little bit. I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun, looked forward to this much, and felt so blessed. Everyone here is just wonderful. I feel so at home already and I’ve only been here about a month. Mind you, I think I felt at home from the first time I entered Brevard last August. There is no doubt in my mind that I am where I’m supposed to be. Everything lined up like only God could plan. Any doubt I had moving here has been completely removed from my mind. I’m here, I’m home, and I’m enjoying every moment of it.

Of course, if you know me at all, you know I’m already looking towards what could be coming next. Is it school? Is it an internship? Is it a trip this fall? I’m pretty sure that when God put my brain together, he decided to leave out the off switch. My brain just never stops. When I have something that I’m working towards, or something I want to accomplish, it consumes my entire brain space. So many ideas have been bouncing around up there. Do I try and go to school this fall? Do I take some online classes? Do I start applying for fall/winter internships? Do I start planning a trip to Africa this fall?

What do you do when you want to do it all? I’ve decided this is my number one problem. I just don’t know how to choose which to knock down first. I would really like to start working towards my degree, so this means I’ll start looking at taking some online classes this fall or winter. Wait, maybe I should wait like I was planning and start school next fall when I get my residency. Maybe in the meantime I’ll see if I can get a local internship allowing me to still work towards my goal, but be doing something that I’ll love, but still be able to work and then go to school next fall. Actually, I’ve been wanting to do another trip for so long now. I’m not sure I’ll be happy if I just stay around here till next fall. Maybe I’ll just go on a trip for a couple of weeks to South Africa, or somewhere else, take a little time off of work, and just be doing something that I love. But wait, if I travel, that means a lot of my savings for school will be gone. Maybe I should just start doing some classes online this fall. HA! You just received an unwanted look into the brain of Elisabeth. Yup, I’m just as confused as you are reading that. I can’t even keep my thoughts organized anymore. They are just floating from one side to the other, stopping quickly enough for me to start worrying about my future. How kind of them.

Maybe just say a quick pray for me and my jumbled thoughts. What do you do when you just want to do everything? I’m so passionate about so many things, I don’t know what to start with. I don’t know where to step next. I don’t know what to focus on. I just don’t know at all. I wish someone just completely understood what it is that I am feeling. I wish this made sense to anyone, including myself. I feel like I’m stuck in a corn maze, all alone, and it’s getting dark. Yup, the panic is starting to set in and I’m about to head to the nearest corner and break down. I just want someone to come find me, tell me it is going to be okay, and lead me out.

This has lead me to a very strange place. I’m perfectly content in where I am and the move I just made, but at the same time I can’t stop looking towards my next step, my next journey. Right now it’s just one small step at a time, one activity at a time, one day at a time, and one thought at a time. (Or that’s what I’m trying to convince myself anyways.)

Well, now you probably know more about my life more than you ever wanted to. Terribly sorry. Just know that in the midst of this confusion and uncertainty, I am completely happy with where I am. I am surrounded by amazing people who have become much more like family than friends. North Carolina, you’ve treated this half-and-half well.

“Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

keep your eyes open

I’m feeling as though I’ve neglected my blog for the past few weeks. Don’t worry, I have a good excuse. I can now say that I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I’m not sure my brain completely believes it yet, but my heart’s in it 200%.

The past month has consisted of packing, avoiding packing, packing a few more things, working, and trying to see as many friends as I could. I’m going to be honest, most of the packing happened within the last few days of being at home. Somehow it was all packed and in my car ready for a 4am departure last Monday. After a far too short four hours of sleep, I was up and in my car heading towards the border and my new home. The stress of packing and working vanished as I drove across the border and through three states of snow. They weren’t the ideal driving conditions, but I didn’t even care. I was just so excited to be on the road and heading towards the small town of Brevard.

Having said all that, the thought of moving, and the actually moving itself, has not all been peachy. There have been many days and nights filled with doubt and hesitation as the moving date came and went. Although I questioned my decision more than once, I still knew that I was making the right choice and doing the right thing. That’s a hard thing to convince a mind that worries like that’s its full-time job. I knew that I needed to jump in with both feet and take every circumstance as a learning opportunity. Goodness only knows where this adventure will take me.

I must admit, my first week here has been more than welcoming. My week in a nutshell: family, friends, good food, sushi, shopping, football, rugby, sunshine, NEEDTOBREATHE, Ben Rector, and many laughs. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better week. It feels wonderful to be surrounded by such good friends who have truly become family.

I can’t wait to see where these next few weeks take me. I’m not gonna lie, I’m stinkin terrified. I don’t like having no idea what’s ahead of me. This will just be another one of those lessons I should be learning along the way. I’ll try and write a few blog posts as I go along, but as evidence by my lack of writing these past couple of weeks, who knows what will happen. I’m just so excited that I had the guts to get this far. Bring it on Brevard!

“Cause if you never leave home, never let go,
you’ll never make it to the great unknown.” – needtobreathe

no other plans

Procrastinate.

I am all too familiar with this word. You could even say that we are best friends. Sure, the relationship is all carefree and full of fun-and-games. Well, that’s what it seems like anyways. All of a sudden three hours have gone by and not a thing on your to-do-list is accomplished. Welcome to a day in the life of Elisabeth.

Today I had the best intentions of doing a good chunk of packing. I decided to start packing something I was excited to go through (my Starbucks city mugs of course), which I got through and packed no problem. Before long Skype was calling my name and my attention drifted back to the world if technology and social networking. There’s nothing like a great blog to take you away from reality or hit you over the head with real life. Either way, it takes you away from the physical place you are in and brings you to a place you’d rather be. Let’s be honest, packing on a Saturday afternoon is not what I dream about at night. I’d much rather immerse myself in a dream land of wonderfully talented writers who can challenge you more than you can challenge yourself. As you can tell, I can get distracted by even the thought of social networking. Yet again, Elisabeth finds herself procrastinating, this time it’s completely documented in this very blog post.

I’ve always been guilty of procrastinating. There’s always something more exciting to read, something more entertaining to watch, or someone more exciting to talk to. I’m the kid who left papers until a few days before it was due. Now I have become quite good at writing under pressure, but I can’t say that I’m awfully proud of this fact. I always wanted to plan ahead, start writing early, and finish with days to spare. I always had great intentions of doing it differently the next time. The next time turned into next semester which turned into next year. Goodness, looking back at it, I procrastinated from stopping myself from procrastinating. That’s not only horridly confusing, but so sad. I need to give myself a swift kick in the butt to get moving. I need to not put things off. I need to do things right away. I need to want to accomplish things early. I’m just not entirely sure how to go about this. (Suggestions are welcome.)

I thought maybe if I got this down in some sort of physical way, I would maybe realize that I need to so something about it. I don’t really know what I was wanting to accomplish by this blog post. Maybe it was just another procrastination tactic to avoid more packing or cleaning. All this is to say: ELISABETH, GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GET TO WORK.

Oh goodness, 16 days and so much to do. Be praying I don’t go completely insane.

the setting sun

Random fact: I love driving.

There’s just something about moving from one place to another with the control to go wherever you may want to go. Driving is almost like a small break from life. It can be filled with conversation or it can be completely content in silence. Music, however, is the one thing that I cannot drive without. No matter whether the drive is filled with silence or chatter, there has to be a soundtrack to accompany it. After turning on my car, music is the next thing that comes on. The car just seems to empty without it. I love being in my car by myself, allowing me to be the sole DJ. I can listen to whatever I want, play it as loud as I want, and sing at the top of my lungs. To me, driving is completely calming.

There is no better time to drive than during the sunrise or sunset. For me, the sunrise symbolizes the starting of something new. It’s a new day and a new adventure. It is completely worth getting up at an obnoxious hour just to take in. A sunset on the other hand, stands for the close of another day. I wouldn’t say it is an ending, but instead a chance to reflect on the day. There is no better time to drive than around the time of the sunset. It just gives me a completely serene feeling. No matter now horrible a day you had or how anxious you are about the next day’s activities, somehow a sunset can calm you right down. Not to mention, they are both stunning.

Tonight I found myself driving at this perfect time. As I was driving down the backroads I take from Cambridge back to my house, I found myself driving right into a sky painted by none other than God himself. No one else could put those colours together with such perfection and then paint them on the sky for all to see. As I continued to drive, I realized what an odd experience this sunset had created. Looking ahead into the setting sun, it was nothing but pink and orange light fading into the horizon. At the same time, looking through my rearview mirror created the illusion that it was the dead of night. If just looking back, you could have been fooled that it was the middle of the night. As I continued to drive, I had this feeling like this was a symbol of my life right now. Ahead all I can see are beautiful colours, light, and God. Behind me was the past, it’s where I had already travelled, where I was coming from. It’s what I am leaving behind and building upon.

It’s time to focus on the beautiful colours. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to put my car in drive and just go. (If it happens to be 12 hours south on the I-79, I will not be complaining.) I need to stop dwelling on the past. It has helped me become who I am today and I wouldn’t be here without it, but I need to move on. Whether it be a sunrise or a sunset, just take a moment to enjoy it. Don’t just speed by trying to get from Point A to Point B. Slow down and take in those immaculate brushstrokes painted by none other than the creator himself. Keep moving ahead, but enjoy the drive.

you took my hand and said ‘trust me’

I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:9-10, 13

You may never know how much a verse will mean to you in the first moments that you come across it. A few friends and I were randomly flipping through our bibles one night and we came across these verses. We agreed that we could try and memorize these verses and be able to recite them to each other the next week. I wouldn’t be able to even start counting how many times I have relied on these verses since then. They have been a guiding light, and something I can always ground myself in. These past couple of months have ben no exception. I have yet again found myself coming back to these verses for support. He is holding my hand and giving me strength. If only I knew how to put my trust in that.

happiness

Another trip to North Carolina, another hard transition back into everyday life at home.

The idea of this trip was to surprise my dear friend Sarah for her birthday last Friday. Let me just say: mission accomplished. There is nothing I love more than a good surprise. When it comes to a successful surprise, I say go big or go home. In this case, I went big and I went home. This trip solidified the fact that Brevard is right where I’m supposed to be. It feels more like home than anywhere I have ever been. When I first arrived in Brevard last week, the anticipation and excitement was too much to handle. Within minutes of being with everyone again, it just seemed like it was normal for me to be there and be a part of it all. It is still such a strange feeling for me. Don’t get me wrong, it is an absolutely amazing feeling. It is just something I am so not used to. It is the best feeling in the world.

I of course had the most amazing week spent with wonderful people. It doesn’t seem like it takes much effort for me to be there. Sometimes when you go on vacation, you are constantly feeling like you need to be on the go, or that you need to put this huge effort in. Being in North Carolina is nothing like that for me. It’s just like I fit into life there for a week. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fun stuff we do and the different places we go, but it’s not necessary for me to enjoy my week there. We can all just sit there and watch TV, or ridiculous movies like “Drowning Mona”. (I don’t recommend the second.) I can see myself living life there. Yeah, I’m sure it will be different when I’m actually living there, but that doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I’ve never felt so excited for something I know is so right.

Leaving seemed different this time. Every time I have left before this, I haven’t known when I’d be back or where I’d be in life at the time of my next visit. This time I am pretty sure that the next time I’m in North Carolina, it will be for good. This time I could leave knowing that soon enough I would be back for good. Right now there are still so many unknowns which still makes leaving so hard. I don’t know for sure when I’ll be back, when I’ll get a job, or when I will be able to move. All these things are so scary, yet at the same time I still have peace about it all. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many days when worrying gets the best of me and I have doubts. I just have to trust that God has it all planned out for me, and I can’t wait to see what that plan looks like. This goodbye seemed more of a “see you soon then”.

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of The Fray. The song that has been on repeat lately has been “Happiness”. It talks about not living to find happiness, but just completely embracing it when it comes around. There is one line in the song that says: “You are gone, not for good but for now. Gone for now seems a lot like gone for good.” This describes how I’m feeling perfectly. I know I’m just gone for now, and I’ll be back. At the same time, being gone hurts more than anything. It feels like it could be ages before I end up back there. The song ends with the line: “She will be home”. All I can do is pray that my life turns out like the end of this song. I just want to go home.

open up our eyes


Winter: the season most Canadians dread. I don’t know how you can hate something so beautiful. There is no smell more anticipated than that of the first snowfall. There is no sight more stunning than that of a falling snowflake. It nips at your nose. It throws itself in your face. It gently falls. It is captivating.


Spring: the first sight of life. It is a season known for April showers and May flowers. It’s what we wait all winter for. New buds form on stark tree branches. The bright coloured tulips signall the approach of warmer weather. Rubber boots splash in every puddle within view. It is enchanting.


Summer: everyone’s favourite season. There’s nothing like the warmth and sunshine a summer can bring. It is the climax of the seasons. Beaches are busting with students on vacation. Windows are down and music is blaring. Shorts and flip-flops are embraced with open arms. It is inviting.


Fall: the season of mixed feelings. No season can compare. It signals back-to-school, the coming of holidays and the return of jeans and sweatshirts. Leaves crunch under every footstep. Trees turn the richest shades of orange, yellow and red. It is perfect for long walks and campfires. It is what I wait all year for. It is ravishing.

be still

I’ve been trying to come up with something to say on here for the past few weeks, but I just haven’t been able to put words to my thoughts. I thought my life was starting to settle down, but little did I really know. Again my life has been turned upside down and back up again. I still don’t know if I can really explain all that has gone on in the past month, or how I have felt through it all. I’ll just leave it by saying that you never really know where your life going, or what twists and turns there will be along the way.

Although it has been a hard couple of months, I have learned more about myself and my relationships than I have in the past 21 years. I have started to figure out some of the things that explain why I am how I am. I’m not gonna lie, It’s been less than a pleasant process. It has hurt more deeply than anything before, but it is something that has to happen. So many things in the past four years have impacted my life more than I have really understood. I’m just starting to discover how these things have shaped me, and what things I need to do to learn as much as I can from it.

At this point, I have no idea what I’m trying to say with this blog post. I don’t really have any point I’m trying to get across, or arguing a point of any kind. I’m just trying to get these thoughts out of my head and into words that hopefully form some kind of coherent sentences. Bear with me as I try to figure out what I’m trying to say.

I think one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with in the past few months is the fear of having to justify the decisions that I have made. I’m always trying to come up with explanations in my head that I can use to convince people that my decision is the right one. This is not only tiring, but it is more stressful than making the decision in the first place.  Who the heck am I trying to convince? Why am I trying to convince them? The choice is mine, I am the one who has to live with it, and no one else’s opinion should really matter in the end run. Yes, peoples’ opinions and advice mean more to me than anything. I’m not at all saying that I do not value it, I just need to stop making decisions according to how people may react to it. If I feel like i’m doing the right thing, than that is what I should be doing. Trying to make decisions to please others is just going to cause me more stress, and could ultimately cause me to make the wrong choice.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to please everyone else. It’s not necessarily because I want people to like me, it’s more that I want people to be happy. I want to make their lives as easy and pleasant as possible, and therefore make decisions that make their lives easier. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it ends up putting a lot of pressure and stress on me when I have to make every decision in this way. I’m awful at saying no when people ask me to do something or to help out. I love helping, but I will still say yes even if I’m at the end of my rope and have things piled far too high. It is so hard changing the way you make decisions when this is all you’ve ever know. I’ve been trying to work on a way to make decisions for myself while still keeping in mind the impact it has on others.

I just need to remember the fact that no matter what people think, no matter how people react, as long as I am making decisions according to God’s will for me life, everything will turn out just fine. When no one is on my side or when everyone believe’s I’m going the wrong way, I need to remind myself that God will always be there. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I tend to listen to one song over and over again until I can listen no more. This past week it has been “Be Still” off of The Fray’s new album. It is a beautiful song that has a simple piano melody that just holds your heart. The most captivating line says: “If no one is standing beside you, be still and know I am.” He will always be there. Sometimes I just need to take a few deep breaths, clear my head, and just know that he is standing right beside me. He isn’t a God who watches us struggle. He is there holding our hands while we take one baby step at a time. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or alone, just be still and know that He’s there.

never once

My “life plan” seems to be changing faster than my brain can comprehend. I thought I had my life figured out when I started high school. HA. Little did I know. Two and a half years into university, my “perfect” plans seemed to shatter in front of me. I had decided figured out that I wanted to go to Belmont in Nashville, and my new “life plan” started to form. For months I sat staring at the Belmont website, working on my admissions essays and dreaming of what life in Nashville would be like. Staring a couple of months ago, something about Belmont/Nashville just wasn’t sitting right. My brain was telling me that it was what I wanted, but my heart was starting to question it. 

I made my third trip down to North Carolina shortly after Christmas. I was there for about ten day and knew before I left that I wouldn’t want to come home. I’m sure after reading my last blog post, I made that point quite clear. I’ve never felt at home anywhere more outside of my own house. I feel like I fit in. I feel like it somewhere I could see myself building my life. After my last trip there, I had looked at the UNCA website, but didn’t really find anything that caught my attention. I don’t think I was ready to find anything at that point. I had made my decision on what I was going to do, and that was that. After this trip, I had that feeling again, like I should take another look at the UNCA website. This time I went in with a different state of mind and actually came out finding something that fits what I want to do. Because what I want to do doesn’t have a cookie-cutter education to go along with it, there is a bit of flexibility around what program I could take. Not only did I find a program that fit, but the price was a lot more appealing than what I would be paying at Belmont. Yes, I know that if Belmont is where I’m supposed to be, the money will come together. At the same time, when I want to be able to travel internationally as part of my job, being up to my eyeballs in debt may not be the best thing. As you can probably tell, my brain has been all over the place in the last week.

Right now, I think my heart has decided on what to do. I don’t think my brain is on the same page yet. I’ve never felt such a pull somewhere before, and I think that absolutely terrifies me. I was never this scared, excited or utterly terrified about Nashville. That alone should maybe be a sign. Pray that I will know what I should be doing. Pray that I don’t over think my decision or push myself to a point where I’m too stressed to decide. 

I need to keep reminding myself of this:

“Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful”
(Never Once – Matt Redman)
 
He is always with me. He will always be with me. He will never leave me alone. He has never left me before. Never once.