Early Thirties Crisis

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Have you ever felt the itch for change? This happens to me every so often--probably about once every 3-6 months--life just gets to where it feels stagnant and I need a boost. When I was a kid, I used to want a different bed spread every other year or I'd want to rearrange my room and switch of the furniture. I find myself wanting to do those things even as an adult but I also tend to try new things more often as well. Like this whole gardening/homestead thing. It's so funny to me because homesteading was the way of life back in the day--it wasn't the latest trendy thing to be self sustainable. I'm sure I'm overthinking it but if I'm being honest, I'm terrified of completely failing on growing my own food. Sounds silly but I don't do failure well and that would include killing the food we just planted. Rob set up the watering system on a timer so there's half the battle; I either over or under water and it's usually the latter. Part of my goal in this new endeavor is to teach Bo how to be self sustainable early on; I don't want him to be a kid with his hands glued to a device or sitting in front of a T.V. all day. I remember how fun it was when I was a kid and spent hours outside, sometimes even having to pick out of my great aunt and uncle's garden. Some of my best memories were made outside! I'm not naive to the reality that my children are being raised in a different environment and culture but I've never been much for conformity in scenarios that I didn't completely approve of. I have to find a happy medium. Bo was probably two before I even let him touch a phone and now one of his favorite things to do at night before bed is to use an Apple pen and draw on Rob's iPad. I wasn't completely kosher with that idea at first but I know times are changing and it's inevitable that he will have more access to technology than I did when I was his age. However, having responsibilities early on is a must in my book and I'm hoping that starting this garden and having two chickens can be fun tools to teach Bo and CC with.

I'm not sure if it's part of the journey of finding out God's calling on my life or if it's part of the itch for a change but I feel so all over the place with many parts of my life lately. I've always had a touch of complacency but I can look back on the last year and see it layered on a little thick. I don't like it. Maybe that means God is working on something monumental because I can't seem to get comfortable or settled? Maybe it's my upbringing and feeling like every few years I need a change of scenery? Maybe an early thirties crisis? I don't know what it was about turning 31 last June that I felt like something big was going to happen. I mean, yes, turning 30 was a big milestone of course but I have a weird way of thinking sometimes and when I turned 31 last year I immediately thought of Proverbs 31. You know, the chapter in scripture that is all about the ideal woman. I remember thinking and praying that God would reveal part of, if not all of, His will for my life. Even just a glimpse of what He created me for. I think this past year has been even more of a searching season for me and His will than ever before. Hence, my wondering if maybe I'm in an early thirties crisis. I know, sounds ridiculous, right? I digress.

I'm still seeking and I'm still trying new things until something fits. One example of something that sounds so materialistic but for me is a small way of trying to force myself to be consistent about something is getting my nails done. Go ahead and laugh. I've never been one to do things for myself but at the beginning of this year, I decided (with Rob's blessing of course) to get my nails done every two weeks. He gets his hair cut once a month while I might get mine cut once a year so his response to my saying it was unnecessary but asking what he thought about the idea was, "well you getting your nails done is about as necessary as me getting my hair cut so I don't see anything wrong with it." Ok cool. So now for the last 4, almost 5 months, I have one hour every 2-3 weeks to myself with no kids and no responsibilities. It's a change/new thing that I started and thus far I've stuck with it even when I feel guilty about it sometimes. Last week I also got a wild hair (no pun intended) and decided to chop my hair off. It was the longest it's ever been--to the middle of my back--and about 9:30 on a random night, after the kids were in bed, I looked up a tutorial on YouTube and whacked my locks off. Yeah not the brightest idea I've had but I didn't care. It wasn't awful but definitely needed to be touched up so I went two days later and had the girl who cuts my hair once a year clean up my cutting job.

But seriously, what is wrong with me?! Does anyone else ever do random stuff like this? Just needing a change? On the surface it would seem that I simply wanted a fresh start with my personal appearance--hair, nails--but it makes me question the deeper meaning because, well, I'm a deep thinker. I feel like there's a root to everything. Every thought, every action. The way I see it is I get stuck on a hamster wheel in life and things start feeling mundane so I need to throw in a little spice to liven stuff up.

My 32nd birthday is rapidly approaching, in a little more than two weeks to be exact, and I can't help but wonder what the next year will bring. I'm praying for wisdom, discernment, and especially direction on what God is calling me to do and be. I know that despite my wandering, God is working and what He's got planned is far more than what I could ever conjure up.

Here's to keeping the garden going, the chickens laying and my nails dazzling...

Waiting Well

It's funny how as long as I've been in NY, I've always had a magnolia tree somewhere near me. This shot was from our yard in the cottage we lived in before buying our house 5 and a half years ago.

It's funny how as long as I've been in NY, I've always had a magnolia tree somewhere near me. This shot was from our yard in the cottage we lived in before buying our house 5 and a half years ago.

I'm internally snickering at the subject of this post. "Why?", you may ask. My answer is because my entire life, I've been the one with the least amount of patience. For real. I don't know what it is about waiting but I can't stand it--if something isn't happening in the amount of time I'd like for it to be, I just grab it and do it myself.

But God.

A few days ago I received an e-vite from my pastor's wife to attend the Kingdom Hearts women's conference this year. I attended for the first time two years ago and was completely in awe of the presence and details of God that entire day. I remember the excitement of having a girls day with a small group of ladies from my church and being a bit envious, yet hopeful when I walked into the building and saw a whole slew of vendors set up, wishing I had known about the fact that one could set up shop there. Looking back at my journal from that year, I found my notes from the day of that conference--it was held on April 23, 2016; the day before, I had written an entry describing myself sitting out back here at our house, under our pink magnolia tree watching Bo play with trucks. I wrote about how I had been so excited for that tree to blossom but was disappointed because we had gotten a cold snap (including a late snow) that killed the blooms that were to unfold, but that after sitting there under the tree and studying it a bit, amongst the dead blooms, I could see green shoots and a few traces of pink. "Even in the ugly, there were traces of beauty", I penned. I went on to say that the magnolia, in some ways, was me--that even though I had allowed the enemy or circumstances to take hold of me at times and my trust wavered, I would wither and appear to be drained of life, but when I surrendered to God and put my full faith and trust in Him, I'd begin to be and experience the beauty of what He had designed for me to be.

Back to the day of the KH conference, I walked into the main hall and there, set up as a prop were two wooden pallets that had been handpainted on with the scripture: Jeremiah 17:7-8, which reads, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes, but its leaves will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought nor cease from yielding fruit." The keynote speaker that day was Francie Winslow who spoke on trusting God as well as the condition of our hearts. This morning I sat down with that old journal and looked up the scriptures from that day. I also looked at the sermon notes from the next day at church--my good friend's (now) late mother had given that sermon on Elijah and how God will always provide when he sends us on a mission, how He takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary, how He answers prayers even when we're still speaking, how we are to believe that He will provide and answer prayers, that God orchestrates everything according to His plan, how if we're faithful in little things, He'll give us bigger things, and that He's able to do anything, even what seems to be impossible. Then, I continued to read journal entries from that week which led to sermon notes of the following Sunday which was a sermon by mine and Rob's good friend, Mike who spoke on the subject of "seasons". Something that he said that stood out most to me was, "We need some seasons in our lives where we are drawn to our knees so we reach out to Him, and what follows a desperate season is a season of fruitfulness." WOW. Mind blown. I had no idea that the season that I was stepping into was a dry, drought-filled, wandering, silent, at-times-dark season. I thought I had God figured out, and that Rob, Bo and I were to purchase that old farm house on 34 acres and relocate to Alabama (if you missed it, that story is here) that following year only to have the wind knocked out of my sails just four months later when the deal fell through. I also had no idea that almost a year to the day of that conference, even in my dry season where, though I knew God and was trusting Him on blind faith but not waiting very well, I would be blessed with a daughter, even though I was so apathetic and complacent. 

But God.

So now here I am nearly two years after that conference, with an invitation to attend this year's conference. Upon receipt of the invitation to attend this year, I did some thinking and research, and found myself on the phone with the very sweet vendor coordinator for Kingdom Hearts. Guess who's going to be a vendor at this year's conference? Yep, you guessed it. MAGNOLIA+PINE. I wanted to get a feel for the keynote speaker and her message topic so I looked her up yesterday; her name is Chrystal Evans Hurst and if you're familiar with well-known pastors and Christian speakers, her dad is Tony Evans and her sister is Priscilla Shirer. Anyway, I came across Chrystal's blog and she recently did a podcast with contemporary Christian artist, Meredith Andrews (listen here). Y'all! I started listening to that interview and was glued. They spoke on what it means to be faithful in every season, making room for your gifts (i.e.: how to juggle home life/mommin' and using your God-given gifts and passions), and finding time to rest for it is when you {wait and} rest that you often hear God. It's hard for me to get out of my rut and focus on a sermon at home sometimes but I could listen to that podcast over and over. As we started this new year, I wanted so bad to turn over a new leaf and really get a groove with MAGNOLIA+PINE but of course to still be present at home with Rob and the kids, I just didn't know how in the world I would be able to maintain brain space and momentum. But God, right? This podcast came at just the right time. Chrystal and Meredith spoke about snippets and how so many women feel like it's all or nothing with getting something done. That is totally me! I feel like whether it's a devotional or design, blog post or creative vision, if I sit down to finally get something accomplished--either Bo needs his truck fixed or hiney wiped, or CC is screaming and wants the boob--I lose all concentration and say, "forget it, hopefully I can finally start on _____ tomorrow during their nap". These ladies spoke about how, even if you have a thought, word, vision, whatever it is, and you can speak it into your phone notes, do it! Grab whatever snippet you can and then go back and fit the pieces together. It's so hard for me to imagine myself doing this because I've always been a perfectionist and at times, a bit OCD, but when I sit and really think about it, getting things done in the manner of which they're suggesting is almost like a mosaic. You may be putting tiny pieces of random gibberish together but when it's all finished, it's a beautiful work of art. Such is my life.

I didn't know seven years ago that I'd still be living in New York. I didn't know two years ago that I'd be about to step into a desert season. I didn't know last week that I'd be starting a new year this week and having the sand wiped from my eyes, looking back at an old journal and literally reading the promises of God in my hand writing, in black and white. I say it all the time but when I'm caught up in a lesson He's teaching me, it just absolutely blows my mind. I can't help but feel a little guilty and want to kick myself for the times I haven't waited well, especially during the last seven years. But God. He has been teaching me firsthand His character, His lovingkindness and His grace. I've always had faith and held on to hope but as my dear friend, Shell recently shared, "let us be more aware of Him"; I know He's always working and orchestrating in my life but sometimes I go days on autopilot and not really seeing what He's doing. However, if I just sit for a second and wait...listen instead of speaking...I realize that He's always always always at work, even in the mundane. Even in the desert.

 

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