Life’s ups and downs

10. Discuss something you planned that ended up not being what you expected

Wowza. Do you have 72 hours? Because that’s how long I’m estimating it will take for me to tell you all the things that are different now than what I expected. Relax- I’ll save you some time and my fingers some arthritis and pick just one.

One of the things our society seems to be fascinated with when it comes to other people is their occupation. It’s a rarity these days you can meet someone new and not be asked what you do. I think it’s because people tend to find value more in what they do, instead of who they are, but that’s just one woman’s opinion.

My job isn’t that odd of one- I’m a general manager for a local business. Pretty standard as jobs go. The different part about it is it’s a garage door business. I can picture your face now- it’s the same one I get when I tell other people. It’s the look you give a little kid when they bring you a mud pie to eat: try to look understanding, smile, nod, insert a bit of confusion.

Trust me, I get it. Garage doors. Most people don’t even think about them in terms of business. Seriously- who thinks of that? Luckily for me, my dad did. You see, the garage door business is the only one I’ve ever known. My parents started their own company before I was born, and it’s grown into a national franchise with eighty locations across the country. (They’re kind of a big deal.) It’s an industry he loves and is incredibly passionate about. I’m talking helping orphans in Africa level of passion here. I just never wanted anything to do with it.

If you were to ask me at any point growing up, what I wanted to do when I got older, you would have gotten a myriad of answers that ranged from youth pastor to teacher to doctor (that was before I realized my hatred for biology) to social worker. I was all over the place, but the one thing I never said was taking over the family business.

I wanted something more glamorous than garage doors. Something that made a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to work for a big non-profit and change the world while still getting a paycheck. I didn’t want to work in the garage door industry, but we all know how God likes to be funny and put us in places we never saw ourselves in, and that’s just what he did.

Through some random circumstances, I ended up moving back to the northeast when I was 19 to start working with my dad. I drove in on a Saturday and was at work the following Monday. Let me tell you- the first couple years were SO. HARD. My dad and I fought a lot. I cried a lot. I questioned what I was doing with my life over and over again. I couldn’t seem to remind myself the reasons I came back in the first place. I applied for several other jobs and never got an interview (a first for me), so I started praying even harder.

“God, this isn’t where I want to be, so get me out.” Not the most sophisticated or mature of prayers, and I get that, but it’s where my heart was at. It wasn’t until probably about two years into working with my dad that I realized maybe the problem wasn’t the job, but my attitude. So I changed my prayer to “God, show me why you have me here,” and gosh, I’m so glad I did.

I was finally able to see that no matter what business you’re in, you’re always in the people business, which, if you couldn’t tell by my list of dream jobs, is kind of my thing. I heard stories from customers that would make the Grinch well up tears. I was able to see the lives of the employees getting better because of changes we were able to make for them.

My job had turned into something beautiful. Though it was probably always beautiful, and I just didn’t take the time to see it.

 

Can I phone a friend?

9. Your favorite moment of the day and your least favorite moment of the day.

I’ll be honest- I have not been looking forward to writing this post. I knew it was coming, and I’ve been putting it off like it’s my job. I even debated whether or not to use our “freebie” prompt- one we came up with in case we really get stuck on one topic and didn’t want to write it.

The reason I’ve struggled with it is because every day I have a different answer. Ask me on a Monday? My favorite part is getting home from work and least favorite is the morning in general. Wednesday? Completely different story. I don’t like that I don’t have a set answer. I prefer to know where I stand on any given topic, and if I’m not sure, I’m probably not going to open my mouth.

Having to wrestle through which answer I want to give has forced me to look at it in a new light. It’s forced me to think maybe I don’t have to have an answer for every question that comes my way. Obviously, I’m talking about this particular post at the moment, but I even mean in other areas.

I’ve been put in positions throughout my life where I felt like I needed to be the person with all the answers. Being the older sibling, leading small groups, being a trainer/supervisor at every job I’ve had- people expected me to know what was going on. But being older or in charge doesn’t automatically give you all the answers, and it’s been a huge struggle of mine to learn to be okay with that.

I find myself in situations where people ask me questions, and my first response is wanting to use a lifeline and get someone else to answer for me. We all know that’s not how life works, but it sure would be nice.

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I’ve had to learn to make myself comfortable with the unknowns life throws our way. Whether it’s waiting for an opportunity for a new job or wondering if the person you’re dating is who you’ll spend the rest of your life with. It’s all hard. It’s all confusing, and it’s all messy.

When I think about the people who have made an impact on my life over the years, I don’t think about how they had all the answers. Instead, I find myself grateful that they were just there. Sometimes they had good things to say, I’m sure, but I couldn’t tell you now what they were.

I think about them letting me struggle through the questions I had. They listened to me rant about what I didn’t understand. They comforted me and let me be vulnerable without judgement.

So, I don’t know what my favorite and least favorite moment of the day is, and while there’s part of me that wishes I did. There’s a bigger part that’s okay that I don’t.

What had happened was…

10. Discuss something you planned that ended up not being what you expected

My life.

I really wanted the post to just be those two words, but I guess that’s not really a discussion and I’ve had 27 years of things I’ve planned not quite turning out, so I guess I’ll just pick one. Mostly the biggest thing in my life: Marriage.

Plan: Find a guy in college, get engaged by our senior year or the end of… married at 23.
What actually happened: Find a guy in college, get my heart stomped on. Single from age 22 until 26. Go on a couple of eHarmony dates. The 3rd guy I met on eHarmony ends up being my husband. Get married at 26.

But let me break that down a little more….

Plan: Meet someone “the normal way” – blind date by a mutual friend, a random encounter at a store, through friends at a party we’re both at, a friend’s wedding, etc…
What actually happened: Take parents suggestion/offer to sign up for eHarmony after being super offended and kind of feeling like a loser setting up my profile. Go on a date. Go on a second date with the same guy. Never want to talk to him again because although he is nice, you can tell there’s no chemistry and he’s kind of annoying. Silence and disappointment for a few months. Go on another date with a guy who talks about himself the whole time and then at the end says, “let’s do this again” and since you’re nice you say to yourself, “yeah! everyone deserves a second chance!” and then never hear from him again. More silence and a lot more disappointment which turns into anger at the site. Get automatically renewed because you didn’t realize your subscription was ending. Cuss and scream at eHarmony people until they give you your money back. When they only give you half your money back and tell you that you have three months left, swear not to use the program because you hate them. Use it anyway because oh well it was paid for. One month before it expires, a cute police officer messages you.

Plan: Message with him until he gets bored with you because that’s what happened with a bunch of other guys.
What actually happened: We messaged a lot and made it through each messaging step and he still didn’t stop messaging me. Then he asked me for coffee.

Plan: We meet at a hip local coffee shop, but he realizes I’m ugly or weird and decides not to ask me out again. Have to wait in between dates for him to ask to see me again.
What actually happened: We meet at a Dunkin Doughnuts and talk for almost 3 hours and it turns out he is super cute and I’m really excited to see him again, and we planned our second date before our first one ends.

Plan: Go on a second date and realize this just isn’t working.
What actually happened: The second date was fun, even though he told weird police officer stories about decaying bodies and he kicked your ass at putt putt, which you are not good at AT ALL, and you eventually stop keeping score cause it’s embarrassing and then you go out for wings and he doesn’t even care that you look like a weirdo when you eat wings and you find out later that he had no idea that eating wings was a terrible date idea. But he hugs you awkwardly and tells you he wants to see you again, and you can’t wait either.

Plan: You stop planning for the third date and keep an open mind cause clearly this is not going how you thought it was so you give it a damn rest for once.
What actually happened: You realize this could be something kind of serious. Also he tries to kiss you but your PLAN is to wait until you are married or engaged. He doesn’t know that.

Plan: Just let things take their course, but expect to be his girlfriend in another 2 months or so. Also don’t let him kiss you until engagement…. if it’s going there…
What actually happened: You cannot resist his adorable face and attempts to make out with you, so 1 month after your first date, you kiss his adorable face. 2 weeks later he asks you to be his girlfriend.

Plan: Talk about maybe getting engaged in December.
What actually happened: Buy a ring a month after you become bf/gf. Get engaged a month after that. Get married in December.

SO! Moral of the story kids…. make all the plans you want. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go your way. My only thought on this… I’m so glad it turned out the way it did. I love my love story, and it’s much better than all the things I planned!

A better story

8. Discuss a spontaneous moment in your life that turned out to be fantastic.

Spontaneity is not something I’m great at. I’ve always thought it’s a great concept, and I love the idea of it. To not be tied down to schedules and plans sounds good in theory, but I have a difficult time actually living that out. While I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a spontaneous person, I do have some spontaneous moments I hold near to my heart.

I have a friend, Leah, who lives in Charleston. Aka one of the best cities on the planet. And she is wonderful. She’s full of life, tells it like it is, and is married to a “Ken look-alike” type of guy. A couple years ago she was in Delaware visiting, and as we were sitting at a corner table in Brew-Haha, she starts to tell me about her plans to get back home. You see, Leah is a photographer, so she was in town shooting a wedding and had to drive to fit all her gear.

IMG_4421Her plan was to take our mutual friend Madison
with her and road trip their way down the east coast and stop at all those cheesy places you hear about, but never actually go to. Giant roller skate, anyone?

The first words out of my mouth were, “I want to go!” And because she’s Leah, she said I absolutely should. They were leaving two days later.

My mind immediately went to not being able to miss work and all the other “planner” type thoughts you could imagine one would have, but I powered through and decided to go. And oh my word- I’m so glad I did!

My favorite stop along the way was an abandoned renaissance fair in no-man’s land Virginia. I’m not kidding- this place was creepy AF. I was just waiting for the village of homeless people to jump out and kill us at any moment. “Do I have my I.D. on me? How will they identify the body? NO ONE knows where we are right now.” All very real thoughts that went through my head.

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After turning what should have been a ten hour car ride into a fifteen hour one, we finally made it to Charleston. We visited plantations with the oldest trees I’ve ever seen, ate some of the most amazing food (shrimp and grits is a real thing!), and wondered the streets of one of the oldest cities we have. It was beautiful and wonderful and everything else you would imagine it to be.

This was one of those opportunities where knowing when to say “yes” was so important. It took some fighting off normal tendencies and a willingness to get out of my comfort zone, but I learned what has proven to be an important lesson for me.

Saying yes tells a better story.

 

The Direction of Your Feet

9. Your favorite moment of the day and your least favorite moment of the day.

My favorite moment of the day and my least favorite moment of the day happened to be the same moment, differentiated only by the direction of my feet, the position of the sun, and the numbers on the clock.

Some days, I do neither of these in which case, I could always come up with a new high and low. But most days, I do these things and they are the best and the worst. Not that the things in between these two moments are less, or not enough, or terrible. Often, the moments in between these two are delightful, and fun, and full of people I love. Many days, the in between is frustrating and makes me extra glad for my favorite moment. But I can appreciate something that makes me grateful for another thing. I’m not always alone in my favorite and least favorite moment. And being alone certainly makes the worst moment worse, but it doesn’t make it better.

But I am an introvert and home is home. So leaving is the worst and arriving is the best. Feet pointed out is my least favorite moment, and feet pointed in is my very favorite.

Home means Allen.
Leaving (usually) means he is staying and I am going.
Home means quiet.
Leaving means traffic and jam packed cars on tiny streets or busy highways.
Home means I can read.
Leaving means rain or snow or too hot or too cold.
Home is just right.
Leaving means people who might judge me or say a mean thing.
Home means acceptance.
Leaving also means friends and new experiences and fun places.
But home always means comforts: my pillow & my favorite blanket.
Leaving means new sights and smells.
Home means familiarity.
Leaving means crowds.
Home means home.

That one time…

8. Discuss a spontaneous moment in your life that turned out to be fantastic.

I am not a spontaneous person. Seriously. Spontaneity to me is stopping for doughnuts on the way to work without thinking about it except the 30 seconds before I pull into the parking lot.

So for my 25th birthday, when my friend Steve said “what do you want to do?” and I said, “I don’t know all my friends are in Alabama.” He said, “Let’s go to Alabama.”

He said this on a Wednesday. My birthday was on Saturday. I had to be back at work in Delaware on Sunday at 8:00am. There was no way. There was no time to plan. It was 17 hours one way. I have to work Friday. I could take off. I did take off. So we left Thursday night. and drove all night. and we arrived Friday morning. And left Saturday afternoon. It was the most insane, unplanned, last minute thing ever.

Except for the time I got a tattoo. But that’s another story. For a different day.

I don’t remember much of the drive, but I don’t think you could have put 3 more different personalities together. Steve liked to listen to K-pop. Or was it J-pop? Korean pop music. Japanese pop music. I don’t know, it’s all the same. And it’s horrible and weird. Christian likes Electronic Dance Music. I like indie/folk type music. Not to mention our personalities. So for the most part, the car rides are one big blur to me. That was probably not the ‘fantastic’ part of the story.

But I got to spend my 25th birthday with so many people that I loved. I had been living in Delaware for 9 months and I was terribly home sick. I still hadn’t made a ton of friends, and I was actually really sure that my birthday was going to a lonely day. And it wasn’t. It was surrounded by people I love in my old apartment. We took a million pictures.

And you know what? On Sunday, at work, I was so dead. But it was so so worth it. Super spontaneous = super fantastic.

Would I do it again? If I really thought hard about it, no. Who wants to spend almost 40 hours of almost 72 in a car? No amount of shifting gets you the perfect position to sleep in a car. No amount of caffeine can make up for the sleep loss that comes with an epic road trip like that.

But do I love the memory? Yes. I can never be grateful enough for Steve and Christian for going out of their way to make my birthday memorable that year by doing that crazy, stupid, uncomfortable trip just so I could have a great birthday. I had friends who went out of their way to be in Birmingham to see me. People who were around that changed their day around to come see me and hug me and wish me happy birthday. It was a fantastic trip because of the people.

Big enough

7. Something that shook your belief system to the core (a big disappointment in your life)

Whether my parents had this intention or not, I grew up in a seemingly perfect family. Mom, dad, daughter son, and of course, a dog. The only thing we were missing was a white picket fence outside our house. We went to church every Sunday. My brother and I were good students- like I almost had a meltdown when I received my first B junior year of high school good. Yes, everything was grand.

As much as it pains me to talk about, growing up in my family was tough for me at times. You see, my brother is bipolar (an illness he wouldn’t be diagnosed with until he was 20 years old). This meant a lot of things for me and my family. It meant the tempers were as strong and unpredictable as a summer storm. It meant a lot of arguments and a lot of yelling behind closed doors and sometimes in open spaces. It meant family meetings in the living room that no one really wanted to be at. It meant tears and anger, but mostly for me- it meant resentment.

I could not, no matter how hard I tried, wrap my head around why this was happening to us. To the family that did everything right. That went to church multiple times a week, served in numerous areas, and did all the things a “good Christian family” was supposed to do. It must mean that God wasn’t really who he says he is, and he doesn’t care as much as he wants us to think. In fact, it’s possible there isn’t even a God at all.

I remember one day in particular, I was so tired and frustrated, I didn’t know what else to do besides cry. I wasn’t quite old enough to drive, which means I was barely old enough to deal with emotions to begin with, but I lost it. And as all good stories go, I didn’t lose it in my room or at my friend’s house. No, I lost it at church. The one place I felt like I was supposed to have it all together. I couldn’t help myself. All of the overwhelming thoughts and emotions I had kept in for so long finally came pouring out of me, and by some miracle, Kathy was there.

SIDE NOTE: I’m going to break for a quick second to tell you a little bit about Kathy. She is joyful and kind, spunky and brave. She was never afraid to ask me the tough questions and push me out of my comfort zone,  yet she was so gentle and encouraging. I left my time with her feeling like I could accomplish those big dreams that didn’t even have words yet. To this day, she is one of the people I hold dear to my heart for the role she has played in my life. 

So Kathy found me crying in the bathroom (can you say low point?) and decided we needed to get together. I had never gotten together with an adult before, but I thought it was a pretty big milestone for me. Since I wasn’t old enough for margaritas (Kathy’s words, not mine), we decided to go for a walk at the park.

I’ll be honest- I don’t remember all the details of our conversation. I remember feeling like it was a safe place to pour out all my doubts, fears, anger, questions, and Kathy seemed good with that. The one detail I do remember is once I was done, she asked me one question: “If someone could prove to you today that God wasn’t real and he doesn’t exist, what would you miss the most?” “Having someone to talk to.” “That’s a good place to start,” she said.

Now I know those words don’t seem that profound, but they blew my preteen mind at the time. I had a good place to start. She was the first person to ever give me permission to doubt all the things I had been taught up to that point, and doubt I did.

I began to ask questions of God every day. I told him how angry I was at him for sitting by and watching my family struggle. Angry at all the hurt in the world that he had the power to make disappear and didn’t. I admitted I wasn’t even sure he was real or if I was just talking to myself.

Looking back, I can see God’s hand in all of this- how he watched out for me and took care of me. The lessons I learned from it could be their own blog.

But the biggest thing for me was I finally learned to be honest with him. I learned that he can handle my questions, my anger, and all the other things I thought I couldn’t bring to him. He is big enough for all of it. 

 

 

Elizabeth Rose

6. Write about your best friend (not significant other) and what makes them special.

Moving around a lot is not the best lifestyle to learn how to develop deep and meaningful friendships. Sure, I had “best friends” growing up, but when you’re eight, all a best friend was was a girl who would come over for sleepovers. You don’t really have baggage when you’re eight and the darkest secret you have to share is you stole a stick of gum out of your mom’s purse.

I learned that friendships come and go and that’s just the way it is. They don’t last a long time and that was okay with me. I never knew any different, and I didn’t really desire to have anything else.

When my family moved to the northeast, I was expecting the same routine: move here, stay for a year or two, and then leave. My parents, however, had a much different idea. Apparently the northeast was where we were going to call home now. For good.

Since moving here, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever come across. People who have challenged me, trusted me, listened to me and help me become a better person. Liz is one of those people. In fact, she’s very near the top.

I’m going to do my best in the next several paragraphs to put words to one of the truest, kindest people I’ve ever been friends with. I have a feeling that no matter what I say, I won’t be able to quite do her justice, but I’m going to try.

Liz is honest. In every sense of the word. She isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and ask you questions that cut straight to your soul. She’s the one I go to when I want someone to tell me the things I don’t necessarily want to hear, but need to hear. Not only is this a rare trait in and of itself, but she does it with so much grace, she would make Princess Diana look bad. There’s a beauty to her words that is unparalleled and truth you know only comes from Jesus.

Liz is funny as crap. You can even ask her- she’s the funniest person she knows. She’s the type of funny that makes you cry and your belly ache from laughing so hard. Her wit is a hard one to match and keeps me on my toes, despite the fact the only language I know is sarcasm. There have been multiple occasions in which we’ve talked about putting together a Buzzfeed list of all our thoughts on a particular subject just because we know we can crack other people up as much as we crack ourselves up.

Finally, Liz is brave. She doesn’t let all the junk that comes up in life stop her from doing what she feels like she’s supposed to do. I have seen her wrestle with wanting a husband for herself and finding said husband, then deciding to get married just a few months later. I personally thought she was crazy, but Liz didn’t care. She knew that was what she was supposed to do, and she was brave enough to stick to it. I’ve seen her be brave when she’s had to let go of old friendships, make new ones, and struggle through learning to be vulnerable. She lives her life with a conviction you rarely get to see.

There aren’t many people I’ve met that are quite like Liz. She is one of the good ones.

Blind Believing

7. Something that shook your belief system to the core (a big disappointment in your life). 

I’m diving right in.

I won’t be writing about a disappointment, but I do remember a moment, just a tiny moment of my life that was actually enormous. It was a conversation, a comment, really, but I walked away shell-shocked. And the more I digested the conversation, the more I was changed by it. The things I chewed up and digested my whole life were suddenly under a bright light in a small room being investigated by the realization that I had blindly believed what I had been taught by others.

I was in my first year of Highlands College and I was in a car with a couple people. And for some reason they were talking about how they had baptized someone. And I said to my peer, “I thought only ministers/pastors could baptize someone.” And he asked, “Where is that in scripture?” And I realized I didn’t have an answer. I just replied that in the Methodist church, you had to be a minister to do that. If I replied at all. I don’t remember too much, but I remember how shocked I was. I remember realizing that I had accepted everything I believed to that point.

And it shook me. I was raised in the Methodist church. I went to the same church from the age of 4 to 18. And I retained a good bit of what I was taught. A lot of tradition and a lot of “do’s” and “do not’s” – and it was just the way I understood church and the Bible. And I never thought to look into it, or decide if I agree or disagree. The belief system I took as my own was officially challenged.

This conversation, this moment, it changed me. I started researching things about communion and baptisms, I expanded my Bible reading to commentaries and listened to more sermons. I stopped “taking people’s word for it” and discovered God’s word on my own. I prayed and asked God what he meant by this thing or that sentence. I discovered what the Bible said about things clearly, and what it left unclear and why it was unclear. I started to see that the reason the Methodist church did things the way it did is because people decided it needed to be done that way. I let it sink in that church denominations were created by man and that God’s word is infallible and people sometimes get it wrong. Or they get it weird. Or they just get it in a way that I don’t agree with.

This is the moment that I stopped identifying myself by what KIND of church I went to, and just decided to tell people that I love Jesus and who cares what kind of church I do or don’t attend? Those traditions or lack thereof don’t define me.

And there are still many things that I don’t know or don’t understand about the Bible, but I no longer blind-believe.

Big dreams

5. Discuss some of the things on  your bucket list

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a bucket list. Activities I want to do, places I want to see, people I want to meet. I must have started this list in elementary school, and it feels like every time I cross something off, I think of something new to add. While some may think having a never-ending list drives my Type A personality crazy, it actually keeps me grounded.

Keeping this list is a constant reminder that there’s always more to life than what I’m currently going through. It reminds me there’s more places to see and keeps me dreaming. I think it’s so easy to let go of big dreams the older we get. Our logic kicks in more and more with each passing year and tells us it doesn’t make sense to want to see every country or one day meet the president (I plan on taking this off for the next 4-8 years depending on who wins this election.).

In the meantime, here are some of the bucket list items I look forward to the most!

  1. Visit every continent.

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I’ve had the travel bug since I was born. I grew up moving around every year or two, and while some may think that’s a crazy way to live, I loved it. It taught me how to make new friends easily, what it’s like to be the new kid, and how to entertain myself for hours on end.

While all of these are great lessons, I think the most important thing I learned is there’s always more out there to see. The thought of getting to see so many different people and cultures is exhilarating to me. The more places I go, the more I want to. So far, I’ve been to both America’s, Europe, and Africa. I’m basically halfway there, which isn’t too bad for being 24.

2. Visit every state.

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Yes, I’m super excited to visit every country, but the more states I visit, the more I realize how much there is to see right here!

Just last month I went to San Diego for the first time and absolutely fell in love with it. Though I’ll be honest- being on a flight for 6 hours and ending up in the same country did feel a little anticlimactic. Visiting the sea lions totally made up for it though.

IMG_0121I also would love to be able to look at map of the United States and be able to say, “Yep, I’ve been to all those places.”

3. Run a half-marathon.

Okay, so I know this one is completely unrelated to the first two, but I still want to talk about it. I used to love running. I’m talking “would run 8 miles just for the heck of it” type of love. Yet the older I got, the less I loved it. It started to feel like a chore, and anytime I started training for a race, something got in the way. I injured my foot, I ended up going on vacation, etc.

For me, being able to say I ran 13.1 miles is another way for me to say I pushed past all the stuff I don’t like to do something that’s good for me. I don’t want to be the type of person who quits something just because it’s hard, so this one is definitely more of a symbolic bucket list item than actually wanting to run long distance. I’m also hoping that in the process, maybe I’ll start to love it again.