Here we are at the last day in this series. Quite frankly, this particular blog post is the main reason I decided to even write this 31-day blog series. I was getting ready to turn 30, and I thought for sure I would have traditionally published a book by now. Something real and honest and heart-felt and brave.
Then, I wondered, what's stopping me from compiling those stories myself? Why not use my blog and my ebook-making skills to be real and honest and heart-felt and brave with my own story?
That might seem like a no-brainer. And yet it was an idea that I had to find my way to, mostly after cutting through the fear. Instead of hiding behind excuses like the hurdles of traditional publishing, I'd have to address the real issue. The issue of, am I even ready to tell my story as it is now? Am I even brave enough? Does it really matter?
According to my manifesto from Day 5, I believe our stories really do matter. Living them is important, and so is telling them. In sharing our hard and vulnerable, God's good gets the glory. And that's what I want for my life.
So, I'm starting with 30 pieces of my story. The pieces that make up who I am and my testimony of the good things God is growing in my life. This is my little scared self taking one small step to be real and honest and heart-felt and brave. My memoir in a blog post.
1. I'm a Kansas girl, born and raised. I unapologetically call carbonated beverages pop, I do the 2-finger wave to cars passing by on back-Kansas roads, and I'm a small town girl from a place almost everybody actually does know your name or where you live or who you belong to. My small-town upbringing is one reason slow and simple rests in the core of my being.
2. I've learned to be okay with my struggle with depression. The struggle means I haven't given up and that I'm in tune to my current needs (because, for me, depression shows up when something's gone out of balance in my life). And it's my reminder that I always need Jesus.
3. I have the gift of faith which has turned into the gift of frustration. I went from "kissing Jesus goodnight" as a little girl, to wanting to kiss organized church good-bye as a grown woman. At first I felt guilty about this. But over time I've seen the gift in it. To keep seeking God and His Kingdom, and not let my safety or acceptance rest in the man-made.
4. I sometimes have issues calling myself a "grown woman." I am petite and flat-chested and sometimes childish and goofy and so many things that as a kid I didn't think I would be as a woman. Many times I'm still that same shy timid little girl I used to be. Add to that being confused for a 12-year-old many times, including yesterday, and it's hard to accept and be proud of the woman that I am.
5. I used to think I'd publish a book while still a child. What I missed is that I'd have to first be able to identify myself as a writer and then actually write. I spent years feeling like I had missed out. Now, at 30, I finally realize there is no missing out, no expiration dates on what I can or will do in my life. As long as I'm breathing, God still has plans for me.
6. I had a panic attack after I got my tattoo. After prayer and refocusing on truth, I realized the anxiety wasn't regret over the tattoo, but fear over what people would think. Conservative family and friends, or church settings that wouldn't "approve." Through this I saw how much I valued other's opinions of me over God's in so many other areas of my life, too. I'm tired of living in that fatal fear and mis-focus, and am working on constantly taking my questions of identity and approval before God, where it belongs.
7. I say I'm a sugar addict, and I don't use that term lightly. When I was little and I couldn't find anything sweet in the house, I'd sneak teaspoons of granulated sugar from the pantry. It didn't taste good, but it eased the void. Sugary treats have been a strong struggle ever since.
8. I have big hair and I used to care... a lot. My hair went from long and beautiful to frizzy and hard to manage and hard to grow back out after several bad haircuts. There were moments it made me feel gorgeous and more that it made me feel hideous. I felt helpless having my beauty all wrapped up in something out of my control. It's taken more than 20 years, but I've started learning to accept and even like my hair in all it's big and curly glory.
9. Acne and its scars have been a part of my life longer than it's not. Countless people have offered unsolicited input, one stranger even asking, "Do you know what's wrong with your face?" before giving her expert advice. Do you know who hasn't said anything about my face? My close friends and family. They let me bring it up. It's one of the many reasons I knew my husband was "the one" when he ran his hand over my face and told me I was beautiful. So many wounds that I didn't even know how to address started to heal in that moment.
10. I was my parents 4th and unplanned for child. I always knew I was wanted and part of a bigger plan. My mom wrote me a card that said something along those lines that I read as I took my first commercial flight on the way to Mongolia. I felt part of something bigger than me and bigger than my parents and I was so thankful for their role and belief in that.
11. I had 3 panic attacks in 3 months. That was last year, and have had moments of anxiety ever since. I'm still figuring out what to do with that and following the winding path of my health, emotional and physical, to find what has led here and how to find my way out.
12. I am a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian. And while I still believe this denomination's foundation is true in the Bible, I do not love how this gets played out as an organization or in our schools and churches. Especially in regards to who gets "kept out." Sometimes I'm afraid showing up is perpetuating the problem and killing my passion. Still, I'm choosing to stay and be the change.
13. I had 3 kids by the time I realized God would actually perform the miracle of me enjoying motherhood. But I don't want to forget the ways God showed up on the hard days and the warrior He's making me, so I raised my motherhood Ebenezer by tattooing three arrows on my back.
14. I always, always knew our first baby was a miracle not a mistake. I didn't have the courage to share our shame-free wedding story until last year.
15. I've been told many times over the years that people thought I was stuck-up before they got to know me. I always thought you had to be beautiful and confident to be stuck up and most days I didn't believe I was either. I didn't fault the shy, awkward girl hanging out by the wall with her no makeup and glasses and frizzy hair for not being Miss Social, and I thought I was that shy awkward girl. I wish we'd stop using phrases like that. Perpetuating labels that don't belong on people. Let's just see each other as people. Some outgoing, some good listeners, some that know how to do their makeup well, some that laugh loud--so many differences, all beautiful.
16. Lately, I'm confused about being proud to be an American. There are so many things I respect and am thankful for about this country; and, yet, I can't be fully proud to be an American without also having humility for what we as a people have done (and still are doing) to hurt or misuse or neglect others.
17. I knew my husband was "the one" from the first moment I saw him. And many moments after that. Each time, I knew. It was right, it was real, it was love. He was my home.
18. I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist. The rational part of me usually helps keep me sane. For now, ignorance is bliss on all the things that happen in our government.
19. I have a really weird phobia that I recently learned actually has a name. It's trivial but has always bothered me on a deep level. Seeing small, tight holes together makes me feel panicky and makes my brain itch. My husband is one of the first people I admitted this to, and he came up with imagery to help me stop thinking about it when it gets stuck in my head.
20. I'm learning it really is about the heart, not necessarily the action. Jesus said it, but I'm seeing all the ways it plays out. Adultery isn't just sleeping with someone who isn't our spouse and idolatry isn't just bowing down to an image. Both are about where we put our attention that numbs or hides or withholds our intimacy that keeps us from connecting with our spouses or Jesus or facing our problems. It can get to the point that we're turning to our vices--technology, sugar, carbs, porn, social media, alcohol, etc.--to hide from just normal, everyday stress. Instead of finding happiness, we feel numb, and sometimes that can feel good enough. Numbness is an easier go-to than feeling. I want to follow God with heart, soul, and mind, and love others, and that means doing the hard thing of addressing weaknesses and addictions rather than using them to hide.
21. I still do something reminiscent of yoga. A few years ago I wrote about quitting a yoga class I was taking. I still do Christian meditation and stretching and breathing and mindfulness. Unfortunately my post might have just added to the confusion for Christians figuring out whether yoga is a religion. In short, yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline. Part of it includes breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific body postures. However, I believe that breath control, meditation, and stretches that are also found in yoga can be done in a Christian setting / environment / mindset.
22. I used to care more about going green. It was actually one of my main focuses when I first started blogging 8 years ago. I was 8 when I would pull stuff out of our trash and try to find ways to repurpose it, and I've always wanted to recycle and learn about saving the earth. Since having 3 kids, convenience and saving my sanity moved into top priority. As my kids get older I find myself slowly returning again to my green roots.
23. Harmony is one of my top 5 strengths, but lately it's felt more like a struggle. According to Strengths-Finder it means that I look for consensus and areas of agreement, which sounds good. Anyone online lately knows that consensus and agreement are not exactly prevalent, so my "strength" just leaves me feeling like a failure as I'm frantic pursuing the superficial side of harmony--people-leasing.
24. I love a good dance party. No, not at clubs, but anywhere I'm with my family or good friends and there's dance-worthy music. I'm not good at dancing, but still can't help but turn up the music and move.
25. My story is totally Katarina's from Taming of the Shrew. I identified with it when I read it at 15. The breaking of my independence as I learn to be in a relationship both with Jesus and with my husband. A beautiful surrender, whether or not I initially thought I wanted or needed it.
26. I'm a shy, quiet girl that found my voice. I didn't speak much until I did so in full sentences, and mostly stayed quiet except around my family. I was super shy as a kid, which doesn't make too much sense why I agreed to give my first sermon when I was 13. I felt a calm at that podium as I relied on God's strength to speak through me. I've spoken to churches and groups many times since and even added public speaking as an emphasis to my degree. I still get nerves and wonder why I feel called to it; but that all clears when I'm up front speaking.
27. I'm a high school dropout with a college degree. After spending my junior year of high school in Mongolia, it didn't seem right to go back to school. So I worked fulltime and got my GED, before going away to college. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I followed a "normal" path; mostly I just love what God's done with my surrender of normal.
28. Death inspires me to truly live. I know, that can seem so confusing and even depressing. Life is wild and precious and unpredictable and we can only live it once. I want to live the moments I have fully present, fully loving, and fully in Jesus.
29. I am ever-changing. There are so many things I used to believe simply because I didn't know otherwise. As I meet new people and hear new perspectives, I'm learning how little I actually know. I keep solid in the foundation of God and His Word and as long as those truths remain, I'm learning to let go of the misinformation that no longer fits. Being confident when others don't agree with my changes is a whole different topic.
30. There are pieces of my story that I may never share publicly. At least for now, admitting them in prayer to Jesus, even telling the people closest to me or talking through these pieces with a counselor is enough.
What pieces make up you and your story?
And, that's a wrap! Thanks for going on this 31-day journey with me.
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