My Word for 2013

In December, I took part in a free 30 Day Goal Setting Challenge offered by an up-and-coming life coach.  A friend recommended it, and upon looking at this life coach’s methods and organization tools, I thought it might be fun.  If you know me at all, you know that I love love LOVE new ways to be organized about ANYTHING.  Out and proud Type A personality right here, baby!

So, I gave it a shot.  I wrote about the woman I hoped to be by the time I rang in 2014.  From that vision, I crafted beautiful lists of the ways I hoped to improve in all areas of my life: physically, fiscally, professionally, educationally, spiritually, personally, relationally, aesthetically, emotionally, mentally, and blog-writing-ally.  (Not a word, I know, but I wanted to keep the flow going.)  I developed individual goals within each area and wrote out a plan to achieve each of those goals.  Finally, I broke those plans down into day-by-day to-do lists.  (Did I mention that I’m a little bit Type A?)

We are now almost two months into the new year…and I have all but literally thrown that list out the window.  While I was incredibly motivated during the goal writing process, I found myself incredibly unmotivated when the time came to actually work on said goals.  I mean, when you have eleven areas of your life you are trying to improve, it can be a little overwhelming.  Then, when you add the magnitude of this lifestyle overhaul to the fact that I’m something of an all-or-nothing girl, your only real options are to walk away or fail.  And let’s be honest here, I don’t do failure very well, so my (perceived) only option was to walk away

And that is exactly what I did.

While wallowing in accepting my self-defeat means of failure prevention, I began to see a trend in a few of the blogs I follow.  Women were writing about their “One Word” for 2013.  Not lists of resolutions.  Just one word.  This idea of choosing one word on which to focus for a year…it resonated with me.

No lengthy lists.  No detailed organizational tools.  No spreadsheets.  No dry erase boards.  No rewards programs.

Just

one

word.

Wow.

This got me thinking about the kind of word I might want to focus on this year.  I had spent hours and hours pondering and journaling about the kind of woman I want to be by the time this year came to an end.  What one word could possibly sum up all that this woman was?  What one word would encapsulate the multitude of goals I had created for myself?

It took some time to sift through many words that didn’t feel quite right, but after much prayer and consideration, a word came to me.  And with that word I felt a deep peace in my soul.

Redeemed

All the other words I thought of had been heavily based in action.  Try.  Go.  Do.  Act.  But this word…it doesn’t ask me to go or do anything. Instead, it asks me to remain and be.  Remain in the truth of God’s redemption.  Be redeemed.

I realized that all the goals and resolutions I had created for myself were my way of using perfectionism and control in an attempt to make up for my past.  “If I can just get these parts of my future right, it will atone for the parts of my past that I didn’t get right.”  But that is so far from the truth!  My present actions will not undo my past sins.  I do not need perfection.  I need redemption.

This redemption refutes each lie as satan whispers it in my ear.  “You are trash.”  “You messed up.”  “You aren’t forgivable.”  “No one will ever love you again.”  “Your dreams are ruined.”  “All you had hoped for is gone because of what you have done.”  On one level, I know that these are lies, but I also know it will take time and work before I am fully convinced.

Even after two months of mediating on this word, I still struggle to fully grasp what it means for my life.  It isn’t tangible.  It isn’t something that can be turned into a list of steps to cross off, accomplishments to achieve so I can say that I did it.  I can’t create a 12 step program that will lead me to success.  I can’t approach this process the way I usually approach life.  I can only enter each moment of every day recognizing that I am redeemed.

This is my call to always, always, always remember that He has redeemed me and He continues to redeem me again and again every single day.

He redeems me from my sin and my brokenness.

He redeems me from the future I had planned, for the future HE has planned.

He redeems my past, my present, my future.

Through Him, my sins and my life have been redeemed.

This year, I will live in recognition and acceptance of God’s redemption, because

I

am

REDEEMED.

Yours,
breylee♥

Inviting God Into My Closet

When I was a little girl, I loved to build forts.  Toss me a couple of pillows and a handful of blankets and I would recreate the Taj Mahal in my bedroom.  Send me outside to play for any amount of time and you would find me up a tree with my little brother trying to turn the twigs we had gathered into the most epic tree fort your eyes had ever seen. Once, I even tried to talk my dad into letting me have free access to the lumber and building supplies we had in our garage, as I was fully convinced that I could build my own playhouse in the backyard if he would just give me a hammer and a few days off from school.  (Yeah, that one didn’t happen.)

As fun as fort building was, I didn’t always do it for recreational purposes.  Sometimes, building a fort was my way of building walls of protection around myself.  I was an insecure child.  My home life wasn’t perfect.  (It was far from terrible, I promise, but things weren’t always great.)  Sometimes I felt completely overwhelmed by what was going on around me and inside of me; and when the environment I was in did not feel safe, I had to find a way to create an environment that did.

When those moments came, when I found myself feeling sad, angry, or frightened, I would clear out the floor of my closet, set up a little nest of blankets and pillows, bring in a lamp and a book, and read until I fell asleep.

My closet fort was my safe place.  In it, I could hide from the world.  With those doors closed, nothing could hurt me, scare me, or make me feel bad.  The outside world could not touch me.  I was safe.

A few weeks ago, I shared this old coping mechanism with my therapist, Bethany, after she shared an image she had of me, as a little girl, crawling into my closet for a safe place to cry.  We were both a bit blown away by the accuracy of this image.

Later, in a different session, I was sharing with her how unsupportive M had been when it came to my struggle with depression, and how difficult it was for me to so often hear, “It’s all in your head.  I don’t understand why you can’t just get over it.”  (I know M tried.  It just wasn’t something he was fully capable of understanding, so I can’t blame him for his insensitivity.)  

I told Bethany that, in the aftermath of our breakup, I realized how greatly his words and attitude had hurt me, and I knew that the right man would be able to understand what I had been through and show me compassion as I occasionally continue to struggle.  She responded to my revelation with, “You need someone who will crawl into your closet with you.”

Wow.  Yes.  Exactly that.

I need someone who will crawl into my fear, my anger, and my sadness without reproach and without looking back.  I need someone who is willing to hold me while I shake, rage, and cry.  Someone to sit quietly by and simply be with me.  He doesn’t need to solve my problems, he just needs to be there to support me through them.

Honestly, I am still that little girl, curled up and crying on her closet floor.  A cancelled wedding and a broken heart will do that to you.  While I may not have literally crawled into my closet the day I received that phone call, I certainly began to build a figurative closet of protection around my heart.  It had been broken and needed to be guarded, so I did that by closing my heart off to the outside world.

As I was driving to work Wednesday morning, struggling with some thoughts and recollections I thought I had dealt with months ago, something struck me.

I need God in my closet.

While I may not be ready to let anyone else in, I need Him there.  I need God to join me in my fear, in my anger, and in my sadness.  Only He is trustworthy enough to see it all.  Only He is gracious enough to sit with me in silence with no judgment.  Only He is able to be exactly everything I need when the world around me forces me to withdraw into my safe place.

Only He can be trusted to never, ever, ever break my heart.

I need God in my safe place so I can once more trust in Him to be my safe place.

Maybe then I can begin again to open my heart to the rest of the world.

Guardedly yours,
breylee♥

On Niche Blogging and Finding My Voice

I read a lot of mommy blogs.  Seriously.  A. LOT.  But, it makes perfect sense.  A great deal of my friends are mommies who blog.  I love them, I adore their kids, I read their blogs.  I want to be a mommy someday, specifically an adoptive mommy, so it goes without saying that I would read a handful of adoptive mommy blogs as well.  Some may call it obsessive, I call it being prepared ridiculously well in advance.

I read a variety of other types of blogs.  A friend of mine writes a fashion blog.  I read it.  I love the idea of doing tons of DIY projects and crafts, so I read some of those blogs.  I follow a few cooking blogs, because, well, there is a kitchen in my house I someday hope to use for more than pouring a bowl of cereal or making a PB&J.  Many of my friends are involved in some form of ministry, as missionaries, ministers, or seminary students, and I love reading their words of conviction, struggle, and encouragement.

I also read some others blogs that serve absolutely no purpose other than entertainment and wishful thinking. (*cough*webcomicsandweddingblogs*cough*)

But, as I read these blogs, I start to wonder.  Where is the voice that sounds like mine?  Where is my blogging niche?

I’m not a mommy blogger.

Or a fashion blogger.

Or a crafty blogger.

Or a cooking blogger.

Or a Jesus blogger.

Or a wedding blogger.

Or an artistically comical blogger.

I’m not really anything all that similar to any type of blog I follow.  I don’t quite fit in any of those niches.

I’m just a girl with an oft-neglected blog and some lofty aspiration to someday be one (or all) of the above types of blogger, rubbing elbows with the women whose blogs I read at the next big blogging conference.  (BlogHer, I’m looking at you.)

I’m just a girl, single and in her mid/late-twenties (in West Michigan, WHAT?!?!), not sure what she wants to be if when she grows up, straddling the space between entering the adult world and actually feeling like an adult.

I’m just a girl trying to find sure footing in her faith while searching for a sense of purpose, direction, and meaning in life.

Certainly there are other girls like me out there on the blogosphere, whose lives have gone in a very different direction than they had ever imagined.  I wish I could read their stories of feeling unfulfilled, listen to them as they share their longings and desires, and experience with them their struggles and triumphs as they navigate this thing called life.  But until I find those other blogs and can read other women’s stories, I will share my own.

I may not have a niche, but I do have a voice.

So, here it is.  Here I am.  Sorting out my day-to-day musings on this little blog I call home.

Vocally yours,
breylee♥

There’s a certain chill in the air that can no longer be ignored

Fall is such a magical time.  The air is crisper, the leaves are turning from vibrant greens to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, red, gold, and purple, kiddos are back in school, and you don’t have to shave your legs anymore because it’s too darn cold to wear anything that shows them off!  (Am I right, ladies?  No…well, okay.)

Sure, everything around you looks like it’s dying and if you don’t have the sniffles from getting the actual flu you’ve probably got them from getting the flu shot.  (Seriously, everyone I know who got the flu shot this year came down with some nasty flu-like symptoms right after.  Isn’t that what the flu shot is trying to prevent?)

But with the colder weather and the super-bugs comes a myriad of grand adventures you can only have during this season.

}Traverse a corn maze.
}Eat fresh, home-made donuts and drink warm apple cider.
}Curl up next to a fire with a good book.
}Make pumpkin pie…from scratch…using a real pumpkin.  (Not going to lie, this one scares me a bit.)
}Star gaze.  (This isn’t completely season specific, but some of the constellations can only be seen certain times during the year.)
}Go to an orchard and pick apples.

This is my list.  What are some things you love to do when the wind turns colder and the leaves begin to change?  Post some ideas here and I might just add them to my seasonal buck list.

Autumnally yours,
breylee♥

So…I guess I’m back.

Did ya miss me?

I don’t really have much of an excuse for such a long, unannounced hiatus, but I’m pretty sure the 3 of you who actually read this blog won’t really mind.

Anyway, rather than regale you with the fabulous details of my life since my last post (I’ll probably get around to that later, but I make no promises) I want to forge ahead with something that is both a bit new and a bit old.

When I began this blog, I was in something of a state of limbo with my life.  The path I thought I was supposed to be headed down (becoming a teacher) suddenly turned out to be anything but what I was supposed to be doing, but I had no idea what new path I should begin exploring.  I had spent years mapping out the terrain of what it would take to reach my goal of becoming a science teacher, only to discover that I was not the biggest fan of the scenery.  I was lost.  A huge part of who I had been, something I had shaped my identity around for years, was now no longer a part of my life.  Well, at least it wasn’t a part of my life in the way I had imagined it would be.  It was like starting back at square one right when you were about to reach King Kandy’s Candy Castle.  Not fun.

My plan for this blog was so I could have a place to sift through my life and try to discover the new path I was to travel, a place where I could attempt to figure out exactly what the ‘rocks in my jar‘ actually were.  I wanted a place where I could process through life as I rediscovered my values, discovered new passions, and explored the many opportunities around me.

So, basically all I’m saying is that…I guess I’m back.  Hope you enjoy.  ♥

Yours (take 2),
breylee♥