Name Change

From my post yesterday, you know how much I love this time of year. I love the idea of “fresh starts” and “new beginnings.” So imagine my excitement last Sunday when I heard our pastor suggest we be proactive and intentional about who we are this year.  Ya’ll KNOW my love for intentional living, so this was right up my alley.

First though, he challenged us to think about what people may have called us last year. What word or name would people use to describe us. I instantly allow myself to go to the dark and ugly corners. The insecurities pop through, my negative self-talk takes over. But then I am reminded that these are my own thoughts. Our pastor encouraged us to reach out to a couple trusted friends/family, and invite their words to help define our name in 2018. SO, I reached out to two of my closest friends, and told them I be brutally honest and share with me the words they’d use to describe me. I was not overly surprised by their responses, and I plan to utilize their words to describe me as I move into 2019 and my “name change” for the upcoming months.

I normally do a “word of the year”, and while that’s still important to me, the other part of that is what the word means as it defines me as a person.

2018: As you saw in my end of year wrap up, I had an awesome 2018. I adored 2018. In fact, I LOVED 2018. I did a lot of growing, self-reflecting, and a ton of loving. In fact, my friend Rachael said that I became more self-aware than ever before. While that super super super excites me, there is one pesky thing of 2018 that I let eat away at me. I lacked self-confidence and motivation.

Going into 2019, my goal is to gain that confidence back. I vow to have confidence like Mary. (see picture). My goal is to have an incredible relationship with GOD, and build my confidence in HIM, and though Him. My aim is to stop putting my confidence in the hands of things and people and situations, but rather trusting God’s plan for me and for my family.

Our sermon notes from last Sunday list five questions. The first two I’ve basically covered, but the final three are more personal and will require more thought. What scripture will help me get to this goal, and what actions/lifestyle changes will I need to make to get me there. And lastly, who will I share this information with- who will be my accountability partner.

The final answer came easily. Ryan has become my best friend, the one person I will tell EV-ER-Y-THING to. He pushes me, encourages me, and motivates me. He is my person- my accountability partner, and my everything.

I am so incredibly excited for 2019. I look forward to gaining confidence like Mary’s and trusting in God’s plans for us in the coming months!

 

 

 

That’s a Wrap

This is always my favorite time of the year! It’s a chance to be cliché and use words like “reflect” and “looking back” and then pair them with equally cliché words like “future” and “resolutions”. I truly love it, and this year I love it even more because ya’ll, 2018 has been incredible, and something tells me 2019 is going to be even better! Here was my year:
January: I celebrated my 36th birthday with the most incredible family a girl could ask for! My brothers came into town, along with my mom, and we had a great dinner followed by an impromptu surprise party, hosted by my Littles! It was the perfect start to a new year!
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February: We spent a lot of time with our cousins, complete with a fun day at Sky Zone! I was reminded just how incredibly precious family time is. I treated myself to a lot of out-of-season tulips and other flowers…because…February!
March: We did an early Easter (again, with cousins) since the kiddos would spend Easter Sunday with their dad. It was my first Easter without the kids home, and though it was a giant bummer, I survived and they had a good time in MN!
The cousin and I spent the final day of March seeing a show downtown Chicago, celebrating Megan’s birthday! We had a great dinner, and an amazing time with my brothers!
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April: I went on a first date that would forever change my life! I wrote about it here. Ryan and I hung out one Saturday afternoon, and have been inseparable since. There was never a question of “is this something?” because we knew instantly, day one, that this was different. And it certainly has been!
May: I went on a quick cousin vacay to Florida with Megan, where I found my first whole sand dollar! We relaxed pool side, beach side, and inside. Without. Kids. It was incredible!!! We drank wine, we played cards, and channeled our best Bette Midler/Barbara Hershey possible. I say we nailed it!
Later in the month we celebrated Lilly’s 12th birthday! The girl continues to amaze me! Twelve has been so good to us all!
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June: The kids had their last day of 4th and 6th grade, and instantly were off to Minnesota for a week with Dad. Ryan and I traveled the opposite direction, and off to our first vacation away together! We rented a cute cabin, on a private lake with perfect views!!! It was absolutely wonderful! We hiked, made great food (okay, HE made great food, I just ate it!), and drank copious amounts of wine and negroni. We played board games, read together, and listened to the same playlist of music on repeat (no wifi!). He fished while I talked (haha!), we explored the private little lake together, and avoided as many bugs as we possibly could in the woods in June!
The kids and I also went to Florida for a week with our cousins! It’s always so great to get time away with them!
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July: We celebrated the 4th in Monticello with the Middleton fam! The kids loved the fireworks show, and the sleepy ride back to the house after the show! Sleeping on a boat was a first for them! SO fun!
Shortly after, Anderson headed off to Camp Lakewood for a week of learning and growing closer to God. He made awesome memories with his friends, and I am so super thankful he is able to go every year. Lilly snuck away for a couple overnights with her cousin Grace, in Michigan (notice a cousin theme?!)!
The following week, Lilly spend her week at church camp…Camp Adventure! Anderson and I had some awesome alone time, and he even got a night away with his Wabash cousins!
As the last of July approached, the kiddos left once again for a summer visit to MN, while Ryan and I spent a night in Chicago! We lunched with my brothers, then we went downtown to do an architectural boat tour, followed by an awesome dinner at a super cool gastropub.
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August: One of my favorite summer memories was a morning in Monticello. Ryan and I woke up fairly early to take his boat out on the calm, gorgeous lake. After traveling some distance, we decided to just turn the boat off and enjoy each other’s company. Literally the most romantic morning E-VER…until we were ready to head back. Ryan joked what a bummer it’d be if the boat didn’t start….and it didn’t! After HOURS later, we were “rescued” by his amazing Uncle Mike, and did the tow of shame back to the house! Seriously, the best part was how calm he was throughout the entire thing- he felt awful but it seriously become one of my favorite summer memories!!
Later that month, Ryan and I took Lilly and her best friend to The Clyde to see Jonny Lang. The girls were awesome, and it was so fun to share this concert with them both!
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September: Ryan and I snuck away for a quick weekend in Florida to spend time with his brother and sis-in-law. It was awesome to be able to spend the time with them. Really really awesome!
We also checked off a bucket list item later in the month…An Anderson East concert!!!!! This time we took Ryan’s sis and her best friend! It was so much fun, and I was a LEGIT fan girl that night!! So awesome!
Crazy enough, just a week later we went to ANOTHER concert, this time in Indy. MAROON 5!! Concert-goers we are not, BUT this year we did it up!!!
At the end of September, Ryan and I took a trip to Santa Fe. You can read about that here.  We made incredible memories together! SO thankful!
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October: MY BROTHER GOT MARRIED!! It was the most BEAUTIFUL weekend EVER!! There are no words to express how incredibly happy I am for my brother!!!!!
I also met the final Middleton sibling while we were in Chicago, and his precious son Adam!! SO awesome!!!
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November: We got a turtle! Oy. After two years of begging, I finally budged and got Anderson a pet turtle. Welcome to the fam, Kirby!
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December: ANOTHER wedding….Ryan’s youngest brother, Jace married the most adorable girl, Lily! The wedding was BEYOND gorgeous, and we are SO excited for their future together!!
We did Christmas together, and with each other’s family. We got a TON of family time in this month, and I am SUPER SUPER thankful!!! It’s been an incredible month!
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As I sit here on the last evening of the year, I am SO very happy. My heart is full, my family is beyond blessed, and I am SO incredibly excited for what’s to come next year!!!

Happy Birthday, brother

A letter to my brother on his 39th birthday:
Dear Brother, 
 
Today on your birthday I want let you know just how incredibly valuable you are to this world. I have watched you my whole life, from your mannerisms, your friendships,and now your marriage. You continue to be someone who I look up to and learn from, and aspire to be more like. You are someone who has shown patience and grace with me, over and over again- even when I don’t deserve it. You have forgiven me in the worst of times, and have been there for me more than I deserve. 
From our earliest childhood memories- mostly tainted with ice-spitting, scarred arms from my pinches, and far too many stories of my “biological Mom”, to our past decade of adult memories, you have consistently been the epitome of loyalty, honesty, and self-awareness. I think back to our childhood years, and to say that you were brave would be an understatement. I always felt safe and protected alongside you, no matter what chaos was occuring in our childhood home. You navigated through your high school years amidst simple-minded, small-town beliefs. You grew into your true self in your college years, and I sat back in awe of just how incredible it was to see someone be so completely himself. I am still in awe of this. 
You have been a constant in my children’s life. You have supported my parenting, and have participated in the kids’ life as much as you can. You have shown up for them, for their games, their school programs, and their many milestones. You have proven to be a person they can call anytime, for French homework help, for fundraiser purchases (!), for piano lessons via Facetime, and for ideas for science fair projects. You. Are. Always. There. For. Them. and they KNOW that. I am beyond thankful for that. 
The past couple years I have learned from you and Rodney what it means to love without condition. I have learned to love limitlessly and fully. I have learned to be confident in myself and my relationship, without seeking validation from anyone else. I look at the way the two of you treat each other- which such respect. I admire you both and the love that you share. Being able to witness your marriage this fall was one of the best times of my life. Being surrounded by an incredible group of friends and family, it was obvious just how many people love you both. 
Thank you for always being my big brother…the good, the bad, the hard, the easy, the tough times and the best of times. Thank you for loving me and my kids, always. Thank you for supporting me, for teaching me, and for helping me. I hope today is the best day ever! You deserve it all! 

Hallmark Boyfriend

Tis the season for all things mush, thanks to Hallmark channel’s annual Christmas movie extravaganza! Before the days of Hallmark-esque movies on Netflix, I too found myself shamelessly tuning in for some of the cheesiest movies Hallmark had to offer each holiday season. Zero. Shame.
This year has proven to be no different, except this year my mini-me, twelve year old has participated in the viewing! Two Hallmark movies into the Christmas season, I had a revelation. You know how each movie has a similar (errr same) story line? Big city guy comes to town to turn the local lodge into a parking lot, only to fall in love with the super sweet country girl who later saves the lodge. Obvi. But don’t even lie that you’ve not at least secretly wished you’d find your own Hallmark movie boyfriend, because ya’ll, ya have!
This is where mush-fest 2018 happened. I found my fingers effortlessly texting my best friend, first warning her that what I was about to admit was not only disgustingly mushy, but also that if she ever told a soul I would deny profusely until my dying day. I told her that while watching the latest Hallmark love-sesh, it hit me– I have my own Hallmark movie boyfriend! (I told you, puke!)
But seriously, every Hallmark movie guy is always super sweet, soft-spoken, ridiculously handsome, and usually has perfect hair. And as my bestie pointed out- he’s always in a sweater! Hello, Ryan! Hahaha!
So while ya’ll sit and watch the latest Hallmark movie, I’ll be over here hugging on my super handsome real-life Hallmark movie boyfriend! Because, dreams really do come true at Christmas time!!

Santa Fe, and that loving feeling.

How do you write about the moment you fell even more in love with your boyfriend? I’ve sat here for the past two days trying to put into words the experience that Ryan and I just had on vacation, but it seems that everything I write does the trip no justice!

One of my earliest (non-work) conversations with Ryan was about a trip he had taken to Santa Fe. He talked about all the things he did there, the hike he had taken, and the food he enjoyed. It sounded awesome, for sure, but random- who vacations in Santa Fe, NM?! It clearly is a conversation that has stuck with me for many years!

So when he asked me to go on a vacation to Santa Fe with him, I was of course down, but nervous! We had a super early flight to catch, so we headed to the airport around 2am. Let me tell you what I blast I am at 2am, in a dark car with the heat blazing and comfy airport clothes on (see also: my normal after-work attire daily). I was zonked out for the entire drive to the airport!After slight maintenance issues in Phoenix, we were on our way to Santa Fe, by way of Albuquerque! Flying into NM was absolutely gorgeous! We found our rental car and were on our way over to Santa Fe.

In an instant I could see why Ryan vacationed in New Mexico! It was gorgeous! We stopped for a quick authentic Mexican lunch (complete with a couple amazing margs) before heading to our super cute Casita, just a quick walk from all the places we wanted to visit! I was instantly in love with Santa Fe, and falling even more in love with my cute travel partner by the minute!

One of the highlights from the trip was the hike that Ryan set up for us to do. Ya’ll. A hiker I am not, but…for some reason, I felt oddly comfortable with the thought of finding my way to the top of the Atalaya Mountain Trail. It wasn’t until after a near-death experience (not at all dramatic) and four miles later that I realized…the reason I felt so comfortable with this hike was because of Ryan! He pushes me without openly pushing me. He never tells me that I have to keep going, but he encourages me and believes in me in a way that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt in my whole life. And ya’ll, it’s enough to push me to do things I never thought I could do! And it is beyond rewarding. Standing at the top of that mountain, looking across the vastness that is Santa Fe, holding hands with the love of my life, watching birds litterally soar past us, and looking a sweaty mess but feeling like a million bucks…I knew nothing could ever top the feeling of accomplishment that I had in that exact moment. The view literally took my breath away, and made me so aware of just how blessed I was to be experiencing this moment alongside Ryan.

We spent the afternoons walking the square, stopping at cute shops, popping in for a mid-day cocktail, and simply enjoying each other’s company. We could walk blocks, hand-in-hand, not talking but just taking in all that was around us. Or we could stop in the middle of the square and share coffee on a cute park bench and talk about the day’s plans. It was an incredible experience, and one that I’ll never forget. I am beyond thankful for the experience, and even more thankful for the time away with Ryan!

Relax, Mom

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows I don’t do well with disorder and chaos. I appreciate fresh vacuum lines, bleached bed sheets, empty laundry baskets, and kids who are always showered and clean.  But obviously I’m a mom, and I’m painfully aware that this cannot always be the case, hard as I may try.

As a self-proclaimed control freak, it is very hard for me to go outside of my normal routine. I thrive on structure, schedules, and familiarity. Sure, the occasional family vacay is necessary, but give me a few days and I’ll be craving my usual Bristoe digs, and familiar spaces of my own house.

This summer we tried to spend time at RM’s favorite spot, his family’s lake house. And trust me when I say I am OVER.THE.MOON excited to be able to share weekends with him at the lake, but as someone who never really got into the “lake life” it was definitely a struggle for me to go outside my comfort zone, especially when the kids were in tow as well.

In addition to living out of an overnight bag on the weekends, I also wanted my kids to act like the perfectly-behaved-lake-children I had concocted in my head.  Ya know, the kids who don’t fight with each other in the pool, the kids who don’t complain about what they’ll eat for dinner, the ones who don’t ask to go tubing four hundred hours at a time. The kids who simply have manners of royalty and go along with anything asked of them. See also: not my kids.

Listen, my kids are ABSOLUTELY fine. They’re good kids. They DO have manners, though they certainly forget them at times. Any struggle with changing our routine is definitely a “me thing” and something I am constantly learning to work through.

Is it anxiety? I have no idea. But I became even more aware of it this summer. How was I at a gorgeous place with the ONLY humans on earth that truly matter, and STILL struggling with feeling confident and comfortable enough to enjoy the time there? I am thankful for RM stretching me beyond my comfort zones, because I ALWAYS end up having an awesome time!

Here’s to the moms who struggle with similar feelings…may we embrace the chaos, enjoy the change in scenery,  and allow ourselves to live in the moment. May we realize that our kiddos are only young once, and that the weekends away with them are just as important as the weekends at home. Laundry and carpet lines can wait. May we remember that a spotless house is not as important to our Littles as the memories we make with them. Relax, Mom.

Winding Roads

The idea of winding roads is nothing new- it’s the idea that every road we’ve taken has led us exactly where we were supposed to go- it helps us realize that we haven’t gotten to this point by accident, but that we are exactly where we are meant to be.

So who is “we” and what roads am I talking about?

Flash back to five months ago. I went to brunch with the most unlikely person. It was a person I had admired from afar, a person who had unknowingly mentored me for the past six years, a person who seemingly had it all together (whatever that means), and someone I never in four trillion years imagined I’d be sitting across from on a Saturday early afternoon having brunch with! But, here we were.

And so we spent hours together, sharing things that never would have been shared in our “normal” environment, but things that, for some reason, just felt completely normal for us to be talking about in this setting. And it was good.

For the past five months we have been more than aware of the roads that have led us to each other, and to this point. The things that happened in our lives were not by accident, but for a purpose, and I truly, fully believe that. I think back to the things in the past four years that seemed so awful–those things mattered.  I look at where I am now- and I am so thankful for every single curve, hill, and bump in the roads I have traveled, because it led me to a Godly man who is fiercely loyal, incredibly patient, beyond funny, and has accepted me completely as I am.

 

Don’t Celebrate Me on Father’s Day

I became a single parent about ten years ago. Aaron chose to move to MN when our kids were 1 and 3. And it was awful. For many years I was bitter, and angry at him for leaving. There were things that came up that he should have been around for- first days of kindergarten, first basketball games, first last days of school. There are so many things he missed. Over time I learned that that was an “Aaron thing” ….that while he missed those things, didn’t.  I really had a lot of soul searching to do to learn that what really mattered was that someone was there for the kids. And though it was usually me- that was alright.

Aaron and I spent a number of years in turmoil. On again off again despising each other. We were awful to each other more times than not. I remember feeling a certain way on Father’s Day each year— feeling that I should claim the day as my own, because afterall, I was the one doing it all, right? And so I did….for many years. I owned it proudly- Mother’s Day and Father’s Day- MINE. Because I was the single parent, doing it all. Every. Single. Day.

Flash forward to the past few years. Aaron and I have had our moments, for sure. But when I went through my divorce a couple years ago- AARON was the one who showed up. He was the one who came to our house to handle things when I was a hot-mess-express. He was the one who told me it’d be okay. He was the one who took the kids outside to distract them from the mess that was their mom. Aaron showed up when I wasn’t able to carry on during the incredibly dark days of my divorce.

This if the first year that I’ve felt this aching guilt of the years that I claimed Father’s Day as my own. My kids have always had their daddy. And I’ve always had a partner to co-parent with. Oftentimes I let my pride direct my words and my choices when it came to Aaron. And for that I am regretful.

Today I truly celebrate the man who is alongside me raising these kids. Today I celebrate the man I call when my tween acts like I’m the worst human on the planet. Today I celebrate the man I text when I’m at my wit’s end with my whiny ten-year old son.  I celebrate the only man who fully knows the love, frustration, happiness, despair, and reward of parenting OUR Lilly and OUR Anderson. I celebrate the man who contributed to the cute hairline of my ten year old boy, and the squinty eyes of our twelve-year-old daughter. The man who knows when Mama needs a break from both of these gems, and can fly across the country to stay with them so I can take a vacation without them.  I celebrate the man who whole-heartedly tries his damnedest to keep the peace- even when I’m the most incredibly difficult person to co-parent with. He.Keeps.Trying.

So today, as a single parent, raising kids with a man who lives clear across the country, I am saying- HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the daddy’s who don’t see their babies every single day. My heart goes out to you- because it’s not easy, I am certain. And while single moms across the country should be celebrated for all they do, today is not the day. Today is the day to celebrate the man who is there when he can be- and who loves his kids beyond measure. The man who mama’s can text or call any time of the day to cry for sanity. The man who desperately wants to be there for his kids every single day, but knows the reality of what that life looks like- and knows better than to come running back. To the guy who is confident in his choices, and trusts that his parenting-partner is confident in their lifestyle choices as well.

Ya’ll, this isn’t easy. This situation doesn’t necessarily fit the mold. It doesn’t always make sense. And Aaron and I being friends definitely seems odd to most, but at the end of the day- we do it for our kids— so that they have a daddy to celebrate on Father’s Day, and a Mom to celebrate on Mother’s Day. We do it for our kids. And so today, do not celebrate ME or what  I do for our kids on the daily… rather, celebrate a man who I get to co-parent my amazing kids with.

 

Happy Father’s Day, Aaron. You are an incredible blessing in our lives, and I am forever thankful that God chose YOU to be the daddy to our beautiful children.

Overwhelmingly… happy

***warning…this post is week-without-kids induced emotional vomit***

Something that I’ve admitted to very few people is just how depressed I was a few months ago. I recall sitting on my cousin’s couch in Wabash, barely able to look her in the eye and admit just how low I was feeling. Through tears, I admitted something verbally that I have never said to a single soul, something I had never even said aloud to myself. But it was out there in the universe, and I acknowledged just how dark I was feeling. I was unhappy, overwhelmed with despair, and completely empty.  When I felt anything- which was not often- I only felt awful.

Fast forward to this morning. It is my last day alone before my kids come back from a week-long trip to visit their dad in MN. I found myself on the couch, with no music, no tv, no phone in my hand…and just sat there for thirty minutes thinking of just how incredibly happy I am. It was a foreign feeling, to be honest. It’s not a feeling I’ve felt in a very long time- and to be honest, THIS type of happy is something I’m not sure I’ve ever truly felt.

I made a list (because you know me- a list in my own handwriting, on perfectly-lined paper is my sweet spot!) of all the different aspects of my life that were contributing to this overwhelming feeling of complete happiness.

1. Kids. Ya’ll, there is something about seeing your kids with giant smiles, camping and fishing with their daddy that will just instantly melt your Mommy heart, amIright? Their dad has sent me pictures each day of their activities, and every single picture includes two of the biggest smiles you can ever hope for. Knowing that they’re having an awesome time just fulfills me beyond measure. Two years ago, sending the kids across the country twice a summer literally pained me. I loathed it! Now, I embrace it- because they need this time with their dad, and they need this time away from me (and I need it away from them…a bad mom this does not make me).

2.Aaron. To think that the father of my kids is contributing to my pure bliss is crazy. If you had told me ten years ago, that Aaron would become one of my best friends, I would have rolled my eyes so hard at you, and possibly pushed you down to the ground! The things he and I have been through do NOT normally lead to a friendship. But, for whatever reason, here we are…co-parenting two of the happiest, healthiest, and blessed kids in the world. We are communicating and working together for the good of our kids, and we.actually.like.each.other. This makes my heart so incredibly happy. (If you’re half of a “broken” family- make this a priority. The relationship ya’ll have with each other matters. Make this a relationship that is important. Support each other. Encourage each other. TALK. Be friendly. CARE about each other. It truly truly matters.)

3.Friends. I don’t even know where to begin. This week one of my friends was really struggling with her business. She felt lost- what direction to go with it, what her audience would be, how she could serve people. Another friend struggled with a relationship that had recently ended- but still had those straggler feelings of “what if” and “maybe so”. Another friend was dealing with a teenager. ‘Nuff said. And then there was me- struggling with my family, and my kids’ being gone, and etc etc etc…. But we were there for each other. We showed up. We worked through every single thing TOGETHER. And there were actual moments of “dang, these are my sisters that God gave me as blessings through these hard times.” 

4.Work. Things at work are just SO SO SO good. I absolutely love my team. Each week I grow prouder and prouder to work with them. I love what we do, and what I can contribute to their success. I find myself growing as a leader, and learning off people who unknowinlgy mentor me by their everyday actions. I am in a job I love, and working with people I truly respect and admire.

Of course there are other things, but I can say with all honesty that this happiness is something that I found within myself. It’s not caused by anyone else. Life has certainly come full circle, and I have found myself “on the other side” of things that I thought were just part of my identity. I had started to accept that things may never be wrapped in a perfectly tied bow. And while I am still aware of the reality of bad days and hard times, I can say that my approach is somehow changed- that bad moments don’t have to define me, or break me. That bad moments are just that- moments. And that better times exist. This overwhelming feeling of happiness is new to me, but I want to live here for awhile- and bask in its glory!

 

Shells and me.

Spending time at the ocean can truly transform your mind. In addition to the overwhelmingly peaceful feeling that comes with your toes in the sand, sun on your face, and the sound of crashing oceans ringing in your ears, there is sense of awe that comes when looking across the ocean, knowing that this gorgeous landscape was created by the same exact God who created you.

Crazy huh?

I have spent some time this past month or so, really reflecting on the different pieces of me that make me who I am. My personality. My emotions. My appearance. My role in the world. My job. My family. Every single side of me was completely thought out and planned FOR me…by the same God who created each different pattern on every single shell that washed up from the gigantic ocean that housed trillions of different colored fish and sea life. What. An. Amazing. Feeling.

I’m certain I am not alone in thinking how overwhelmingly important that realization is- that every piece of my body and my mind and my soul was so delicately planned out by God. I imagine Him journaling about me- what things to “throw in” to my personality, how my body will be shaped, where my spiritual journey will begin and how it will grow. I imagine the hurdles He planned as lessons for me to know Him more deeply. I imagine Him writing out the successes I will have, to continue to build my self-confidence, and my confidence in Him. I think about the fun he had when he planned when I would have these epiphanies that should seem so obvious to anyone with true faith and trust in Him, but for me, required more lessons and time having to intentionally see Him show up FOR ME.

And so, I sat on the beach this weekend, looking at the different patterns on the shells that had washed up in the sand, and thought about how much time He must have spent designing each one of these shells- the shells that people would walk over and crack. The shells that would be picked up by “shell hunters” on early morning beach walks. And I realized that if God cares that much about the design patterns on shells, he certainly cared deeply about the design of me- His daughter.  It made me appreciate myself a bit more- even the parts about myself I don’t love (yet). It gave me a different perspective of myself and of the roads I’ve taken. What if….I truly trusted and believed that every single road I’ve taken was perfectly laid out for me so that I would grow closer to the One who designed my plan? And what if, there is someone else who is thinking this exact same thing- that the hardships and the emotions, and the waiting…are all for something greater?! I mean, how exciting is THAT, ya’ll?

So here I sit on a plane back to my real life, away from the beach…going towards the people who matter the most to me…so incredibly fulfilled, and aware of the blessings God has given me. Trusting whole-heartedly in the journey, and knowing that my future is planned out by the God who cares so much about even the shells on a beach, that He created me just as I am supposed to be.