I love having guest bloggers! I especially love when someone comes to me and specifically asks to share their story or share a message tha thas moved their heart recently. Angelic has guest posted on the blog before and I am so excited that she contacted me and asked me to share another message with you!
My name is Angelic and this is my third guest blog here. Each time I hope that I reach and help at least one person. Today I want to remind you to Be Yourself. I'm a 30 year old single mom. I love punk and hard rock music. I have 18 tattoos. I'm often found in holey jeans and flip flops. I also absolutely adore all things rockabilly and pinup vintage style. If you knew me as a teenager though all of this would shock you and that is where this story begins.
I grew up in a smaller city just north of Indianapolis. I went to a relatively decent sized high school with most of the standard stereotypical groups. I spent the majority of that time trying my best to fit in with the popular crowd. I can tell you that I never succeeded. Sure, I had plenty of friends and I knew my fair share of people, but for the most part I just blended in or went fairly unnoticed. None of that stopped me though. I had my hair done to fit in. I wore Abercrombie and Hollister clothes because that is what everybody wore. I went out and did things that everybody else was doing and I did my share of being a party girl. But these things were not me. I did and wore things so I could be like everyone else and so people would like me. In secret, I was the Emo punk girl. I was a writer. I was also smarter than I let on. I was fighting an internal battle of being two different people. Let me tell you...it is exhausting and a huge mental and emotional strain. It made me very insecure. It hurt. Putting on a facade for people. It got to the point that I even had to plaster on a fake smile and hide my true feelings. These fed into some destructive behaviors to try to cope with the pain.
Fast forward a few years and you get me as I am now. It took me well into my twenties, becoming a mom, and going through a divorce to learn a hard lesson. Always be yourself. I now have my tattoos and I dress how I'm comfortable. I blare my punk and rock music and enjoy my concerts and music festivals. I am an open book about what I like and who I really am. I teach my son to be the same way because I don't want to see him struggle like I did for years.
The right people are going to love you no matter what. You don't have to fit in to be an amazing and strong person. Most of all nobody is perfect. Our flaws, our passions, our hearts, our souls, our talents are what makes each of us unique. To be truly happy and healthy you need to be yourself. I can't sit here and say that I always get it right or that I don't still struggle with wondering why somebody doesn't like me. However I no longer let it consume me. I'm better off being who I am and be with the people that accept and support that.
So even if it just takes baby steps...Be Yourself!
You are growing into your own person but you still very much want love and approval in all things from your big sister, your parents, your teachers.
You are the peacekeeper in our house. Sometimes I feel terribly guilty about it - that so much attention goes toward other people or situations and sit quietly and wait and then you try to help people feel better with a well timed "I love you!"
You are so incredibly smart. Sometimes it seems like your brain constantly thinks in math. Random conversations will suddenly have a math slant to them because of some random idea you picked up on and found the math in.
I love watching your desire to learn things. I don't understand the things you like - thankfully we've got Daddy around to explain and discuss Minecraft and technology and science and space and tools.
You are starting to develop your own relationships and friendships in the context of our family and community. You've always had close friends in your class at school. But now I can see you developing relationships with kids in the neighborhood - kids who are older and are typically your sister's friends. But they are starting to ask for you when they come to the door!
I love watching you play and watching your athleticism. Your shyness keeps you away from team sports but you've grown so much doing tae kwon do with the family. I love watching you play basketball in the driveway and watching you figure out ways to play with various tennis balls, basketballs, soccer balls, golf balls, and so on.
I love your affectionate side. You don't come for hugs and snuggles as often as you used to and sometimes you deny me when I want to hug you (I should know better than to interrupt Pokemon, though). But. every day you are loving and sweet and tender and every day I love to hug you and rub your fuzzy head and kiss your cheeks - even if I have to sneak it in while you're asleep.
You are starting to develop a moral code. Through your own decision making and also through the influence of your parents, you decided that clothing that showed bellies is inappropriate, that smoking should be illegal, and that equality is important. A fieldtrip to the statehouse taught you about our Governor and about the Superintendent of Education and you decided that the Governor and government are wrong for creating a law to kick out an elected official.
When you were 10...
Your heart is so amazingly compassionate. We took a donation of food to the humane society and you fell completely in love with a pit bull with 1 eye. Others walked past him, thinking he was ugly. But you saw his beauty and his tenderness. And it broke your heart that we couldn't bring him home. You seek out people and animals that need a helping hand, that need an advocate, that need a friend. I love that about you.
When you were 10...
You heart is also amazingly fragile. I watch you with your friends and your classmates. I can see how much you want to be liked and accepted but you also struggle when these people that you want to like you but they behave in ways you don't understand - like being more "grown up" than you or being mean to other kids.
When you were 10...
It is frustrating and infuriating at times but I have to admit there is a part of me that loves your attitude. When you talk back, I know you will be a girl and eventually a woman who stands up for herself. That's important! We don't let the behavior slide but deep on the inside, I do appreciate that spunk.
I think 10 is my favorite age so far. You still have big emotional reactions to things but there is more to it than just a feeling. You are smart and beautiful and funny and compassionate. It's an honor to watch you becoming you!
Most of you know that my faith is very important to me. And that I've long been an involved member of my church. I've recently shared a bit - that I've had some struggles in my church and why those problems haven't caused me to leave.
For the sake of authenticity and honesty - We have now left our church.
The specific details of *why* we were struggling are not what is important. Every individual and every family has different reasons for leaving a church. It's a personal thing.
Here's what does matter.
This was not a decision that we made quickly or took lightly. We've spent weeks and months in prayer. I have sought spiritual guidance. I spoke with my pastor, with a trusted mentor.
But here's the amazing thing... God was in control of all of it. Yes, there was hurt and discomfort and confusion and concerns. But things have happened that have shown me that all of it is in His hands.
One of the main things that happened was I joined an online Bible study through Proverbs31. The study is on the book "What Happens When Women Walk In Faith" by Lysa TerKeurst. I didn't sign up for the study because I thought it would have something to do with our church situation. I signed up for it because I enjoy Bible study, I was taking a break from my church and I wanted a study to keep myself plugged in. I'd never done an online study but I do like Lysa TerKeurst and the idea of a study focused on "Trusting God Takes You To Amazing Places" sounded good to me!
All I knew when I ordered the book and signed up for the study was that it would be geared toward finding your dreams in God's plan and that was about it.
Imagine my surprise when I get the book and start reading it and the very first section is titled...
Time to pay attention.
Now, in the weeks leading up to this study, I'd been getting things from God. I'd been asking questions and listening and while I wasn't clearly being told it was time to leave our church of 11 years... God was showing me that things were being put in place.
And then this study happened. And in the first week, it blew my mind and opened things up and showed me something that I knew was coming but was still like being hit smack in my heart and soul.
Some of the things in these early chapters that spoke to me first had to convince me that the thing I had to leave behind was my church. This is certainly not what the book says to do! What you need to leave is completely dependent on where you are right now and what is holding you back from living more fully in Christ.
On page 24, Lysa writes "Leaving is usually an act of obedience and not a desire of the heart."
Then Lysa wrote about people in the Bible who were called to leave in order to best serve God. Like Abraham and the Disciples. Leave your homeland. Leave your family. Leave what you know and love. Leave where you are comfortable.
Another thing Lysa wrote: "I don't need to know where I am going. I need to know who I am following."
For the past few years, my faith journey has been focused on doing what God calls me to do. Without hesitation or question. I won't say I'm always good at it. But I had become pretty comfortable at listening and obeying. Ask to pray for people? Done. Give that guy the $5 in my purse? Done. Give a large amount of money to someone specific? Sure thing. Donate to this organization? You got it. Go feed and care for some homeless people? No problem. Call that friend or reach out to this person? Easy.
Easy. He'd stretched me to "easy." It wasn't easy when I started to listen and obey. I still questioned and pushed back and tried to make things be about my schedule or my time. But I've become more trusting, more open. Even when it means doing the right thing in circumstances that will lead to hard consequences. But sometimes that's just part of it - His plan and His purpose.
What hit me over the head was the realization that I was limiting my faith.
And I had to go through these difficulties in order to figure out that I was following my church more than I was following my God. And if God had just said - "leave your church," I really don't think I would have heard Him. My faith was in my church, my faith was in what I was hearing and experiencing and was fully placed in where it had become "easy."
But He needed it to be hard in order to push me from the nest.
(This is long but even the first 5-10 minutes get the idea across)
And I came to a hard realization.
My faith was not where I thought it was. My faith was not as strong as that of Abraham or the Disciples. My faith needed to go to a deeper step and God needed me to step out in faith - needed me to not just be obedient but to also have "blind faith" and trust simply in Him. To know who I was following, even if I didn't know where I was going. Which reminded me of a conversation with a friend and mentor who told me that sometimes we don't hear God because He needs us to take action and then He can correct us if we've gone the wrong way. That was the first step in understanding this blind faith that God was asking of me.
So yes - it's been a hard many months. A hard many weeks. And a very hard decision to come to.
But Jeff and I both know that by trusting God and leaving, we are ready to begin seeking His purpose for our lives. We're seeing that He has intention for us as a family unit and not just each of us as individuals. Now that we've figured out that all of this is in His plan, things are starting to flow and open up and while I still have a lot of sadness about leaving my church home... I'm honestly getting excited about where He will lead us.
Faith is a journey. It isn't a final destination. It isn't a decision you just make and it's done. It's continual change and growth and deepening.
Here's what I know I can say right now. Right now, we're focused on finding our next church. Jeff and I are focused on staying connected with people that we have chosen to leave (people that we see on Facebook and at church - some of those relationships are now going to grow!). I'm continuing to work through this Bible study (if you opt to do an online Bible study in the future, I highly recommend signing up to be in a Facebook small group - that's been awesome so far!). God is giving me important tools and reminders in this study.
Are you in a period of being unsettled? Are you seeking something? Are you truly relying on God to lead you and answer you? Are you taking time to listen?
I won't call it a "bucket list." Because these aren't "before I die" goals. These are more just... things I've seen others do and would like to have the drive to do them myself.
If you aren't a fan of the Queen of Free, you should be. Aside from their incredible story of getting out of $127K of debt, she has so many awesome ideas on how to save money and be money wise. best of all, I happen to know Cherie personally and she is the Real Deal. She is authentic, a woman of grace, and so incredibly loving and compassionate.
She's done things in her quest to conquer debt and be money-wise that I really admire but have never found the inner strength to do myself. The first is a No Restaurant Challenge. She and her husband are both able to go for periods of time where they don't eat out. At all. I eat lunch out, sometimes grab breakfast on my way to work, and we often grab a quick dinner in the midst of our busy schedules. I even once tried to just do no lunches out for 1 work week and failed after... 2 days.
I want to set a goal and not eat in a restaurant for that time period.
The next is that she does these awesome meal plans - like this one where you can shop at Aldi and cook 7 meals for 4 people for under $50. That's pretty amazing, if you ask me. Now, the big struggle on this one is that our grocery shopping each week really focuses on what the kids take in their lunch boxes and what food and snacks we can keep around the house. We don't do big sit down dinners. I get home from work and we are out the door for tae kwon do - that's 3 nights each week. No big meals before doing 45-50 minutes of TKD!
I want to meal plan and challenge myself to not spend more than a certain goal on groceries for that week.
A friend of mine posted a link to a blog written by a woman who got rid of her wardrobe. At first, I was intrigued. I've joked about doing that - because I'm truly overwhelmed by how much clothing I have. I clean it out regularly but don't have a good handle on what I really need vs just always seeming to accumulate more. I didn't like this particular blogger's approach because part of her drive was based on not liking how she looked and comparing herself to other moms - really not my cup of tea.
I want to get rid of most of my clothes. I want to only keep things I wear for work and sentimental things (like race t-shirts or vacation souvenirs - if I actually wear them).
My friend Lori (find her at Chaos and Craziness) has an incredible back yard. She has garden areas where she is growing food. She has a fantastic waterfall on a sloping part of the space, she has a welcoming deck and gazebo. The space is well maintained and is very welcoming and comfortable. If I lived near her, I think I'd hang out on her deck most evenings - even if she wasn't home to join me! To make that happen at our house, I have to clear out the 2 decks, pick up a lot of trash and junk from the yard, clean out weeds, power wash the decks, re-stain/paint the decks, get reasonable furniture that we can easily care for, and I'll be all set.
I want a deck space where I can look out on a yard that I find peaceful, fun, family oriented.
And one final thing - I want to clean out my kitchen. We have so much stuff in the kitchen that never gets used. We have sandwich makers and indoor grills and bits and pieces of rotiserries and other gadgets and appliances and it's time to clear out what isn't being used, throw away the junk, and make better use of the space.
I want a kitchen that is simple and leaves me happy to be in.
Where do I start? I can already feel that it is overwhelming to look at those things and try to think about doing them all at once.
I think I'm going to set my first goal -
I am going to clear out my wardrobe.
My plan for this Saturday is to gather, sort, and get rid of a lot of my clothing and the kids' clothing. I have 2 dressers that aren't really being utilized and a closet that is currently blocked by hampers full of clothing (clean).
Check back on Monday to see if I succeeded! Hold me accountable, friends!
One of the BEST events in Indy each year is Dig IN, A Taste of Indiana. This is an outdoor festival where local wineries, breweries and restaurants come together and showcase the best in Indiana made food and drink. Mark your calendars now!
Indiana’s premier farm-to-fork food festival returns Aug. 30
INDIANAPOLIS – High-quality, locally produced products are the hallmark of Indiana’s favorite food festival, Dig IN, a Taste of Indiana 2015.
Indiana chefs, brewers, vintners and food artisans will showcase a bevy of prepared dishes and beverages. The single-price admission includes all the samples and live performances by Indiana-based musical groups.
A list of chefs, producers, wineries and breweries, as well as other event information will eventually be posted at www.digindiana.org.
WHAT: Dig IN, a Taste of Indiana 2015
WHEN: Aug 30, noon to 5 p.m.
WHERE: White River State Park, 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis
$35 for General Admission ($45 after Aug. 23) $60 for Early Admission at 11 a.m. $120 for the Ultimate VIP Experience, including: • Parking in nearby underground garage • Climate-controlled luxury restrooms • Air-cooled tent • Rare and reserve beers and wines available exclusive for VIPs • Bistro table seating