My year in Review-2015

Well I only blogged 3 times last year and one was my review of 2014! So here we are again. I guess it’s a little late, but better than ever. 2015-wow, a year of changes!!! As always, it’s amazing to see what I’ve learned and how God has been faithful through it all!

  1. what did you do this past year that you’d never done before?
  • Became a mentor to a younger woman through Hope Community Church (Jan.)
  • Completed a six-week course called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the U of MN and meditated consistently…during the course (Feb-March)
  • tried my first 24-hour fast (Feb.) and 3-day juice fast (summer)
  • Began seeing a naturopathic (functional medicine) doctor (June)
  • Was told I might lose my job (Feb); then lost my job because of budget cuts (Mar.)
  • Broke a bone in my right foot (tried to walk on it when it was asleep in the middle of the night) and had to wear a boot for 6 weeks (May-June)
  • Learned how to drive left footed! (May-June)
  • Completed my eighth year of teaching (May)
  • Got engaged! (June) and planned a wedding in 3 months!
  • While planning the wedding, planned and went on a 2-week trip out west with fiancé Nathan (Aug)-got to see some awesome sights and wonderful people!
  • Went to cousin Caitlin’s wedding in Pella, IA on Aug. 1st!
  • Went to Brigham Young University (UT), drove through the Great Salt Lake Desert (UT), slept in a yurt (OR), saw Crater Lake (OR), went to Powell’s Books (Portland) toured Boise Penitentiary (ID)-(Aug.)
  • Went to CA for the first time and the Jedediah Smith Nat’l Forest-Redwoods (Aug.)
  • Began a new job teaching middle school (Sept.) after teaching elementary for over 8 years
  • Got married-it was beautiful and perfect!! (Sept. 25)
  • Moved, started a new job and got married all within a few weeks! (Sept.)
  • Adjusting to life in the ” ‘burbs ” including a longer commute to work! (fall-now)
  • Creating a way of life with my new hubby (fall-now)
  • Had our first dinner guest over (Megan)-(Dec.)
  • Had my first holiday season as a married person! (Dec.)
  • Fell in love (all year)
  1. did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    According to last year’s year in review, “I hope to continually learn how to accept love and grace and, in turn, offer it to others. God is also leading me to spread the wisdom I have been given to others.”

I believe I did share my wisdom with others, particularly my mentee, this year. I have been humbly accepting love and grace from others, especially God and my husband. It has been especially hard through this year of change.

2016 will continue to be a year of adjusting to change. I want to continue this goal of seeing myself and others through the lens of Christ.

However, the Lord is challenging me to go further.The Holy Spirit has been convicting me to trust Him in ways that I have, in the past, seen as risky; to place ruthless trust in HIM only and not in “things.” I am learning the wisdom of balance: taking care of myself but also not playing it too safe to the point that I am actually not helping myself at all.

  1. did anyone close to you give birth?
    Yes, my friend Jes had Logan in Sept. Sarah and Greg had Nynaeve (my 3rd niece) in November. I’m sure there were probably more…
  2. did anyone close to you die?
    no
  3. what countries did you visit?
    none, but drove through many states on our way out west!
  4. what would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?
    ruthless TRUST that God really can provide for my needs. LAUGHTER-thanks to my hubby I am getting better at this! PATIENCE and GRATITUDE in all things. GRACE for myself and others.
  5. what date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?June 10, 2015-the day Nathan proposed!
    Aug. 1 Caitlin and Barry’s wedding !
    Sept. 25, 2015, our wedding
    Nov. 4, 2015 Nynaeve was born. Also my Dad’s b-day!
  6. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
  • Getting married and beginning a life together with my new husband!
  1. what was your biggest failure?
    worrying too much; treating myself as less of a person than others; not accepting myself and others the way Christ does
  2. did you suffer illness or injury?
    Yes, fractured my right foot. Day-to-day irritants but overall not much. I am very grateful for my health!
  3. what was the best thing you bought?
    the wedding and our trip out west
  4. whose behavior merited celebration?
  • Nathan-he has been there for me, stable,  continuously loving me through everything
  • my parents who hosted and helped plan our wedding! It was amazing and we couldn’t have done it without them!
  • Our family and friends for all their love and support throughout our relationship and engagement!
  1. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
    my students’/mine
  2. where did most of your money go?
    wedding stuff, out west trip
  3. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
    getting married
  4. compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
    Happier in most ways; sadder in some. Overall change can somehow equal pain and sadness in my mind, but I am learning that that’s a lie!
  5. thinner or fatter?thinner; went through a several months of eating less. Was it the stress?!?!?
  6. richer or poorer?
    Not sure, I am getting paid a lot more now.
  7. what do you wish you’d done more of?
  • being present in the moment
  • being grateful
  • laughed more
  1. what do you wish you’d done less of?
  • Complaining and being negative
  • Worrying
  • beating myself up or blaming myself and others
  1. how will you be spending your birthday? I will be 32 this year. Who knows!?
  2. how will you be spending the holidays?
    Probably in the Midwest again with those we love most
  3. did you fall in love this past year? yep!
  4. how many one-night stands? None
  5. what was your favorite TV program?
  • Gilmore Girls, Downton Abbey
  1. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
    No,  I try not to do that
  2. what was the best book you read?

    Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

  1. what was your greatest musical discovery?

Nothing new really. Overall, more appreciation for and love of classical music…it can touch me and calm me like no other music.

  1. what did you want and get?
  • a job that pays the bills
  • a wonderful godly husband and a new life as a married woman!
  • my own house (with my hubbie) and space, especially a kitchen all to myself (well, I should say ourselves, but I’m usually in it!)
  • a wonderful new adorable niece, Nynaeve
  • getting to know his family more at holiday time
  • Christmas with most of our fam
  • healthy & safety, love…who can ask for more?
  1. what did you want and not get?
    •To be anxiety free, to be free of stomach & food issues and obsessions
  2. what was your favorite film of this year?
    We didn’t really have a favorite. We watched lots of Netflix and old movies. We did see Bring Him Home in the theater which we liked.
  3. what did you do on your last birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 31! N and I were on our trip out west. We were actually driving through the Salt Lake desert that day. But later we celebrated at an amazing B & B, with a hot tub overlooking the Pacific Coast
  4. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
    I have been struggling to find a style. The older I get, the more I tend toward comfort and minimalism. So last year, I began wearing less jewelry and makeup. I wear clothes that fit me well and with no added doo-dads that stress me out. While I like looking nice, I prefer being comfortable! And warm!
  5. what kept you sane?
  • God’s Truth; Nathan; Counseling; Quiet/serenity; exercising (yoga); outdoors and creation; Classical music/Pandora One; Friends & family
  1. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    none really stand out
  2. what political issue stirred you the most? I try to stay away from the news, I get too stirred up
  3. who was the best new person you met?
  • my niece Nynaeve
  1. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:I know last year I talked about God’s faithfulness. But I guess it’s the same this year. I never imagined a year like this one! Both Nathan and I felt that our meeting one another was a supernatural occurrence. We continue to be stunned at God’s hand in our lives. All that we have been through before meeting one another has shaped us, and we believe, has strengthened our marriage. We are so excited to see what God will do through us individually and as a couple. He has been teaching us what marriage really means; how it’s not about us at all. It is so humbling to think he could use our relationship as a witness to others!

    For me personally, while so many changes this year have caused new situations and things to think about, I’m secure because I know He has always been there and will continue to be there in any and all situations.

  1. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Never Once-by Matt Redman (one song from our wedding)

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Is Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

 

 

 

A Newly-Married’s Reflection

Yikes, My last post was eight months ago! It was called “What is Love?” and I was trying to figure out if I was in love. It is so crazy how life seems both exactly the same and radically different. I feel like I wrote that post yesterday. Well, not only am I in love. This is my first post as a married woman….! Yes, most days I still can’t believe it. Neither of us can. One month ago today, “I married my best friend” as they say. I used to roll my eyes when I heard that…but I can’t deny that it’s true.

What happened to me? Well I guess I should ask, What is happening to me? I haven’t been around much lately on here, on any social media really. In fact, after we got married I got even more secluded. It is so hard even venturing on here. Maybe, if you know me or have followed me over the years, you know how much I wrote about dating and wanting to find that “one person” to make my life complete.

For so long, I was obsessed with getting married. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I felt completely inadequate without the label “wife.” I went from relationship to relationship as a young Christian woman. I tried so hard to make every one work. I was either a failure at letting it go on too long; or a failure at not getting it to work. I let my family down (I believed), but especially I let myself down. I was missing out on what was “out there.” I knew if I just kept trying, eventually I could achieve what I believed was my “dream”: to be married.  By God’s grace, my rigid thoughts slowed and I started thinking more realistically. I distinctly remember the day I began to entertain the thought: I am just as worthy as a single woman as I am a married woman. It seemed such a strange and radical thought, but I began to believe it…

Over time, I unfortunately went to the opposite extreme.  I soon tried to convince myself that my dream of marriage was just that-a dream that was not even close to reality. I mean, look at all the stress my siblings and friends were under. Look at all the failing marriages around me. Look at how I can barely be civil with my roommates, who are so giving and tolerant of me. How would I even make it work with a man? I love being alone. A lot. Maybe I was not marriage material and, in fact, I knew I could be perfectly happy as a single my whole life.

Around the time I met Nathan (a year ago), I had recently entered a new stage in the “dating” game. My thoughts were more like, “Let’s have fun with this.” Who knows…I may meet someone, I may not. To be honest, I still had a deep desire to marry as all of my closest friends and family knew, but it was just tampered down a bit. The neat thing was, I was changing. My many years of therapy, self-discovery and spiritual growth had created in me a well-rounded person who had learned to change her thoughts. I soon discovered not only did I have a healthy view on marriage, but I was a healthy person, spiritually, emotionally, physically (overall) and mentally. I just did not have the self-confidence to continually believe it.

The cool thing was God was working in Nathan’s life similarly and so we were a great match for each other! This was not to say I didn’t continually doubt throughout our relationship. In fact, up until the wedding day, I would constantly hear the thought: “It’s not too late to back out.” I would shove the thought away as “just a thought.” My deepest heart knew there was no way I could “sabotage” this relationship. For so many years, I felt I was more undeserving of love (for some reason) than others. I had created a pattern of making myself miserable.

As Nathan and I reflected throughout our relationship, I soon discovered that my thoughts of marriage had radically transformed over the years. I now realized marriage was not just a status, a way to make myself feel complete. I now began to see it a selfless act, not only for my spouse but for God. I had been right, that I could have been content without a spouse for all of eternity. With God, anything is possible. But, I was wrong in that I was not marriage material.

Even in these early days of marriage, my former ideas and assumptions of marriage have been shattered. I just cannot believe how selfish I’ve always been. I can’t believe how much God has wanted to transform me by radical trust. Lately, this has played out in my ability to believe that I have what it takes to be a good wife. It seems I will ever be tormented by the lies, “You are weak and emotionally unstable,” “You are stupid” and “You are a failure and always ruin relationships.” While I am married to a wonderful godly man, who constantly reminds me of my worth to him, I have to believe it myself: that I am strong and can do anything with the power of Christ.

Low self-confidence, low self-esteem is really my enemy these days. Throughout my college years and most of my twenties, I took it in stride, almost worshiped and enjoyed the idea of me being depressed and lowly. I thought it was better than being full of myself. But now I know both are one and the same. Both are a way to think and obsess about yourself. Lack of self-confidence and fear of failure is just another way of telling God you don’t trust him or telling your spouse that what he says has no value. It can kill a marriage.

So here I am continually in awe of all the changes I have gone through: a new husband, new job (literally I accepted a new position right around the time I got engaged!),new commute, new house, new neighborhood, new name. So many other new things thrown at someone who doesn’t even deal with small changes that well. Yet, with Christ, I have been thriving. And, while being a new wife has thrown all sorts of fuel to the fire of my ever-present enemy (perfectionism), I have learned how to give myself grace.

I am learning to “go with the flow” and let the waves roll over me. Maybe I never will fully process everything I have been through. Maybe the reality of marriage will never fully set in; maybe I won’t “wake up” and be able to live in the moment of my wonderful reality. Maybe my low self-esteem problem and addiction to perfectionism will haunt me til kingdom come. Maybe I will still have the same addictions and skeletons in the closet. Maybe the boxes will stay strewn around the house. Maybe my new husband and I will never agree which tupperware to give and which to throw away or never find an answer to the infestation of fruit flies…Maybe. But I doubt it. We’ve seen God’s mercies at work already in our new marriage. We’ve seen him at work in our lives so fully before we got together and saw how he wove our relationship together from the very start. We are dreaming big about the future even with all of our stresses and never-ending amounts of work. Through the chaos, the messes and the fruit flies, I have learned to say, “It is well with me” and “God is good.” I hope you, too, are able to see the goodness and accept the Lord’s favors and grace in your life!

What is love?

I am on a new journey. For the first time in my life, I have been discovering how to live not based on feelings. I am on the 3rd week of this class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which I had felt the Holy Spirit leading me towards. This week our teacher talked about how we are constantly pushing away the unpleasurable experiences and seeking-hoarding-the pleasurable. This is me. It’s probably most people. I have just begun to realize that I easily jump from one high to the next. The problem is, as with any addiction, the experience lasts maybe a few minutes, then you are left wanting.

So, because of this and health reasons, I have cut out caffeine and am working on lowering my sugar intakes. I have noticed I don’t long for them as much now, which is such an answer to prayer!  But, substances are one thing. What about feelings? My feelings have taught me so much, yet they have also led to a lot of confusing, disturbing and deceitful thoughts.

The one feeling I have been thinking about in light of Valentine’s Day coming up is love. But is love even a feeling? This is what I am trying to figure out. As you’ve probably heard a million times, the English language doesn’t do a very good job with the word “love.” I’m so mixed up because I know I am a loving person. I have a lot of love for God and others, the Earth, animals and a growing love for my self. My question is how do you know when you are “in love?” Or is that just a Hollywood thing, something made up? Does love for a significant other just arrive or does it come over time kind of like it does with platonic relationships? I keep trying to see if my feelings are similar to the lyrics of songs or what I have heard my friends and loved ones say who are in relationships. There it is again: I am searching for some “high” that will never last.

In my journal, I reflected that love for me is felt in a number of ways. The first way is an aching or longing. I have this for God a lot when I want to go to heaven. I have it for a close friend or sibling I haven’t seen in awhile. I have it when I am jealous of my loved one’s affections for or time spent with others and not me. The second is love in the form of compassion. When a loved one, or even a stranger or animal, is expressing hurt I long to help them, hold them, heal them, protect them. The urge is so strong, I sometimes even feel I could die for this person. The third is gratefulness, when I think of what the person or pet has offered to my life and that leads itself to love for God for giving me these gifts of relationships.

I guess all of these are platonic love. But aren’t they also part of romantic love? I guess what I am learning (and being reminded of) in my class is to allow myself to feel what I feel without judging it. Or allow myself to not feel and not judge. Or experience “love” or whatever else the way I experience it and not compare. That’s hard. But it is so refreshing!

I am curious…

What is love like for you? Do you have a meaning for it? Is it a feeling? Or a choice? Or both? Do you experience love in different ways with different people and with your different roles in life? What is the difference between platonic and romantic love? Do you experiences “highs” like they talk about in movies, songs, etc.?

I would love your feedback…Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Reflections on 2014

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Vanessa and I went to Ice Sculptures on White Bear Lake. It was so neat! A gorgeous but insanely frigid (2 degree) day!-January

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my wonderful roommates, Ambrosia, Julia, and Megan

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Nate and I in a big pool of corn kernels at Sever’s Corn Maze-October

2014 in Review: I always enjoy doing a little reflecting on my life over the past year. As always, it’s amazing to see what I’ve learned and how God has been faithful thru it all!

  1. what did you do this past year that you’d never done before?
  • Had an accident with a snowbank and had to get my bumper replaced! (Feb.)
  • Lived/live in a house with 3 other women and 1 bathroom (Mar.-present)
  • I am now a city girl! (live in St. Paul) (Mar.-present)
  • Joined and performed in a band playing the “fiddle” (Mar. thru Aug.)
  • Completed my seventh year of teaching (May)
  • Lost a pet-my beloved yorkie (May)
  • Planned a 2-week to Europe! (Jan.-July)
  • Went on a 2-week trip to Europe (June-July)
  • Went on a vacation with a close friend-Theresa! (June-July)
  • Swam in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon (June)
  • Swam in the Mediterranean Sea, biked the boardwalk of Barcelona, ate “jamón ibérico,” experienced “Las Ramblas” and “Boqueria Market” (June)
  • Hopped on and off trains without missing one—despite many close calls!, saw the Rhine River and the Cathedral of Cologne in Germany (July)
  • Attended a wedding in a foreign country (July)
  • Sang in German at my brother’s wedding in Eitorf, Germany (July)
  • Got a third sister-in-law! Met many other amazing people overseas!!!! (June-July)
  • Finished reading thru the Bible (yes it took me over 2 years, but so worth it!) (Aug.)
  • Met NSN (Nathan S. Nasgovitz) (Sept.)
  • Went to the largest candy store in MN (& largest puzzle store in the country)! (Oct.)
  • Heard the Piano Guys in concert (Oct.)
  • Spent Thanksgiving in rural Wisconsin (Nov.)
    blue lagoon

    Iceland’s Blue Lagoon-June

    Iceland’s Blue Lagoon-June

  1. did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    According to last year’s year in review, my resolution for 2014 was to continue to see myself and others through the lens of Christ. With the Lord’s help, I have been doing better at this every day. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but daily resolutions. In 2015, I hope to continually learn how to accept love and grace and, in turn, offer it to others. God is also leading me to spread the wisdom I have been given to others.
  2. did anyone close to you give birth?
    Yes, lots of births! Owen Raine (Jan.) to Nathan & Kat; Selah to Michelle & Joe (July); Grace to Josh & Vanessa (Nov.). Plus another friend and 3 of my cousins had babies this year too!
  3. did anyone close to you die?
    Yes, Preston Hercules Bettger (my dog since age 15)
  4. what countries did you visit?
    Spain & Germany!
  5. what would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?
    I didn’t totally lack these, but would like more of them: PEACE and PATIENCE amidst storms, chaos and unanswered questions. GRATITUTE in all things. GRACE for myself and others.
  6. what date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
    June 25-July 8 an unforgettable trip!; July 5, 2014-Tim and Amelie’s wedding! I was there!; Sept. 4, 2014, my first date with Nathan
  7. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
  • Successfully planning and going on the trip to Europe! Really trying to enjoy each moment on the trip and being grateful for this amazing opportunity
  • Finishing God’s Word after 2 years of faithfully (mostly) reading thru it in chronological order

    barri gotic barcelona

    Barri Gotic (Gothic Neighborhood), Barcelona-June

  1. what was your biggest failure?
    treating myself as less of a person than others; not accepting myself and others the way Christ does
  2. did you suffer illness or injury?
    Nothing major, I am very grateful for my health!
  3. what was the best thing you bought?
    my trip to Europe!!!!
  4. whose behavior merited celebration?
  • My close friends’: Theresa, Michelle, Vanessa, Dallas; my roommates’: Ambrosia, Megan, Jules; my guy’s (Nathan!); my parents’ and sibs’
  1. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
    children’s/mine
  2. where did most of your money go?
    Europe trip, school loans
  3. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
    3 reallys is quite a lot for someone like me. But I was pretty pumped about traveling to Spain and Germany; also about accomplishing reading thru the Bible
  4. compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
    Happier!!!!!
  5. thinner or fatter?
    Theresa and me citadel park

    Theresa and me-Citadel Park, Barcelona-June

    Same, thanks God!

  6. richer or poorer?
    Poorer. Sadly, trips are not cheap!
  7. what do you wish you’d done more of?
  • being present in the moment
  • being grateful
  1. what do you wish you’d done less of?
  • Complaining and being negative
  • Worrying
  • Watching TV and eating in bed
  1. how will you be spending your birthday? hopefully it will be spent with the people I care the most about doing something I really love. Yay, I will officially be in my 30s!
  2. how will you be spending the holidays?
    Probably in the Midwest again-not as much fanfare as this year, but at least (hopefully) I will get to see Nathan (brother), Kat, Brendan & Owen again!
  3. did you fall in love this past year? I don’t think so…not yet
  4. how many one-night stands? None
  5. what was your favorite TV program?
  • Downton Abbey, Gilmore Girls
  1. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
    No,  I try not to do that
  2. what was the best book you read?

    Let Your Life Speak
    by Parker J. Palmer

Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristin Neff and Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay-Vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

  1. what was your greatest musical discovery?

the Piano Guys, Cantus (vocal group from Mnpls)

Overall, more appreciation for and love of classical music…it can touch me and calm me like no other music.

  1. what did you want and get?
  • a wonderful new adorable nephew, Owen Raine. I also finally got to meet him in person at Christmas!
  • a trip to Europe
  • a new sis, Amelie!
  • a wonderful godly man I am getting to know
  • Christmas with the whole fam
  • healthy & safety, love…who can ask for more?
  1. what did you want and not get?
    •To be anxiety free, to be free of stomach & food issues
  2. what was your favorite film of this year?
    One Hundred Foot Journey
  3. what did you do on your last birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 30! Vanessa took me out to my favorite place, Victor’s 1929 Café, and 3 of my close gal friends, Michelle, Theresa, and Steph, surprised me and were there too! Later that week I celebrated with three other friends, Ambrosia, Julia and Dallas at Namaste Café in Uptown!
  4. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
    Layers, there never can me too many, especially in the winter. Skinny jeans (just one pair), leg warmers, boots. The same short sleeved sweater dress with rotating striped shirts. A variety of scarves. Coordinating jewelry. Short, spunky hair, big black glasses, minimal makeup. I like looking nice, but mostly I just like being comfortable! And warm!
  5. what kept you sane?
  • God’s Truth; writing; exercising (yoga); outdoors and creation; Classical music/Pandora One; Friends & family; Nathan; Stability and confidence at work; Reading; Counseling; Quiet/serenity; eating & cooking great food
  1. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    none really stand out, but I really loved Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks and watched him again in Sleepless in Seattle. Can I say it—I just love him, so timeless!
  2. what political issue stirred you the most? I try to stay away from the news, I get too stirred up
  3. who was the best new person you met?
  • Nathan S. Nasgovitiz
  • my nephew Owen
  • my roomies, Jules & Megan (and also I got to know Ambrosia better)
  1. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014: One thing God has reminded me of is His faithfulness. I had a year of much transition. I started out the year having major anxiety about my living situation, looking for housing, looking for a new job and obsessing over the trip. Thru it all, He was faithful and everything worked out or is being worked out! I am learning how to daily surrender and breathe through each moment; I am continuing to trust that my Lord is always with me, cares about these “little things” and “has my back!”

Also, toward the end of this year, I took an eye-opening class through my church-all about discovering myself. Thru this and my own reflection, God has taught me I am someone with a lot to offer the world. I don’t need to be shy or ashamed about sharing my story, my unique giftings and strengths. Over the years, in my struggles with severe depression, anxiety, and other life stressors, I have been poured into by so many amazing people, “angels” God has put in my path. And, because of this, I am now ready to give back; I am so excited because I have recently become a mentor to a young woman at my church! So pumped to see what will come of this relationship all because of God’s faithfulness in my life!

  1. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

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a German sunset-July

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see your light is breaking through
the dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into you
Lord, you fight my every battle
And I will not fear ~ Kari Jobe
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So faithful, so constant, so love and so true
So powerful in all You do
You fill me, You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You

I know that You are for me, I know that You are for me
I know that You will never forsake me in my weakness
And I know that You have come now even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are ~ Kari Jobe

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“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

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Tim and Amelie’s wedding-July

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my bro Nathan & fam (Kat, Brendan & Owen) moved from Oregon to Oshkosh, WI! It was so great to see them at Christmas and finally meet Owen!!!!

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my classroom

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me new house in St. Paul

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close friends Clara & Dave @ Bethel’s Festival of Christmas-Dec.

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Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration at MN History Museum-Oct.

Learning my Strengths

I am taking this class at church and have been discovering and rediscovering some things about myself. We recently reflected on the results of the Clifton Strengthsfinder test. I took it a few years ago, and at the time, was confused and unsatisfied with my results. In fact, although after this week’s class, I understand my “talent theme” better, I still feel confused and a little annoyed. The truth is…it’s nothing new. Partly, I am trying to deny who I am instead of fully embracing “me.” Partly, too, it’s trying to really understand myself and how I tick.

My top 5 strengths (or “talent theme”) with my own short explanation are as follows:
1) Input-I like to gather and store lots of information thru reading especially

2) Learner-I am someone who always wants to get better at what I am doing; I find so many things interesting and constantly want to learn more

3) Restorative-I like the feeling of fixing problems; I especially like to try and fix myself

4) Harmony-I like to look for agreements in relationships; I avoid conflicts as much as possible

5) Analytical-I have the ability to think about millions of sides to a situation and how hundreds of different factors could affect something. Hence, it’s so easy for me to make decisions-HA! HA!

When reflecting on a question that asked what my driving passion in life is, I wrote a statement using my 5 strengths:

My driving passion in life is using what I have learned (input, learning) to help myself and others solve problems (restorative) and to promote peace and tranquility in my life and relationships (harmony). This is all done by laying everything I know “on the table”, examining all the data and breaking it up into small steps to help myself and others achieve their goals (analytical.)

So here’s what I have been reflecting on…

I wanted my 5 strengths to be actual strengths, things that made a difference in the world, like Empathy or Communication or Positivity. Okay, I would never get that last one, let’s be honest.

But my 5 “strengths” didn’t seem like strengths at all, only burdens or ways that I torment myself inside my head. I am slowly starting to see how these 5 things, especially when combined to work together, can be beneficial. But I am still trying to get myself out of my head and out into the world. How can I use “loner” or “individual” strengths like gathering information or analyzing data to help other people? I guess I can continually focus on my “passion” statement that I wrote above. Yet…It is still something I am wondering and thinking about, so if anyone has any great ideas, I’d love to hear it. Oh, and I’d love to hear about your “strengths” and how you’ve learned to maximize them in the workplace, home life, social life etc. Here is a list of the strengths if you haven’t take the test.

A great way to relieve stress after work...watching some amazing geese at one of my favorite parks.

My Beautiful Life

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Me with my beautiful roomies Ambrosia, Julia and Megan.

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Battle Creek Park, St. Paul

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Labor Day Bike Ride along the Mississippi

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I love fall!

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God has really been showing me his beauty, teaching me how to lean on and trust him in everything. I have experienced many wonderful gifts these past few months. Here are just a few snapshots of my life…

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Here’s the house I have lived in since March. I am blessed to have such amazing women to live with and a home so close to the city of St. Paul and work!

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Beautiful Bethel campus

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A visit to my Alma Mater for Homecoming, what sweet memories!

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Not the best pic, but I got to see the Piano Guys Live at the U of M! It was so amazing!

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Always making memories in Eau Claire, WI! I love going to visit my parents out in the country. We all love their new home. It is a definitely a refreshing “getaway” for me.

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We happened upon a very large candy and puzzle store in Jordan, MN!

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There were puzzles on shelves up and down the aisles and on the ceilings! It was crazy and neat!

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I have really been enjoying teaching this year. Here are some pics of my classroom decorated for my favorite Latin American Holiday, Day of the Dead🙂

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A great way to relieve stress after work...watching some amazing geese at one of my favorite parks.

A great way to relieve stress after work…watching some amazing geese at one of my favorite parks.

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Beautiful Wisconsin

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Of course, I always make time to try out new recipes. Here is a salad of roasted beets, fennel and carrots.

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My beautiful mom in Eau Claire. I am so grateful to have my parents living so closeby🙂

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Eau Claire sunset