Life's Sweet Journey: Lessons
Showing posts with label Lessons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lessons. Show all posts

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Full-Time RV Life || Staying Connected and Happy on the Road

Happy Thursday! 
If you follow our adventures on social media, or have watched this weeks Road Talk episode, then you know it's been one crazy week on the road! 

From our first tire blow out, to no cell service at the campground we were staying at (we teach English online and have to be connected), only to get stuck the mug on the way to our next location, it's definitely been a week of on-the-go learning experiences for us. I figured I would share some tips and tricks we learned that might help you avoid making some of the mistake we made! So here are... 

5 Tips and Tricks for RV Life Travel 

Full-Time RV Life Mistakes || Staying Connected on the road

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

30 Life Lessons for my 30th Birthday

Happy first Tuesday of 2017!! I hope your year is off to a great start. I turned 30 at at the end of 2016 and this week I am sharing a little review of some of those celebrations. I figured I would kick it off with some of the things life has taught me the last 30 years. Life is an ongoing learning process and each day- each year- teaches us more of who we are and the kind of person we want to be.
Here are 30 things I have learned in 30 years of life....
1.) Age is just a number! That has never felt more real than it does now.
2.) Life will change you; let it! I never much liked change, but I have learned to embrace it, because it’s going to happen no matter what you try to do to prevent it. If someone had asked me when I turned 20 where I planned to be when I was 30, the answer would have been very different from where my life currently is. And I am more than ok with that!
3.) Throw the list away! All the checklists, the pictures you draw and plans you lay that you will just be devastated by if they don’t happen by such and such date, just chuck them. If you cling too tightly to them you don't allow yourself the space to just live.
4.) People are people; we all have hurts and hang-ups, so let’s all just cut each other some slack.
5.) People need people! As much as I enjoy time to myself- which I actually enjoy more and more the older I get- I have also become increasingly aware that we can’t make it through this life alone. We need people to lean on and we need to be a place that they can lean when needed.
6.) Life is hard; don't take it too seriously or it will seriously take you! 
7.) Just be kind! I think those three little words hold so much. 
8.) Relationships are work; but they are worth it. True friendships, spouses, parent/ child, siblings… they all require a sacrifice of self in some way, they mean being part of somebody else’s messy moments, but they also mean sharing your mess in return. Having someone to help you carry your heavy is so very, very worth it!
9.) Finding yourself will happen over and over again! The person I am today is so different than the person I was even 5 years ago. It don’t think it means I never knew who I was, I just think it means that throughout a lifetime we can be so many different things. The things I will experience between here and my 40s will probably mean the picture will be even more changed by then. I’m ready for it!
10.) Give yourself grace! You’re only human, you will make mistakes, forgive yourself!
11.) A smile has a way of catching! Share them freely!
12.) Find what you love and make time to do it as often as you can!!
13.) Some things won’t ever make sense, so don’t even try to understand them- it will just make you so much more confused!
14.) There will always be something that needs to be done, it’s ok to leave time to shut-off for a while and just rest!
15.) You don’t owe anyone anything- yes, we should be kind; yes, we should care for others. We should be giving and generous, but at the end of the day you are only in charge of yourself, don’t let other peoples choices define anything about who you are or take any ounce of happiness from you. 
16.) Hold the people you love close, you never know when it might be the last time you see them.
17.) Forgiveness can sometimes be hard to give, but it’s heavier to hold onto.
18.) A partner who gives you freedom to be yourself is greater than gold!
19.) Marriage is no different than life, it has it’s hard days and it’s easy ones; let the easy ones define who you are as a couple!
20.) Never stop dating! Plan things that you both love and make time to do them. And, every so often, do something that only the other person enjoys; their smile will make you love it too!
21.) Alone time is needed!! Take yourself on dates, just you. Remind yourself why you LOVE being you!
22.) Don’t apologize for being who you are! There are going to be people you just don’t mesh with and that’s ok, but don’t ever make excuses for who you are because someone doesn’t agree with your choices. Simply agree to disagree and move on.
23.) Don’t compare! With all the avenues of social media, this has never been more true. You never know the struggles someone is facing behind that glittering, perfectly-filtered door.
24.) Don’t judge someone on their down days; really just don’t judge period! Give people the freedom to just be.
25.) The real world is better! I can be the absolute worst with my phone, with scrolling Insta and FB, but making more of a point to put the phone down always reminds me that looking up is so much more bright and beautiful.
26.) There is so much of the world to explore! Try to enjoy as much of it as you can!
27.) Love is a verb! Love is not that pitter-patter feeling in your chest; that is the feeling you get when infatuation may have the chance of turning into Love. Love is the commitment to wake up each morning and walk alongside someone; it is remembering the things that will make the other person happy and then doing them. Love falls hard into bed at the end of a long day and still thinks to say, “I’m glad you’re the one by my side.”
28.) There is always hope!
29.) Look for the beauty around you- in the world, in people. It’s always there; in the helping hands, in the sunshine after the rain, sometimes even in the rain itself. The way we choose to see the world is what it will become for us.
30.) Always remember how truly beautiful you are! You were made specifically for this time right now, don’t forget that!

There is so much I could add to the list; 30 years is a lot of life and a whole lot of learning. But we will leave it there for now, who knows what the next decade will have in store... 

How about you? 
What has life taught you up to now? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lessons I Learned from 6 years of Marriage

Happy Monday! 
Here's to kicking a case of the Mondays away!! 
At the beginning of this month Babe and I celebrated 6 years of husband-and-wifeness! We had a beautiful weekend away in Flo, visiting Manatee Springs State Park. While driving over I shared some of the lessons that I learned over the last six year on Instagram. And because today had a way of bringing those things back to mind I figured I would share them here, because life has a way of reminding you just what is important. Never forget to cherish the people you love and hold them close. So here's to hugs and life and having a tribe of people to walk through it with. So very thankful he is part of mine... 
6 things I've learned over 6 years of marriage

1.) Life needs balance; like someone who sings loud to every song on the radio and someone who doesn't even know the words because he's a melody person or someone who says "hey let's jump out of this tree" and someone else who says "crazy woman, you have to check and see how deep the water is first"

2.) Love and life will change you, but you hold tight and stay grateful because marriage is a commitment to have each other's backs!

3.) Marriage is as much a journey as the rest of life, just enjoy the ride.

4.) Marriage isn't a fairytale... It's better than that; it's real life lived out in all its bittersweet glory.

5.) Babe's answer (aka: be careful what you ask for) You love the person, no matter how much you hate their bad habits

6.) Being a good spouse and knowing how to best care for your partner is a never-ending learning experiment! Someday I will get better at his love language and I will learn to put my cereal bowl in the sink, among other things... 

And with that I am off to Love him by doing the laundry, because today has been hard for him and freshly laundered (and put away// because somehow I can never get this step down) towels, make him smile! Marriage really is an endless learning curve and I'm so thankful he's never given me a grade! 

Any other married folks? 
What lessons have you learned over the years?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#TravelTuesday 4// Laying Aside Fears of International Travel

As someone who loves adventure and thrill, it surprises people to learn that international travel scares me. I am usually up for anything! But after Greece, international travel scared me and I never really had a strong desire or need to see other parts of the world. Fear told me that the United States was full of enough beauty for a lifetime- and it is, full of so much beauty. But being afraid to step outside my comfort zone, and cutting off anything outside the borders of the U.S., discredits the rest of the amazing world that God created.

What am I afraid of? I think mostly the unknown. I like knowing what to expect. Do I think other places are really any scarier or more dangerous than the United States? No, not really. I think all places have things that it is right to be cautious of, in their own way. I just know the things to be afraid of in the states. Going to a new place means not knowing the things to be that I should be wary of.

It also makes me nervous to not be able to communicate with people. A communicator by nature, I love to talk to people, I love to be able to share stories and learn more about them and speaking different languages makes that hard. It makes me nervous not being able to understand what those around me are saying and not being able to join in on conversations. But my trips to Costa Rica helped alleviate some of that fear. There is a lot that can be spoken with expressions and having interpreters helps and sometimes you just branch out, make a fool of yourself and try to learn their language on-the-go. People are generally kind and willing to be helpful, in between laughs at all the things you said completely wrong! It really is true, that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in the culture.

But if I am being truly honest, I think the thing that might scare me the most is how God will use this trip to change me. I believe that travel in the U.S. can impact my heart and teach me things, but I am not sure if those trips will ever have as high a probability of creating pivotal moments in my life that can truly change parts of my heart. Change and me, we have never really gone well together- change has a funny way of rocking your entire world off its axis. I don’t enjoy having my world rocked, but I know that anyway He chooses to change me will be for the better- for His glory- it just doesn’t make it almost any less terrifying. God has a way of asking big things of those who follow Him. He breaks our hearts, over and over again, for what breaks His. He invites us to be part of the story He continues to write and it is, all at once, exciting and scary! Pivotal moments in life are usually never easy; they come with challenges and heartache, filling your heart with things that can tear it clean in two. But God is there, always with you, holding you, helping you and mending your heart. I need to remember that! And so I tell myself that, over and over, because I refuse to NOT do things because of fear! Fear will not stop me, because fear CAN NEVER stop God and He is always on my side!!

And so I remind myself of that and of all the wonderful things I would have missed out on if I have chosen to let fear take the wheel... 

//The beauty of Greece & Turkey// Sure, I was already there when my fear kicked in, but if I had chosen to let fear define my trip I wouldn't have truly seen the beauty that the country had to offer! 

//This miracle moment// My first out-of-country mission trip to Costa Rica was all girls (at least those of us leaving from the states) to drill wells with Agua Viva Serves. We worked alongside those in the community where the well was being built and other Costa Ricans employed through Agua Viva. The team helped me learn some spanish and then showed me how to work the drill rig! Helping with the pipes made me feel a sense of strength I had never experienced before and gave the guys a good chuckle to see that a girl could do some of the heavy lifting (they were very wary when I first asked them to teach me, especially since, in the Costa Rican culture, manual labor jobs are seen as men only work). Then, in the midst of all the mud, and the sweat and shoveling, a pipe striped and that pipe, the others connected to it and the drill bit all broke off from the rig and disappeared into the (now very deep) ground. We were worried that we had just lost all the progress, a weeks worth of labor hours, as well as expensive material literally down the hole; but God showed up in a big way and the guys were able to find a way to get the pipes out of the ground, find the striped pipe, replace it with a new one and keep going! I would have missed the elation and praise and smiles of that moment if I had let fear keep me from getting on the plane! 

//Babe's first mission trip// That first trip to Costa Rica, proved to me that I can live outside of the fear I had created in my head! The God moments of that trip began opening a door in my heart which led to another trip with Agua Viva Serves, but this time WITH BABE! This was his first mission trip ever (I had done others in the US when I was in youth group), but this was his first. It was so great to experience that time together and to watch God work through and around him! (man am I going to miss that face while I'm gone!) 

//And now for AFRICA// God used each of those moments to open the door of my heart, inch by inch, to say to me, "You! Go to Africa!" It was small at first, a nudge on a nudge, and then He screamed it at me!! And so, here I am go! And I am ready; even if my heart flutters and my knees shake a bit! I am ready and open and anxious to see what He will teach me!! 

Any travel advice for this nervous girl? Anyone been to Kenya? 
Anywhere fun you've been adventuring lately? Or plans to adventure soon?
Join in for this month's linkup and let's travel together! Just add your link below! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel destination and would love to see where you have been exploring! 
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest
~No real rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. Leave a little love where you like! 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
Excited explore the globe with you all!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Laying Aside Fears of International Travel// Part 1: I'm Going to Africa!

Tomorrow is the second Tuesday of the month and time for another #TravelTuesday linkup, but this months post will be a little different than previous ones. Over the next two days, in preparation for Africa, I am sharing some of the things laying on my heart and some big fears I have when it comes to travel. I know what you might be thinking, that with my usual "just do it" attitude and love for big adventures, how could I be scared of travel? Well, to be honest, international travel freaks me out. It has for a while, but I do NOT want to let fear keep me from living life to the fullest and experiencing what God's great world has to offer... 

It’s really funny to me that to start this year off I burned away some of the things I felt were holding me back or weighing heavy on my heart. FEAR was probably one of the biggest of those- of not doing things for fear of the outcome. I have also been calling this my “let it be” year- whatever it is, whatever comes, whatever God places in my path, I am just going to let it be and see where He leads me. Well, this year one of those moments came in the form of the opportunity to go to Africa, on a vision trip, with other staff members from Summit Church, where I work in Children’s Ministry. And as soon as I was asked to go 'fear' tried to rear its ugly head and wrap a vice around my throat.

A little backstory: I discovered, while on our honeymoon in Greece, that international travel was not all I thought it was cracked up to be, at least for me personally. While it was a beautiful trip, I spent much of my time anxious and nervous and out of my element. So after finding Summit, and deciding to make it our church home, we learned that they had a strong tie to working alongside those in Africa. I thought “well, I can be supportive from the states, but going just wouldn’t be something that’s for me.” Flash forward a few years and a mission trip to Costa Rica (I had a “minor” freak out while we were in line to board the plane and was on edge for a bit, until I settled in and soon felt at home among the Costa Ricans and was blessed with an amazing experience) and there I was sitting in service when it was mentioned that people should join and go to Africa. My heart jumped and felt a nudge- you know that little push that says, “hey, you! I want you to listen to this. Maybe you should go to Africa.” I brushed it away, thinking this is the people pleaser in me coming to a head now that we were invested in Summit. So I let it slip away.

A little later and I found myself working at the church, where, as a staff member, it is strongly encouraged that you go to Africa once every 5 years. I thought, “welp, how am I going to work my way out of that one?” And a little voice whispered, “you’re not.” Then the summer teams for Africa come around and I felt my heart jump again- nudge, nudge. I considered looking into joining a team, but then, fear… So I looked for other ways to plug in with our Africa partnerships and we began sponsoring a sweet little guy from Malawi. But the nudges didn’t end.

And so, I sat and I prayed and I asked for a sign, “Lord, you know me. You know the fears that will continue to stop me and you know I am horrible at making decisions. You also know what a people-pleaser I am. Is this really you telling me to go or is it the people-pleaser in me wanting validation? Ok look, if someone asks me to go, then I will know You want me to really consider it!” Yes, I ended with consider it, knowing full well if God wanted me to go to Africa He wanted me to go and not just consider.  So I ended my prayer and I left it alone.  And then trips came and went for another summer and the trips for this upcoming summer had also already been set and I thought I was in the clear. I even thought that I might actually consider joining next years trip, to the organization through which we sponsor, had even briefly mentioned sitting in on one of the Africa meetings to Babe and just decided it wasn't for us right now. And it wasn't, for us... 

Because out of the blue, just a little over a month ago I got asked to possibly go on a trip to Kenya. Not only was the trip just about a month away, but this trip also came with the added possible commitment of going back in August. That God! He’s definitely got a sense of humor! “So you wanted to wait for me to be glaringly obvious that you should go? Well, ok, how about going twice?” Because this trip will include working with kids, they wanted people from our children’s ministry team to go. A few of the people that were first asked could go in April, but committing to go back in August was tough, as the August trip will be the first week kids go back to school. That led to me- no kids, nothing holding me back from being able to commit to going twice. God was just sitting back and shaking His head with a chuckle, I can just picture it now...

To be honest, I still tried to look for a way out. I met with the guy who initially asked me (our global partnerships coordinator, also going on the trip), so that I could get some of my questions answered. Every question I had (every possible excuse I kept in my back pocket if I wanted to let fear win) was met with only open doors that I had no ability of closing. I sat in that meeting and I just knew, “I am going to Africa.” Sure, I had to discuss things with Babe, but I pretty much committed. If God wants me in Africa, Babe isn’t going to stop Him. And apparently neither was I. And so, here I go, on Thursday, to finally say yes to something God has been nudging me about for a while.

Maybe this trip itself is why He was nudging me all along, giving me 2+ years to prepare my heart for something huge! To prepare my heart for truly surrendering this decision to Him. My walk with God has always been one where I keep trying to take the wheel, but after John Wayne died, I realized that trying to steer things myself was only ever going to leave me in a tangled mess on the highway. And so this year I committed to letting it be- to stop trying to take control- and He is using that surrender to take me far beyond anything I could have ever imagined for this year.

Am I still afraid? Yes! But I am excited too! I am excited to see how this will impact my walk with Him. I am looking forward to getting to know the Matlacks more and to meet those they work alongside in Ngando, the community we will spend the majority of our time in while we are in Nairobi. I am so thankful for the opportunity to take part in this trip and so thankful that God is bigger than fear!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Words for Wednesday: The School for Good and Evil

I just recently finished reading The School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani. If you have not heard of this series, you should check it out. I loved it!! It is the perfect series for girls who are trying to figure out that balance between friendship, relationships and being true to who they really are. Really, the same could be said for all of us, because it's also a great book for any woman still trying to figure that all out (12, 17, 25, 31... doesn't matter). If you love a different spin on fairy tales (characters like Lancelot, Cinderella, Peter Pan...) and don't shy a way from a little dark adventure then you really need to read this! I started it after a recommendation from a 10 year old and I couldn't recommend it more (books really can span generations)! It also just so happens that it is being turned into a movie, so you should probably jump on the train before it comes out. 

Anywho, today's Word's for Wednesday post comes from the final book in the series, The School for Good and Evil: The Last Ever After. Here are a few of my favorite quotes... 

"What is it about a name that gives us a story to believe in?" 

"I'd sheltered him from his own weaknesses, and because of it those weaknesses won. I had to let you write your own story..." 

"Stories go wrong when people think that their own happiness is bigger than anyone else's." 
- I don't know what it is for me about the word story, but in my opinion it is such a powerful word. We each have a story, one that is ours alone, but one that can be shared with others. Hundreds upon thousands of stories overlapping each other, each story adding something to another. And it is in the sharing of our stories with others that we grow a bond that transcends time, distance and differences. It's our stories that bring us together in someway or another. 

And one final quote to leave you with, which just may be my favorite from the whole series... 
"Because as long as her story was about her she resisted her fate, as if living for herself was too much responsibility. But the moment she saw her fate was bigger than her, she finally felt free to embrace it." 

What parts of your story do you need to embrace?
What parts of your story, if shared, could help set both you and others free?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ode to 17 Year Old Me Then and Now

I am excited to finally be jumping on the Blogtember train! I knew I wasn't going to try to blog my way all the way through, but there were certain prompts that caught my eye. Today's was the first one that really jumped out at me, mainly because I had actually done something similar when I first started this blog. I thought it would be neat to go to the beginning of it all, see where I started, where I was at during that time in my life and where things have come. 

Today's prompt asked us to write a letter to our 16 year old self and while my original letter was to my 17 year old self I figured it was close enough that I could break the rules a little (I have been known to do that from time to time, just ask 17 year old me). I figured I would share my original post and then build on the letter with what I have learned in the 2.5 years since it was written. The original letter (or ode really) read as follows... 
Ode to my 17 year old self
You think life is only going to exponentially get better and you think adulthood is some fairytale; Ha! Try again; life ain't no joke kid.  

You think that you will go off to college, be wild and crazy for awhile and then settle down; Ha again! You stay in your hometown for college (something you swore you would never do) by choice, you will get married as soon as college is over, after having spent the majority almost all of your college life acting as if you already were. 

You think that after getting married you will start a family right away and all will even out and be as it should; Ha ha!! You actually partake in some of that crazy college-like life that you didn't have about a year after getting married and realized that while fun, life happened as it should, you personally didn't miss out on much and had you actually done said "full-blown-crazy-college-life" you would not be where you are (God knew what He was doing).  You will also realize that as much as you assumed jumping right into having said baby would be a wonderful idea you had to learn to be a good wife first. Good wives set good examples for children down the road (or so you are now assuming). And you now know to think, "Life as it should be? What does that even mean?"

You will not even think about the things you will have lost along the road to where you are; please make sure you have told the people you love how much they truly mean. 
You will find comfort in the fact that you think she knew how much you loved her, but it will not make missing her all the time any easier. 
You think that things have gotten as bad as they can get with issues involving your brother; I am really sorry (for him and you and everyone) that that is just not true.  There is grace thrown in there though. You will learn how to play your part and when it is time to just bow out and realize that the best help you can give is to not try to fix everything.  You will learn to focus more on yourself and the things in you that need fixing. 

You assume that because you have stayed on a pretty good path you won't be tempted by anything "bad"; Oh contrare.  You just realize that temptation takes on different faces and while at 17 you would have never considered certain things "bad" they can still be just as damaging to your world if you let them be. 

You think that there may be the possibility of marrying the man in the picture next to you; yay for you! This one actually worked out for you (though there were times, due to your own ignorant head, that you could have wrecked everything).  Thank heavens the person next to you was already well on his way to being a stable, level-headed man and not some dumb boy who would have actually let you let yourself just walk away. 

You never think about how much said man in the picture will teach you; Oh my dear young soul; things; profound things (and not just laundry).  Remember to be thankful for him and not to take him for granted.  You do it far more often than you should; stop!

Oh the list of things I could continue to tell you about yourself and who you were and who we have become.  We are still changing.  We do not like change by the way (at least for right now), though I think I remember you did (does that mean that 26 year old you is scared of 17 year old you? Oh help us, maybe it does).  So I guess for now that is all I will leave you with, but please remember to be grateful always.  You have never had it all that terrible (and that is an immense understatement). 
Oh the feels I get when reading that now. There is so much that has changed and at the same time so much that hasn't. I think the biggest things I would add are... 

At 17 you don't know how broken the world can be, you had glimpses, but nothing to prepare you for the utter destruction that can hit a heart this side of Heaven. But you also don't know strength. Not yet. But you learn it, you watch it. You watch yourself and others pick up pieces that can't fully even mend on this Earth, but you pick it up at carry it. You carry yours, you carry others, and others help you lighten the load. You learn that this world is full of things that can trip you and take you under, but you learn that is also so very full (full to the brim) of Grace and Love and a community of people who understand that we need to have one another's backs in order to make life work well. It's the same community of people who supported you and shielded you as you grew. But now you are old enough to help them with that burden, a burden that becomes lighter as you work together. 

At 17 you don't know what losing a sibling can do to the inner workings of someone. But unfortunately you learned. You know that it can shift so many things inside your soul, but that you can still stay the same person all at the same time. You know that it can take you to the darkest of places, but that through that darkness there is a Light that only grows stronger in weakness and that shines in a different way now. 

You still take that boy next to you for granted too much, but there's a deeper appreciation for the man he is and the way he helps you follow your dreams! Praise the Lord you are learning to get a few things right in your old age. The man God gave you as a partner is so much better than you could have ever dared dream for, you've learned that along the way and you are still reminded of it all the time. He has taken the turns of life with you, the changes to your heart, and loved you solidly through it all. He has supported new dreams and held your hand as you worked through letting go of old ones. He, and your day-to-day life together, is your biggest adventure to date, don't ever forget that! 
Oh and guess what?! You have learned to embrace change! In fact, in some ways you have returned to your 17 year old adventurous soul. When your whole world changes in an instant you kind of have to roll with it. And you literally are. As in you bought an RV and plan to take the open roads by storm. You are dreaming of crazy things now, of changing the path your adult self had planned for your life. It's doubtful that you will really change it completely, but you aren't afraid to anymore. It's freeing really. You aren't as afraid of risks and change (part of you still thinks you should be), but instead the idea just incredibly excites you. 

And on that note I guess we will check back in in another 2.5 years. As which point this blog post will need to be written into a novel because it has just gotten way too long...