Stanley Is Two

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I wait in the lobby of the dog hotel. I hear the door open and desperate panting. You round the corner and leap up on me, lifting my dress. I am delighted. I am reunited with my boy and could care less who sees my underwear.

I used to think I was silly for loving you the way I do. After all, you are a DOG. Recently I’ve concluded that it would be a shame to not love you as much as possible.

I walk down the stairs in the morning. Your tail goes Thump Thump Thump Thump. I nestle in beside you in your bed. Your big furry belly lifts into the air. You lean into me. I know what to do. Our non-negotiable morning snuggles have commenced, and they always take precedent over coffee.

I lace my tennis shoes up and you come over and sniff so enthusiastically that I can barely move enough to get your leash. You make it very clear that you’d like to join. I clip your leash on and we walk towards the stairs. You pause and look up at me before we descend. Really mom? Thanks for bringing me mom. You drag me for the next thirty minutes through town, so thrilled to be alive, and you’re definitely the happiest dog in existence. I mostly don’t mind. Sometimes I recall what running used to be like, but mostly I delight in watching you soak up what’s before you like it’s your first time seeing the world.

Sometimes I am so tired and sleep a few hours extra. You don’t mind. You come upstairs and snuggle in beside me, waiting patiently for your breakfast scoop and morning walk. As soon as you see my eyes open, Thump Thump Thump Thump Thump. You’re too good to me, Stanley.

You are absolutely the most irresponsible financial decision I’ve ever made and most definitely the best. I have been so stunned at how hard the real world is, and sometimes you make it harder, but mostly you make it so much better. I never dreamed you’d be so much responsibility, and sometimes I thought you might have been a mistake. You forgave me right after I thought that ridiculous thought though.

The other night you took the turkey leg right off the table and ate it like you’d never been fed in your whole life. A few minutes later you jumped up and ate the roll in my hand before I could put it in my own mouth. I couldn’t help but love you even more.

Now that you and I are older and wiser, we make a good team. We know what we’re doing. I’m pretty sure we were made for each other. Life is not just easy with you- it is purely and absolutely spectacular. I really do mean it. Even when you act like a maniac and embarrass me, you are pure goodness. The sheer thought of a new friend puts you over the edge. All you want is to love and be loved.

You’ve taught me how to love extravagantly. You embrace everyone and everything. You don’t think twice. You don’t worry yourself with what you see. You just love no matter what. If only the world would follow your lead….

Tomorrow I will walk through the door and your tail will go Thump Thump Thump Thump Thump. You’ll almost lick my face off. You’ll jump up and greet me face to face. Coming home to you may be my most favorite thing in the world. When you calm down I’ll squeeze you so tight, and you’ll lean in. I’ll give you a million forehead kisses and some extra cookies in the name of love.

Stanley, You make everything better, and it is truly a privilege to be loved by you. Happy Birthday to the world’s most beloved dog. I love you Stanley.

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I am a Pilot. I am Not My Husband’s Shadow.

We’re at dinner with friends. They ask us what we do. I let Adam go first. He tells them he is an airline pilot. Their eyes light up, and the next thirty minutes consist of a series of questions for Adam and a series of exclamations directed at me regarding how fantastic it must be to be married to a PILOT! I sink a little further down in my seat and drift off to another place. This is how the conversation always goes. I wonder if there’s room for me.

A few times when I am without Adam I decide to be bold when someone asks what I do. I say, “well actually I own a skincare business, and I’m trying to finish my flight training.” “Oh cool! You want to fly too?” “Well….I already do. I am a licensed pilot.” They are always confused and then say….

“Isn’t that what your husband does?”

At the age of 14 the world was my oyster and taking flight felt easy. I wasn’t aware of the forces that would eventually come after me and try to suppress my independence and confidence. I did not question my ability to fly back then.

When I look in the mirror now, I do. I want so badly to become the woman I used to be confident I would be. Some combination of my experiences since then has resulted in this paralyzed version of myself who has become someone else’s shadow. Many people in my life haven’t noticed. That isn’t meant to shame but rather to bring light to the idea that perhaps we participate more than we think in the perpetuation of “female” societal roles and sexism. Most have simply assumed or accepted that I am now Adam’s wife. They’re satisfied with that. The few who have noticed my transcendence from bright light to shadow have been the warriors fighting for the truest version of myself, and forever I am not indebted, because they would never want such a thing, but deeply grateful.

My first instructor in high school loved me dearly but didn’t take me seriously.

We flew around in a plane that wasn’t properly maintained and always wondered why I had headaches after flying. I assumed it was my problem, because I trusted him. I failed my first check ride by not knowing the answers to the questions that he had crossed off on my study list. Several weeks later I failed my second check ride hours after my instructor confirmed that he had made sure that the airplane’s airworthiness documents were inside. When the examiner and I walked out to the airplane to begin my exam, I immediately went to show the examiner that all of the legal documents were present and up to date. When I noticed that the airworthiness document was missing, I turned to my instructor. He furiously searched his bags and the airplane. He had left the document at the airport. I trusted him.

When I got back to the airport we had flown out of, I walked into my mother’s arms furiously sobbing at the realization that these failures, though they can be perfectly and causally explained, would forever feel like and be perceived as MY failures. There’s no place in an airline interview to share this. These “failures” will be linked to my name forever. As someone who thought of the world as a really good place with really good people, this nearly destroyed me. This instructor had been a family friend, and we were all shocked and disappointed.

When we landed, (we flew from the check ride in Tennessee back to the airport in Winston-Salem where I was going to college), my dad and I walked into the flight school there and shook hands with the man I would fall in love with. He was impressive at first. It became clear later on that our relationship and my agenda as a student pilot would not be kept separate nor prioritized. After he distracted me and tricked me into thinking I was loved, he told me that I wasn’t serious enough to ever make an airline pilot. I believed him. He didn’t teach me much and gave me bad advice. Hindsight is most definitely 20/20. He ended up disappearing without any explanation and leaving me even further behind. This also destroyed me. I had seen the best in him despite the bright yellow warning signs all around me, and my heart was broken to find yet again the world untrustworthy.

Several months later I meet a female pilot at the local air show who is about to become an instructor at my flight school. I am hesitant and unsure. It would be so much easier to just walk away and conclude that it wasn’t in the cards for me. We are surely meant to find each other, and thankfully soon after we do I find the courage to get back in the airplane.

After months of being gone, I walk back into the flight school, and all eyes are on me. Everyone there believes in me and sees the light that comes from within me when I am in the sky. They also knew all along that exactly what had happened would happen. They were right to know that I wouldn’t have listened. They are hoping I won’t shatter in front of them, but they aren’t sure, and neither am I. Finally the receptionist looks me in the eye and says, “what happened?” “He broke my heart.” With compassion, she says, “I know.” Somehow that minuscule conversation, that small moment that finally broke the silence, is a huge step in healing. It takes months of forcing myself to get out of the car and walk inside until one day I am ok and it no longer matters.

My new instructor Katie values my story and teaches with compassion and kindness. She believes in me. She sees my pain and still sees me as strong. This combination of acknowledging scars and grief while also fully empowering and believing in me is truly what facilitates my “second chance.”

Why are women weak if they have feelings? Why do I need to swallow my emotions if I want a fair chance against the men of this world? That in itself is sexism, not progress, isn’t it?

I show up for my private pilot check ride. Katie believes in me whole-heartedly. I’m not sure, and I am sweating profusely. The examiner walks in. He is a friend and mentor of my ex-boyfriend/instructor. He brings this up immediately and wants to talk about our breakup before the oral begins. At first I thought that this was thoughtful of him to be so concerned. I later realized what it truly was. It was a distraction and it was an abuse of power.

Unless we shine light on moments of abuse of power, particularly of men in power, change will never come.

This day was extremely frightening as I had already failed this exam twice. I wondered if I would ever get a fair chance to prove myself. Despite the initial curveball, I passed, and there are no words to describe what it finally feels like to prove to yourself that you can do something.

Halfway through sophomore year of college, I have finally found my rhythm again. I am on my way to completing my instrument rating, and I have decided that I want to be a professional pilot. It is a challenging balance of flight school and college, but I manage to make it work, and I love every second of it.

I go home for the weekend and am told that the flight school finances I was promised have been cut off. As painful as it still is, I don’t think that it serves me to name this person. This is right before my Instrument Check ride.

I show up for my check ride with the same examiner. This is it. After this I have absolutely no money left. If I don’t finish the instrument rating now, I may never finish. It’s clear that examiner doesn’t take me seriously. He takes the entire day and takes his sweet time chatting with everyone who comes through the flight school. Many hours later when it’s time to go to the airplane, he tells me which airport we are going to. I take a few minutes to load charts and prepare and plan.

As we are walking out to the airplane, he says, “you know what, let’s go somewhere else actually.” I have no time to prepare. We get in the airplane and takeoff.

It’s time to do a hold. The air traffic controller clears me to a certain altitude and I read back the wrong altitude. He responds with a confirmation rather than a correction. I fail my check ride.

I show up for a second attempt several days later and hand the examiner his second check. I complete my check ride, and on our way to the back room where my oral had been completed, the examiner asks both of my instructors to follow. He spends the next 45 minutes tearing into them in front me and telling them that they are incompetent and that I don’t deserve the rating he is giving me.

Two years later I find a flight school in Washington where we have moved. I am very excited. This is the first time that I am getting back in the airplane after marrying an airline pilot. I am attempting to emerge from the shadows! I walk up to the front desk and explain that I need a competent and fair instructor. I have put up with enough and need the best person they have. He assures me that everyone is equally great. (That’s impossible) Small talk ensues, and everyone has a million questions for Adam after finding out that he is an airline pilot.

I am genuinely happy for him in this moment and think that surely we can both do what we love. There’s enough room for both of us right?

I am assigned to an instructor. He is extremely kind but very new. I am his first student who is trying to complete a commercial rating. We get up in the air and begin practicing maneuvers. My husband is in the back seat. My instructor is unable to explain how to do the maneuvers. My husband steps in and explains them to me. I am not angry. I have compassion for my instructor. He is kind and fair, and that means a lot. I do at the same time have a bad feeling that this is going to be a problem. Several weeks go by, and Adam continues to assist my instructor. Both of us are beginning to wonder if this is going to end badly.

I show up to the airport to be checked out in one of the flight school’s airplanes so that I can take it to do my long cross country trip. I am planning to take Adam with me. We have talked for hours about where we will go. We think we’ll fly north and then fly back down along the coast. I am so excited! I specifically request to do this checkout with my instructor. The office decides otherwise and puts me with someone else without notice. I try to be positive and patient. The assigned instructor and I go upstairs to his office to discuss the flight. We have the airplane for two hours. This instructor is extremely friendly and a retired veteran. He tells me stories for the next hour and fifteen minutes, and I try to be polite. When we go down to the airplane, we have 45 minutes remaining. I do the pre-flight and fueling as fast as I can. We get in the airplane with 20 minutes left. Someone has reserved the plane after us. We takeoff, and the instructor says, “ok we’ve got time for one landing. Make it a good one.” I smile and swallow the lump in my throat.

We take off and fly just far enough away to turn around and set up to come back in to land. We land, park the airplane, and walk inside.

In case you don’t have any experience flying at a flight school, this is extremely unprofessional and not at all how a checkout is supposed to go.

I am silently coaching myself to keep my mouth shut and not make this situation worse. The instructor informs the office staff that I am approved to fly the airplane. I pay and leave, trying to understand what the heck just happened. I go home and process this with my husband, and he too is very confused, but we decide to just move on and take note of the incompetence. A couple days later this instructor emails me and says that he has changed his mind and will need me to come back for another lesson. I respond that I cannot afford to waste more money on a joy flight, and that if I have to come back to do this again I shouldn’t have to pay for it. He never responds.

A few days later I call the flight school and ask to speak to the chief instructor. I explain what happened during my checkout and that I am happy to come back to re-do it but that I don’t think it would be fair to make me pay for it yet again. He says he isn’t going to give me any handouts, and if that’s what I’m looking for I should go elsewhere. I remain calm and try to explain to him why I should not be expected to pay this instructor for telling me stories for over an hour and for having horrible time management. The chief instructor responds that his stories aren’t a waste of my money and if I cannot appreciate all that this instructor has to teach me then I should find another flight school. I respond to the absurdity that now ensues and ask him to please be a decent and reasonable human and do the right thing. With everything in me I am hoping in this split second before he responds that he will prove me wrong about what I have experienced from men in aviation. At this point I am in tears and speechless. He fills the silence by saying, “you really shouldn’t need your husband to go with you on your cross country. You should be able to do it yourself, and if you can’t, then maybe you’re not as competent as you think and you will just have to continue coming back for flight lessons until you are.” I ask to speak to his supervisor. He informs me that his supervisor has been listening to the entire conversation and shaking his head in agreement with everything he has said to me. I hang up. This experience was at Pearson Air Field in Vancouver, Washington. If I left them anonymous, I would be perpetuating their horrible behavior, and I refuse to do that.

My instructor calls the same day and apologizes for these men. He hints that he needs no explanation because he is aware of how awful they are. He begs me to not give up on behalf of sexist men and to finish elsewhere. I return to my friend’s house in North Carolina where I am staying and cry for hours. I am done. I can’t do this anymore. Why does this keep happening? Are there truly no decent people left in the world who won’t take my money and take advantage of me………..Who won’t make this about my airline pilot husband???

Family members beg me to try again. I don’t participate in the conversation. It’s not in the cards for me. I’ll just be the housewife.

Seven months later I decide that I will apply for a few scholarships. I ask my beloved female instructors from NC to write letters of recommendation for me, and I am stunned when I open their letters. Who is this girl they are talking about? It can’t be me. In terms of my identity as a pilot, I have not felt valued in a really long time. Regardless of the outcome of the scholarships, I need to hear who I am and what I am capable of. I need to be reminded.

Adam and I pick a day to go look at flight schools. He tells me to grab my logbook, and I tell him to stay silent. No one is going to know what he does this time. This is for me. This is my one day. He agrees.

We walk into the first school. It seems nice. The airplanes are nice. There are no instructors available, but I take a few cards and hesitantly try to remain optimistic. I wonder if I can really do this. I am reminded of where this “paralysis” that I feel comes from and why it has been so easy to slide from the light into the shadows. I am suddenly re-living the past 8 years.

We go to the next flight school, and I explain to the assistant chief instructor that I am looking for a place where I can finish my training and instruct. He tells me that they are relocating all of their fixed wing instruction and asks me if I am interested in moving three hours away or to Vegas. If you know how many flight schools are in this area and also what an instructor job would pay, you know that this is a hilarious proposition to move FOR a flight instructor position. Adam immediately answers that we won’t be relocating, and I try to hold my giggles in. We get a good laugh in on our way to our final stop.

We walk inside and I explain that I would like to finish my commercial rating and am hoping to talk to someone about that. The guy to the left of the owner points to another man talking to someone else and says, “that’s your guy.” The owner does not acknowledge me nor does the man who has been designated as the person I speak to. We stand there awkwardly waiting. Eventually the designated man comes over and invites us to take a seat. I explain to him that I need to finish my commercial rating. I also share that I have had a few frustrating experiences and want to make sure that I am going to have a fair and productive experience. I inform him that as a female I expect to be treated fairly and will not tolerate anything else. He says, “you know, all the problems of the world…..they really don’t exist in aviation. Sexism in the real world….it isn’t in the cockpit.”

God truly works miracles, because I did indeed manage to restrain myself and ONLY say to him, “well, I could show you some articles sometime to prove you wrong.” He smiled and continued talking about himself.

This conversation quickly becomes a series of recommendations for what I should do in order to be hired by an airline. I go ahead and silently grant Adam permission to blow his cover because I am not sure could keep my mouth shut at the rate this conversation is going. Adam never says a word. The instructor tells me that if I really want to get a leg up (and find a solution to this problem I am having in my aviation journey) I should just get better at systems. He says that boys know systems better than girls because they grow up learning about them in school, and if I would just learn it as well as boys, then that would be really impressive. He then talks about a female pilot he knows who flies B-17 airplanes. He says she doesn’t even know systems that well / as well as boys do, but she knows the flow for her specific airplane, so it doesn’t matter!

Well thank God! If I just memorize the flow for my airplane, I don’t have to be as smart as boys to make it as an airline pilot.

He continues for quite a while until I stop him and try to confirm that I no longer need to do all of my commercial training in the Arrow (a more expensive plane) because the test standards have been changed. He says, “no you still need to do all of your commercial training in the Arrow. The airlines want you to have it. Trust me, they’ll be really impressed with more Arrow time.”

This is simply not true.

He then tells us that he could have been a captain “right out of the gate” for Horizon, but he just loves instructing too much. I find this particularly interesting because yet again it’s simply not true, but I remain silent and continue switching between head nods and smiles. He says, “yeah they’re giving out $20,000 bonuses right now and used to give out $40,000!” He looks to us for a reaction. (Adam works for Horizon and indeed received this bonus already.) In this moment I am extremely conflicted between my need to bust out laughing and also my fury with this man’s indignation to assume our ignorance and our desire for his advice.

Adam nor I have said a word in a really long time, and he isn’t catching on. His daughter calls asking when he is going to pick her up. When he hangs up the phone I encourage him to go get her. He says she is fine and keeps talking. I try to wrap things up and figure out why this man was chosen to represent the flight school to a prospective student. I ask him about next steps and if he would be my instructor. He tells me this is just an old school flight school, and everyone is great. I keep asking specific questions thinking surely he will have to answer them eventually. He answers none of them and continues talking about himself.

The chief instructor comes downstairs, and he points her out and says, “we have women who work here if that’s what you’re worried about.”

As if the very existence of a woman working at a flight school is the solution and noteworthy. It should be the norm.

I stand up and thank him for his time. We get in the car and Adam is beyond amused with the situation. I sit in silence. It isn’t funny. It is beyond frustrating. Every word that just came out of this man’s mouth tells me that after all of the progress that we have made, we still have a very long way to go.

Will women ever have an equal chance? Will we ever be respected and appreciated as if we were men?

My intention in sharing these experiences is to shine light on the very behaviors that are perpetuating sexism.

Did I ask for his advice? Did he know enough about me to judge my experience and knowledge. I asked him questions. He didn’t answer them. Instead he talked about himself and offered unsolicited advice. Why is it that what he had to say was more valuable than what I had to say?

He will never know that an airline pilot was sitting across the table from him. He never asked who Adam was or why he was there. He assumed instead that it would be our privilege to simply hear him speak.

I would never share these stories in an interview or a professional setting. Fair or not- this kind of truth isn’t what a professional is looking for. I will have to find a way to take responsibility for all that has been my fault and all that has not, but I believe that in this setting and in conversation surrounding ways that we might make the world a better place, it is worthwhile and appropriate to explore where it is healthy to accept responsibility and where it is healthy to emphatically NOT.

I believe that there is a time to shine light on and question patterns of behavior and also a time to take full responsibility and find a way to grow from these experiences. I am choosing the first right now, because if I am ever going to finish this journey, it’s important that those who are a part of my life understand where I come from.

I am more than the Wife of a pilot.

Once I click “Publish,” I will no longer have the option to remain in the shadows. I am going to finish, and shining light on why it’s been so hard is going to help me get there.

It’s important to note that my husband has never wanted me to live in the shadows. However, as a woman, unless you fight against it, it tends to naturally occur. These words are me fighting against it.

May the world someday become a place where women are assumed and expected to be all that we currently assume of the men of the world.

A Story About Stillness and Stretching

For a long time, yoga was the thing my friends needed. I wasn’t interested. And I certainly didn’t need it. Just like counseling. I didn’t need that either. And then one day out of the blue, just like the day I got up and called the counselor, I said “yes” to my friend’s spontaneous offer to go to yoga.

I hated it. Yet something in me said, “This is good for you, Jordan.” So I signed up to become a member.

I step back into the hot yoga room after two years and see a new version of myself, a much different one than the last one I had looked at in the mirror two years ago. Though I had felt so broken and lost, I had healed. In so many ways I also had very much interrupted that process. But I HAD grown, and I praised him for that.

The yoga instructor enters. We all stand up. We begin. I pick back up. I remember. The instructor offers guidance. I accept it. I even embrace it. I had grown. I smile at her and thank her. I know I am loved and welcomed in the room. This surely is growth.

“Know where you are in space and time. Your endurance is tested the most in the end.”

As sweat pours down my body, I at first think the instructor is speaking to my anxiety about not being able to know what time it is in the abyss of 90 minutes. (Nothing is allowed inside except you, your water, and your mat) But no. There’s always more. It’s always deeper than you first think. Just stay silent a few more moments, and it will come to you. What is this “it” I refer to? The divine discernment that yoga positions your heart to finally hear from that teeny tiny far away voice that is God.

The yoga instructor isn’t thinking about real time in this hot room. She’s so far past those small thoughts that do not serve her. She’s telling me that the end is near, that I will be flying soon.

“Be mindful of where you are. Be grateful for the progress that is being made. NOTICE both of these things.”

I am in fact in a hot yoga room sweating to death. This is progress. I have finally chosen to do something for myself, to love myself, to take care of myself. I have already grown. I am making progress.

I have wrestled deeply in a marriage to someone who holds and lives my dream. I have wrestled with uncertainty and setbacks. I have wondered if I am enough and capable, if I will ever get my chance to be all that I want to be. Will I forever live in someone else’s shadow? I have wrestled with myself and the universe and God. Now that I mention it, I have wondered and wrestled a lot the past few years.

Yet here I am. And all along, it is now clear to me, while I wrestled, God was plowing my path to this very spot, this very moment.

When Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow him, we are invited to reach out far beyond our broken and sinful condition and give shape to a life that intimates the great things that are prepared for us. Mark 8:34

When I took a job that sucked the life out of me, he waited, he planted, and plowed the path, keeping it ready for my return where I would be met with abundance and provision.

When I finally quit that job and trusted his plan to build a business of my own, everything fell into place.

Little did I know that when I wrote the words above almost a year ago, despite my growth and heightened awareness in that moment, I would still take even another job that I did not want nor felt called to and would experience once more that horrible feeling when you’re too stubborn and miserable to do what you know you should do.

Grace abounds, and God’s generous provision allowed me to finally be brave enough to discontinue this pattern of being unhappy and taken advantage of.

As I stare at my sweaty self in the mirror, I realize that all of this restless time had not been wasted. I look at myself, and I am not horrified anymore. He was growing me.

I take a deep breath in, grab my ankle, and slowly lift my leg behind me toward the ceiling. A few moments later, I realize as I am falling that I am not even listening to the instructor. I am moving out of habit rather than awareness.

“Yoga works for everyone, but YOU are the determinant.”

I stand up straight. I stare at my beautiful strong self in the mirror, and I am laser-focussed on everything she says during round two. My leg goes farther up than I knew possible, and I stare in disbelief at myself in the mirror. Wow, you ARE strong. Round two happens for almost every pose in yoga, and it’s your second chance. That’s my favorite part of yoga.

It is time for the rabbit pose. This is the pose that I just cannot for the life of me understand………. even when I understand it. I have done it correctly a few times, and there are witnesses, but the next time, I am back to my old habits.

Every time I think I fully understand, there’s more to learn. And isn’t this precisely why we love yoga? The instructor walks over to me. I am embarrassed. She presses down on the back of my feet, and I yield. I accept her help. I am growing. I am becoming more malleable. I am accepting grace.

The yoga never changes but the lesson always evolves.

It has been several weeks. I am feeling stronger. The instructor walks in. I haven’t had her before. She seems odd to me. Something is weird. She’s talking differently and teaching the yoga in a new way. I don’t like it. I decide I don’t like her.

A few minutes later, her voice becomes very quiet in the distance. I can barely hear her. My head starts spinning and the room is blurry. I quickly sit down to avoid passing out. Why in the world is this happening? I lay down and practice loving myself.

I continue to tell myself that it’s ok to rest as if I am telling a marathon runner to just walk to the finish line. I am not listening to nor receiving my own advice to myself. I get back up and almost collapse again. I return to my mat, lie down, and tell myself it’s ok.

This cycle repeats until I decide to just stay on the floor for the rest of the class. I am so embarrassed and frustrated. The instructor comes over, asks me if I am ok, and brings me a container of coconut water to boost my sugar. The woman who I decided was different and did not like was now bending down on the floor beside me offering me help. My heart knows very surely that that is why I have come to yoga class today.

The only judgement that has power is that which I perceive.

A few weeks later I return to class and find myself dizzy AGAIN.

If I am not mindful of myself and take care of myself throughout the day leading up, I cannot do the yoga. I am learning the hard way how to love and take care of myself.

It is time for the camel pose. I am not ready. I lay down, and I am not HORRIBLY ashamed, just a normal level of ashamed. I had healed.

As I lay on my mat with my eyes wide open staring at the bright white ceiling, I am listening to the instructor. I am hearing new words to the same instructions I have heard hundreds of times. I am present. I am even embracing the very moment I am in. I have grown.

Exodus 14:14 Be still and the lord will fight for you

Yoga positions rest. You rest frequently during class but only for very short amounts of time. You must choose to utilize these moments with every fiber of your being. Otherwise, you’ll blink, and it will be over.

In these moments of rest on my mat, over time I slowly realize and accept that I am ready. I am ready to release what I have refused to let go of, what has hindered me from being all that I am and all that I can be. In this brief miraculous moment on my mat, I release every person who has until this moment made me believe that I am not good enough to fly the airplane. I forgive each of them and release them to the universe. “You are wrong and you have no power over me.”

The class ends. I pick up my mat and myself, and walk out the door. I look the yoga instructor in the eyes and say, Thank you.

She knows exactly what I mean.

 

 

 

One Year.

A few days ago marked Adam and I’s one year anniversary. A few days later marked the end of my first year as a business owner. We celebrated our wedding anniversary with with a lovely dinner and a magnificent sunset. I celebrated the mark of one year in with my business much more inwardly. The calendar had been marked for a while, and I had been waiting for the day to come. Not to throw confetti or throw a party but to take a deep breath in and look up with gratitude to the one who purposefully placed specific humans in my life years ago to share with me an opportunity that in one short year would change everything- would cause life to look completely different than it did on May 10, 2017. Those people who shared an opportunity with me that has and will continue to change everything for Adam and I also have become family. Dear dear friends. The way they love and support me is truly too deep for words.

Being a newbie at marriage and owning a business all at the same time have unsurprisingly contributed to a very hard year- one of stretching and changing, one of thankfulness and sometimes bitterness, one of realizing all that I am not but all that I am becoming. Many have judged my choice of business, but then again, many judged me for marrying so young. Many have grasped the vision and celebrated both, some only one of the two, and either way, I choose to put my energy and gratitude towards that. To those who still wonder or don’t understand my business, much like my choice to marry way sooner and way younger than society typically encourages, when deciding rather or not to become an entrepreneur, to do something so unexpected and so scary, I followed the still small voice that always serves as my guiding light, and this time it said, “there’s more.”

What do those two words mean? So much to me: There’s more in failure than you’ll ever find in security. There’s more than what people think of you. There’s more than meets the eye. There’s more in a life shared than you could ever gain for yourself alone. There’s more in choosing to say yes than the comfort of saying no. There’s more in doing the extraordinary and magnificent than the ordinary and mundane will ever lead you to. There’s more that I have for you, and this is it. Trust me. Leap with me. Believe me so much that in all the ways that these things I offer you are hard, that yet you still rejoice. Because there is more.

To everyone who has supported my business and my marriage this past year, with all of my heart I celebrate you and I thank God for you. To all of my customers, you may never know how big of a role you play in the genuine joy that this business gives me, but I very much hope that you do. To my business partners whose strength and support have created the most profound and beautiful sisterhood in my life, where in the world would I even be without you? Who would I even be? I am certain God positioned every single one of you to carry me, and I to carry you, through this glorious magnificent journey. To those who haven’t quite caught the vision yet, truly, you’ve grown and stretched me. I look in the mirror and wonder, “Who is that? She is so much stronger and beautiful and resilient than I’ve ever known her to be.”

Here’s to year two of both marriage and business ownership being probably even harder and most definitely even more glorious.

Slow Mornings

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A slow morning is what my heart longed for for years but never got. I didn’t have time for such a thing. Slow mornings are what I prayed for but never was sure if they were possible to have. They are a personal metaphor of choosing grace- a gesture, both physical and spiritual, that acknowledges a trust of something bigger than myself. I used to not give myself slow anything. I wanted complete control of my life, and therefore I could never justify sitting still. When that kind of lifestyle wasn’t sustainable, I began wondering and then slowly stumbling on and practicing “slow mornings.” I didn’t do very well.

What if I gave life a little more time?………….What if I planted my seeds and then trusted?…………What if I didn’t force my crop along but simply waited for the harvest?………. What if I learned to actually enjoy the authentic process?.……..Could I rest while waiting?…………….Was that possible for someone like me?……..Could grace run so deep that it postured me to genuinely rest and trust?

I always wondered in school if you could “have it all.” I worked so hard. I was so passionate about so many things, but I always found true life when I rested, and true rest was a very rare occasion for me. I did love all of the things I did, but when there was no time for rest, it was hard to fully enjoy those things in the same way that I could when I allowed for rest in my life. I found myself beginning to painfully long for more rest in my life. For space to run to a friend in need when they called. For space to take a spontaneous nap once in a while. For space to get up and go away on an adventure for 24 hours. For space to be a truly and fully present human in the community I was a part of.

Leading up to graduation, I felt a troubling anxiety about what would come after. Those who had shared in my life knew that sleep and self care were always very low on my list of priorities. They also knew that it was beginning to wear on me and that the Lord had been gently asking me for a long time to consider a more restful life. I couldn’t have both. Could I truly calm down and have boundaries? Could I truly find lasting joy in that kind of lifestyle? I wasn’t sure.

Fast forward 9 months to a very different version of myself who spent a lot of time praying to and begging both God and myself to create a more restful version of myself. To a woman who takes GREAT delight in waking up slowly, enjoying her cup of coffee, and watering her seeds. I really wasn’t sure this would ever be possible, but Jesus is constantly working miracles in who we are, and I am grateful for my past self who didn’t know how to slow down. That version of myself led to the deepest gratitude for this newer version of me. Every season has a purpose. Even the most horrible ones.

I have learned that life is a culmination of planted seeds. God first planted a family in my life who I came to deeply love and trust. Then once that relationship was completely safe, he planted an opportunity for me that was opposite of anything I had ever wanted in life. He knew that would be extremely hard for me, so he pillowed that opportunity in long, meaningful conversations and lots of snuggles. When I was ready to trust him in the most extraordinary opportunity that would lead me to this extraordinary wonderful lifestyle, I was able to leap and trust.

I used to try so hard. I used to work so hard. I used to plan extensively. But there was always something missing. None of it ever felt complete. And the worst part? I could not find the solution. I was convinced you could only have one or the other- a career or a life. Sure you could have both but not fully. There would always be a tension between the two. By the end, I had truly decided that I wanted a life over a career. Whatever that meant, I wanted a life more than a job. But the sweetest part? Jesus had a plan to give me both. He provided the very thing that would give me both rest AND provision. Both stability and space to dream. Something that would fulfill me, provide for me, but also enable me to be a very present part of my community and family. I praise the Lord for the open heart that he worked for a long time to create in me- one that was finally able to accept this extraordinary provision that was so opposite of all my ideas and plans. One that would allow me a restful life but one where I could also do what my heart loves most- flying through the clouds.

During these beloved slow mornings of mine, I praise him for the rest he has gifted me with. I praise him for his patience with me when I could not see the value in the unconventional opportunity he laid before me. I praise him for all that is both extraordinary and ordinary in my life now. I praise him most of all because I finally have a balance of both.

 

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This story is written with deep gratitude for the Hipp family who generously shared with me the opportunity that has changed my life and given a whole new meaning to what a full life can look like.

 

 

 

A Birthday Letter To My Puppy

My dearest Stanley,

One of my most treasured friends- the kind who still sticks around and even sits on the same side of the booth with you after you have made THE worst decisions and really gotten yourself into the messiest mess possible- called a few months ago and said, “Jordan, do you still write?” That question has so much inside of it to be unpacked. Writing is one of my greatest loves yet something that I am so unfaithful to and flaky about. Ironically, Portland, Oregon is the very place years ago where I sat and forced myself to promise to be better about consistently keeping up with writing. It never happened. Years later as A new comer to the Pacific Northwest, living in this spot that I have dreamed of for so long, I am able to see my “writing predicament” from a much more gracious perspective.

When I forced myself years ago to promise to write consistently, I was still finding value in achievement. Since then, though I still have so much more to learn, I have a lot more compassion for myself and am just beginning to understand that writing is God’s opportunity for freedom to me because he knows how much I need it. And isn’t he always so sweet like that? And isn’t it funny that I am just now able to begin seeing that? Looking back, it makes perfect sense. The books that are full of my handwritten words are from my travels. Travel used to be the only time I would allow myself to stop and breathe and soak and truly think all of my thoughts and be my truest self.

So, that piercing question that has woken me up and put me to sleep ever since my friend called has challenged me to graciously step back into the thing that frees my soul and pulls me in closer to the one who knows me best.

And who does my heart want most to write about? The puppy who I claim is going to put me in the nearest mental institution but who secretly has my whole heart.

Stanley, I have started to realize during our quiet moments at the end of the day when you finally stop barking at everything that does and doesn’t exist that it’s me and not you. When you curl up wherever you choose for that particular day (because you can’t make up your mind to save your life), I remember February 3rd when your dad insisted that we go to the Pet Store and I didn’t want to, but it was HIS birthday after all. He was playing with this crazy dog whose price had been SUPER marked down (because he was so crazy). He was crazy and scared me so I walked away. Of course now you act exactly like him and I don’t think twice about it.

I walked down the aisle of dogs and thought a few were cute. Then I walked the aisle again really wishing Adam the lover of all animals would let us go and escape the crazy dog because I didn’t really even like dogs. At the very end I found you tucked into the corner of your crate napping. Ever since we got you, you’ve always found great comfort in being “tucked in.” You love having a wall, or anything for that matter, to snuggle your back up against. You are the most tender soul. I found you, and I couldn’t stand it. I don’t really even like dogs. Yet the entire world stopped and I truly could not figure out what to do with myself or these new emotions. I squatted down and stared at you for what felt like hours. The birthday boy was still playing with the crazy bargain dog while I tried to navigate the overwhelming new territory of being in love with a tiny furry being. I finally went over to Adam and told him all about you and gushed and repeated myself over and over until He got rid of the crazy dog and asked for playtime with you instead. I hated so much to wake you up, but I had to touch your perfect soft curls. We all huddled into the play pin, and I was so awkward because I knew I loved you so much, but I had never been good with dogs and I didn’t know what to do with you. You were so tiny and spastic and peeing everywhere and I looked to Adam for guidance. I was so out of my territory. Adam was perfectly at home with you and I was honesty a combination of afraid and in love. The girl working at the pet store kept coming over silently signaling that we had overused our free puppy time, but we didn’t care- we kept pretending to not notice because we couldn’t get enough of you.

When we finally braced ourselves and asked how much you were, I almost passed out and decided there was no way we could spend that much money on a DOG. We walked away for maybe an hour and then were back telling them we were taking you home. We stalled and asked tons of questions and asked to play with you again as if we weren’t sure and had any sense of financial responsibility and self control, but my decision was made the very second I found you tucked in the corner of your crate napping. I felt a very strong responsibility to love you and give you a home.

You are now monstrously large, and I just had no idea what I signed up for when I carried out a tiny golden doodle in my arms on that bitterly cold day in Chicago. But I knew that I loved you and I knew that your name was supposed to be Stanley. They told us at checkout that you were an extra special (and expensive) doodle because of your red fur color, and extra special you are indeed, Stanley.

Stanley, you are our favorite. I have lost count of the times you have pooped (if we can even call it such a respectable name) and vomited on our carpet. The same carpet you RIPPED up out of the floor in multiple rooms. Admittedly, I have yelled through the apartment once or twice that we were getting rid of you. I’m really sorry for that. The first time you threw up in the middle of the night I shoved you in the bathroom because I didn’t know what to do. I’ll probably never forgive myself for that one. Somehow I actually in that moment thought that’s what I should do. (What was I thinking?) Now I make sure to grab your face and look you in the eye and promise you it’s ok and that I’m not upset. Because vomiting is frequent for you because you try to eat everything. I’m still working on patience with the fact that you always vomit around 4 am when you’ve eaten something you weren’t supposed to the day before.

If we’re being honest, at the end of the day when you and I sit together and recover from the madness and forgive one another, you’re what I need, and you have my entire heart, and I am very sure that you know that. I give you 500 foreheads kisses each day because I have to be sure you know you’re loved. You slow my world down. And the best parts of the day are when you and I sit on the floor and I rub your belly for a while. I am reminded that simple contentment is what you teach me every day.

When I took you to your first entire day of daycare, it occurred to me what life would look like without you. It would involve a lot more freedom and money for sure. But do you know how much more broken my heart would be every time your Dad leaves for work? It must be the very best thing in the world waking up to you and falling asleep beside you knowing that I couldn’t possibly be more adored than I am with you. Never have I been so loved. You can’t stand to even let me go to the bathroom alone, and honestly Stanley, your love is the very best. Your ears flop out of place all the time, and one of my greatest delights is watching you try so hard to get them back in place. Eventually I step in and fix them for you, but goodness, you are funny.

When you and I went on the huge road trip with mom for the grand move, I was so sure I was going to lose you, or you were going to run off a cliff, or that one time when you were dreaming doggy dreams in the car and I had my first ever panic attack because I truly thought you were dying in front of me because I had bought the wrong treats for you from the only store in Montana that I could find. I didn’t know your eyes rolling back was normal and I totally lost my mind and started yelling and shaking you……you looked at me like I had completely lost my mind.

I tell everyone you’re a lunatic, and Stanley, my dearest Doodle, you are and you have absolutely no awareness of that, but I am also so proud to be the one you love. I am so proud to be the one you count on. I worry about you as if you are my first newborn baby. If I’m honest, many days I resent that. I wanted more time and freedom and independence before I took on that responsibility. But I also know in a very deep deep place that you and I were supposed to take care of each other, and relationships aren’t easy and they require you to give a lot of yourself, and it’s usually at the most unexpected time. You’re growing me into a much better version of myself.

You know what the hardest part about adjusting to life with you has been? Realizing how selfish I am. I never thought of myself as terribly selfish until you came along and required A LOT of me, and that kinda made me mad. It was so upsetting to me because you weren’t part of my plan. I plan my life out every year, and life always goes TERRIBLY different from the plan, yet I still keep planning and getting frustrated when life doesn’t go accordingly. I didn’t plan on having someone so dependent on me for at least ten years. I wanted to enjoy my freedom and be able to pick up and go whenever I wanted. I had NO idea on February 3rd how much you would need me. In the obvious stuff like surviving with food and bathroom breaks. But especially emotionally. I just had no clue that you would be closer to a human child than a dog child. You have required great sacrifice of my typical habits and lifestyle, and that has been a very hard thing for me to make peace with. But you know what? Even though the world will never say or reward this, there is greater value in building a life than a list of accomplishments. That still makes me cry, but that’s ok because every day my heart grows for you and I shed a layer of my own selfishness. You have drastically changed my life. Some of those changes I still can’t fully accept yet. But you don’t care. You love me so much.

I honestly think me being this blunt about the hardness of this journey with you will offend some people, but I think I’m not going to worry about that, because at the end of the day, it’s just you and me, and we are the very best team. I love you Stanley. I think I’ve done a horrendous job of tending to and caring for all of your puppy needs, but I’m doing my best, and at the end of most days I have a little cry of gratitude that we have each other. Don’t tell anyone, but today is your birthday and I am about to explode I am so excited that this day is finally here. I love you more than you know. More than I even know. You have brought endless joy to my life Little stanley. It has been my greatest delight to celebrate you today.

“Because I am your mom”

My dearest Angelica,

I did not want to go to Chile. I got on the plane in Dallas Texas at the end of August, and my heart was shattered. This was so strange for me because my greatest joy in life up until that point had been getting on a plane to see a new place. This time was different though, and my heart really wrestled with spending a semester in Chile. I was terrified that God was telling me not go by giving me these emotions, but I was also terrified of missing the opportunity. So I got on the airplane a day later than I was supposed to, and you were at your apartment waiting for me with a hug and a smile even though you were supposed to be at work (and I later learned that you REALLY needed to be at work because God bless Patricia she was not kind). You welcomed me in, showed me my room, and gave me coffee and a snack. You sat with me and we attempted communication even though we all know I should NOT have majored in Spanish. You didn’t rush me even though I was keeping you from being at your job where your always frustrated boss was waiting. Your heart and intentions for me were genuine from the beginning. Even before I loved you back for that. You put your whole heart on the table for me from day one.

You walked me to class and then headed off to work. I was exhausted, terrified, confused, and many other things, but I tried to hide it when I heard you come home that night from work. I quickly learned that I didn’t need to do that with you. You would be my safe space. You would be the only safe space. And every time I would thank you for that, you would stop, wait for me to look into your eyes, and say, “Because I am your mom.” You said that to me almost every day, and those words have come to shape one of life’s truest blessings for me.

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A year ago exactly I set my alarm for before the sun came out so that I could write you a birthday letter. And the day before I bought you a piece of dry lemon cake from Starbucks that we both know is TERRIBLE and laugh about but still, it’s something. I was so excited to surprise you with this awful piece of dry lemon cake. I just loved you so much. It’s funny to think about that a year later, because my love for you one year ago compared to my love for you now does not even compare. A year ago you were my greatest fan and my safest spot. Now you are my mom. The way you loved me, saw me, and cared for me during my time in Chile has forever changed my life, Angelica, and I think about you every single day. All I want for Christmas is to be able to save up enough money to fly you here.

Whether I was supposed to get on that plane to Chile or not, you are my angel. Your presence in my life during that semester saved me, and had it not been for you, I am sure that I would have left and come back home.

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Here is the list of the reasons why I am celebrating you today and always.

  1. I have never seen Adam love anyone as much as he loves you. You are so special to him.
  2. You take both my happy and broken heart in. You always allow me to feel how I feel.
  3. You spirit kick with me in the living room and in the street.
  4. My triumphs are your celebrations and my sorrow is yours’ too.
  5. You sing and dance in the street with me and aren’t concerned with the opinions of others.
  6. You took me EVERYWHERE and were so proud of me.
  7. The simplest combination of hamburgers, wine, and Grey’s Anatomy are forever some of my most cherished memories.
  8. You laugh with me as hard and as frequently as I do.
  9. You love me and everyone else in the world so generously.
  10. You are HILARIOUS.
  11. When the day was extra hard, you sat on the patio with me and talked with me for hours about the things that actually matter, helping me to focus on the permanent security that you and I share whether than the temporary frustrations.
  12. You share deeply and honestly always.
  13. You shared in one of the hardest seasons of my life, yet you see me in the brightest light.
  14. You fight for me, and you protect me as if I have always been your daughter.
  15. You pray over me and are mindful of me.
  16. You gave me a home when I needed one most.
  17. You devoted your life that semester to me and my well being.
  18. Your love makes the world a better place.

Angelica, Your existence changes the world every day. Your resilience has taught me so much, and your stories have shaped who I am today. The way you love and truly delight in me is something I carry in my heart every day. Thank you loving me, taking care of me, and protecting me when I needed it most.

Feliz cumpleaños mi mamá.

Jordy

Givenness Out of Brokenness {Life in Chile}

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You know how the fall leaves are magical when they first start to change color? But also, and especially when you are five years old, when they die and fall to the ground, providing an entirely new surface to walk on, a fresh path that crunches beneath your feet? This great big opportunity to just throw your whole body into this big colorful pile of nature? Givenness out of Brokenness. And you know how someone’s story of defeat and heartbreak can become your deepest source of inspiration? Givenness out of Brokenness. Ann Voskamp’s concept of “Givenness out of Brokenness” feels like life here in Chile.

The picture above is actually from my time in the states. And, in the midst of one million tests and doctor’s visits, I couldn’t fully appreciate this, but as I write these words, I can’t help but see an overwhelming amount of goodness in the timing of my return. I was SO sad to be missing fall this year, and yet, there I was processing all that life had been lately among the big beautiful colorful trees. I got to sit for hours and hours among them! Out of our brokenness {weeks of tests and needles and not knowing what was wrong with me}, there is goodness.

Now I am back in Chile, and during my long walks home from the park, after a good long run, God feels closer, and the world slows down, and I hear him. He gives me thoughts to think about.

Give out of your brokenness.

“Give grace. Even though it doesn’t feel like there is much given to you right now, give it anyway. Do not give only because you receive. Give when you do not receive, because so too did Jesus before you ever chose him. In fact, OUT of your brokenness, give, because that is the philosophy that saves you. That is Jesus. That is the gospel. He broke himself in order to give to you, in order to give you life. Out of your brokenness, spread life here. Do not perpetuate the suffering you feel in your own heart, but rather use it to lodge light into the suffering of others. Out of your deepest levels of brokenness, give. Weary, homesick, vulnerable, and unsure can still give. Give first. And then receive. And isn’t that the gospel? In fact, rejoice and find joy in your brokenness, for Jesus draws near to the broken. Spread the goodness of brokenness, because your very life comes from the brokenness of Jesus. Give out of your brokenness.

“If only you knew what fire every person is facing, there isn’t one fire you wouldn’t help fight with the heat of a greater love.”

Remember the man who held your backpack for you on the train that morning? He gave in response to the look on your face. His awareness of your brokenness encouraged you to keep going. He knew he wouldn’t receive anything from a stranger who in five minutes would fight her way off of the train. He was probably just as weary as you were from the chaos that is public transportation here. But he just gave. Look around and do the same. Continue the cycle of broken people giving. Risk everything on someone broken, because, “faces are mirrors that prove all our separateness is mirage, that all there is to see is the face of Jesus in others- and for them to see the face of Jesus in you.” Give out of your brokenness.

We yield from our brokenness. 

“Acorns break into oaks. Seeds break into wheat. Your scorched soul can feel it- you were made to grow into something more, but that only happens if you will be brave enough to break.”

Angélica was only able to be your host mom and invest so much of herself into you as a result of losing her amazing job a few years ago. We yield from our brokenness. 

You have a community at home who share in your most vulnerable thoughts and feelings and pray for you day in and day out. They hold you, and they always have. There are so many people who truly see you. Do not be discouraged by the ones who don’t. We yield from our brokenness. 

Do not forget the friend who says that while you feel your weakest, they see you as the strongest you’ve ever been. Or the one who said that what feels messy and hard to you, looks like a celebration to them. We yield from our brokenness. 

Choose awareness of all that you have.

“Sight is only possible if light can break into us. Refuse light to break into you, and you will walk blind. Refuse to let Him break into you, and you will die. The broken way illuminates the whole material world, everything breaking into everything else….we don’t live abundantly until everyone who crosses your path breaks a bit into your heart.”

Those flowers that were new and purple and lovely on your walk home from the airport when you came back….. Those don’t have to be coincidence. Those can be gifts. They are gifts. Now, they are rapidly falling from the trees less than a week later. They held on for you. They waited for you, knowing their bright color would encourage you. Choose awareness of all that you have.

The smell of urine that you can always count on as you walk to the metro in the morning….. Let that break you in a way that spreads goodness. Let that break you in a way that reminds you that not everyone has a home to return to at night. You do. Choose awareness of all that you have. 

The smelly man who sits right beside you on the metro, on your longest stretch home, who everyone else moves away from. Stay there. Don’t move to another seat. You’re sweaty too. Love him anyway. Maybe he can’t afford deodorant, or maybe he is much freer than you and just doesn’t care what other people think. Either way, embrace him, and learn from him, and Choose awareness of all that you have. 

The blankets on the sidewalk covered in vendors’ items. Yes, they cover up the space where you wish to walk, but don’t despise the people who laid them there. You have never known need like that. Your every need has always been provided. Choose awareness of all that you have. 

The woman next door who smokes and fills your room with that horrid smell that makes you so angry. Choose love instead and remember how large and annoying your footprint on the world has felt at times to others. Choose awareness of all that you have. 

Your mom, who is so in tune with your spirit and the heart of the Father, awakes in the middle of the night to pray for you, because she knows you must be having one of your hardest moments. So much comes from the way she longs to share in your brokenness. Let her. Choose awareness of all that you have. 

You are held and loved for every second.

“When love’s got a hold of you, there isn’t a lie in the universe that can pull you apart.”

You LOVE to give. Don’t fool yourself that you can only give to this place and this people and this experience from a full and light heart. The people who have truly given the most to your life have given out of their own honest brokenness. That is how you have healed and grown. So dear one, share your brokenness in a way that gives.” 

“You are where you are for such a time as this. Not to gain anything, but to risk everything.”

The {Dealyed} Story of September 21st

Many of you have asked “who is Adam?” and “Tell me the story of the proposal!” Andddd I must admit that I didn’t do a terrific job answering most of you. I just needed a little more time to reflect and process.

But first, meet Adam…..

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It is the strangest thing to have a ring on my finger when so many of you haven’t yet met the person who gave it to me. Also a bit strange to be 4,000 miles away from him. But, it is simply one more way that God is growing and stretching us.

In the beginning, everyone asked me, “what do you love about Adam?” I remember my answers being less than fluid and confident. I felt really weird about being sure I loved him but not exactly sure of all of the reasons why. Now, I could write a thesis on all of the reasons why I love Adam David Ruemenapp. Here’s just a short excerpt…..

My mom found this wooden thing this summer while we were hiking in Zion that had Adam’s name on it. I find name gifts like this odd and impossible to be an accurate depiction of every human with one particular name, but, nonetheless, after explaining to my mom how lame it was, I discovered that it was actually a pretty good description of Adam. “An individual who is warm and understanding, who becomes involved in matters of importance, an individual having much to offer others, who shares with others, has twinkling eyes, rises above adversity, and never gives up. New tasks excite him.”

That’s Adam. He can’t sit still to save his life. He hates having his picture taken and is very anti-jacket. He brings a box of cookies in the airplane with him and uses the heat in the window to warm them up. He has the worst eating habits and the highest metabolism of anyone I have ever seen, and he is constantly looking for the best donuts in town, always insisting that they only come from Koreans. He requires at least one good long walk per day to stretch his legs and think all of his thoughts and he love weird ghetto chicken fast food places. He periodically picks one song and plays it over and over until we can’t bear to listen to it any longer, and the way he pronounces “chihuahua” throws me into a spurt of giggles every single time.

Adam is kind and gentle and keeps all of his promises. His heart is SO big and its capacity surprises me every day. He has the world’s worst memory, yet has all of my mannerisms and preferences memorized. His smile is soft and gentle and His eyes get big and sparkly like Dory from Finding Nemo. He knows how much I love forehead kisses and gives them in copious amounts, and He actually delights in the {frequent} moments when I become paralyzed with laughter. Even when when we are trying to move a king mattress up three flight of stairs, which never worked out for us by the way, or are in the airport parking lot trying to catch our flight.

“Understanding” as a descriptor of Adam feels like an understatement. Every problem of mine is His. He never tries to pull me out of or change what I am feeling- He just always comes and sits beside me. He doesn’t try to make it better with shallow pep talks, and he never gets tired or annoyed with my feelings. There are no conditions to his love for me. He just stays on the phone or sits with me for as long as I need him to.

 

The Proposal

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Adam and I are pretty simple together. It’s very easy to make us laugh, and even easier to make us happy. We just kind of find ourselves in a different universe when we are together. So, naturally, the proposal was also simple.

I flew into Dallas on Saturday morning from Chile knowing that I would go back engaged. I had always thought that I would need an extravagant surprise of you life kind of proposal, but that actually wasn’t at all what I needed……..But it turns out, there were other surprises waiting for me to make the experience still dramatic and thrilling…… Like barely making my flight at all. Both flights out of Santiago were completely full that Friday night. The first flight, the one I had planned on taking, took off without me completely full. There was one more flight left for the night. Angélica and I prayed and prayed as we stood there for forever waiting and hoping for a miracle. And at the very last minute, and I do mean the very last minute, they called me up and gave me the one open seat on the very last flight out. (Angélica stayed with me all night until they finally let me through and blew me kisses all the way through the security line. God bless that woman.) When I boarded the plane, I introduced myself to the guy beside me as the only person he would ever meet who was this excited to be sitting in the middle seat for a nine hour flight.

Adam and I flew to San Fransisco from Dallas a few days later. While we were waiting for the trolly car with our luggage, certain comments that Adam made helped me realize how much thought had actually gone into this trip and that we weren’t only in San Francisco because it was a better engagement location than Dallas. I quickly figured out that San Francisco was very specifically chosen as he looked at me and said, “Jordan! You’re about to ride a trolly car! You said you had always wanted to do that, remember?”And, “Jordan! Remember when we made a list of all of the places we wanted to travel to together? San Francisco was the first place on the list.”

Before going to dinner, Adam made sure we were matching…….my first hint. Then we had dinner by the water, and of course He had pizza, and of course our appetizer was french fries. And it was perfect. Then we just walked for a really long time. We walked along the water and stopped to admire the Ghiradelli sign (because Adam knows that Ghiradelli is like Disney World for me). Our walk took us through a park that takes you up onto the top of this magnificent hill covered in trees that overlooks the water and the Golden Gate Bridge off in the distance. We kept walking, and the sun kept creeping down towards the water. We eventually got to the beach that sits just below the Golden Gate Bridge, and that was a magical moment for me, because I’ve always wanted to come visit this giant red beauty in person. I’ve flown over it countless times on Disney’s ride Soarin but this was so much better.

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It was freezing, the wind was blowing, and the sand was cold, but we didn’t care. We walked and walked, and the sun crept little by little downwards toward the ocean, making the bridge appear more and more golden. Adam eventually pointed straight in front of us to a spot off in the distance and told me that that was our destination. I knew that whole afternoon what was coming, but that was the moment when I really knew.

Something oddly and unexpectedly beautiful occurred in the five minutes that followed him saying that. I would have never imagined that I would know what was about to happen- that I would know when I was about to be proposed to. But it was actually the most wonderful thing, that did not feel spoiled by my “knowing.” Walking on the beach holding Adam’s hand, watching the sun set down over the Golden Gate Bridge, a view I have dreamed about for a long time, having the privilege to soak up all that our journey together had been so far, all that it was in that specific present moment that He had perfectly planned and thought about, and all that it was going to be. In about five minutes, there would be an engagement ring on my finger. That ring would stay there for forever. In a way that I wouldn’t have been able to, had the engagement been a complete surprise, I was able to fully soak up all that had been uniquely and separately wonderful about dating Adam, and anticipate all that would be uniquely special about being engaged to Him. That felt like a gift.

We arrived at “the spot.” No one was around. The beach was ours.’ The sun was setting, and it was quiet and serene. The sky was painted an array of colors as we stood in the place that we constantly dream about moving to some day. And there was Adam David Ruemenapp, in front of me, on one knee asking me to spend the rest of my life with Him. Saying “yes” was easy. He exchanged the promise ring currently on my finger for the engagement ring that He had patiently let me design and fret over. And then we just soaked it up. Everything about that night felt easy and joyful and saturated in the deepest sense of peace.

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We scouted the beach for someone who would take our picture and eventually found a man  alone taking pictures of the bridge. He was pretty far away, and we didn’t want to miss our chance, so we started running straight towards him. Then we realized how unsettling that might be to a complete stranger, so we decided to run at a pace that was slow enough that if we felt his gaze turning towards us, we could quickly switch over into a brisk walk that would be less obvious.

Nonetheless, we made it to him just in time, and the poor man who was just trying to enjoy a quiet evening on the beach took our picture. I think we really overwhelmed Him and greatly disrupted his solitude, but for a worthwhile cause I think.

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We had a long walk back, but we skipped and frolicked and ignored the red hands on the crosswalk signs, filling the air with, “I’m getting married!” and “YOU’RE getting married!” and “Jordan, you have made my heart grow three times bigger!” and “WOW!!! Adam look at it sparkle!”

September 21st was perfectly joyful, and very appropriately, concluded with a sundae and a Cookie from Ghiradelli.

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Many more adventures happened between then and now. I am back in Chile and so grateful that I decided to go back. I worried beforehand about what people would think of me using one of my breaks in South America to go back to see Adam in America instead. Jordan, the brave adventurer who travels the world and mingles with all of its people….. How lame that she would fly back to America just to see her boyfriend. But then I realized how much MORE lame it would be if I made a decision based on that logic. Right or wrong….. Who can say? But finding Adam at the DFW airport at 5 am waiting for me, not on my computer screen, but REALLY there hugging me in person, after a really hard first month here in Chile, was the very best feeling. I came back to Chile a week and a half later in a completely different state than when I left, so much more at peace. Time with him was what I needed. It wouldn’t have been what I needed a year ago or the year before that. I needed to be with the world with my big backpack strapped to my back. And “missing out” on traveling then would have been a tragedy. But now everything is different, and my perspective has been altered, and while I still LOVE the world and all that is has to teach me, I love Adam more.

We’re gonna get married and freeze our booties off in Illinois and I can’t wait!!!! (There is a Ghiradelli there)

A Birthday Letter to My Chilean Mom

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Your favorite lemon cake and the soft flannel from America you requested is awaiting you when you wake up, but this feels like not nearly enough. Where to begin and how to tell you how much I love you?

Chile has been so hard, but home has not been. Our shared apartment at 151 San Ysidro feels like home, and it is because of you.

You told me recently that the moment you saw me with my big red backpack strapped on my back, you thought to yourself, “I know her.” And you shared even more recently that you finally heard God’s answer to why you had such a drastic shift in jobs before I arrived. You said He told you that it was “because Jordan” and then you explained that you never would have been able to host me if you had still been working your previous job. And I can’t help but think how gracious and kind God is that He would put so much thought into my home here while I wasn’t even thinking twice about Chile before I came, only that I really didn’t want to come. Yet here we are, the best of friends with plans already made for you to come to America for my wedding.

Angélica Aravena, you are my gift. You breathe life into me on my hardest days here. You are a constant reminder that I am not alone but that this journey is a shared one. And just when I need a laugh, you pull out the lime green selfie stick or explain to me what I actually just said in Spanish.

Even when no one else here understands me, I always feel sure that I am known and loved by you. You have always been the outlier to the hardness of this experience. During my hard month of transition here, you didn’t once try to turn my negatives into positives or make me feel anything other than what I felt. You were full of gentle understanding and patiently waited for this new place to feel a little less scary to me. It’s just what I needed- for us to keep setting the table every night and breaking bread together and going on small field trips to the market on Saturday mornings, both knowing that I just needed a lot of rest and space in the beginning. You completely accepted and understood every feeling that I felt, and there was great relief and freedom in that for me.

You have told me over and over that you consider me being your daughter a big responsibility, but you don’t need to. I see that every day.

Thank you for sharing my frustrations when I’m frustrated and spirit kicking with me when it is time for celebrating. Thank you for making my lunch, even though lunch here is technically my responsibility. Thank you for bringing home random treats like a scarf because you know I love them so much or a chocolate chip muffin just because. Thank you for folding my clothes and cleaning my room while I went back to the states and for washing the dishes when you know I have a ton of homework but have promised that I am still planning on doing them. Thank you for taking me everywhere with you and truly taking me in as your own.

Thank you for providing still precious moments of deep conversation that bring tears to my eyes because they remind me that someone truly sees me and gets me. For so many different reasons, I am sure that my placement with you wasn’t random. I am sure and grateful that we were destined to share this experience.

Thank you for buying excessive amounts of avocados because you know how much I love them. Thank you for being patient with me in the beginning when lighting the gas stove nearly put me over the edge and when I had no concept of how much hot water here costs. Thank you for being gentle and compassionate with me always.

Thank you for delighting in me and loving me. Thank you for blowing me kisses as I rush out the door and waking up at 5 a.m. just to make sure I have my coffee that you never judge me for being so addicted to.

Thank you for dancing in the street and singing with me. Thank you for walking me to class field trips, randomly blasting music through the house on a Saturday afternoon, making my favorite fresh tomato salsa two days in a row because you know how much I love it, and so many other random things that you do that you don’t think twice about. They are continuous sources of joy for my life.

I hope whole-heartedly that we can be friends forever. I love you so much easier, so much more than I could have ever expected from one month together, but I do, Angélica, so very much.

¡Feliz cumpleaños! to you my friend

Chile

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Chile. The country. Not the descriptive state of the temperature. Not the red soup that we add Fritos and cheese to. (I know that all of you think that you are so hilarious when you make these references.) Chile is, in fact, chilly though. I wear Birkenstocks sandals every day, and people look at me weird, and, rightfully so. One woman even felt so strongly about it that we had a conversation about it in the produce aisle of the supermarket. And by the way, wanna experience full realization of how far from home you really are? Just go to the supermarket. The bags of Starbucks coffee are in a special locked case, and foods here that are “American” and not popular in Chile are very expensive. So, things like granola have been put on hold in my life. Milk is not refrigerated and only sold in boxes, and weed and Plautus (avocados) are plentiful. The amount of smog is shocking and tries really hard to hide the Andes mountain range that towers above in the distance. It is never silent, and personal space is something one should never hope for here. You really pray that you don’t find yourself needing to get home during rush hour, and the green person on the pedestrian sign, when it’s time to cross the street, actually is an animation of someone running. I am learning a ton about myself from observing my own sidewalk etiquette and frustrations that reveal that I apparently think I have a greater right to one square foot of concrete than anyone else. Isn’t it humorous the way God refines us sometimes?

Life here is strange and new and has left me feeling a bit lost. My heart hasn’t fared quite as well as expected, and there have been a lot of tears and naps so farI live in a high-rise apartment building in a large city. My car is the subway, and I ride an elevator to get to the front door. The language is not English, and, if you know me, you know that we don’t take my major in Spanish very seriously. Heating water is very expensive here, which makes a hot bath at the end of a long hard day nonexistent, and toilet paper may not be flushed, though I forget every day, and for a solid ten minutes yesterday, truly thought that I alone had destroyed the plumbing system of our entire building.

But then, there is the gift that is the existence of Angélica Aravena. She is my Chilean mom and my saving grace. She comes home to me and we celebrate all that is both good and hard in life. I have taught her to spirit kick when good things happen, and it is amazing. This woman will just randomly break out into song and dance in the streets of Santiago, so she is ALL about the spirit kick. Pretty sure she did three in a row last night. And you should see her sing the national anthem. She and I laugh constantly, and that is the greatest gift to my soul. She is goofy and accepting and has embraced my presence in her home with much love. But this has still been hard, and it still is. The beauty of Angélica, however, is that she shares in the hardness with me. (aka we curl up on the couch and watch Netflix, pretending that Economics isn’t really a class I am taking)

I considered going home a couple of days ago. Pros and cons. Potential consequences. Eventually I reigned myself and all of my emotions back in and decided that I would stay. My decision may have had something to do with finding the most dreamy empanada, and if you have truly had a good empanada, then you know that it is like the world whispering to you “it’s gonna be ok little one.” But mostly, it is knowing that He is here. With me. And His presence is sustaining. So, I will stay and embrace instead of run. And so will He. I have Him. I must remember this.

Peace comes as I continue to make more and more sense of Why this has been so hard. One. I didn’t want to come. It’s complicated. For a lot of reasons. But I am still not completely sure whether or not He told me to go or stay . And I am definitely not sure why I am here. My heart was anxious and twisted before coming here, and God gently helped me realize recently that an unenthusiastic heart is going to have a really hard time also finding joy. A repositioning of my heart is currently one of my prayers.

Two. Through this program, I will get a third minor and graduate from Wake with honors. This requires co-teaching English at a underprivileged school, taking classes at a University here, and writing a senior thesis. This has all been very overwhelming to this heart of mine, because, truly, I am just chronically tired from doing way too much for the past five years and just wanted to come here and be- to walk the streets and know the people and hopefully find my life changed at the end by my reflections of these experiences. But that isn’t an option. And that is where the tension of my heart ultimately lies for now. How do I somehow learn to love this giant noisy city when I would rather be in the mountains? How do I somehow find a way to be diligent in my studies and my job at the school when speaking Spanish exhausts me and when economic theory blows my mind every time? Again, I always come back to God and his sustaining presence. He is, after all, the source of my breath and my life.

Three. I finally healed (If we ever truly are) from a slew of things and learned how to experience real community and how to really let people in, and now, I am apart from those people. I now understand, much more so than the times when I have gone abroad before, what I am missing when I am apart from community. It used to feel refreshing and like a breath of fresh air to leave, but I now deeply miss sharing life with dear friends. More than anything, I miss being known.

Four. I have found my person. It has all been very fast, and everyone is still experiencing a bit of whiplash I think from the whirlwind that my relationship with Adam has been this summer, but it is Him, and I am as sure as one can be. And now I am so far from Him. It is a bit of shock. A really cold splash of cold water. And, to be honest, it has crushed my heart a bit.

So, what do I do with my increasing awareness of why? So far, I pray a lot and read a lot. I fully utilize the soul strengthening powers of my electric blanket, and I let myself have more chocolate cookies than usual. But the prize truly is the Holy Spirit, I am learning. And it always has been. But maybe this is a journey of discipline to actually adopt that as a lifestyle- that when circumstances are great and when they are horrendously icky, the prize is consistently the Holy Spirit. Anything else, such as good circumstances, is just a shiny red cherry on top.

This is hard, but all hard things produce fruit. This is uncomfortable, but discomfort causes growth. I feel Him in the midst of my swelling and plentiful emotions of all that this has been so far. I feel Him when the bench perfectly engulfed in sunshine is empty and waiting for me. I feel Him when I find a coffee shop with tables perfectly positioned in front of the windows to let in as much light as possible. I feel Him when I discover that the running path in the city is actually way longer than I thought and that I can actually run as far as I want at the end of the days that are particularly hard. I feel Him when something is actually {miraculously} funny in Economics class, and I feel Him when Angélica laughs with me as I try to put the box of cereal in the refrigerator. I feel Him when a stranger walks me to the street I found impossible to navigate to on my own and in all of the other ways that He has shown His face to me and provided. I feel Him, and He is with me, and it is this sureness of His presence that extends the grace to take as long as I need to with this adjustment. To feel whatever I feel. Because, even still, He is with me. Always. His being with me is unconditional. Even of geographic space. He is sustaining me. And it shows up each day as long as I look for it. Today, out of nowhere I found myself with a topic for my {previously dreaded} thesis and yesterday, I found a new park. And, spring is not yet here, but I sense its’ arrival and my frozen toes leap for joy!

I am learning to celebrate small victories, and I am also learning to be more gentle with myself and its honest response to each day. I am here, and I don’t know why, but I am, and somehow what feels like a complete paradox and mess of conflicting emotions right now, is going to be a beautiful and treasured experience. And really, aren’t all of life’s moments?

My fears are drowned in perfect love.

April

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There are so many little moments in this story that make it the biggest and sweetest unexpected blessing. I am already tearing up just thinking about this journey we have shared, because I assumed it was going to be one thing and then ended up on my face in humility at what God had intended.

April is from China. She is a sophomore and thinks everything here is “so sweet.” She is actually a little jokester but only allows you the experience of her comedy once she gets to know you. Her favorite place to eat is Bojangle’s, which makes me giggle, and she loves me better than any American I have shared my life with. Now that you have a little glimpse into the heart of the person who changed my life this year, I will begin with the first day of our story……..

I go to a few fitness classes throughout the week on campus, and one day in November the cutest little Chinese girl walked in. Conveniently we both needed a partner, so I initiated conversation with her and instantly fell in love. She was so sweet! We got a good core workout in and then parted ways. The next week she was back! I was so excited. We started talking again, and at the end of the class I suggested that we get together for lunch sometime. She seemed really excited (which only encouraged my ridiculous level of enthusiasm) and we exchanged numbers. A few days later we did indeed get lunch. At first conversation was a struggle. I wish I could go back and just watch. We both tried to be so polite but were both so confused by what the other was saying. After a couple lunch dates I was in love. Thanksgiving was approaching, and I asked her if she had plans. She told me that she didn’t and was just planning on staying on campus. I just couldn’t believe she was going to stay at school by herself on Thanksgiving when you’re supposed to stuff your face with loving people all around you. I didn’t say anything, but it really bothered me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next few days. I called my family and told them all about my new friend from China and explained that she didn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving. I told them I knew this was spontaneous and I barely knew her but I couldn’t let her spend Thanksgiving alone. I talked to a couple friends about this trying to gage how weird they thought she would think I was for inviting her to come home with me when we hardly knew each other. Everyone warned me to be cautious and to wait as long as possible (to have as much time together) before asking her. I agreed that that was rational and planned on waiting. Soon after I met her for lunch and one thing led to another and somehow the invitation just slid right out of my mouth. I couldn’t help it. She was so cute! I had to take her home. Her response was priceless. I remember being kind of nervous to ask but just knew deep inside that I had to. I said, “I know we barely know each other and this is probably really weird, but if you want to I would love for you to come home with me for thanksgiving. I already talked to my family and they’re ok with it. I just don’t want you stay here alone on Thanksgiving.” She was so shocked. She couldn’t believe that I wanted to take her home. I tried really hard to not make eye contact and get myself together but I teared up a little bit at her response. It was one of the sweetest moments I have ever had. I was just so excited. She said she would love to, and my heart gushed.

“I have a new friend. Her name is April. It’s funny how we make it our goal to love certain people and influence them in the beautiful direction of God and then later take a moment to realize that they are actually the ones teaching you.”

Things get a little messy after our perfect beginning. Before I continue with our story I think it’s important to note that in the past I have had somewhat “perfect” expectations for certain aspects of my life and also for the people in my life. April has given me the incredible gift of learning that that isn’t fair to anyone and also incredibly unrealistic. She trampled my expectations- and for that I will forever be grateful. It was frustrating in the moment, but now I’m a different person because of that.

Leading up to the day we were supposed to leave for Tennessee I had a strong feeling that something was going to go wrong, and I was going to have to choose to stick with her despite the complications that were coming.

I was planning on going home early and flying to TN. I had talked to April about this, and she had said that she would also be able to leave early. The day before she informed that she had forgotten that she had class that day and wouldn’t be able to leave on that day anymore. The weather for the next day was predicted to be horrible, so if I wanted to bring her home with me we were going to have to drive. She apologized and suggested that maybe it would work out next year. I knew in that moment despite my frustration that she was more important than my convenience, so I told her it was fine- we would just drive. Once we figured out when we could leave and made arrangements the next day she told me that she had forgotten that she had to be back early Sunday. So, at that point I was going to lose 2 days with my family that I had planned on having with them. However, I still knew what the right choice was, so I told it was ok and would have her back when she needed to be. My family was really frustrated, but I went to bat for her and explained that it was really important to me that she not spend Thanksgiving alone.

On the day we were supposed to leave I thought the worst was behind us and that it could only get better. Not quite. Once she was done with class she told me she was on her way home, so I left to pick her up. When I arrived I called her, and she informed that she had just been in a car accident. She said everyone was fine but was shaken up quite a bit. I asked her where she was and told her I would come pick her up from where she was. She was really confused and didn’t understand. I parked right beside the scene of the accident and told her where I was, but she didn’t understand. I kept texting her and calling her saying that she really needed to come get in the car with me, because if we didn’t leave within fifteen minutes we would be stuck in North Carolina due to the predicted ice storm. She just didn’t understand, so finally after many calls from my dad saying that I would just have to leave her because I needed to leave “NOW” I got out of my car in the rain (of course it was raining) and walked up to the scene of the accident right next to the state trooper and said, “April we have to leave right now!”

I got her in the car, we got her suitcase and got on the road. It was pouring and I could barely see the road. Traffic was terrible. I was so stressed out, and she was terrified because she had just been in an accident. About an hour later she began getting car sick. We were stuck in horrible traffic. I was trying to get home by an impossible time, because we were supposed to all eat dinner together. There was so much going on. I wanted to scream.

Sounds like a disaster right? Here comes the good part. Somewhere inside of me bold Jordan came out and brought up religion. What came of that was one of the most meaningful conversations I have ever had with someone. I told her my personal experience with God and how he has shaped every part of me and every aspect of my life. I just talked about how stinking good her is. She looked up at me and said, “wow. Life would be so much better.” She was referring to what I had told her about the grace of God and the presence of that in my life when I mess up. I again teared up. That was THE moment for me that weekend. It has been so incredibly hard to get her in my car, but it was so very worth it. Just for that conversation. Thanks God

The drive was miserable and quite dangerous. Weather was terrible. I could barely see the whole night. my eyes were screaming at me. It took two hours longer than it usually takes, but we finally pulled in to the restaurant for dinner and saw my family sitting by the window inside holding up a poster welcoming April. I knew it was going to be a beautiful weekend. My family loved her well, and for that I was so thankful.

Home Is Where My Heart Is

I am so delighted to be writing this post. In the midst of a lot of anxiety about other things, I came to realize about a week ago that I no longer miss home. This might sound heartless at first, but I have had a really difficult time starting a new life in a new place, and it is a really great feeling to not have that anymore. I had been hoping for peace about this for a semester but never quite fully grasped it. When i got back after Christmas break I realized I was full of peace about where I was. This doesn’t mean I love my family any less. It just means that God has helped me get to a place where I can truly enjoy the journey alongside him now. “Home” really is where my heart is. When I find myself in the presence of God I find myself at home regardless of what state I happen to be in. Wherever my heart is, there Jesus will be also. This means I can rest assured that I will feel at home wherever I may go, because I am carrying Jesus with me. Although it took me a while to realize it, this is where I belong. This is where my story continues. This is the current plan for my life, so I am going to rejoice in it.

I think part of this peace has come from a new perspective on the way I spend my time. Jesus is first. No, seriously, regardless of how much homework there is to be done, he must come first. Life has been so much more fulfilling with that perspective. It allows me to see why I belong, the little nuggets of affirmation that God gives me every day. If my lens is dirty and foggy, it is difficult for me to see the things God is putting in front of me, things that can offer me peace in this new place.

Gaining a family here has also added to my sense of home. My Young Life community is the most beautiful combination of human beings. I love them and the way they affect my life. They make me feel closer to Jesus and pour truth into the details of my days. I am so thankful for them and so glad God called me to invest in this particular ministry.

I am hopeful for future peace when my journey in North Carolina ends and another begins. I can now truly say that home is where my heart is.

Waiting

Being on a campus where the norm is “hooking up” and partying when you aren’t studying makes it difficult to walk in constant confidence of God’s plan. One night I was really struggling with waiting and being the girl who has never been kissed.

I was sitting in my room before bed just talking to God about how much my heart desperately wanted someone. I knew it wasn’t the right time, but sometimes I just have to tell him how frustrated I am with waiting. After falling asleep, God answered my request for peace in a dream.

I was climbing a mountain of sand but wasn’t making any progress. I kept trying and trying to make progress toward the top, but I was just stepping in place and, if anything, sinking closer to the bottom. I could hear the voice of God saying, “Jordan, let go and let me help you.” But in response, I clung to the sand even harder (which was slipping through my fingers). I was fighting so hard to get myself up this giant mountain of sand by myself, because on the other side of that mountain was the most beautiful wedding that I had ever seen.

I was doing everything I could on my own. God was desperately begging me to trust him. It wasn’t time to reach the top. Instead of tirelessly striving in place, he wants to hold me steadfast and keep me safe until it is time to reach the top.

Patience

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I began flying in Tennessee when I was fourteen. Random, but it’s become a part of who I am. It is something I am identified by and something that has really captured my heart over the years. It’s taken a long time, because there has always been so many things going on in my life.

Learning to fly has taught me just how terrible I am at time management. It’s ok though, because I can look back now and see my misconceptions of priority and am able to learn from that. However, this terrible management of my time has also led me here, still without my license. My heart has gotten a lot more anxious about getting my license over the past year, and I really wanted to finish before I moved to North Carolina. I kept making these mental lists of how I could make it possible and how I could get everything done by August. I wanted to cross the finish line to a race I had been running for four years. What I didn’t do was stop and enjoy the moment. I was so consumed with just getting it done and checking one more thing off that I lost the beauty of the experience. I was literally flying an airplane every week, seeing a view that most people aren’t afforded, and yet I hardly even appreciated it, because my focus was elsewhere. Every time I got in the plane, I left my heart on the ground.

My heart expanded when I began flying, not just for being in the sky but also for the seventy year old man beside me. He took special care to be patient with me and my peculiar life and schedule. He became part of my family. My love only increased in the midst of his quirks and unfortunate sense of humor. He always knew when to be quiet and smile when I was ranting and when to calm me down with encouragement when I let out my fifth sigh of frustration. He’s been on this journey with me since day one and has rooted for me every step of the way. I completely trusted him to get my to the finish line.

Although I had hoped to get my license before coming to college, I wasn’t able to due to my ridiculous need to stuff everything I possibly could into my summer. Living in North Carolina made it pretty difficult to get my license in Tennessee, so I finally gave in and visited the flight school nearby to talk to them about finishing up. When I walked in the door, everything changed. The dynamic was so different from what I was used to. It felt uncomfortable and kind of scary actually. It was intimidating to try to prove to a stranger that I knew how to fly an airplane. The woman at the desk gave me a business card, and said,” here is one of the instructors. He’s a nice young man. I think you’ll like him.”

A few weeks later I arrived for my first lesson, which felt like a blind date. I had no idea what my instructor would be like. I knew his name. That was it. I opened the door and quickly scanned the room. I heard a voice say, “you must be Jordan,” and my brain tried as quickly as possible to match the face with the voice and keep my awkwardness to a minimum. The conversation proceeded as any new one does, and then we went out to the airplane. This environment was so incredibly uncomfortable for me, and all I could do was sense his stare of disapproval. I began pre-flighting the airplane, and the majority of what I did was not completed without correction. I felt so tiny and insecure by the time we were finished.

We got in the airplane, and I was a nervous wreck. All I wanted to do was jump out of the plane and run. But I didn’t, seeing as I was in the inside seat, and he was in the seat in front of the door. The rest of that day consisted of Him correcting me and making comments about my instructor in Tennessee’s lack of care for me and my efforts to politely disagree. I fought for His credibility and assured Him of how great this instructor of mine really was. My heart was incredibly offended, and I couldn’t imagine ever coming back to willingly fly in an airplane with him.

I walked out of the building, got in my car, and breathed the biggest sigh of relief my lungs have ever supplied me with. I called my family, enraged at this insulting person I had just paid to spend 2 hours with. I was inwardly begging them to tell me that I should never go back. However, my family dealt with me as they always do-gentleness toward my typically passionate emotions. They softy encouraged me to go back and give it another try. I to choose between getting this license and my pride. I scheduled a second lesson.

A few weeks later I was home and back with my old instructor in Tennessee. I flew as much as possible and prepared for my check ride on January 9th. I worked so hard and studied like crazy. The morning of the test, I was so excited at the possibility of that particular puzzle piece finally being filled in. Unfortunately, the opposite happened, and I never even got to get in the airplane with the examiner. My instructor apologized and told me how sorry he was for not preparing me adequately, but the sting remained. I was crushed. I had put all my faith in Leon. I really believed that he was capable of getting me to this goal, so it was really hard to accept that the opposite was true.

We got back, and I was angry. I kept my mouth shut and mostly responded to his comments with silence. When we got back, I drove to my grandparents’ house and just cried. Other than wanting this for myself, I wanted so badly to bring back a pilot’s license to my grandfather. It’s been He and I in this journey all along. He has given me such an incredible gift of being able to learn to fly, and after four years my heart so badly wants to produce something tangible. Of course his love was unchanging, and his only source of unhappiness was because of mine, but in my mind I had failed not only myself but him as well. I had prayed that morning what whatever God wanted to happen would happen, but I hadn’t truthfully prepared my heart for two possible outcomes.

It took a few days after this happened to begin to let it go, but God began giving me grace to give to my instructor. It was a process, a reluctant but a necessary one. I kept pursuing God’s heart and trying to be patient. It was really hard to accept reality, but I managed to get back up and try again. I made plans to go to school for a week and and then come back to Tennessee the next weekend to try again.

I studied and prepared again. I flew with my instructor in Tennessee and did the maneuvers multiple times trying to over-compensate this time for my fear of failing a second time. I was also having trust issues, because I no longer fully trusted him. There were a lot of burdens and worries in my heart that week. The tension between Leon and I had been pretty thick, and it was all I could do to have a conversation with him. There was still bitterness in my heart that I wasn’t even fully aware of at the time.

On the day of the second check ride I walked in with an indescribable blob of emotions. That day is just a blur. I passed the first part of the exam (the part I failed the first time) and felt partially relieved. The examiner and I went out to the airplane to preflight. Five minutes after he and I had been outside, he brought to my attention that we were missing one of the documents in the plane that makes it legal to fly (the same document that Leon had assured me was located in the plane the night before when I asked him to check). The moment he said that my heart gave up. That was it.

The three of us stood out by the plane with my instructor giving excuses to the unamused examiner. Eventually we just all stood in silence looking at the ground. There was a giant elephant between us, and I finally had to bring it up. I was so annoyed and didn’t see the point in just standing there staring at each other only because no one wanted to state the obvious.

I bit my lip as hard as I possibly could as I accepted the second paper of failure from that examiner. My instructor and I again got in the airplane and flew home in silence. This time, I was furious. My entire family was coming up to the airport to celebrate the license that they would soon find out I didn’t have. It felt like a disappointment and failure even though I knew that was the furthest thing from the truth. But, the fact that it was someone else’s fault didn’t make it any more bearable.

In addition to breaking the news to my family, I also had to get on an airplane and go to North Carolina with my instructor. With a freshly crushed heart, I had to say goodbye to the people who could love and support me through this. I held it together until I went to tell my mom goodbye. I finally just let myself cry. I let my pride go and just cried in front of everyone. I hate failing and I’m super hard on myself, but I was tired and had used up all of my strength. I couldn’t be the “perfect” Jordan that I often feel like I am expected to be.

The ride back to school was a very quiet one. I sat in the airplane without a headset in desperate need of silence and laid my head on my dad trying to prepare my heart to say goodbye to him on such an already heart wrenching day.

We arrived at the airport in Winston-Salem, and I went inside to talk to my instructor there. I explained what had happened and allowed him a moment of “I told you so.” It was just all surreal. I never thought I would be back in the place that I had run from a month ago. But I was. And for some reason that’s where God had lead me. I decided to accept it and start fresh. I scheduled my first lesson of this new learning experience and tried to prepare my heart to start all over again….again.

College

I recently began a really important chapter of my journey. College. High school was hard for me and a relief to be finish. Once I did, I think I kind of expected life to be swell simply because I wasn’t in high school anymore. This is when we just give ourselves grace and laugh that we would ever think of life as such an easy thing.

A couple of years ago all I wanted was to leave my tiny hometown and never ever look back. I wanted big drastic change. I had my heart set on a top tier school. I was determined to become fabulous and rule the world. The whole time I loved God and spent time with him, but my heart had yet to mature. I saw God and school separately. But that doesn’t work out so well, because school is my life. It is my chapter. It is my season.

When it was time to drive the Uhaul (again, we just laugh) to Winston-Salem, I was afraid. I had left home plenty of times before, even to go across the world, but I always left with a specific return date. This time there was none. That startled me. I knew I would be ok, but my heart couldn’t decide what to do. Be excited or sad? I had so many thoughts about what I wanted to say, what I wanted to do. I simply couldn’t balance my heart with reality.

I think this is because I hadn’t prepared my heart. I thought I was super mature and ready to start this new life, but at the last minute I realized I wasn’t. Of course I was still planning to proceed as planned, but deep in my heart I was dreading the goodbyes.

The night before I was supposed to leave for North Carolina my grandfather wasn’t feeling well. We knew he was going to go to the ER but weren’t too concerned and were waiting to here back from him that everything was fine. For hours we never heard from him. We called the hospital and were told that he was discharged. That didn’t make sense though because we searched his house and still didn’t find him. Meanwhile his wife was on her way back from Alaska and had no idea what was going on. I was full of worry and praying hard that truth would be revealed and we would find him.

We finally called the hospital again and were informed that a mistake had been made and that he was in fact in the hospital with multiple blood clots, and one was in his lung. Already full of emotion and exhausted, I panicked. As soon as I heard the first few words come out of my mom’s mouth I ran across the house and flung open the door of my parent’s bedroom to wake my dad up. I told him over and over that He had to get up immediately, and we had to go to the hospital. I was a really big mess. My grandfather is a giant chunk of my world.

When we arrived at the hospital, I was trying to keep it together, and I did until I walked in the door to His room. I saw him and all I could do was run to him. I grabbed him and laid my head down on his chest and sobbed.

I wanted so badly to stay right there for the rest of the night, but I knew I needed to rest for the drive and the big change that was coming the next day. With a broken heart, I left him in the hospital with a promise to come back the next day.

The next morning I went to see him. I never imagined that’s how I would have to say goodbye, but it was.

That day consisted of a lot of emotions. A lot of tightly held hugs. A lot of tears. I had no idea when I would see them again or what I was getting myself into. Thankfully, even though I didn’t know it, I was about to enter into a beautiful new chapter that God had already and would continue to eloquently write for me. He knew my heart was timid. He knew I would be so overwhelmed and anxious in the beginning of all that is college that I would even question his very existence for a short time. But, He never closed his hands. He left them open and waited for me, full of grace.

When I got off the interstate in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I was a very different person than the one who is writing this. It feels like I have shed a layer of ignorance from then to now. The first semester of college was hard for me. It wasn’t a journey of bliss into gobs of new friendships and super fun parties. It was more of a time to settle in and be alone. That probably seems very strange, and it did then to me as well, but I am now able to see the purpose of that time. I am normally someone who loves to be with people and make friends, but when I got here I actually felt the desire to be alone. I was confused by this, because this was very opposite of my normal personality.

At first, I used this silence in my room alone to question everything about myself and about the God that I had directed my life to for eleven years. I couldn’t feel him. I felt nothing. Not one drop. This was also very new. I struggled with this loneliness in him and kept reminding myself of the night he softly whispered to me, “Jordan, what I love about you most if your persistence.” This was the moment that changed everything and gave me insight on what the focus of my heart should be- persistently pursuing the heart of God without relent. While doubt was all over the surface, in the depths of my heart that only God sees, I knew that he was with me even though every fiber of my being was saying the opposite.

Towards the end of this desert season, God gave me a little insight that didn’t set well. He asked me one question- “Who am I to you in a dark empty room?” A dark empty room is a very true representation of my heart at that time. I had traveled from being surrounded by people soaked in the love of God to being surrounded by people who were dry and (unknowingly) thirsty for that same love. I never realized how much my experience of God relied on the presence of others. As I was desperately trying to hear his voice, I began thinking of a blank canvas in that exact same dark and empty room…. and if I were to draw Jesus on it, what it might look like. I realized that I shouldn’t have to draw other people on that canvas. It should only be his face.

While community and relationship is the heart of God for us, it’s crucial that these come after the intimacy is secure between He and I alone. Intimate is what we became, and I spent a lot more time alone than I would have envisioned for my freshman year in college, but it strengthened my heart and my certainty in him. I am now so much more at peace in him. It is still difficult to feel him in the midst of everything happening here, but walking through the desert with him was essential, and it brings me such joy to know that He knew exactly what he was doing.

Grace

This blog is more of a personal journal but something to be shared as well I guess. I don’t have much of a vision but am currently feeling excitement to make a blog. I am feeling compelled to document my journey with God in this way. I am currently in the midst of many changes, and I see great things coming out of them, but they haven’t been easy. Recently I have been trying to think about these changes with the perspective of Grace.  Life is a journey of change, and I am convinced that the only way to get everything you can out of it is to be persistent. There are good times and bad. Times that make sense and times that don’t. The times that I have been stubborn and persistent in response to my flesh have been the times that the presence of the Lord has been the strongest. One of the most distinct times I have ever experienced God was in one of my darkest seasons when he spoke to me on a long run and said, “I love your persistence.” At that moment the word persistence became my “life word.” It’s my favorite word. It’s the word I come back to. It’s the word that seems to make sense in every situation. One aspect of my life that requires a lot of persistence is in my personal pursuit of grace. God recently gave me a vision of him screaming, not in an angry tone but still a desperate one. “I FORGIVE you!”

 I find myself asking for his grace sometimes with closed hands. It’s very hard for me to accept the grace that is there and paid for. It’s difficult for me to open my hands and grab it. Why? I try to make sense of everything in my mind and I wrestle with it until it does, but of course, so many aspects of God are impossible to wrap my little head around no matter how hard I try. I must open my hands. Forgiveness is mine. GRACE is mine. I don’t deserve it, but that’s the point of the gospel’s goodness.

I want my life to be an extent of grace to myself and to others. Even when it’s the most difficult thing to give. I so desperately want God to fill my heart with so much grace that all I can do is hand it out, because I am overflowing with it. God is telling me that there is a barrier, and the solution is grace. First for myself. Then for everyone. I am almost convinced that grace is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and others. It is Jesus. It sees past the current mistake onto a greatness that exceeds one bad moment or choice.

I think of God sometimes and how he looks at me in this way, and it blows my mind that there is something that good for someone so undeserving like me.