My Own Worst Enemy

I am the queen of thinking about overthinking about thinking about overthinking about thinking. And I am, a lot of the time, my own worst enemy. Yesterday, was one of those days.

I began questioning everything about my life while being stuck on I-77 in Charlotte for a solid 2 hours #whatupQueenCity?! (insert eye roll here). But it seems those moments stuck in a car are when my mind tends to start spiraling out of control.

I started wondering if I had done enough with my life. I’ve been on earth for 25 years. Assuming I were to make it even REMOTELY close to 100 (Jesus, please come back before then!), that’s a quarter of my life gone. Hence, #quarterlifecrisis. I was the smart kid in high school. I was supposed to go and be the smart kid in college and make something great of my life. Be the woman wearing pencil skirts and 4 inch stilettos with a corner office, a big paycheck, the perfect house, car, and family, taking care of my parents and sitting pretty. HA. Like any of that has happened.

There have been SO many things that derailed my plans. From injuries to family health issues to financial strains…to my mind. Yesterday is where I realized I’ve been my own worst enemy for quiet some time. Let me show you why…

1 – Went to college to be an engineer. Told myself I hated the major and it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life…so I switched majors. –> While I still agree I didn’t want to be behind a desk, I only came to this realization after making my first ever C’s and thinking I can’t be the struggling kid in this major. So I switched. I was the smart kid again. Life was good. My mind told me it was better to be the smartest, and in order to do that I needed to choose something that came easier to me.

2 – I DREAMED of dancing collegiately in college. So I went to NC State where I made the Dance Team. I got hurt halfway through my freshman year. Had knee surgery. Pushed through my sophomore year. Then hung it up… –> While the injury was legit, and it hurt like hell most days, I look at my body now and what I’ve pushed myself to do in Crossfit, or even just how much I pushed myself to run an 8:30 mile yesterday (don’t judge…that’s a big deal!), and I wonder if my knee was really the reason I left the team, or if my mind got the best of me in the moment and I could’ve pushed through the pain.

3 – I wanted to work in sports. I interned for summers. I had the connections. I had the job offers. But I turned them down because I needed to be close to home. –> My mind told me I needed to be here. To be the good daughter and sister. To be the good ole Southern Belle who stayed close to where she grew up and paid the bills and got married and had kids. Don’t misunderstand…I don’t regret staying. I still want to be married and have kids. But I let my mind tell me I couldn’t make it on my own at 21 across the country away from everything I ever knew. I was scared.

And NOW…now, I’m letting my mind tell me all my choices were wrong. If you had quit reading before you got to this part you’d probably think “This girl is a quitter. This girl has so many regrets. This girl hates her life.” But I can promise you, none of those things are true. At the time I made those decisions, they all felt right. [Looking back, the only one I would probably change was sticking it out on the Dance Team and saying screw it to the doctors and the pain.] I think all of us have those “what if” thoughts about how things could’ve turned out differently if we had done this or that. But I do believe that no matter what choice we make, God is Sovereign in all of them. An old bible study leader instilled that phrase into me. She poured it into my heart every single time I was overwhelmed.

Maybe I had the brains and the skills to be more that I am. To be the doctor. To be the engineer. To be the lawyer. Maybe I did miss out on a bigger paycheck or a different city or something “better” than what I have. But after today, going into a hospital and doing a job that I LOVE, I realized I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. And every choice has led me here. Yesterday my mind was my own worst enemy. But today, today my heart won. Jesus won.

As I pulled into work and saw RadioThon happening to raise money for one of the Children’s Hospitals I work in, I listened to stories of children and families on the radio. I listened to the radio hosts talk about how some kids are arguing over which color backpack they HAVE to have for school in a few weeks, while some children are just begging not to be poked again with a needle. I don’t say that to induce pity or guilt. I just say it because being able to do what I do, to go into hospitals and hopefully bring a little bit of joy to kids each and every day – that’s enough for me. I don’t need the big paycheck or fancy clothes. I don’t need to wonder if I didn’t amount to enough. Because when I come home everyday, exhausted and sometimes emotionally drained, I’m full of joy. And I’ve never been in a more fulfilling or humbling career in my entire life.

Today, my mind doesn’t get to win. It doesn’t get to trick me into thinking I’m not enough. Jesus is enough. And all that He has done for me is more than enough. Don’t let your mind be your own worst enemy. Know your worth. Know your King.

^/\^

“it is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” – unknown

IMG_2644

#tbt – She’s Sitting Where?!

 

So…a few weeks ago I traveled to Denver, Colorado (talk about MOUNTAINS!) to see my bestie, her husband, and her new babies! (One fur baby, one precious little girl!)

On my way out there, God decided to drop a little lesson of humility in my lap. And one I’ve decided to share. This is what I wrote on the plane…

Today is the day! The day I get to visit my best friend and her brand new baby! I’m so pumped. I’m headed to Denver. As I wait in the Charlotte airport I’m so excited for the next few days – spending time with my bestie, meeting this gorgeous new baby girl, seeing a new place, the list goes on.

But you know what else I’m excited about – flying! I love flying – staring out the window. Seeing those great “fly-over” states. There’s something magical about it. And you know what makes it even better – when you have the window seat AND an empty seat beside you. YESSSSS!  “I’m totally going to stretch out and take a nap on this 4 hour plane ride” I think to myself.

I sit in the airport and keep checking the standby list and the seat map on my phone, crossing my fingers nobody gets put beside me. 12 minutes to boarding. Seat is still empty. SCORE! But wait…

No! NOOOOO! Here comes an airport worker, pushing a lady in a wheelchair. He wheels her to the gate. All I’m thinking is “Please don’t put her beside me. Please don’t put her beside me.” Guess what…the gate attendant says “all I have are middle seats…but I have one close to the front in 5E.” 5E?! I sigh. I roll my eyes. I quickly check the app to see if there is another seat I can move or upgrade too. There’s not. I’m 5F.

Here we go, I thought. We begin boarding the plane. I’m so annoyed. I know I can’t stretch out. I have to sit beside the lady because THEY gave HER “my” empty sit to relax in. I’m walking down the aisle and I put my stuff overhead. As I begin to slip into my row HER stuff is EVERYWHERE. Her big puffy winter coat, her ziploc bag of snacks, her glasses, her puzzle book, the list goes on…

I tell her “that’s my seat” as I point to the window sit next to her. She begins to gather her strewn out belongings piece by piece slowly and piles it all in her lap. Passengers behind me are waiting to board. The flight attendant is staring at me. I’m waiting on this woman who is fidgeting and trying to get all her crap together. I roll my eyes as I finally sit down. It gets better…

She can’t get her seatbelt buckled. Naturally I’m on my phone…snapchatting, taking selfies, sending a few last texts (the usual!). “Watching” yet ignoring her out of the corner of my eye.  She can’t get it buckled. But she won’t ask for help – but clearly she’s starting to panic. Finally…with a sigh, I offer. I can’t get it buckled either. I tell her she will need to ask a flight attendant. The flight attendant looks annoyed as my neighbor asks for help- AND she can’t get it buckled either. She walks off…and here comes another flight attendant. I see my chance. I quickly say “isn’t there another seat she can move to?” The flight attendant replies no as she finally gets it buckled.

Immediately this feeling of guilt overcomes me. Did I REALLY just say that? I wonder if the lady took offense. But I mean…this lady took MY extra empty seat to relax in, right? She’s heavier set. She doesn’t smell good…her coat smells horrible. It’s touching me. Her snack bag is touching my leg. Ugh. I like my space.

And WOW… I’m being soooo judgmental.

I pick my phone back up. Then stare out the window. I’m ignoring her. Ignoring the fact I’m already uncomfortable and we haven’t even taken off. Or trying to…

We take off…finally. I nap for a little while before this coat is attacking me. She’s moving and tucking and flailing it about. She’s cold. She can’t figure out how to turn her vent off. I ask her if she’d like me to close it and she is sooooo incredibly grateful and sweet I just smile. About that time the flight attendant comes by with the drink cart. She’s sassy. And impatient. She gives this lady water but my neighbor can’t figure out how to get the tray table out and of course the guy on the other side is an annoyed millennial just like me who doesn’t want to help her. So I do. I’m still not thrilled about it.

 

I turn back to the window. Those “fly over states” Jason Aldean sings about sure are gorgeous.


The flight attendant comes back by. The lady asks for orange juice. The flight attendant snaps at her and tells her to speak up. The lady asks again. The flight attendant harshly replies, “I have COFFEE or WATER.” I glare at her. And I’m pissed. I’m mad she’s snapping at this lady. And then I realize, I’m mad at myself. Because I see me in her. I see a millennial who expects people to move quickly, speak clearly, and have it all together. To not be annoying or cause me to slow down. To not be different than what I like or expect.

And in that moment, I hear Jesus. I see Him in this lady’s face as she says thank you quietly to the flight attendant. I hear him as He says quit burying yourself in your phone or ignoring people out of convenience to you. I hear Him as He says love others as I have loved You.

So I put my phone down. And I turn to have a conversation with the lady. We begin to talk. First about the clouds. Then I ask her if she’s from Colorado. No she replies. She says, “I’m from Virginia. I have a sister who lives in Denver who I provide in-home health too.” Hold up- this lady who was in a wheelchair is a caregiver? Then I stop myself…I’m judging again.

I say oh ok! How long will you be in Denver? She replies, ” I guess until they die.” I swallow a lump in my throat. She continues, “I have leukemia. I only go to Virginia twice a year for blood work. But that’s where my home is.”

Gut punch. Another lump in my throat. Wow. I suck.

For the past hour I’ve been annoyed that I’m uncomfortable and can’t sleep. That this lady took MY extra seat. My convenience. And here she is, sick, flying across the country to care for her family who is worse off than her. I look out my window at the beauty that surrounds me, and think how ugly my heart has been.

Talk about being knocked to my knees. It’s amazing what God can do. How he can turn a 3 hour flight into a lesson on humility. How He can show me negative traits in myself in others in front of me to stop me dead in my tracks. How He can break me to the point I want to love on those around me like He loves me.

Let us be slow to anger. Slow to judge.
Let us be quick to show mercy. To show compassion and love. Give us a gentle spirit. Get us out of our own way. Humble us. Break us down and build us back up in You.

This lady who started as an inconvenience turned into a lesson. I look out the window at His light shining in the clouds and see Him. I see His majestic creation below me, above me, around me. I feel Him smiling – not because I did something good, but because He is good. Because today I heard Him. Because today, for the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to stop and feel His presence, and learn.


I disembark this plan humbled by what Jesus can teach me when I’m willing to just be still. I’m in awe of His creation. And I’m grateful that He can use a plane ride and a “smelly lady who took my seat” as a tool to grow my faith, and allow me to grow more into the image of Christ. I pray that I get out of my own way. That I get out of my phone as a millennial. And that I show others the grace, mercy, and love Christ shows me- seeing them through His eyes instead of my own, or the lenses of this world. Jesus isn’t done with me yet.

 

As millennials, we get so caught up in this fast-paced life. Everything is supposed to happen right now. Everything is supposed to be about us. Everything revolves around our phones. I get so caught up in what everyone else in the world is doing; I miss what is happening right in front of me – all the time. That plane ride – opened my eyes to so many things. It worked on my heart. Jesus knew I needed to be brought to my knees that day, only so He could teach me something and build me back up in a way that others could see Him in me. I hope that Jesus breaks your heart for what breaks His, the way He has broken mine. This is the real truth ya’ll. Our hearts are ugly. And we NEED Jesus.

 

^/\^

“You’re a good, good Father, it’s who You are. And I’m loved by You.”

– Chris Tomlin

 

Mr and Mrs Wuf

“Don’t Give Up…Don’t Ever Give Up.” – Jimmy V

For those of you that don’t know me, I am a graduate of NC State University and former member of the NC State Dance Team. That in and of itself makes me a die-hard Wolfpack fan. #GoPack. With my love of NC State, also comes my love for Jimmy V and his inspirational speech at the ESPYs in 1993. His famous words, “Don’t give up…don’t ever give up” ring through NC State’s Campus, and through my heart.

For the past several years, it seems mountains of struggles have risen in the life of not only myself, but in my family as well. From struggles with finances and health issues, to lost loved ones and difficult relationships, some days seem unbearable. My “dreams” in the midst of it all seemed not only to become unattainable, but also to become irrelevant. So many other things mattered so much more. But suddenly, I felt part of me slipping away…

Where was my sense of purpose? What was I contributing to society, to my community? Was I doing what I should be doing? Was this all God had planned for me? What were the RIGHT choices?!

As I pondered these things, I began to sit in church and listen to sermons from a different perspective. Things started to stand out as the pastor spoke. Was I leveraging my talents for the Kingdom? Did I put myself in an environment to spread the Gospel and touch lives? Was I living a life of passion, on fire to tell people about Jesus? The realistic answer…no, I wasn’t. And I wanted to be.

I had “given up” on some of my dreams (temporarily) to do what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I had taken certain jobs – bills had to be paid. Moved closer to home – where I felt I needed to be. Made the “smart” choices (i.e. the safe and not scary ones!). But…at the end of the day, so much was missing. I began to wonder if there was more for me to do, to be, to accomplish in this life.

How do you choose between things you want, and things you feel like you need to do? What if they pull you in two different directions? Does it make you selfish to choose wants? Or does it make you foolish to not pursue your dreams?

Hear me – I don’t regret the past year or so of my life. There have been lessons learned, and more wonderful memories made than I could have ever imagined. Moving home was EXACTLY what I needed – at the time. For myself. For my family. For my finances. Even for my faith. It’s good to have roots.

But it’s also good to have wings

I started to hear a voice telling me that my life was just…”too comfortable.” Nothing was scary. Nothing was challenging. I knew exactly what each day was going to look like. I was bored. It was then that Jimmy V’s words rang through my heart…“Don’t give up…don’t ever give up.”  It was time to keep reaching for my dreams and start climbing the mountain to get there.  It was time to take the road less traveled…to be challenged, maybe even a little scared of what was to come.

I started looking for a new job, in a city that I knew could present me with a solid Christian community in a place close enough to home that I could still do what I felt like I needed to. And what do you know…I managed to stumble across my DREAM job while aimlessly surfing the Internet.

My passion is working with kids. I always tell people – I may not be blessed with kids of my own right now but that just gives me more time to love on yours! I found a job that’s going to let me do just that. To work for an organization that’s mission is to enrich the lives of children, to bring them joy and happiness. And I get to be a part of that! ME! It’s amazing what happens when you pray with faith. It’s even more amazing when God lays something on your heart and you listen. Jimmy V’s words may have been the ones I heard, but it was The Lord who provided the way.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

 

This new chapter is both exciting and scary. Everything I’ve ever wanted is right in front of me. The job I always dreamed of. The city I always said I’d settle down in. It’s all at my fingertips, and soon all will be mine. Sometimes, dreams do have a way of coming true. You just have to be willing to climb the mountain, and wait on God’s perfect timing. The key: don’t ever give up on your dreams, and don’t ever give up on God. He has far more planned for you than you could ever imagine.

What dreams have you “given up” on or put on hold? Is it time to reach for them?

^/\^

“You’re off to great places, Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, So get on your way.” – Dr. Seuss

 

 

Blue Ridge Mtns

“Merely” Mountains…?

Being a girl from the NC Foothills, mountains have always been a part of daily scenery. The Blue Ridge Mountains. The Appalachian Mountains. All are within a days drive from my home. I chose to name my blog Merely^Mountains because the mountains mean something significant to me. The mountains are home.

You may think the word “merely” takes away from the splendor of the mountains. When you look at them you can’t help but see the beauty God created. The majesty. The splendor. They are far more than “mere” mountains. But the name of the blog is supposed to suggest that mountains are “merely” there to climb. To push us. To grow us. To strengthen us. To try us. To teach us.

Even to tear us down, only to build us back up.

Every day we each have our own “mountains” to climb. Some may seem bigger than others, but we all encounter daily struggles, many of which are unseen to those around us. We struggle with our finances, our friendships, and our families. We struggle to find purpose. We struggle to know happiness. We struggle to find peace. BUT – every day, when we wake up to climb the mountains set out before us, the mountains become “merely” challenges on our journey. Not roadblocks.

Matthew 17:20

If you have FAITH as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain M O V E, and it will move.”

Our strength comes from God (Psalm 46:1). He lifts us up when we are tired. He carries us when we are weak. HE gives us the strength to move mountains.

 

 What mountains are you facing? Are you falling into a valley and feel there is no way to get out?

 

Rise Up. Take courage and Do It. –Ezra 10:4

Have faith. Have hope. Be brave for The Lord is Your strength.

Climb the mountain in front of you. Don’t give up. You never know what might be waiting on the other side.

^/\^

“Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

How many of us are climbing to the mountaintop in order to gain a better perspective, a more full picture of how we can Advance the Kingdom…and how many us are climbing mountains for our own success?