I have enjoyed many memorable birthdays. For my 18th birthday, my parents and sister threw me a surprise party (my cousin wrote me a song!).
When I turned 19 (or 20), I was working at McDonalds and some of my church family from Rescue showed up at the end of my shift. (That was a surprise, too).
One year Kady, our cousin Kalani, and I went and saw How to Train Your Dragon.
During our engagement, Kady, Anthony, and I went shopping at thrift stores in Shingle Springs and then to Starbucks (where I reconnected with a friend from high school who reconnected me with my friend Monica from high school!).
During our first year of marriage when pocket money didn’t exist yet, we went to the Sunrise Mall for banana juliuses from Orange Julius and photo booth photos.
This year, though, has been my favorite so far. My birthday is at the end of March, but the story starts all the way back at the beginning of February.
I first heard about Blog-tember on the Chasing Creative podcast (Episode 4 with Leah Van Ert) and that was like last month. Well because it’s September now it popped up in my Instagram feed and I have been wanting to blog more, so I’m jumping in a couple days late—and now a day behind—to the party, but I’m learning that it’s okay to do that (says the girl who still hasn’t read The Hunger Games). So here’s me jumping in feet first, no looking back, no second thoughts.
I just made a list of my favorite events of the summer, going back all the way to June (and one event from the end of May—it totally counts!) Yeah…there are 36 of them. This was a good summer, a great one, one for the books—er, blog. So, here we go:
August 27th, 2016 // Winding through the canyon on Highway 49 Saturday morning, I listened to the very first episode of the STORY podcast, which you can find on iTunes. (It’s essentially a way for the people who attend this conference to stay connected to it all year around).
And honestly I don’t think it was a coincidence that just a week after subscribing to it that when I went to the podcast app on my iPod, STORY’s first episode downloaded and Jeremy Cowart’s name was apart of the title.
February 2016 // But this really goes back all the way to February when Jeremy shared his “I’m Possible” video on Facebook. Continue reading →
Today started off like any normal Saturday for me: I went to the laundromat and when I got home I balanced the check register and updated Everydollar. And then I did something kind of out of the ordinary: I looked up directions to The Bookseller, a local bookstore in Grass Valley so I could attend the YA Author Panel at 1pm.
12:13pm // I was so proud of myself because I left early enough to explore the bookstore a little bit before the event.
Because of my car accident at the beginning of June, I’ve been chauffeured around for the past two months. Since our new-to-us car purchase last week, I’ve been driving myself again and I feel like a new driver in some instances. Today, I felt really proud of myself for driving up Grass Valley Highway. (I’m a nervous driver to begin with. The accident didn’t help with that).
And then Garfield (our GPS) told me to take Exit 182A 174/Colfax. If you didn’t know–because I didn’t until today–this is an exit only lane. And it was crowded. And because I am overly cautious and nervous I did not force my way in. I tried–I slowed down a little and my blinker was on–but I decided to just pass it.
I’m a bit of a sporadic blogger. I am a sporadic blogger at best. After I wrote about God being weird, I overthought my review post of A Thousand Splendid Suns. (I’m pretty sure I cried about it. Here’s my current review of it: just go read it). And Anthony and I decided I needed to focus on writing my novel because that’s my Number One. I’ve always wanted to be an author. But I’m also all about the Shiny New Thing. And blogging, for me, is that Shiny New Thing. (Similiar to Twitter, when I first signed up haha).
But tonight I needed to put something out there because it literally just hit me. I’ve gotten back into journaling recently (as in: I’ve been journaling again regularly for about a week and a half). It’s so good for my soul, people. I think 100s of things every day in response to what I’m reading – novels, Non-Fiction books, articles, Facebook posts, conversations at work – and by not journaling I push all those thoughts to the back and eventually it all comes out in tears and kleenex to my patient husband. (Which also might be why I love this space: I have another Thought Outlet).
One of my favorite Bible verses says:
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.” – Psalm 139:16
I initially fell in love with this verse because it stood out to me during a struggle. God knew about that particular struggle. He knew about the trouble we would have with Anthony’s Ford Taurus. He knew we would owe money this year instead of receiving a refund. He knew about Hanky dying. He knew about troubles we’ve experienced at our jobs. He knew of all the past bad days. He knows all the future ones. And it might sound strange, but even when there’s no one who understands what you’re going through, it’s comforting to know that God knows. He didn’t cause the health issue or the flat tire or the Taurus to be in the shop for a week (maybe closer to two). But He did know about them. So, you can be mad at Him or be so thankful He’s walking with you through it.
There’s a flip side to this verse. One that I never considered until tonight (only because I experienced a very big, personal win in my life).
David writes in the above verse that God knows all our days. So, if God knew all of our past bad days and knows all about the ones coming up, it’s safe to say: God knows all of our good days, too.
*sigh of relief*
This is great news, people! God knew that Anthony would be baptized and that he’s growing into a wonderful Christian man. God knew we would get married. God knew that Ant would surprise me for my birthday this year. He knew I would reconnect with my friend Monica. He knew we would find Moochy. He knew we would love our Auburn church family. He knew we would move to Meadow Vista. He knew we would paddle board together in Lake Tahoe and have bookish adventures in Clear Lake.
God also knows of all our future good days, too! All about Anthony’s future engineering/architecture career. When my book will be published. When we will be able to have children. Where we will live. He knows all of the fun, amazing, silly things we will get to be apart of in our future life together.
I love that.
Thank God, we don’t walk through dark times by ourselves. (Because I’ve tried relying on myself during hard times. All that results in is more tears, more guilt and shame, the higher more unattainable the expectations are). But this thought, this truth, that God is on the other side of our struggles: now that’s something to run towards. With God I can soar (a very loose translation of Isaiah 40:31). With God, all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). Because He’s giving me strength through the trial and He’s on the other side, waiting for me to see the joy that perseverance and trust in Him brings.
David to God (again):
“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lights my darkness.” – Psalm 18:28*
We don’t have to do life by ourselves. Thank you, God, for walking with me through life’s dark times and being there on the other side of them. The joy and comfort this brings me is indescribable.
*and this is only one of the verses in the Bible about God being light in our lives. Start in Psalms and go through Proverbs with your pink and yellow highlighters so that the next time you need light in your life they stand out on the page.
“giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ephesians 5:20.
Anthony and I filed our taxes over the weekend and ended up owing almost $200 (we kept pressing the “explain this” icon on Turbo Tax, but the explanation never seemed to be complete). We were disappointed, to say the least. I think I cried. It once again just felt like we had been shoved backwards after taking many small steps forward. The money we ended up not spending in February was going to fill up our Beginner Emergency Fund. Now it would cover the amount we owe.
Sunday morning, we studied through the middle-ish of Ephesians, the above verse included – and I knew that even with $200 owed to the government, there is always something to be thankful for. The “everything” part was still a little elusive.
Fast forward to this evening, just a few hours ago.
We sat down together for our March Budget Meeting with the mindset of No Fun March. Besides paying off our owed tax money, the first three paychecks we apply for March are smaller than normal because one to days of pay are nonexistent in February. So we cleared out February’s items in EveryDollar and the amount still left to be budgeted exceeded $300. (Keep in mind that March is Car Registration Month for Mozzie, Auto and Renters insurance went up – on top of an extra payment to insurance because of the transition period between getting the Mazda and getting rid of the Taurus). And we had purposely decided not to spend money on too many extra items because getting $1,000 in the Emergency Fund is our first priority right now. (Our non-negotiables this month: boxers for Anthony and colored ink for the printer).
Even after our usual walk-thru of the house, we still came back to the table with nothing necessary needed. So, we adjusted Gas and added money to Special Occasions (for my birthday). But in the end we did what we consider to be fun: $208.17 was assigned to the Emergency Fund and $46.29 was added to the credit card payment (on top of $77).
GUYS! Do you realize what this means??
Our Beginner Emergency Fund – which should really be renamed Peace Fund – will be full for the first time since September! AND the best part: the credit card will be UNDER $400. Three Hundred Fifty-two Dollars and Something Cents to be exact. The credit card will cease to exist in JUNE!
The “everything”part of Ephesians 5:20 was just defined.
“God is so weird!” I exclaimed as I tried to process what we would be able to accomplish financially this month. “In the best way.”
I don’t know if it that was a spiritually accurate thing or a very Christian thing for me to say that. But I did. And, who knows, maybe He laughed over it. What I do know is this:
“giving thanks always and for everything TO GOD the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (emphasis added).
It’s not that God leaves and comes back when He feels like it. He’s not some big meanie who likes to watch Anthony and I struggle. It didn’t make Him happy that I cried over owing money. God is always with us. Always. Through the big and the small. It’s (obviously) not ideal to owe money when filing taxes, but he used March’s Budget Meeting to remind us to be thankful and He can do everything. We can accomplish everything we set out to because He is gives us the strength to carry on, to push forward, to take the next small step.
Tonight is just one of the moments that Ant and I will be able to look back on in the small things, when Life is hard and it feels like we’re spinning our wheels. Tonight will forever be a reminder that it is God who takes care of us.
I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of ours:
“Faith is all around us. God (practically) demands it of us.” – Phil C.
Even when we owe $200. Even when it feels like we’re going backwards. Even in the same routine of work and school and making ends meet. There’s always something to be thankful for. I trust God.