New beginnings….and buffalo

Been quite a while since I have written. Well, maybe not too long. Anyway, in case you don’t follow Facebook or twitter….

I’ve officially moved to Tennessee!

Move up around the 1st of July to my new apartment and got to meet one of my new roommates for the first time! Lara is amazing!! (ok Lara, where is my $20 for saying you are awesome?!?) We have so much in common and are a lot a like, which in some aspects may not be a good thing. ūüôā Point is, it feels like we have known each other for a while and it’s great. God knew what He was doing when He gave me this job at this time and for me to be able to move in here. Awesome!

So all moved in, the family was able to come up and be here for 2RC’s annual firework/hang out time for the 4th which was awesome. They finally got to meet my TN family. Been hanging out, trying to find my way around here and so far not too bad. Learning a lot quicker than I thought I would. Of course, a GPS doesn’t hurt.

Headed to Wyoming tomorrow morning with FUEL (2 River’s Church High School Youth Group). Getting up at 6am and pulling out of the parking lot at 8:30am. 100 students on 2 charter buses for 31 hours headed to Wyoming. Yeah, gonna be interesting. I’m going to be a leader with the Sophomore Girls and I am SOO excited about that. So this will be my first true time of being able to really get connected with them and stuff. Well, and the rest of the group too. I think our sophomore girls are around 22 for this trip. That’s crazy much! Don’t know if that made sense, but oh well. We are going to be staying in Lander, WY on an Indian reservation and there will be a few construction crews and then we are doing VBS for the kids there, which I will be helping with that. Should be a great time. Plus we get to go to Yosemite National Park as well as Jackson Hole (which I heard is a tourist trap, but should be fun). Then head back for 34 hours I think, back to TN. 10 days total. My longest mission trip. Hopefully I wont break anything. However, I do have band-aids.

So yeah, that’s basically the short version of what is going on. I think it’s time for bed, seeing as I get up in 6 hours and 30 min.

Be praying for us as we head out to WY on our mission trip, especially for protection and for God to use us as He sees fit. Thanks y’all! I’ll write when we get back!!



I guess I’m ready for this…

On my way up to Tennessee last Wednesday I got a phone call from a hospital in Knoxville wanting to set up an interview. Perfect timing right? I mean, I was 2 hours from Knoxville. The next day I went for the interview and, just like that, they offered me a job. Just like that, the one thing that I had been wanting for the last 6 months, was right in front of me. I had been looking for a job for the longest time, so that I could move to Tennessee and be with Jonathan, and now I had it.

Cue nerves and freak outs.

I was so excited, but when I sat down and actually talked about it and thought it through I started wondering if I was ready or not. For the last year I had thought about moving and it all sounded great in my head. I just couldn’t wait until the day when I could move to Tennessee and be in the same city at Jonathan again, but in reality, I had never been away from home. I went to community college so I lived at home during that time and I’ve never moved away from home.¬†I was wondering if this was the job that God had for me. Jonathan and I had been praying for a while about the right job. We prayed that God wouldn’t give me more than one job to choose from (cause Lord knows that I have a hard time making decisions). We also prayed that getting a job in TN would be as easy or easier than how the job at Baptist came about. Well, when we looked at this situation it seemed like God had answered all of those. How much easier could it be to, within 24 hours, get called for an interview and have a job offered? And that was the only job that had called me, no tough decision there.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is God’s timing. It’s going to be tough getting used to another new job. I mean, I’ve only been at Baptist for 8 months and now I have to start all over again. And learn telemetry! But I know that I can do it and that I will be great at it. The hardest part for me is going to be leaving my family back in NC. I’ve always been able to go see my grandparents when I wanted, dad has always been just a¬†few minutes away, and¬†I’ve always been at home with mom. Whenever I need them they are right there. That’s going to be tough. Mom will definitely be getting 20,0o0 phone calls a week from me. Ok honestly, probably more like 20, 000 in a day, but whatever.

As hard as it is going to be to leave my family and all that I have known here, I have some wonderful people in Knoxville that I absolutely love. I’ve been so blessed to have a second family up there (or technically over) who care about me as much as I do about them. I know that if I ever need to talk to someone or need advice, I can go to a few of my “adopted moms” and talk to them.¬†Plus having Jonathan up there, who I can see every day, is going to make it so much better.

I know these thoughts were kind of jumbled, but I have so many things swimming around in my head right now. It’s crazy.

I can’t believe that I am finally getting to¬†move to Knoxville, TN and be with Jonathan. Considering we have only been in the same city/state for one month while we have been together, I’m hoping that we wont kill each other being able to see each other every day! We’ve gotten through the first year of our relationship being 4 hours away and I’m ready to start the next year being 2o¬†minutes away.¬† It all seems so surreal that it’s happening now. Hopefully I wont have too many problems packing!

1st Great Year! *warning, sappy*

One year ago, Mother’s day weekend, Jonathan and I went out to eat and then took a walk around my neighborhood. He had to leave by a certain time to make it back to Liberty that night. We had already hung out a few times before this, lunch at Little Italy and then sitting with him at a West baseball game; a walk around the park in freezing cold weather (because it was too cold to get ice cream) talking about hell and homosexuality, you know, the normal getting to know you questions. HA! After our walk around the neighborhood we sat on the back of his jeep and talked (for quite a while actually). We realized that we really liked each other and didn’t want to date anyone else, even though he was going back to school and still had a month left, and then who knew where he would be. We still decided to be exclusive (yes I said that, and it always makes me think of the Saved By The Bell episode where Slater is trying to say exclusive but can’t–“exclu-exclu-exclu…”). So, 3 hours later than planned, Jonathan finally started his way back to Lynchburg.

One year ago we decided to start dating. Neither one of us knowing exactly where the journey would take us, or how it would end up. We’ve gone through a lot of things in this last year and it hasn’t always been easy. There was no hanging out after we started dating, he was in school in another state. We’ve only been in the same town together for 1 month. After the month of June, he moved to TN to start his job and it was hard. I had gotten used to seeing him everyday in June and then went to talking once a day and sometimes not even that. Things got tough. Then we thought he would be back in NC after a year, but he decided to stay in TN longer.

I don’t say all of this to whine or complain. I’ve loved every minute of our relationship. Some days and weeks were harder than others and we still have our moments of frustration of being apart, but even though we are 4 hours apart, I wouldn’t change anything. This last year has taught us both things and has helped us grow as people and as a couple. It helped us realize things that needed to change and has helped us rely more on God than on the other person.

I’m really excited to see what this next year brings us, not just in our relationship, but in our separate lives as well. Hopefully by this time next year I wont be having to drive 4 hours a couple of times every month. It’s killing me on gas!!! But anyway, this was my rant. And as if it wasn’t sappy enough already: Thank you Jonathan for a great first year and I can’t wait to spend many more with you!!

Ok. I think I’ve got it now

Alright. So, I’m at this transition in my life right now. Jonathan is staying in TN for at least another year, maybe longer, and I want to move up there. We both feel like it’s the right thing to do because, well, long distance sucks. These last 9 months commuting back and forth and having numerous Skype dates (while I love them) just isn’t cutting it anymore. I’m getting worn out and frustrated. Anyway, we’ve prayed about it and I’ve started applying and looking for jobs. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not the most patient person in the world. Less than a day after I started looking for Oncology jobs in Knoxville, I got frustrated because there wasn’t anything and I was ready to quit. Jonathan, bless his heart, talked me down from the edge. But I was still disappointed. I just thought for sure that I would find a job I wanted, apply for it, interview, and then be offered a job. Just like that.

Well, that’s not what happened. Nothing oncology wise was available for a while. Then I started seeing some open positions; some at hospitals and some at outpatient clinics. I applied for those and let my mind wander to formulate when I would move, etc, etc. Again, nothing. Either they wanted someone with more than 6 months oncology experience or they took someone internally.¬†Either way, they didn’t choose me. Again, me being me, was pretty upset about this. I felt like God was laughing at me. That he was putting these jobs in front of me, watched me get so excited, and then yanked them out from under me at the last second. I was sure that it just wasnt going to work. That I was never going to find a job in TN, that I would never be able to move there, that¬†me and Jonathan would never get engaged and we would never get married….. That list can go on for a while, sadly. All of this drama after looking for jobs after only a few weeks.

This past weekend was the Quiet Waters retreat at Jonathan’s church. Basically, it’s 2 days total of worship music, the occasional person standing up and sharing what they feel God would like them to share, and just being in God’s presence. Listening to Him and drawing closer to Him. Then you have a prayer time, where there is a group of 3 or so people who basically¬†listen to God and tell you what they feel God is prompting them to tell you. Yes, to some it may sound weird and¬†I was a little¬†skeptical when I went to the one in the fall, but I have grown to really enjoy it. But back to my story. I went in to this weekend thinking, “Alright God! Here we go. It’s Quiet Waters weekend, I’m ready to listen to you. So tell me when I’m supposed to move to TN and which job you will give me. Okay? Thanks!” Seriously, that was my thinking. The first night they had us go up to someone we didn’t know, tell them what we hoped to get out of this weekend, and then pray for each other. Yeah, definitely¬†WAAAAYYY¬†out of my comfort zone. During the prayer for me and the two other people in my group, I prayed this, “Lord, we all came here wanting you to tell us specifics. More than that, tell us what you want us to know. Whether or not it answers the questions we have. Open our hearts to receive what you are trying to show us this weekend.” Just a tad bit of information, make sure you are ready for what God has when you pray something like that to him. Just saying.

Over the course of the weekend, things were said or prayed for that all kept coming back to a certain word or theme: Timing. Protect.¬† It really wasn’t until after quiet waters was over that I was able to really sit and think about it all. No, God didn’t tell me, or tell others to tell me, when exactly I would be moving to TN and what job I was going to get. But he did tell me and show me that despite that fact, it was all going to be fine. That God has a plan for it all and that he knows the exact job I will get, when it will be posted and when I will move to TN. He has his timing and that’s when everything will work out the best. Not only that, but by me waiting and respecting his timing, I’m allowing him to protect me from the possibility of hurt. He’s protecting me from the possibility of screwing something up if I try to move on my own and not listen to him.

I’d love to think that it’s this simple now. “Ok, I heard you God. Thanks for reminding me. No more freaking out on my part of getting disappointed.” Nope. Not like that. Just last night I got frustrated and freaked a little because of stuff with my schedule conflicting me going to see Jonathan and because there were no new positions up. I know that it’s going to take more than a couple of days to “fix” this, but I’m also glad that God is patient and loving and will continue to love me and correct me when I forget to trust in him.

I’m doing my best to remember that while I want to move right now, it may not be the best for me. Why, I don’t know. But God does and in the end that’s all that really matters.

What I learned from freshman guys and sex

Pete Wilson writes in his book Plan B:

“We have to be authentic in order to experience authentic community. We may just get into the habit of not letting anyone–including ourselves–know who we really are or what we’re really struggling with. So many of us fear the nakedness, emptiness, and hollowness of our lives so much we dive headfirst into a pool of unreality. The¬†trouble is, it’s only in reality that God meets us, sometimes in very profound ways. And it’s only in reality that we can experience true, authentic, healing community with others. So as long as we choose not to live in reality, as long as we insist on covering up our sins and denying them, as long was we keep pretending we have it all together…we will probably keep missing the hope that community offers.”

Over the past few weeks at FUEL (which is the High School Youth Ministry at 2 Rivers Church in Knoxville, TN that Jonathan works at) they have been doing their huge sex series called Best Sex Ever. Every Wednesday night from 6:30-8:30 they meet (and by they it’s like 170 kids) and have been talking about certain things relating to sex. What the Bible says about sex, how to be a Godly man and woman, Homosexuality, and what to do when you’ve messed up. All major topics, especially¬†in kids’ lives today. Not only are they talking about it on Wednesday nights, but they are also going more in-depth in their small groups on Saturdays and Sundays. Or some even have theirs Wednesdays after FUEL, and it’s so lovingly known as “Wings and Sex” thanks to Chris Jessen (cause they go to Wild Wings and talk about sex…). Anyway, back on track. These kids get the main topic told to them basically on Wednesday night and then get to talk about it more in-depth and even ask questions about it in their small groups. And thanks to me dating Jonathan, I get to hear about their Guys Freshman small group (sorry guys) and I love it.

One thing they have taught me over the past few weeks is exactly what Wilson meant in the above paragraph. To truly be able to be in a community with people, you have to open up to them. You have to be able to express yourself, good and bad, and be willing for people to get to know the true you. Especially with high school kids. Jonathan has been really open with his guys and just talked about somethings that he has struggled with in the past and things that he has gone through, not necessarily sex related. By him opening up to them, it gives these guys the opportunity to know that someone has been where they are now or is still struggling with¬†what they are struggling with. It gives them the opportunity to¬†have the “me too” moment.

What I mean by that is this: most of us don’t want to tell our junk or things that we struggle with because we don’t want people to judge us or write us off. So we pretend we are just perfect and that nothing is wrong, and sadly we even start to convince ourselves. But when we are able to open up to others (and I don’t mean ever person you meet, just those that you can trust and are close with) we¬†open up¬†the opportunity for someone to say “me¬†too,” “I struggle with that as well,” or “I used to have that problem, let me help you.” The community that we so desperately¬†want is right there, not judging us, but willing to be there with us. Doesn’t it always make you feel better when someone has been through something you are going through? Maybe you lost someone close to you and one of your friends was just there. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe you have the chance to say “me too” to someone you know. If someone else was bold enough to open their lives, can’t you also be honest and let them know that they aren’t alone?

Don’t let fear keep you from your “me too” moment. Don’t let fear keep you from opening up and letting the God placed community be there to help you. While you may not realize it, that’s why God put them there for you in the first place. So you wouldn’t feel so alone.

I really encourage you (and this goes for me to) to find the people you trust in your small group or friends at church and don’t be afraid to be real with them. When you can open up to others about the things you are going through, you can finally begin the healing process. And (yes this is churchy) if you don’t have a small group at church or if you don’t go to church, I really encourage you to find one that you mesh with. They will become some of your greatest friends. I’m learning that the more and more I go to TN. The people who¬†I have started bonding with are amazing and I know that God has put them in my life for a reason and I am so¬†thankful for that.

Yeah, God still speaks

Twice this week God kind of nudged me in the side. Well, I take that back. It was three times and it was more a slap in the face. Let me back up a bit.

Over the past few months I haven’t really been having “quiet time” or spending much time with God. I’m normally too busy or too tired. The nights that I work I don’t really have time. Or maybe I have time, but I feel like giving God the 20 minutes before I go to bed isn’t good enough. Plus, some nights I am talking to Jonathan. The nights/days that I don’t work I have other things to do. And I can tell that I have been getting apathetic about it lately too. I mean I care that I haven’t been spending time with him, but not enough to do anything about it. I’ll think about it right before I go to bed, but that’s about as far as I get.

So, back to God slapping me. In the most holy way of course. Slap number one was Wednesday night while Jonathan was speaking at FUEL. They are doing their big sex series and his topic was Chick Magnet¬†talking about how to be a Godly man. He basically was talking about 3 things that they need to be Godly men and three things that will keep you from that. Well, one of them was talking about how you need to pursue God and that busyness keeps you from it. Now, when I heard him say this I really didn’t think twice about it until today’s church service. Which brings us to slap number two.

Church today. Brad’s doing his thing and was talking about the holy spirit and basically hearing from God. Well, at the end he had this questionnaire thing about if you hear God speak to you in dream, worship songs, through scripture and stuff like that. He’s going through them asking us and I’m thinking to myself yes, that’s happened before. But not lately. Hmm.¬†That’s when what Jonathan said on Wednesday came back into play. I haven’t really been pursuing God lately. Which explains why I haven’t really felt God talking to me or showing me where I need to go next.

Then enters slap number three, and perhaps one of the worst. Lunch today. Yes, after church lunch is supposed to be fun and laid back. Well, it was and I loved it, but God still showed me I was being stupid. Jonathan and I went to lunch with an amazing couple from church today that’s around our age. Not too long ago they were somewhat in the same situation me and Jonathan are getting in; being apart, trying to get in the same city, and taking the relationship to the next level. So the girl is just like me. Likes to plan and have things organized and kinda flips out a little if things don’t go the way we expected them to. The guy is pretty much like Jonathan. Laid back, knowing it will all come together in time. Well, both of them were telling Jonathan and me (well mainly me) all the amazing things that God did and is still doing with them getting a place to live and jobs and stuff like that. She said that when she was reading scripture God really spoke to her and told her that it would be alright. They were saying other stuff too about trusting in God and things, but what she said really hit me. It wasn’t some pastor telling it to me. It was someone around my age that had been through some of the same things I am getting ready to face.

Here again, for the third time, God is trying to get me to realize and take heart about not spending time with him. Three different situation, all with the same thing. All God telling me Come back. I need to make time to get in God’s word. I need to make time to spend talking and listening to him. I need to stop being so “busy.” Basically, I just need to stop making excuses for why I’m not spending time with Him and just do it.

It amazes me the way God always reveals things to me. And even in my times of thinking that God wasn’t speaking to me, He was. And that just makes God even more awesome, if that’s possible.

Temptaions and the word “no”

We’ve all experienced a crossroads in out life at one point or another. For some it may be deciding what to do after high school or college, figuring out what job to take, deciding to start a family or not, and many other things. The things that cause them can be good, like a new relationship or a new check point in life, or they can be bad¬†such as¬†death or a divorce. We’ve all had to go through something like this, some more than others. You learn to rely on your family and friends for help, and hopefully you turn to God to help lead you.

But what happens when you don’t have enough time to “ask the audience?” What happens when you have¬†1 minute to make a decision? When you have¬†1 minute (or less)¬†to decide whether you are going to tell your boyfriend or girlfriend that you don’t want to go that far. When you have¬†1 minute to decide whether you are going to take the cup of beer or the pot someone is handing you. What happens when you have 1 minute to ask the clich√©d question “what would Jesus do?” and figure out whether or not your decision will be helping or hurting you?

Do you go along with the other person or group of friends because you don’t want to look uncool?¬† (most of us at one point in our life)

Do you boldly stand up and tell them that they need Jesus and need to understand where you are coming from? (some of you may do that)

Do you simply say no and leave the situation? (this is a good choice)

Or do you say no but stay where you are? (this happens too)

I’ve done all but one. I’m not big at shouting to people about Jesus and making a scene. Not my forte. So let’s see here. The first one. Going along with it because you don’t want to be labeled the¬†Jesus Freak¬†or loser. Understandable? Sure. Especially in high school and even college. Those are your crucial years to be somebody. Make a name for yourself. Decide if you want to fit in or stand out. Me? I just liked my little bubble I was in. Didn’t need to be the popular person who went to parties, because I hated parties. And didn’t like a lot of those people either. But there were still times that I went along with something my friend was doing because I didn’t want to look stupid. I didn’t want to be the buzz kill and ruin the fun. Plus, I still wanted to be accepted. Good choice? not necessarily. Did it ruin my life? no. Do I regret it? yes.

The second, shouting at someone about Jesus. Nope never done it. Doesn’t really seem effective. Pretty sure that would turn them the other way from God. The opposite in what you were hoping for. Especially in high school and college, I doubt someone would fall on their knees at a party begging to have you pray the sinners prayer with them after yelling at them. It could happen, but it’s not common.

Moving on. The third one, saying no and leaving the situation. Ah, the good ol’ “just walk away” trick. I have used this one a few times. You’re significant other (out-of-wedlock that is, and yes I just said wedlock) wants to take things too far. You don’t want to, so you say no and then get out of the situation. That may mean leaving all together or just doing something else less tempting. A group of friends want you to drink, you have a strong conviction not to so you say no, and leave.¬†You get out. See the pattern?

Alright, the fourth one. Saying no¬†and standing up for what you believe in, but still staying in the situation. Yes, good job. You stood your ground and said “no” to whatever you didn’t feel like you should do. Pat yourself on the back for this one. You stayed at the party or continued laying in bed with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Stop patting yourself on the back. Yes, the willpower excuse. “Just because I’m there doesn’t¬†mean that I will give in! I can stay there and be an example. I know how to control/behave myself. Geeze.” Yes I have said that. “Just because they are drinking doesn’t mean I will.” “I can lay in bed and just sleep with him without having sex and going to far.” “I’ve got control.”¬†But do you?

Right now you might think that you do. You might be so strong in your beliefs that you know you will never taste one sip of alcohol or even kiss someone until you are married (that’s a bit extreme, but you get my point). You think that¬†you are so strong in your relationship with God that you wont have any problem saying no and staying in the same¬†tempting situation. And you may be right. At least for a while. But¬†sooner or later, the enemy starts working on you. He’s knows the good intentions that you have and what it means to you to say no to those things. He also knows how close you are to God. All of that is the perfect green light in his head. Time to turn up the temptation. You’re stern “no” turns into I’ll just try a sip of beer, not liquor or As long as we don’t have sex it’s ok, right?¬†Wrong. Every time you let your guard down and take one step farther from your original convictions and God, you are letting the enemy take control. While you may think that staying in that position or staying at that party isn’t going to hurt anything, it very well may could. Now maybe you would never waver¬†and you haven’t yet. Congratulations. But that doesn’t mean that the enemy isn’t trying to knock you off your feet once. Because once you’ve been knocked down, it’s easier to get their again and again, and harder to put your focus back where it should be.

I’m not saying all this to make you feel bad about staying at a party last weekend even though you weren’t drinking. I’m saying this to hopefully make you think a little more about the decisions that you make. While saying no is good and everything, you also need to be aware of what happens after that.

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