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Friday, October 31, 2014

New Experiences and Being Yourself


Before I met Zeke, I had never in my life been on a motorcycle.

Now I typically put on an average of five hundred miles a summer on the back of a Honda Shadow.

We already talked about how I changed myself to be the girl that my boyfriend-of-the-moment wanted me to be, and how I lost my true self in the process. So how is the motorcycle thing different?

Being true to yourself doesn't necessarily mean that you shirk all new experiences. Where's the fun in that? We need new and different experiences to keep us growing and learning and really enjoying life.

How do you find the balance between having a new adventure and still being yourself?

The trick is honesty. Honesty with yourself.

There's no harm in trying something new (well, something that's new and legal and moral and relatively safe, anyway), the issue comes in when we try to believe that we feel something we don't.

Take the motorcycle, for example. Zeke invited me to go for a ride way back when, and I tried it (legal, moral, relatively safe), and I liked it. I actually liked it. I was surprised, too.

Cut to Zeke and I, about two years later, when I tried out a dirtbike for the first time.


I told Zeke that I'd rather not go on one of those crazy things again.

I just didn't like it. And unlike several years before, I was able to honestly evaluate my feelings and express them. I was honest with myself, and with Zeke, too. I think he'd probably prefer it if I really enjoyed dirt bikes (because he does, and he'd like to be able to do that together), but I don't. And that's okay.

It's okay to be who I am. That's freedom, right there. I can choose the adventures I'd like to have, and no matter what I feel about the experience, it's okay.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Entryway- A PHFR

This post brought to you by a mid-week slump! You're excited, I can tell. 


There's just something so pretty about being greeted by a clean entryway first  thing in the morning. Ah. Feels like peace.


Zeke has this pair of moccasins that just make me so happy (more so when he's wearing them, but you catch my drift). He looks like a cute little boy in them... and he doesn't look like a little guy very often!


Hiding amidst the pile of Zeke-shoes are these...

 ... scuba flippers. I'm not really sure.


Just in case the clean-entryway picture made you feel fits of jealousy, here's some reality to set you straight. 

When we moved in to Peace (our house), I put up this curtain that's entirely too long for the window. I told myself that I'd go ahead and actually cut and sew the curtain to fit someday... it's been almost two years and my quick fold-and-hand-stitch job is still holding on well.

Linking up today with Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Comparison and Contentment

If we're being honest with ourselves, part of our problem, especially when it comes to appearance and the way we look, is the issue of comparison.

I touched on it quickly last week, but man. Comparison stretches over so much of our lives- from hair to houses, from jobs to jam-making... there's always someone who is doing something, being something, living something that you'd like to.

We point to things that rob us of joy- the mom who threw the elaborate party for her five-year-old, the couple with the impeccably perfect wedding pictures, Pinterest- and we blame them for the discontent in our lives.

"If it weren't for Pinterest..." we say.

If it weren't for Pinterest, what? We'd still find ways to measure ourselves against the people around us. It's what we do.

Of course, just like so many conflicts, the trouble with comparison is that it lies in our own hearts.

I'll be honest with you- back when I was a single gal, I compared myself to the women in relationships. How come she found someone, and I didn't, yet? What was so wrong with me? My dress size, my nose, my personality?

Of course, that led to a host of problems, including trying to be someone I'm not.

A little further down the road, I was dating a guy. A healthy, good relationship. Like I wanted. But instead of being filled with joy, instead of being content, I looked at the engaged couples. Tried to measure up to the girl who had that fabulous title- "fiancee."

When I was engaged? I compared myself to the married women. And now that I'm married? I'm fighting the battle against comparison to those who are blessed as mothers.

Where I am is never enough.

I think part of that can be good- it helps drive us forward, helps us keep moving, improving. Progressing.

But it also makes me feel as though my life isn't enough just the way it is.

As Ann Voskamp points out in her One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are,

Nothing. That means that instead of looking forward three years, we focus on this moment. On the joys now. The blessings now.

It doesn't do us any good to compare ourselves with other people. They're not living our lives. And most of the time, we only see the highlight reel, anyways*.

When we're focused on the blessings in our own lives, when we respond to life with an attitude of thanksgiving, we find joy in where we are. Right now. In the life we're living now. In who we are now.

I went to a seminar recently, and Jennifer Dukes Lee was the speaker.

One thing she said really stuck out to me-
 "God is saying to you, 'I didn't ask you to be her. I asked you to be you.'"
How true!

I think I need to remind myself, continually, of this fact. Because sometimes, I look at myself and think, "But.... are you sure, God? You really want me to be me?

And more so, I need to remind myself that this is true about my relationships, too-
God says, "I didn't ask you to have a life like hers. Your path is different, and that's okay."

God's plan is the right plan, and He knows what He's doing.

It's not my job to plan exactly how my future is supposed to go (although that's hard for me to step away from!).

My role is to trust, to find contentment and joy, and to believe that God's plan is best for me.

Even if it looks different from her plan.

*That couple who posted pictures of their perfect weekend with the perfect lighting and the holding hands? Maybe they had an argument right before. Maybe they haven't seen each other in months. You don't know. Because they're not you.

If you'd like to see more posts in this series, I'd invite you to go ahead and follow me on Facebook, or stay tuned- I'm working on putting all the posts in this series together so they're easier to find. Thanks!

Friday, October 24, 2014

October Update

Because, let's be honest, it's hard to keep up in the blogging world!

<> Work's going well- we're out of the fire and into the furnace- summer camp is over, but Fall youth retreats are starting up today. 75 middle schoolers say what?

("AAAAAH!" and "I just drank three Red Bulls on the bus ride here!" That's what they say.)

<> With all the transitions and stuff, I've been really relying on my planner. So, yeah, I've been posting about that a lot.

<> We went on a three-day vacation to the Black Hills last week, and it was awesome. And just what I needed.

<> I still need yo' tips on Fall fashion. Link.It.Up.

 <> Zeke's been making lots of dehydrator food (so, like, jerky and apple chips and dehydrated watermelon, which he really likes and I really hate), so there's that.

 <> Still not pregnant. I was hitting a wall with my regular family doctor about that (she wanted to put me back on birth control to "reset" my cycle, and yeah, no. No Pill for me.), so we decided that seeing a NaPro might be our best bet. We'll be on the same page as the doctor as far as no IVF and no birth control, at least.

We started using Creighton two weeks ago, went for our first follow up on Tuesday. I'm kind of loving the no-temping thing.

<> I had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks last week, but I was completely underwhelmed. Zeke took a sip and said, "This doesn't taste like four dollars."

Anyway, I thought maybe I was out of the Pumpkin-Spice-loving stage of life, but then I got some Pumpkin Spice creamer, and yeah, it's pretty wonderful. Maybe the Starbucks guy was just a newbie?

This post is linked up with Jenna for tl;dr, and with Jen for 7QT! Because there were seven things!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

November Daily Pages {free printable!}

Just a quick-ety quick post today for my planner peeps. (I know, I've been a little "planner post" heavy this week. Gotta get ready for November, though!)

Because I was makin' 'em for myself anyway...

Download my 2014 November daily pages by clicking the link below, if you'd like.

A note about printing: These pages are 8.5 x 5.5 sized, so they should fit in Martha Stewart small format binders, A5 size binders, and Classic size binders. You may need to trim a little.

You will want to print these double sided, flipping on the short end of the paper (or top-to-bottom printing). They'll look a little crazy at first (i.e. the pages don't seem like they're in order) but it should work just fine. After printing, cut the pages in half, and three-hole punch the edge you cut.

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Appearance and Beauty: You're Beautiful on the Outside

All right, so a couple of days ago, we started talking about appearance.

Cliff Notes: The way you look isn't the most important thing, but it does matter. The way you look can really affect how you feel about yourself, and that makes a big difference in your behavior, your attitude, and what you put up with. Being attractive, however, doesn't mean being perfect.

Now, back to the girl I was telling you about. The one who thinks she's not pretty/beautiful/cute/attractive/"hot" enough to be loved in a dating relationship. Maybe you know someone like her. Maybe you are her. Maybe you're dating or married and secretly still feel that way.


First of all, who told you that you're not beautiful? If it was your friends, the people you spend the most time with, well, maybe you shouldn't be spending time with them. A beauty tip here and there is one thing, but you should spend time with people who fill you up with truth, not people who drag you into self-doubt.

Maybe it was someone closer to you- a parent, a sibling, maybe even a spouse. Hear me- those words they spoke to you were lies. You're incredibly loved, were incredibly created, and are beautiful for who you are.

You've probably heard something like that, followed by the words, "on the inside." And yes, hopefully you truly believe that you're beautiful on the inside, because you are.

But you're also so beautiful on the outside.

Let's start believing that, too.

You Were Marvelously Created

"Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."- Genesis 1:26-27

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 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 was none of them." - Psalm 139:13-16

First of all, we need to remember this extremely important point. God made us in His image. In the very image of the most high God, the very definition of Beauty, we were created. We were formed by a God who loves us incredibly.

Hating my short toe (yes, I have a short toe) is the same as hating God's creation. Of looking at this gift of a body that He gave me and saying, "Well, I like some of it... but..."

It's a hard thing continually see ourselves through God's eyes- on my bad body-image days, I re-read these verses and try to rest in them.

Pinpoint the Issue(s)

Honestly, we all have parts of us that we're not thrilled about. Some of those "issues" will stick with us for life, and sometimes the things we don't like will change.

Seven years ago, my height was the biggest issue for me. I never really even thought about my belly (cuz I didn't have one) or my skin (which was great at the time). Now, I couldn't care less about my height, besides the fact that putting 30 extra pounds on five feet looks like a whole lot, and oh my goodness hormones and my face! Ugh!

What do you see as an "issue" with your body?

Generous love handles and break outs, while they're the "issues" right now, don't take away from the good. And on that note:

Emphasize the Good

There is something you like about your body. There is.

I like my eyes, and my ankles. (Random?)

The key is to emphasize the things I do like (we're talking more "eyes" than "ankles," here), which will detract from the things I don't like (my awesome adult acne.)

I would really suggest this book- Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty.  
(Full disclosure, this guy is an affiliate link. But at one cent per book? Just buy it.)

I know, it says "Teenage." But trust me, here. My mom bought me this book when I was in late high school, and I still read through it on occasion. If ya haven't heard of her, Bobbi Brown is a make up artist, and a darned inspiring one at that. I love this book for the "how to emphasize the good" tips- and since I don't like wearing a ton of makeup, the tips are good ones.

Discover What Makes You Feel Beautiful

We all do something or wear something that makes us feel beautiful.

Maybe it's a certain outfit, or playing a certain song on the piano. Maybe it's taking a long bubble
bath, or wearing fuzzy socks. Maybe you feel most beautiful when your toenails are painted, when you're taking pictures of sunsets, when you sing "Be Thou My Vision" at the top of your lungs while folding laundry. Whatever.

Just figure out what it is, and make time for doing it. Finding little moments of beauty in ordinary days helps to fill up your soul.

Take Care of Yourself

Sleep enough, drink enough water, eat good-for-you food, wash your face before bed, move around enough. The way your body feels can really make a difference in how you feel about your body, and taking good care of yourself may even help with some of those issues we talked about earlier (hello, extra 30 lbs). Some things may not really change, but your perspective will.

Avoid Comparison

This one's a doozy.

It's easy to compare my body with that model. Or heck, even with my friend Meri who is tall and lanky and built for running long distances. Short squat me ain't got nothin' on her.

But that girl whose curly hair you're envying? She's probably wishing it was straight like yours.

Because that's how we are. We often envy what we don't have, no matter what we do have. Human nature and all. It's hard, but try not to compare yourself to other people. (I'm talking beauty here, but we'll get into this topic more later on--- Update: More about Comparison in this post here). You are you. No one else can be you- and you can't be anyone else.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How I Use My Calendar Pages: Planning Binder {Free Printables!}

Well, I shared a bit a while back about how I use my daily planning pages in my planner.

I typically only print one month worth of daily pages to put in my planner at a time, otherwise my planner gets too thick. So how do I plan future stuff?

Well, in front of my daily pages, I have a section that I call "Calendar." I keep a calendar of the year, one month on two pages, to write down appointments or reminders or tasks that are more than a month out.

Typically, I check my calendar nightly when I plan for the next day, or at the very least, I'll check it weekly.

I originally tried to do a month-on-one-page format, but that just wasn't enough room to write stuff down. I don't have quite enough appointments, generally, to fill up my calendar, but I'd rather have a little too much room than not enough!

This was taken before I wrote everything in for October. Look how nice and clean the month looks! <Sigh> It's much messier now.

And, because I love you and I had to make calendar pages for myself anyway...

Free Printables!!

These pages include Calendar-on-Two pages for the 2015 Calendar Year. There are two styles to choose from- I messed around with both fonts before choosing one. 

A note about printing: I use a small format binder (or Desk size, or A5 size- it uses 5.5" x 8.5" pages).  I do not print these pages two-sided. I like having the back sides blank to add notes or doodles, to tape papers on, or just about anything. I then cut the pages in half down the middle and hole punch them. If you have a larger binder (a standard 8.5"x11"), you could still use these if you hole punch at the top of the page, but you'll have that gutter area in the middle.

 Here's the first style:

And here's the second style:

Click Here for the Style2 Monthly 2015 Calendar

Enjoy, and Happy Planning! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Appearance Matters: Singleness and Beauty

We've been talking a little about getting to know yourself, and why that's important in (and before!) a dating relationship.

When I started this series, I debated whether or not I should cover this topic... since it's been "done" before, and because I think there are lots of great voices out there speaking truth into this issue.

But then I thought of one girl in particular. She's a Facebook friend of mine, as well as a "in real life" friend. So many of her posts are about the fact that she doesn't think she'll ever find a boyfriend. It's not because her standards are impossibly high or she's locked in a high tower somewhere. It's because she thinks she's ugly, unattractive, even that her looks repel guys.

That just hurts my heart. She's a lovely girl, inside and out, and I hate to see her hurt about something like that.

Honestly, though, appearance does matter.

Men are wired to be visual. Looks matter to them. And they matter to us, too! Even though women may not be quite as visually driven, we still have "hunky standards" when it comes to finding a guy. And, of course, we see ourselves. We see ourselves and compare what we see in the mirror with the women all around us. Add that to the fact that we live in a culture that prizes beauty above just about everything else, and it's no wonder that so many women are living in a place of hurt about physical attractiveness.

What does God say about it?

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.- 1 Peter 3:3-4
First and foremost, our beauty should come from a place that won't fade- that doesn't ever "need" Botox or mascara or to just lose a couple pounds.

It's the inside that matters most. And we talked a little about working on who you are inside in some posts earlier in the series:


Even though our beauty should first come from the inside, the Bible is also pretty clear that in a relationship, being attracted to the other person is important. Just check out the steamy book of the Song of Solomon. 

Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
    that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
    and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
    and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
    behind your veil.

Your neck is like the tower of David,
    built in rows of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
    all of them shields of warriors.

 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle,
    that graze among the lilies.- Song of Solomon 4:2-5


(Although I don't know that I'd be happy about being told my teeth are like sheep, but whatever.)

We've often been told that it's only the inside that matters and that physical attractiveness shouldn't play any part in our thoughts or relationships or what we think about ourselves. But it does play a part. Appearance matters.* (And beauty points us to God. But that's a different post all together.)

Here's the thing, though.

I have flaws, obviously. Everyone does. Even the girl on the cover of the magazine has flaws (which may or may not have been Photoshopped out... but that's another issue).

My husband has flaws. He doesn't look like an underwear model, he doesn't have a chiseled jaw line. But my goodness, he's so (sooooooo) attractive to me. I am definitely attracted to him (him and his cute butt. Don't tell him I said that). And his imperfections? I see beauty in those, too- beauty that comes because those little flaws are part of who he is.

Being attractive doesn't mean being perfect. 

My husband loves me and is attracted to me, even though I have 20 extra pounds in those love handles, my nose is a little big, I have short legs, and my skin hasn't been great lately.

Because being attractive doesn't mean being perfect. 

Your appearance does matter- it matters because it affects how you feel about yourself, how you present yourself to the world, and if you're called to marriage, your appearance will matter to your future husband.

But we need to get past the idea that "perfection" in terms of appearance is a real thing. It's not. What's attractive to me may not be attractive to you; what is "pretty" to one guy isn't always "pretty" to another. We can't define ourselves by a standard that doesn't exist.

We'll talk a little more about this, okay? (This post is getting really long).

Update: Here's another post about this same topic- 

If you'd like to see more posts in this series, I'd invite you to go ahead and follow me on Facebook, or stay tuned- I'm working on putting all the posts in this series together so they're easier to find. Thanks!

* I think that very often, when we tell girls, or tell ourselves, that the way we look on the outside doesn't matter at all, we're sending the wrong message. I know that I've felt emotions that are tied to my appearance before- I think we all have. Being happy because I think I look good today, being cranky with a new zit... it's something we do!

But when I'm told that the way I look doesn't matter at all, it leads me to feel somewhat guilty that my emotions can be tied, even in a small way, to my appearance. I feel like I'm shallow if I'm happy about a new skirt that makes me feel pretty, and I don't think that's the way it should be.

Of course, my self-worth isn't built on what I'm wearing or my nose or the size pants I wear... but denying that outward appearance matters at all is the other end of the extreme. I choose to fall in the middle.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five Favorite Fall {Cold Season} Things

Okay, so, you know the awesome vacation we took? That was wonderful and beautiful and just so needed? When we slept and ate and slept again, then saw some beautiful things and went back to sleep?

We headed back home on Wednesday, and by mid-drive, Zeke's sinuses were totally swollen. He went through a box of tissues, and the half-roll of toilet paper I stole from a restaurant bathroom. (Is that gross? Illegal? TMI? I don't even know, but I just couldn't handle that "snarf-cough-blech" noise he kept making. Choices.) And of course, you spend 7 hours in a car with a large, germ-infested man, and... yep. I've got it, too.

So while I wanted to do a 5 Faves Fall post, I've got snot in my brain, so... yeah. You get cold-season favorites. You're welcome.

(Full disclosure: Some of these are affiliate links. That meas that if you click on the picture, it'll take you to Amazon, and then you decide to buy something, I'll get a little teeny commission at no cost to you.)

Fuzzy Socks

Because when you're all stuffed up, there's nothing like the feeling of stepping on cocker spaniel puppies.

Oil Diffusers

Seriously. I love this thing. And my sinuses love this thing.

Essential Oils


to use with my diffuser. I'll be honest, I'm not an oil snob. I know that the essential oil brand wars are out there, and that people have chosen sides, sister against sister, and there has been bloodshed (well, hurt feelings, anyway.) I don't really get all into that. These are two oils that have worked for me. I like 'em.

Copious Amounts of Netflix


Having the sniffles is a great excuse to watch three seasons of Gilmore Girls. Right? RIGHT?

Soup That I Didn't Have to Chop Vegetables to Make

Soup is good, but chopping millions of carrots and onions and simmering? I don't mind it when I feel okay, but sinus headaches and chopping do not a happy Adrie make.

I keep a couple of these around for just such occasions. Yum.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to disinfect my keyboard, cuz I just sneezed all over it. Ew.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Mini-Vacation, A Recap.

I'm realizing that I never really told anyone about the plan for this week.

Our little niece was baptized on Sunday, so we were up in South Dakota for that- and we thought that while in South Dakota, we should spend some time in our favorite place - the Black Hills.

Zeke arranged everything. Absolutely everything. And while I should know him well enough to trust that he's got it all under control, I started feeling... wary when he told me that we would be staying in an RV somewhere in the middle of the Hills.

It's. Been. Wonderful.

Hand-made log cabin quilt on the master bed.

The owners of the RV live about an acre away, and the RV was immaculate. So clean, so welcoming, so cozy. And has a private hot tub, which is always a plus. It looks out over a huge gorgeous cliff. Quiet and fresh and smelled like pine needles.


My only complaint? That we couldn't stay longer.

Zeke's only complaint? Well, RV's have small showers.

Me in the shower. Now imagine a guy a foot and a half taller in there. (No, he wouldn't get in there to let me get a picture.)
A: Don't think of it as a shower... just think of it like... like...
Z: A CT scan while wet?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sharing the Love...

We're in the Black Hills for the first couple days of this week...

Here's my view.

Go ahead and gaze. You know you want to.

(See, this is why blogs should have a scratch and sniff option. Because oh, oh the pine tree smell! Someday technology will catch up...)

Personality and Knowing Yourself

Back when I was trying to get to know myself better, I took a whole bunch of personality tests to try to pinpoint my "true" personality.

That's when I found the Myers Briggs test.

Out of all of the personality tests I took, this one stuck with me. The Myers Briggs test uses four letters to describe each personality- and knowing those letters really helped me to get to know myself, and to understand myself better.

I'll give you an example.

I'm an ESFJ.

E- I tend to be more extroverted than introverted. I get energy from being around people- which explains why I'm all pumped up after a presentation or meeting. It also means that I like to have lots of activities going on, and that can cause problems when I jump from project to project. I do that a lot.

S- I take in information best when I can experience it, and I sometimes have trouble seeing the big picture. I'm not great with abstract ideas.

F- I make decisions more by emotion than by logic. That means I'm good at people-pleasing and very tactful, but I can be too compassionate and sensitive sometimes. 

J- When it comes to structure in my life, I like things to be decided and structured. I'm pretty task-oriented, I like lists, and I meet deadlines well. I see the world in black and white, and I have trouble seeing gray areas. 

I had a roommate who was an ENFP. She also got energy from being with people, so that was a good match. She really enjoyed debate- probably because she was more perceiving than judging in the way she approached the world. She was curious about a lot of things, and saw gray area in everything.

We'd have long discussions about different aspects of social issues, and I really disliked those discussions. I just wanted a black and white answer without hurting anyone's feelings, and she wanted to explore every option. We didn't get along during debates because I'm a J and she's a P.

Of course, I didn't know about Myers Briggs at the time, and so I thought I was just terrible at debates and way too sensitive, when instead, it was more about personality types. She was outspoken and always loved a challenge- I was more interested in keeping harmony.

I would recommend that you go check it out- I've found this to be a very helpful tool in learning more about myself and how I relate to those around me.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Seven Quickest of Takes

(Linking up with Jen, and timing myself.... and... go.)


The sunsets lately! Just too pretty!


Went to a conference this week- Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. A big group of Camp people, all in one place. It was fun, and I got some ideas on how I can make my job better, so that's good.

 And so now you know why I've been such a blog-slacker. Conference. Limited internet access. And then got home, and even more limited internet access. Why?! The network connection shows two signals. Why don't you just connect, you darn thing??!


Work has been nuts- lots of registrations coming in, lots of communicating with churches. Hopefully we'll have a great fall retreat season, and hopefully all the busy-crazy now will make for calm and peaceful later, right? RIGHT?


We're leaving on a quick vacation tomorrow- will be back on Thursday.

Combine that with #2 (gone for three days) and #3, and no clean laundry, and not doing dishes for a week and getting that lovely mold build up, and I'm freaking out a little.



Shameless plugs...

New Stuff 'Round the Blog:

This post about how I lost myself

And this post about how I found myself again

And this page where I linked all my Ephesians Posts! I figured out how to do that!

And I made 16 cents from an Amazon Affiliate Link last week! Score! I can buy half of a gumball!!

Old Stuff 'Round the Blog: 

 "Typically, we fall into one of two camps. Either we feel that we're not good enough for grace, or that grace isn't good enough for us. I'm in the second group more often than I'd like to admit."

Carpet Shampooers: A Philosophical Take:
"As I listened to the hum of the suction (ah, lovely), I got to thinking. What is it about carpet shampooers, anyway? And then I realized...It's the results! We tend to think results = success. But does God view it that way?"

And don't forget to link up your Fall Outfits HERE. (See #7)

... and, not including the 5 minutes I wasted used to welcome a retreat guest... these takes brought to you in 8 minutes.

How I Found Myself Again

After many years of relationships and trying to shape and change myself so I could fit whoever it was I was dating, I realized that I didn't really know myself anymore.

I didn't know what kind of music I really liked, I didn't know my favorite hobbies, I didn't know what my clothing style was... I had changed so many things about myself because I was trying to build my identity off of my boyfriends.

(A note- and we'll talk about this later: Being challenged and experiencing new things aren't inherently bad. Not at all. But I wasn't honest with myself about my true opinions and feelings, and those lies became who I was. But yeah, we'll talk about that later.)

During my freshman year of college, I decided that before I could date again, before I could get to know someone new, I had to get to know myself. But where do you start with that?

Well, here's what I did. I realize that some of this sounds really cheesy and stupid, but it worked for me. I had to start from scratch, with little things, to build my confidence in my self-knowledge and self-esteem. I put all my discoveries on a PowerPoint presentation, because, as I would learn, I'm a big ole' nerd.

Stuff You'd Put on a Questionnaire
I started with the things you'd learn about someone if you were meeting them at a conference, or as an ice breaker game. Like I said, I had to start very small, very basic.

Favorite Color, Favorite Food, Favorite Season, Favorite Beverage, Favorite Number...- I went online to a paint company website and went through paint chips to find my actual favorite color. I tried out lots and lots of different foods- some I'd never had before. I made pro and con lists about seasons. You get the idea.

Favorite Kind of Music- This one was so hard. Two of my previous boyfriends had been very "into" music, and their favorites had become mine. I listened to tons of music in lots of different genres and then considered what it was that I liked about certain songs. And I realized that I actually hated several songs that I thought were my "favorites."

My Actual Personality Type
We'll talk about this one more in depth later on, but I took several personality tests to help me get to know myself better. It was very helpful.

We've all got 'em. I just didn't realize that I had some, too. When my roommates or friends would point out a funny thing that I do (like taking a sip from a friend's cup without asking- didn't know I did that), I'd write it down.

Harder Stuff
After I got some of the basics out of the way, I dug deeper. I thought about things I didn't like about myself, my values (like honesty and patience and hard work), what makes me excited, what scares me. I wrote goals for myself- honest, thoughtful goals- for the first time. I took stock of my faith walk, and started to incorporate spiritual disciplines into my life. I also did a lot of thinking about those past relationships- about what went wrong, about my contributions to issues, about what I really wanted in a relationship and what kind of guy would be right for me.

I realized some of the big (big, big) problems in those relationships, and committed myself to making sure those issues didn't come into my relationships again.     

In the end, I learned a lot about myself. Some of it was pretty silly (my favorite color is periwinkle, I'm afraid of ladders, and I don't like scary movies), and some of it was really helpful in showing me why I am who I am, and what that means for my life.

Most of all, though, after that year of self-discovery, I felt like I had a solid foundation. I knew who I was, and could build from there. I was able to change in a healthy way, and instead of changing my identity to fit a guy, I could decide how I wanted to grow, and in what ways.

You can't expect to be in a healthy relationship if you don't have a healthy relationship with yourself. When I lied about who I was, I was also poisoning my friendships and my dating relationships, because they'd never get to know me. I had to know myself, first and foremost, before I could truly get to know anyone else.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Ever-Changing Adrie, Or How I Learned to Be Everyone But Me.

Looking back through my old iPod is like a map through all my past dating relationships.

Top 20 hits and country music from the year I turned 16, Jet and White Stripes, Coheed & Cambria and The Silversun Pickups... or, Bryan, Jon, Mike.

The music I listened to changed, quite a bit, depending on the guy I was dating at the time. As did my shoes, as did my hairstyle, as did my habits and interests and hobbies. Because my identity changed depending on the guy I was dating at the time. (Which is one reason our identities should be firmly rooted in Christ).

Bryan was my first boyfriend. He was well-liked in school but not too popular- got good grades, and ran cross country. Bryan was a nice guy, but our interests just didn't fit. Instead of cutting my losses and moving on (like I should have), I tried to mold myself into someone just like him. He was so athletic, and I desperately tried to fit in with his cross-country running friends.

I was pretty laughably bad, despite my attempts, but I had convinced myself that I needed to change who I was. I spent all my time with him, trying to be just like him, and started to identify myself with his interests, his passions. Of course, asking a 16-year-old boy to define my identity was way too much for him, and our little relationship crashed and burned pretty quickly.

After Bryan came Jon. Jon had moved to the area from Ghana, and went to a different school nearby. He was pretty much the exact opposite of Bryan. Jon was interested in music and art, wasn't athletic in the least, and where Bryan was light skinned and blonde (like everyone else in town), Jon was dark skinned and exotic. He also had a huge heart for God and God's will in his life, and I really admired that about him.

Even though my interests clashed less with his, he still didn't fit. So once again, I tried to figure out how to be just like him. I tried to learn guitar, wrote some songs, posed for artsy pictures. I molded myself into what I thought he wanted. I was getting good at that. We didn't break up until I moved away, and I'm pretty sure that he wrote a melodramatic song about it.

Next was Mike. Mike was rather similar to Bryan, except for the "from Africa" thing. He liked music, concerts, playing guitar, questioning authority in a safe sort of way, and watching the Sci-Fi channel with his friends so they could mock the bad acting. Mike was the only child of a pretty successful business woman, and had a lot of his future mapped out for him. He had a lot of security, and I sort of envied that.

He was not a believer, and made that pretty clear, but I had convinced myself that I could stick with my faith and be a good example to him. Besides, he was so fun. He took me to concerts and introduced me to bands, and he had a group of friends (which was important to me, since I'd just started at a new school). I dated him for about a year, convincing myself that I liked the same bands he did, that I liked his friends, that I could see myself with him in the long run.

By this point, I was so convincing, so good at being the person I thought my boyfriend wanted me to be, that I had even fooled myself.

I went to college about two hours away from Mike, and by some miracle of friendship, independence, and plenty of chapel services, I started re-claiming myself. So much so, that when Mike came to visit one time and tried to convince me that we shouldn't be "exclusive," I realized that I didn't really know this guy at all and I stood up for myself enough to break up with him.

Here's the thing. None of these guys asked me to change for them. None of them tried to force me to like the things they liked or to do the things they wanted to do. I did that. I thought that if I could be just right for them, that maybe they'd really truly like me. I thought that I wasn't enough- I had to be something or someone else.

I think part of that stems from the fact that I didn't know who I was to begin with. Then, after I dated someone and tried to shove myself into a mold, I was even more confused, and much more vulnerable to trying to "re-invent" who I really was.

After Mike, I realized what I'd been doing to myself.

My identity was smooshed, cut up, filed down, and I didn't really resemble anything I recognized anymore.

I didn't know myself. So I made a commitment that I wouldn't date anyone or be romantically involved with anyone for a full year, and I'd take that time to figure out who I really was, who I really am.

(To read more about it, click here...)

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