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one year

For one whole year, I’ve been holding hands with Justen Martian. It’s crazy how it feels like it was both yesterday and a lifetime ago. It all happened so quickly – we never had a “DTR” or a conversation about what was going on. We got coffee and as we walked to dinner we held hands, and that was that.

Having been single for so long, I feel like I went into our relationship with so many words of advice or people’s stories in my head and I had to sort it all out on my own. These are the things I’ve learned in the past year with Justen:

  1. Not everyone fights.
    A few people had told us they were excited for us to have our first fight, but to this day we still haven’t had one. It’s not that we don’t disagree, but we’ve never let it escalate to a fight.
  2. Advice doesn’t apply to everyone.
    Every relationship is completely unique, and while people may have really great intentions for their advice, sometimes it’s not helpful because it doesn’t apply to your relationship. There is no right or wrong, it just is.
  3. Being completely open is awesome. 
    I’ve read about the anxiety of talking about finances with someone you’re dating, and I’ve heard about having to have “hard conversations.”  Initially I told Justen we should have a monthly dinner where we could address any and everything that was on our hearts, stuff that was maybe hard but never found the context of a conversation. We did that for three or so months and we realized that we had nothing left over to talk about that meal, because our relationship is a safe place to be open about whatever we’re feeling at any given moment. I’m so grateful for that.
  4. A sigh of relief is better than butterflies.
    Justen’s never given me a flurry of butterflies and made me feel giddy, but when he shows up at my house or I walk into a coffeeshop and see him sitting there, my whole being lets out a huge sigh of relief because I feel more complete when I’m with him. I’d rather have that than the flighty feeling of butterflies.

Here’s to another year of mochas, Disneyland, road trips, late night conversations, chips + salsa, Bachelor Mondays, and hugs. I’m a much better person because of everything that’s happened the past 365 days with Justen Martian by my side. I can’t wait to see what the next year (and beyond) holds for us. <3

On to year two. <3

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Rules for Self Discovery

Desiring Egypt //

You know what will rock your identity?
Moving from one community of people to another in a quick time, especially when the community of people are both your church family and your co-workers on both ends.

This same thing happened, a little differently,  when I left SoCal and moved back to the Northwest. It’s not that I changed or anything, but it was like I was handed a blank canvas with the same paint and given the opportunity to paint something new. Get that? Same paint. The same foundation was there, but I got to make it look different if I wanted.

Two months ago I quietly left the church I was raised in. That denomination has a really strong identity – its own language and yearly events, global community, consistent program names, matching outfits – and then just like that, I stepped away. I moved towards a new group of people who already know and love Justen and started to squirm my way in.

A new canvas for my paint, if you will.

I keep thinking of this thought from the brilliant A. W. Tozer.

Rules for Self Discovery:

  1. What we want most

  2. What we think about most

  3. How we use our money

  4. What we do with our leisure time

  5. The company we enjoy

  6. Who and what we admire

  7. What we laugh at


Have any of you ever “started over” in a new community? Has it given you an identity crisis at all or is it just me? ;D

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When Jesus says “No.”

You know how people say that God answers prayers with three answers: yes, no and wait? I think that saying is dumb. God’s not like a Magic 8 ball with only a few generic responses. I think sometimes in my life God has answered my prayers with “LOL OK if you really want it…..” which is neither yes, no or wait. Sometimes I think he answers prayers with complete silence, which isn’t “wait.” I understand the heart behind limiting God’s answers to our prayers, but I don’t agree with it.

The past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind, and not just for me.

One Saturday morning I woke up with a heavy heart. I was attending the worst kind of funeral and praying for one of my lifelong friends and another one of my best friends brothers. There was a lot on my heart, and I got frustrated because I sometimes feel like God isn’t actually doing anything in the lives of people around me – do you ever feel like that? Like your prayer request list is long and your praise list is full of who God is, or ways you’ve seen him work in the past, but nothing you’ve been praying for seems to turn into a praise?

I got to thinking about when Christ was on earth. One of my favorite blog posts is called When Christ Wasn’t There, and I think about that lesson often – what Jesus teaches us when he seems to be staying away from our hurt. But sometimes Jesus walks straight into our hurt, like the time Jesus was going into the town of Nain and as he was walking in, a funeral procession was walking out. A widow had lost her only son.

Jesus saw her and his heart went out to her and he told her not to cry. Then he brought the dead son back to life and gave him back to his mom. We read that in Luke 7:11-16. It’s a really beautiful story. Especially for that woman and her son and everyone in the presence of that miracle.


…but what about all of the funerals Jesus DIDN’T interrupt? What about those widows, those mourners? What about the parents whose child Jesus DIDN’T heal, or the blind man who never saw?


There’s a weird peace in that. You know.. it’s just Jesus doing his Jesus thing and healing some and not others. Not because one is better, one is favored, one is more loved or important… but because Jesus just does what Jesus does and that rarely actually makes sense to people. Like seriously, if I was God’s PR person I’d be requesting a meeting to discuss what appears to be the series of poor PR decisions he’s made in the lives of those I love recently.

but I am not God’s PR person. I’m not called to strategize and evaluate the decisions of God. I think if anything I’m called to just stand there in the face of all the crap of life,  wrap my arms around the people I love, weep and say “I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.”

and there we have it. One more thing not required of me – to know. I don’t think I want to know, because I think the burden of that knowledge is far too heavy for my puny little human heart, my limited human mind, to bear. Adults often spare children the hard stuff of life; we soften all the D words – divorce, disease, death… and we let them glimpse the reality of grief, but we spare them the full weight of it. and maybe that’s what God does for us. Maybe he spares us the weight of why babies die and why changing your Facebook profile picture to say “PRAY FOR THIS PERSON,” doesn’t necessarily spring Him into action.

I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.

I keep trying to tell God what would really make him look good to nonbelievers – healing, restoration, healthy babies, financial favor…. and God continues to interrupt some funerals and not others, to heal some lepers and not others, to bring eyesight to some but not all. I don’t know why, but realizing that this isn’t some new pattern of behavior for Jesus has helped me have some sort of peace. God’s will be done, and I doubt I’ll ever understand it on this side of Heaven.

I don’t know, man.

I just don’t know. 

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Emotionally De-cluttering, Part 1: Giving things away.

April 2nd of 2015 was one of the coolest days of my life.
I was in California, visiting the Halters, with the boy I was dating/really liked.

I had my Instax and we took a bunch of pictures.

Whenever I take pictures with the twins, we divide them up at the end of my visit. They keep some and I keep some. Naturally, I kept that picture in the top leftish corner of me and the boy I was all about. I tucked all of my pictures into the collection of Instax that I kept in my wallet.

Four days later, that boy kind of messed my life up. and every time I opened my wallet to proudly show people the little loves of my life, I’d have to quickly shuffle past that picture of us. I couldn’t throw it away, because I was so hopeful that we could be friends again at some point. And maybe it wouldn’t be a picture of two people who had some great romantic love story, but perhaps it could be a testimony of reconciliation and forgiveness and the kind of love story that is often overlooked – the friends through thick and thin kind.

I held on hope for that even when he blocked me on Twitter. On his personal account and non-profit account and faith account and business account. and when he blocked me from his account in instagram. and unfriended me on Facebook. and blocked me from his non profit account on instagram. and banned my blog page from liking his non-profit Facebook… and his business Facebook… and when he blocked me on Pinterest… and when he banned me from liking his business page from my personal Facebook… and when he finally blocked me from liking his business on Instagram. It happened every few days over the course of two months, and I was radio silent the entire time, praying that the storm would die down and I could approach him with white flag waving, asking if it was safe to come out yet.

One day during the summer I was at camp, journaling. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to write his name in my new journal. I didn’t want this journal to be full of confusion and hurt. I wanted it to be hopeful and full of grace. I pulled out my pictures to tape one into my journal, and I saw the picture. I looked at it and cried a little bit because I couldn’t throw it away. It wasn’t trash. Knowing him was a special year of my life, regardless of how it ended, and I didn’t have the hardness of heart to throw it away.

So I ran to my friend Donna. The one who has been so divinely placed into my life to cry with me and to let me cry with her. Donna, who knows so deeply what it means to wait on the Lord. Donna, who has always shown me how to hurt with grace and gentleness. and I asked her if she would please take my picture and do with it whatever she thought was best.

donna //

In September, I was hurting. and I wrote about Donna sending me a message at the very moment I needed her. In the message, she told me about that picture. She’d taken it all the way back to Australia and after having washed a certain pair of shorts THREE TIMES, she reached into the pocket and pulled out that picture.

You know how when people clean, they divide things into piles like KEEP, GIVE AWAY, THROW AWAY?
Donna let me give my emotional clutter to her. By accepting that picture and giving me a reassuring hug, she took the massive weight of a tiny picture into her life.

Sometimes when things hurt us and we don’t want to be reminded of it but we can’t bear to throw it away, we need to give it away to someone who recognizes the importance of it but who is more emotionally attached to us than the thing; who can be trusted to do what they see fit with our pain.

Right now one of my favorite songs of hope just came on shuffle, and the words of the song seem appropriate to share in light of this looking back on one of the most freeing moments of 2015.

“One, two, three, four steps
Take a little more with you
Show me one more step in the world
Thats all I need to move on.
-Will Reagan & United Pursuit

A little more. One more step. That’s all.

People of God by Will Reagan & United Pursuit //

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Un-stuffing a bunch of stuff.

The other day I opened my closet and thought, for the first time in my life, “I don’t think I need all of this stuff.” I began to think about the last time I’d worn certain items, and asked myself why I hadn’t worn them in awhile. Then I moved on to the bottom right drawer of my dresser: the jeans. See, I once realized I’d lost 38 lbs since my highest weight. The number is now around 50 pounds. So I tried on some jeans and put a few pairs that were… wait for it… TOO BIG… in a pile to take to Plato’s Closet.

And then I realized… you know, I haven’t consistently worn dresses in awhile. So I took every single dress I own, threw it on my bed, and started trying every single dress on. INCLUDING… Bridesmaid dresses. Check this:

This first dress is one I wore last September in Rachel’s wedding.

Before/After weight loss //

When I got the dress it fit really nicely; they didn’t alter the fit at all. When I tried the dress on, I thought “okay it fits kind of the same,” but when I saw the pictures I realized that the waist part is actually more loose now! Also this dress is just the cutest. It makes me feel like a princess.

The next dress is from August 2011, one of my favorite weddings of all time because it was at CAMP ARNOLD!

Before/after weight loss //

I was looking for a picture from Sarah’s wedding and I saw this one and was like… wait, what? First, just note how much shorter it was on Sarah’s wedding day. Second, don’t pay too much attention but I was snug as a bug in that dress. When I put it on, I literally thought “this is what it feels like to wear a potato sack.” There was NOWHERE for it to cling, it just hung flat. This was the moment I thought “okay, maybe my weight loss is actually physically noticeable.”

But wait for this one.

This is from my friend Brittany’s wedding in April 2011.

before/after weight loss //

When I wore this dress, I had no problems keeping it up. It’s strapless, but it had enough to stay in place. Now it wouldn’t even stay on my body.

Okay so here’s the thing. I didn’t stop there. I tried on every… article… of… clothing… I… own. Seriously. I tried it all on, and I decided.. some of this needs to go.

clothes //

and you know what’s crazy? I kind of felt awesome about it. Because I realized this little cycle:

Losing weight –> Selling clothes –> Making a little $$ / un-stuffing –> less to worry about –> more time to do other things –> like sleep –> sleep helps with losing weight…. see this cycle? I realized that so much of what I’m currently tackling is all connected.

As I get rid of stuff in my room, I’m appreciating the value in the things I keep, which makes me less likely to go buy stuff just to make myself feel good. That helps me save money and keep an easier living space. Having a clear mind like that helps me stay focused on things like losing weight. It’s all connected.

I’m seeing that there’s a lot of stuff in my life to unstuff. I’m attempting to unstuff my debt (slowly… but surely. You know who is KILLING this debt repayment stuff? ROBYN. Go read this post like RIGHT NOW). I’m attempting to unstuff my body. I’m attempting to unstuff my closet, my room, under my bed, the drawers, the bathroom, my car, the garage…. not all at once, obviously. I’m just realizing that having lots of stuff doesn’t make me happy. Doing lots of THINGS makes me happy. Seeing lots of PEOPLE makes me happy. Being lots of places, drinking lots of coffee, having lots of conversations, hiking lots of miles… all stuff that makes me happy. Stuff isn’t cutting it anymore, and I’m tired of it.

This month I made a goal to unstuff by my bed. I’m getting there. This was a really healthy detour. I’ll tell you how much I make at Plato’s…. when I finally take it down there.

So here’s to progress in all the things that matter.

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Pumice Stones.

The other day as I was taking a shower, I looked at my pumice stone and thought “you are probably one of the worst things for an obsessive compulsive to own.”

I’m not going to try and offer a quick, light-hearted summary of OCD and what it is and what aspects of my life have fallen into its black hole. For the past few weeks I’ve been making a mental list of the common things people own that are very dangerous for obsessive compulsives. As I encounter these things, I will share them with you. Mostly because a fair amount of my friends read this blog and I kind of am a weenie about sharing my OCD struggles in a personal way. Welcome to the madhouse.

Pumice Stones.

Since I wear flip flops 97% of the time, my feet have the potential to quickly become fairly nasty. Upon realizing this, I invested in a pumice stone to keep my feet from being ridiculously awful.

All seemed well in pumice stone owning land until Saturday. The weather here in the Northwest has been absolutely beautiful. I came home and sat down with my dying dog in the front yard. After I stood up, my mom said “you have something on your leg.” “It’s just dirt” we concluded. As I stood in the bathroom, about to wash it off in the sink I took a closer look and realized it definitely was not dirt.

In case you’ve not figured it out:
Dog + yard = __________ (poop)

Immediately, I jumped in the shower. Of course I wasn’t going to touch it, because that would make my hands infected. Instead I turned the water to a ridiculously painful temperature and watched as the heat burned off the trace of doggie poo on my leg. This is where the story turns from normal into obsessive compulsive land. Feeling as if the poo was still stuck to my skin, I pondered my options. Loofah or pumice? Pumice, obviously. Once I decided to see if the pumice stone would make my knees a bit softer. It didn’t, though it did successfully make them look as if I had fallen off of a bike and tried to use my knees as a braking system. Have I ever mentioned that I don’t ride bikes?

Back to Saturday. I grabbed the pumice stone and started scrubbing. After twenty seconds, my leg was bright red (a combination of water rivaling the temperature of the sun and a piece of something that is made to remove calluses) and it was painful to stand in the shower.

The thing that I find the most amusing about OCD is that most of us stand in completely stupid situations and rationalize with ourselves. “It is normal to take a diaper off when changing a baby’s diaper.” “My foot will not fall off if I step on a sidewalk crack.” “I can hold a knife without it resulting in a spontaneous killing spree.” (If you are not an obsessive compulsive, you probably think I am a freak. If you are an obsessive compulsive, I am virtually high fiving you.. which I appreciate, because then I won’t feel the urge to wash my hands.)  OCD has nothing to do with logic.

As I stood there, wincing in pain as the water was dripping down my leg I did the only thing that seemed right. I kept scrubbing.

One thing I love about my obsessive compulsive episodes is that eventually I snap out of them. Out of nowhere, it will just occur to me how insane I am being and I will just walk away. A few moments of scrubbing later, I dropped my pumice stone, turned the water off, and thought “bathrooms are very dangerous for an obsessive compulsive” and I then made a little mental note of the other scary devices of torture spread casually around my bathroom.

Things like:

-soap (pretty much the biggest OCD cliche)
-toilet paper (you might think.. tp? really? consider folding)
-tooth brush (hello touch symmetry sufferers!)

This post was going to include a multitude of things. For example, today I restarted the 365 project, meaning I will take a picture every day for a year. Today I also had a great drive home from work, a great phone call, a great e-mail, a great visit with a friend and a great discussion at Bible study. and then I just ate a few Wheat Thins, and now I will retire.

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