Exploding Glass and Other Daily Adventures

I used to think I wanted a life of adventure, but I was wrong. At least, I didn’t know the kind of adventure I wanted. I thought I wanted this crazy (busy) career–traveling, speaking, and writing–getting into stuff all over the world. In some ways, I still want some of those things. But I’ve learned something about adventures over the last year.

They happen in the daily so, so often.

I just miss them because I look for the big things–you know, the ones that practically scream words like thrill, adventure, fun, danger, crazy, or awesome. And I also look at what I’m doing or where I’m going, not who I’m with. Let me say this about adventure: the people are the most important part.

One of the pitfalls of being a dreamer–I see everything written in words that are larger than life. I have to scale them down a bit and ask myself, “What is it that I want? What is it that God wants me to do?”

I’ve found that adventure is simply life–following God’s plan as He laid it out for me, loving the people He places on my path.

I also plan a lot. (Hey, dreams don’t become reality by chance). And I really don’t like it when plans change last minute (funny admission for someone who says she wants adventure, right?). Well, last Saturday I had a plan. Three friends were coming over, and I was cooking for them. I love to cook for people and do it as often as I can; it just makes me happy.

Well, Lynn and I were dancing and acting crazy (showing off our Beyonce moves, you know?), when we heard a loud pop (you should have seen our faces) and smoke started pouring out of the oven. No one was hurt, except the glass pan that shattered.  (Actually, the food wasn’t even burnt. It just had an extra…crunch).

So, when the guys got there, the doors were open to clear the smoke out of the house. Lynn and I had to confess that our dance moves must have caused the pan to explode. Then we were faced with the inevitable: what are we going to do about dinner? 

Lynn said, “Well, it’s a good time to learn to be flexible!”

And I responded with an (only half-joking): “I don’t want to be flexible!”

I was so worried about making the night perfect for my friends that it upset me way more than it should have when the dish exploded. Honestly, it took me half the distance to Cracker Barrel to (sort of) calm down. Now, I look back and laugh because the night turned out perfectly, as in what should have happened did. It wasn’t perfect, because it was life. But it was a memorable little adventure in it’s own way.

Adventure can be larger than life, the kind of story that makes a novel a best seller; but adventure can also be something small and unexpected that comes at just the right time to reroute our daily routine from the ordinary to the memorable. My adventures may not create a story the whole world wants to hear, but they’re the moments that make up a life–the kind of stories that will be passed down in my family for years to come.

And that’s all I want–the moments and little adventures that string together to create a forever.

The Punctuation of a Photograph

My life doesn’t look like any of my friends’ lives. (Before you call me out for bragging, just take a minute to read the rest of my ramblings here.) There may be similar lines in a book, but not the same story.

A few days ago, I was looking through a friend’s wedding pictures—of the wedding party specifically—and I thought, “Wow, those are the same guys he used to hang out with 5 years ago.” Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, at all. But I began thinking, if I got married today, only one person in my bridal party photos would have been a part of my life 5 years ago. Just one. Not that this is the norm, and I am by no means anti-social (I love meeting new people!), but it’s just another part of my story. I switched colleges 3 times; and moved from North Carolina to Tennessee, Tennessee to Virginia, Virginia to North Carolina, and then back to Tennessee within the last few years.

Making so many moves allowed me to meet a lot of really awesome people, but it’s difficult leaving those people behind. So, not every photograph of mine shows the same smiles or echoes the same memories. And I’ve come to realize, that’s okay.

If my story were exactly like my friends’, it wouldn’t be my story at all. I don’t want to be a carbon copy or live life from a template—I was created to break the mold. I was created to move when I God says, “Move” and stay when He says, “I want you here.” I was created with the ability to make choices that change the punctuation in my story.

The fact that those faces in my photographs may have changed doesn’t mean there’s a period on the end of my story; it’s more like a semi-colon, just a statement waiting to be finished by the right words.

.Marked.

Wednesday morning, I spent two hours on the phone with one of my co-workers, trying to figure out where to start on my new assignment. This task was brand new to me—as in, I stared at a blank screen blinking away tears because I felt stupid for not having any clue where to begin. The programs we use can be complicated at times; throw all of that together with the fact that all of the people who have done this before are not on site and you have a mess.

Thankfully, three people came alongside me, walked me through the process, showed me computer shortcuts, checked in with me, and encouraged me throughout the day. When I finally completed as much as I could for one day, my co-worker looked over my work and I got an email that said: “I am so proud of you for taking on such a huge job…YOU DID GREAT!” And I found myself smiling. Because the task was so difficult and frustrating, her words meant immeasurably more.

Life is hardly ever easy. It’s frustrating. Sometimes you don’t even know where to begin, so you ask for help. You pray. You talk to your friends. You seek advice from older people who have been there before. And you keep pushing through, because one day, you’ll be finished with this life.

When I get there, to the end of life as we know it, I can’t wait to hear those words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” The tears, the trials, stumbles, and setbacks will one day fade away as His words make their mark on our souls.

Meet Marie

I believe that each place you go, you meet someone who changes or effects you in some way. Marie is one of those people. She’s sweet, sassy, and a lot of fun. We met working in a cramped call center, constantly starting rubber band wars to keep the boredom at bay. Marie loves Jesus and it shows through in the way she loves people. I so enjoyed this fall photo shoot with Marie! Here are some of my favorite shots:

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My Country Song

A quiet night

With stars to guide

a back roads drive.

 

Stop right here,

worries disappear,

beyond the city lights.

 

Crickets sing

a lullaby as I lie

beneath the sky.

 

“Until the sunrise,”

I say. Breathing in

peace, I’ll stay.

 

Sun brings in

a morning bright

my heart fights;

 

to be forever here

where starlit nights

make clear the hope

 

ringing in my soul.

Frazzled and Frayed

Dear Lord,

My nerves feel frazzled. I have so many questions, and in attempt to answer them I’m running myself ragged. I’m tired. I’m too tired to even think about praying most days, and I know that should be my first response. But I just can’t bring myself out of the world of ink-stains, keyboards clicking, event plans, and play practices long enough to relax in Your presence.

That’s what I’m reaching for Lord. I’m reaching up for you because I’m beaten down, and I don’t know what else to do. I’m tired of worrying about every little detail, every word I write and every word I hear. I am tired of worrying, period. I want You to replace my worry with your wonder.

You are so much bigger than what I’m asking of You. You have so much more for me than living completely torn apart by insecurities I’ve placed in my own heart. That is not the life I want. I want a full life, where I’m free to be the woman You had in mind at the beginning of time. A woman who isn’t so afraid of her own shadow that she misses the chance to love those around her. A woman who gives freely, listens better, thinks about herself less, and laughs more–she even laughs at worry. A woman whose identity is wrapped up in Your love, Your heart, Your words.

I want to be a woman after your own heart.

The Day We Took 1,200 Photos

These two ladies are so filled with laughter, love, and life. I am blessed to call them my friends. Last Fall, Lynn; Elizabeth; and I talked about loving this season and wanting to do a photoshoot. So we finally got around to it–a year later. Here are some of my favorite shots from the day. Love these gorgeous girls!

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I Went to a Ghost Town And This Is What I Found

Ghost towns are called Ghost towns for a reason. Air seems more chilled and the nature around it, still–eerily so. Apparently, some people find that environment appealing (there were people camping there when we visited), but I just don’t. Of course, mannequins and dolls also creep me out and there were plenty of those lovely white figures staring out of dilapidated drug store windows. Although, I have to say, for a ghost town St. Elmo, Colorado is actually pretty well kept.

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Photo by Victoria Livengood

 

I traveled there with my aunt in 2012, as a part of a road trip through Colorado. We had just stopped in Buena Vista for some BBQ and I believe they mentioned this little town to us.

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Photo by Victoria Livengood

Despite the eerie feel and the cold mountain air–St. Elmo offers a beautiful view.

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Photo by Victoria Livengood

We definitely had a good time walking around, I’m pretty sure I tried to jump out and scare my aunt a few times. Which is exceptionally fun because she’s an Opera singer and tends to sing a high instead of screaming.

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photo by Victoria Livengood

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photo by Stephanie Livengood

My aunt took most of the pictures because I was really distracted by this:

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There were about a hundred more of those little guys, and they had no qualms about jumping on you if they thought you had food.

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Unplugged.

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My hands are shaking. I’m going to be sick. I won’t be able to hold the microphone. My face feels like it’s on fire. I’m going to drop the microphone. There are two steps leading to the stage…that makes two chances for me to trip over my own feet and bust it. I am tingling all over; I’m definitely going to pass out. Oh no. She’s finished now it’s my turn . . . do I really have anything worth saying?

And that is how I came face-to-face with public enemy number one—public speaking.

I was about to put my heart out there in a room so full of women that I contemplated running out the door. I began to doubt that I had anything to say at all, no matter how many times God showed me that I needed speak and they needed to hear. Fear always finds a way to push me back down—away from my dreams, away from my calling, and far away from the God who loves me.

Sometimes, fear makes me do crazy things, like trying to face it by speaking to a bunch of people. Sometimes, I drop my notes and they scatter all over the floor behind the podium. Sometimes, I awkwardly laugh to cover the pounding of my own heart. Sometimes, I completely skip over entire bullet points when I’m nervous (Sorry, Job).

And sometimes, the wire disconnects from the microphone—twice.

Really? Again? Why did the wireless mic have to die? I love this awkward balancing act of trying to face this room full of women, and trying to face my fears by telling them about my battle with depression. Of course, the wire falls of the mic.

And then I heard the women chuckling and I realized—yes, God really allowed it.

I think He wanted them to see how human I am, and that I was absolutely not talking down to them. I was speaking from a deeply wounded heart, still learning how God loves her even if she feels like she can’t love herself some days (and has no idea why she feels that way).

And I also believe He wanted me to see that fear is overrated—Jesus defeated that on the cross, too.

As I told my new friends that Wednesday night, God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7, paraphrased from the ESV). I just have to reach up and grab hold of His courage. It’s not that I won’t have any fears; I just don’t have to face them alone.

And fear is worth facing, because God has so much more for us.