30 Before 30

this pic has a little to do with the post….if you stretch it. but it’s pretty and everyone likes pretty photos. Stay tuned for a post about our shoot with Caryn from http://carynnoel.com/wordpress/ (but i’m sharing it because it relates to the goals I had of who I want to be, relationally  and how that’s helped me not wig out like I usually do.

I added a new page to my “About” sections today. I don’t know if that set up is helpful of confusing, so any comments about how you navigate the “about” pages (or, if you don’t) is greatly appreciated.  I’ve been working a lot this year on goal setting and so I refined a lot of things I’ve been kicking around forever and made a 30-before-30 list. I made it a page so that I can highlight things as they get accomplished, and link to the post I write about them. But here’s the list so far:

1) Go to a UT football game.

2) Earn my MA in Professional Counseling

3) Earn my full LPC license. (This means getting all 2600 remaining hours post-school in 21 months.)

4)Become a fully licensed MT.

5) Do a headstand.

6) Do a handstand.

7) Skydive.

8) Write a novel.

9) Write a memoir.

10) Dance a half marathon.

11) Develop a financial plan for paying off school.

12) Live according to a budget. Like a real, numbers-on-paper one.

13) Have a garden for as much of the produce I usually eat as possible.

14) Develop a compost heap to reduce waste and promote soil health at home.

15) Go organic for all the meaningful produce I’m not growing.

16) Eat only free-range or ethically treated meat.

17) Purchase only ethically responsible goods.

18) See a professional ballet performance.

19) See a professional symphony performance.

20) Record tracks of original songs with my father in Tennessee.

21) Raise and keep chickens to support my egg consumption habit.

22) Develop and keep a meal-planning system.









As you can see, I have a few spots open. Most of these goals were just ideas I knew I wanted to put into place “someday.” I have learned over the past few years that things ALWAYS happen faster and better for me if I put a plan in place. Even if the plan doesn’t work out, I’m still closer to the goal and better prepared for life choices than if I didn’t have a plan, just letting my dreams lie fallow.

eating: hummus, corn tortillas “quesadilla,” steamed veggies and fresh bell pepper slices: an example of how I eat more often now. (hint: it’s impressive because it’s not microwaved or from a package and because it constitutes an actual MEAL)

The are basically two kinds of goals I have on this list: the achieving a one-time (skydive!) and the lifestyle-change (composting).I want to take steps toward making all of my choices and moments count the best they can. To me, that’s not a burden, it’s an opportunity. I feel great about TRYING rather than burdened about not achieving.

working out: I made it a priority to get in a certain number of miles. I made it about half the time, but even when I didn’t, I still got to the gym for at least a couple of them.

I turned 27 in September, and I acknowledge that it’s possible “34 months” is too short a time to institute all these changes. It’s also possible that it’s really, really not.

I feel good about trying for this much because I’ve seen that God’s grace is big and strong. In just this past year I’ve

  • become a consistent worker-outer,
  • started steps toward eating clean and organic,
  • learned to cook,
  • gotten into a serious romantic relationship and
  • become a massage therapist all while maintaining a 4.0 in grad school the two semesters I had.

If I hadn’t set goals, I would have

  • worked out just “whenever” (in the past – twice a week to once a month)
  • broken up with my boyfriend in the first 24 hours (not an exaggeration)
  • eaten like I always had, which means
  • no cooking, and
  • zero organic items, and
  • not done ANYTHING toward becoming a massage therapist.

All of those things only happened because I decided to make them goals, and when I have a goal, I pursue it. IT DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK OUT, which I’ll try to talk about next blog, but obvi it’s always better than if I’d had no goal at all.

school: massage school was really hard sometimes. But it was also REALLY SUNNY.

I’ve also learned that I have a high level of gumption most days, and can get a lot done. So I want to set goals that allow me to pursue doing the RIGHT things, as opposed to watching every episode of MTV’s AWKARD….Or wahtever.

Anyone else making life goals? I want to hear them! What are your systems for goal setting?


Are you a fan or a not-fan of the abbreves people make?

As in presh instead of precious

or perf instead of perfect

or, abbreve instead of abbreviate, for that matter.

Maybe it’s not something that happens a lot where you are, but my people do it all.the.time. Maybe it’s a phase. Anyway, none of that is ACTUALLY the point but as someone who once met a man named “Steven” and proceeded instead to call him “steamboat” for the next seven years, I’d just like to get a gauge on what the rest of the world considers cute colloquial charm and what they instead deem as just ridiculous. Or, in my case, ridic. ;)

But the ACTUAL point of this post is to give one of those more traditional updates. I’m going to try my hardest to make perfectly plain sense (and not Palin sense, as I just typed accidentally, because I don’t ever want to live in Alaska) but we’ll see how far that takes us.

purely because i never used this photo before. this was in february, i believe.

School: In case you missed it, I’m pursuing an M.A. in Professional Counseling. I expect to graduate between August of 2013 and May of 2014. It’s a very long Master’s program. (61 hours, max 9 hours per semester, 6 hours per summer). After my first two semesters, I have a 3.8 GPA.  I hate that I only had a 4.0 for one semester, but that’s just because I’m prideful. There is nothing wrong with a 3.8. I’m learning a lot and will be in school this summer learning more, even though it will cost me time in the sunshine. The fact that I can say that with a smile is a miracle in itself.

i realize these photos don't at all match up, but i just thought this one was funny, and also hadn't been used.

Social: I am NOT dating anyone. Back in April I went through a break up so emotionally wrought that I actually flinch/shudder whenever I see the man I was dating. Sometimes things just hurt more than you can explain. Sorry, i’d be more poetic, but i’m trying to just be clear so the people who don’t see me that often can know what’s going on. My friendships are growing, though, and it seems just about every day I find myself thinking, “I have more amazing friends than i can count. How can one girl be so loved?” But i am kinda touch deprived (my own fault. After the break up, I got a little gun shy about being touched. Weird reaction, I know).

on the way home from TN during spring break. it's like spiritual. ;)

Spiritual: I’ve totally dropped the REAP plan but do still make time to read the Bible almost every day. I’ve even started reading a chapter of John every morning when I wake up to help me actually get out of bed (as opposed to twitter or google reader. My phone has all of those options). I’m journaling more again (I probably always journaled more than “average” but I’m actually getting back up to “normal” for me.

getting less and less related

Shackled: My felony accusation is still pending. Yes, you read that right. I was accused of a felony, and found out a year later (about 2 months ago) when someone stole from my wallet and then I got arrested. My bail cost more than I make in a year. Yes, you read that right as well. It was an odd night. Not my best, not my worst, and a funny story that I’ll type up someday. Anyway,I didn’t do what I was accused of and even have proof  (police and auto insurance records) to prove I didn’t, but I still have to have a lawyer present those things. I wish I could say I’ve proven faithful through it, but the truth is it’s wearing on me more than I realize. My stutter has presented twice in the past week. I’m learning a LOT through it, stuff that could go up in that spiritual section above, but i lack the right words to describe it now, so maybe I’ll tell you about it later.

i. love. my. bubs!! he does NOT love me taking his pic.

Sibling, etc: Family stuff is just as crazy as it normally is. People fighting, medical issues, surprise funsies, and facebook shenanigans. Par for the course on our insane, multi-cultural, never-boring course.

20 points if you can figure out what I'm doing here.

What else might you want to know? This fall I start working at The Austin Stone Counseling Center (a job with an hourly pay NOT involoving fundraising). So I’ll still be working for the church in the sense that I’ll be working at their Counseling Center. But it’s a more 9-5 m-f job. And I’ll still be in school full time. And I’ll move SOMEwhere at some point after the 1st of August, which is still exciting if for no other reason than I’ll be just shy of a year in the same place. The longest i’ve been anywhere since 2002. I’ve been working out more (meaning at all), and enjoy going to the gym 2-4 times a week to get in some quick time on the elliptical. Which is really a result of me taking self-care more seriously.

Questions? Questions? No?

assorted array

::A list of things that could each be their own entry, if time had allowed, and equally randcom photos::

Churches aren’t perfect, neither are people. And neither am I.  But I want to love churches. I want to love people. I even want to love me. Because God says I’m special to him, and that He loves me,so that seems reason enough for me to do the same.


I like to call this, "asking for trouble"



Some people have trouble loving others. Some have trouble loving themselves. Both of these things reflect pride – a belief that their judgement of a situation is more perfect than the judgement of the One Righteous Judge.


In grad school, you get to use a big-boy hole-punch. 40 PAGES!



The cannon of beauty takes into account none of the beauty of surprises and idiosyncrasies. Your big nose and little eyes and wonky ears and veiny feet were on purpose….

she said….just before she wondered what place that purpose has in a child with a cleft lip, or mal-formed hands. Did God mean for Quasimodo to have corrective surgery?

You should love your tree.


Red Raider, Tech Logo, Goal Post and....RAINBOW UNICORN?!



When we err on the side of being conservative, we are still erring. Yes. Some people call us conservative. And just because it makes us more comfortable doesn’t make it right.

The happy medium may not be on the narrow road.

I still love the sunshine on my skin. And have crispy face right now.

I’m a sinner. Even though I spend a lot of time at church.

If I saw as poorly as i slept…..oh wait.

You know, “Are you okay to drive?” Is a rather silly question to ask when someone  has trouble recognizing you from 10 feet away. I can see cars. I don’t have to be able to tell you if they had a ding 3 inches below the back passenger door handle to effectively navigate a highway.  But thank you for caring.


SPECK is a ONE YEAR OLD! And what a mature one. Ate his birthday cupcake with a SPOON.



“I don’t want to waste my time if she has a boyfriend,” leads me toward thinking you feel that caring for and pouring into a person regardless of the benefit to you is seen as “wasting your time.”  To which I lovingly disagree. But you’re a busy dude, I understand what you meant. ;)

The books of Acts is crazy. It should be an HBO mini series.

COWBOY UP, CREAM PUFF, BE A MAN. By which I mean, pull up your britches and do the dang thing, whatever the dang thing is, regardless of your gender. ‘Cause we don’t want to waste our time.


Gluten Free cookie MIX tastes awful. But baked, these babies were beautiful.



Lady Gaga is brilliant and I’m rather sure that if I met her on the street, she’d be kind. And if I could wear a sign that said “satire” I’d walk around singing Born This Way everywhere I went.

Most people tell me they don’t understand most things I say.

“It was only a kiss.” I’m Latin.






While talking about the newest controversy, I bemoaned the hurt hearts of a religious leader’s followers who may now feel betrayed. The roommate bemoaned those led astray by his faulty teaching. I said I wasn’t worried about them, becuase the ones meant to know the truth would, in the end. “This,” she finished,”Is the difference between a harmonizer and a persister.”





I truly believe that if I stay single forever, life will be brilliant, beautiful, awful, exciting, painful, and adventurous. I’m on board for that, jic.

possible new header



C is moving to Oklahoma to be part of a church plant.

Oh yeah, let me back up. Our church/my work has a position called “Church Planting Resident” and our residents just finished their terms, so they are leaving to go plant churches. One of them, J, is going to Oklahoma.

About a month ago, we had a church service kinda…sending them off. That was part of it, anyway. And when the pic of J and his wife came on the screen, out of NOWHERE, my heart rose up within me and I was OVERTAKEN with this idea that I wanted to go with them. And just as suddenly, God said no. He said i was supposed to be in Austin for my new internship and my grad school and I had things to do here. And since I had NEVER wanted anything to do with a church plant before, I said okay. But as I was leaving, I saw N, J’s wife, and asked to please be put on their prayer team, because I did in some way want to be part of what they were doing. I knew i could support them in intercession.

Apparently, that night God did basically the same thing in C. Except he DIDN’T tell C no. So now, C is going to Oklahoma to be part of the church plant that J is heading.

I am 51% out of my mind excited that he is going, switching my prayer from “return to him the joy of your salvation,” to “give him strength, courage, and every resource that he can follow you hard in this calling.” This man. He can do ANYTHING and his number one obstacle is himself. And I know, I can already see, that God is going to use this to stretch him and grow him and as much as I’m crazy about him now, it’s not hard to see how God is going to use this in itself, and as a springboard to make him even more effective for Kingdom-building. This is HUGE for him growing into who God has called him to be, finding a passion and learning  just how amazing he is, and just a million other things that are huge and great and everything I’d want for a person.

and I am 49% devastated. And I say it this way because yes, it’s been a while and no, there is NOTHING romantic between us. At least not in action. But as you’ve probably noticed, I’m desperately and completely, uniquely, singularly in love with this man. And when I’m being nakedly honest, there is only ONE thing I want more (concerning the two of us) than to be with him.

And it’s for him to leave. Because God has clearly and loudly said it should be so. Only for the call of a Lover so divine could I lay down my fight and let go of the one, hear on earth, who my heart loves.

This Can’t Be Happening

It’s too great.

It’s too much a dream I’ve prayed for and dreamed about –

but didn’t AT ALL see coming.

It’s going to cost me nothing.

It’s going to be SO GOOD FOR MY HEART

and I LOVE LOVE LOVE doing this.


So…it is happening.


I’m leaving the continent again. ;)


Jan 4- 16 I’m going to Uganda. Through a miracle of love and perfect provision, I’m not even paying for it.

So I get a two week vacation. To Uganda. To go and play and have adventures and hold babies and spend a lot of  really great time with one of my favorite friends.



Can you think of a single thing that would be more exciting? No. You can’t. Because Jesus gives gifts that are perfect!


I couldn’t sleep last night. Kept having nightmares. Then got a text from a friend a FOUR AM IN THE MORNING ;) about him having awful nightmares and wanting prayers and at that point I thought, “You know, I might as well just get out of bed.”

Oh and I got a crazy list of emails that, really, wouldn’t have let me sleep anyway. (I need an alarm clock that DOESN’T tell me what the whole world is doing)

So it was that i ended up in some tiny hole-in-the-wall east side taco shop, eating a DELICIOUS (but i think accidentally glutened. ouch) breakfast while reading the Bible.

I had finished Job and was on Revelation. I took in the last twelve chapters. (It was early, y’all, I had a while!)




Oh andplusalsotoo that means I have now read the WHOLE Bible. First time in my life I can say that. Thank you Jesus! Thank you ASCC Bible Reading Plan.


Also I understand this song better now. (Cause we don’t need the sun when we get the new heavens and the new earth cause GOD will be our light!!)

The Little Grasshopper

Beyond explaining how I got to the six months of singleness and what’s going on with Hoyt (a code name for the one I’ll be telling you about soon) (and an AWFUL name picked solely to bother him. the funny kind of bother), I have a major reason for writing all of this out.

I call her my Little Grasshopper.

I LOVE her.  She is the oldest of 8 children and an odd little bugger who I discipled for about 6 months this year, until her parents decided that they wanted to invest even more in her relationship with God by being her primary disciplers.

Her young heart recently dealt with it’s first love, and it’s first crush.  And with a sincere desire to be nakedly honest, to give all the wisdom I can, I chronicle with what may, to others, seem like excrutiating, unncessary detail. So if that’s you, check back in a couple of days. I’ll get funny again soon.

But for the little grasshopper and for all hearts who may be further healed, i’ll share about the promises of no contact.

From DAY ONE, people suggested that we not have contact after the break up.  (except for Stephen. He just kept suggesting that we get back together. not helpful, FTR ;) ) But we are stubborn, romantic creatures and it took a world of hurt to finally accept that.

We left the coffee shop that day with a few promises. He asked of me that I spend time with his family while he was gone, that I not sever my relationship with them as I would with him. This I’ve kept, wonderfully, easily, with their help(thanks, Super Mama). I’ve never felt more like a part of that family than I do now.

I also promised that I would proceed as though we weren’t together (check) we’d never be together (mostly check, random, unchecked musings of the past aside) and that we’d never be friends (not as good on this one. When I first thought I was over him, I checked his twitter and blog. Just once. And I do HOPE to be his friend….but I’m still not taking any steps in that direction. so…check-ish).


I asked of him simply that he keep true to the no-contact clause. That he not keep up with me via any social medium, and that he let himself off the hook, give himself permission to heal, and permission to not love me. I’m not sure how he’s doing. But I pray he’s healed, or healing, well.

We also agreed that, in oder to avoid the “When CAN I talk to this person again? Should it be ever?” We’d see each other when he came back to Austin in December for Christmas.  We’d catch up and given that things go according to plan, we’ll say further, less heart-wrenching goodbyes. Healthy ones that say “I don’t have to avoid you, but neither will we hang out.”

Because at that point, and possibly even now, I seem him and my heart sings. He sees me and goes mute. It’s cute, but it’s no basis for friendship and nothing that a future spouse for either of us wants to deal with.


Whew. Let’s all take a collective, deep breath.


The next time you check in, it’s very likely that I’ll finally tell you about Hoyt, and the most impressive speech I’ve ever heard a scientist give. :)

You’re the Only One I’m Dreaming of Part Two

My favorite part of a break up (since God works all things for my good, I try to at least see the good in everything) is the part after when you can think fondly of the person, appreciating who they are and what you had, being hindered neither by longing nor regret.

I hope you’ve experienced this. It’s a hard place to get to. It’s impossible without God’s grace. Without his gentle touch to remind me of good and eclipse hurt and change my hard, wicked heart to a fleshy one that he can heal.  I would say it’s taken me months of time and countless stumbles to get here. But it hasn’t. It’s taken God’s grace, and those other things are just how He chose to administer his grace in this area.

This may have been the day of our DTR. If not, it was a week before.

For a long time, until very recently, I couldn’t think about Q.  (you’ll have to read the last post for that to make sense).

I didn’t want to think about him because I was – and I cannot think of a stronger or more appropriate way to say this- DESPERATELY in love with him. Not one iota of me would have chosen for us to break up. I felt for him like I have never felt for another human being and how I wish I felt for Jesus-

One of my fave memories - I asked him to make a mean face. :)

except there was an almost equal measure of hurt for every ounce I had of love.

To elaborate, let me just say Q is gorgeous. He’s handsome on the outside and on the in. And I’ve only ever seen him do one thing at which he wasn’t just amazing: date me. (C’mon, everyone has their weak spots ;) ) But as bad as he was at dating me, I couldn’t for a moment escape that I was hooked. I was in. He was it for me. And he would’ve remained so, had it been up to me. Lucky for me, it wasn’t.

God’s sovereignty and plan dictated that we break up. and the 4 months after that were horrible. No measure of success in any other area compared to how painful it was to look at someone I wanted to be with, so bad, to know that he said he loved me, got to know me, and then took it back. (That may not have been how it was. It is how it felt.)

Finally, after much craziness, God’s sovereignty dictated that we agree to have no communication between then (early August) and December, whenever he comes back from OK for a visit. (He moved. another part of the saga for another time.) We agreed that, to relieve pressure until then, we’ll talk and catch up at that point. But that, unless God said to do otherwise, we were to proceed as though we aren’t together, and we never will be.

What a gift this time has been. There have been mornings when I woke up, knowing that he was really gone, in another state, really not mine, really not coming back for me, and found it difficult to get out of bed.  There have been times when I broke down in the middle of work, at home studying, and most often listening to some stupid love song. But progressively, God has shown me how he’s working on my heart.

He’s shown me the uselessness of a needy love. (a blog I’ll write soon)

He’s shown me the beauty of having nothing to offer Him, and in finding my value solely in Him, the beauty of what i have to offer the world.

He’s given me even more wonderful relationships with amazing, patient friends,

He’s made my relationship with Q’s family better than it ever had been in the past,

and finally, at the perfect time, he opened my heart up tonight (last night, now that you’re reading this) to the fact that He’s healed me.

Thinking of Q, I’m smiling. As I would any brother in Christ, I tout his many attributes. I praise God for all the amazing ways he served me. For laughs that were so fun to have. For fights that revealed to me my own sin. For beautiful words that someday, I’ll be able to appreciate for just what they were.

I love this guy. And if some day we get to be friends I hope I’ll be the sister I’m called to be.

I do not mourn my loss. I do not petition he’ll return to love me.

And when I close my eyes, it’s not him I see. It’s Jesus.

In all these things, I see that I am truly loved.

so many words. More later, I’m not done.

You’re the Only One I’m Dreaming Of

The first conversation I can ever remember having with Chris, the ex, was one night at the church offices when he walked up to my general direction, made nose contact (as in his eyes and my nose) and said,
“Hi,” i reasonably responded.
“I uh…I like what uh…. whatcha got going on…here.”

He was in some manner referring to my outfit and it was adorable instead of creepy, like it reads. However it was awkward at the day is long and I had to slap my hand over my mouth with a quickness (because I find that men in general, no matter how sweet and wonderful, don’t take well to someone laughing in their face, even if it’s just because they’re so cute). Composing my self to some semblance of normal interaction, I responded,
“Yeah I…I always like what you wear.”

I looked at him with what I can only image were eyes full of the wonder I typically hold toward a new person, especially one who so clearly is out of their mind at the moment,  which it turns out made the situation worse because honestly, he’d tell ya, the man loses his marbles when I look him in the eyes. (Unless I’m crying. Ironically, crying eyes he can handle. Wonder eyes make him lose his words. Or made, this is all very past tense.)

I'll have to explain WHY this happened some other time. But combine this and the beard and I never stood a chance. ;)

I didn’t know him at the time. Not really. I knew of him, knew his sisters who I loved and the rest of the family who I enjoyed, but I knew him least of all, and could only tell that he was acting/talking very out of his comfort zone (I’m an extreme empathizer, so it’s near inescapable for me to know these things) and I could see only two options.

I went home soon after, where I was living with my discipler and her family, and told S,
“Either Chris V has a crush on me, or he’s the most awkward human being I’ve ever met.”
“Isn’t he like…18?”
“Yeah, I think so.”

(Not incidentally it was a few weeks before my 24th birthday, which was two weeks before his twenty first).

We started calling him Q after that. (In reference to the Q document, as much study suggested the existence of affection, but no tangible evidence surfaced for a while. Yep. I’m a Bible nerd wannabe.)

Fast Forward thirteen months and you’ve got a relationship, a break up, four months of confusion and well-meant stringing along, a hard, strong separation from all communication and finally, tonight, when God sweetly revealed to me that my heart is finally healed.

You see I have a memory of some point this past spring, Chris driving his car with me in the passenger seat, us holding hands, the wind blowing, sun shining, and Train’s Hey Soul Sister playing on the radio. He got a broad, wonderful smile on his face and bobbed his head side to side with the music. My heart was overwhelmed with love and happiness. Since the break up, I have been completely unable to listen to the song without crying or screaming at the radio. It hurt to much, to be so prominently reminded of the one I loved who chose not to love me.

I’ve said for a while that I’ll know that I’m over Chris when I can listen to that song.

smile.coffee.driving. The CP I fondly remember.

And tonight, I did….

(that means you should check back in tomorrow)

The Run Down is a Beat Down

THE hardest posts for me to write are the Wednesday run downs. Because it’s just hard to sum up all the things that happen in a week. Here are some pictures of what I’ve been doing.

We were studying together. ;) I watch a lot of kids.

Somehow finding time to hang with friends. Usually a lot of them at once.

Childcare all the time! We've even started worship!

When i can upload more from my camera (these are all from my phone) you'll understand what's going on here.

Birthday present from Daddy- new wheels and tires!

I've been having a lot of nightmares. That's what's up with the bed-a-shambles.

Scholastically: still not putting in as much effort as i’d like, but getting better. I’m very grateful for the little assignments often given me- they force me to make sure I’m doing work for the classes, and right now, I need that. I’m learning a lot and sometimes it’s too much for my little brain, and heart, but…

Support: I’m now half way to my fundraising goal- which means enough is coming in for me to cut back on all these outside jobs and have more of me to give to school and…

Service: Work at the Stone is great. There is always so much going on, and I’m very much seeing how God has grown me to be a self-directed worker. I’m tackling new stuff all the time and He’s giving me the wisdom and strength to do it well – and the insight to know it’s only by His grace. Which leaves…

Social: I’m trying to limit my getting-together-with people to just once a week. I’m failing miserably but I am doing better than before. It’s hard because I’m also trying to keep in touch with all my supporters/ let people know that the cards they got from me this summer are now incorrect. It’s a lot of phone calls to make. Also, C, the “i-thought-love-of-my-life” finally moved. I know, I haven’t told you anything about that but suffice it to say that I will one day and when I do it will make more sense but for now: I’m just having a lot of nightmares about loosing people I love, probably because somewhere in my heart/brain I’m registering that he’s actually GONE now. Though I’m well on the road to healing, there’s still some junk there.

Not that that’s going to keep me from sleeping at his house (where he moved from on MONDAY, where his mom, dad, and six siblings all still live) on Thursday because my relationship with the other family members is as good as my relationship with him is non-existent. Read: extremely.

Also, I’m trying to learn how to play guitar.

I'm concentrating inordinately much for a simple strum exercise.

Oh and yeah, I know, I owe you those posts I talked about last week. But you’re not doing a very good job of keeping me accountable. ;) What do you want to read about?