Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Love. love. love.

This weekend one of my dearest friends is getting married and I'm in the wedding. This is the second wedding that I'm in this year and the second of four weddings that I'm going to in 2016. So here's a quote about love that I read on November 27th of 2012 and I've loved it ever since.

I have to keep this brief because I have a plane to catch so that I can support my girl but first I'll leave you with this. When I think of marriage I think of a lot of things and this is one of them. Enjoy.

"How foolish is it to think that we only love with our hearts. The heart is just an organ with a job to do, a quota to fill. When I love, I don't want to love with a blood pumping machine. I want to love with every inch of my body.

I will love you with my knees and my fingertips, with my elbows and my collarbones. With my freckles and my knuckles, my wrinkles and my scars.

And I will love you with all of the spaces in between."


Thursday, June 23, 2016

The impatience of faith.

Last week when my parents were in town I was in a store with my mom and I was beyond annoyed that my dad was taking forever to pick out a hat. So there I was, huffing and puffing around and just getting more and more frustrated and when I told my mom how annoyed I was, she looked at me and laughed and said "Nikki, you really need to learn to have some patience."

When she said that I started laughing too, half because I just think that she's the funniest person in the universe and the other half was because I knew that she was right. Sometimes, I have a really hard time being patient with people.

Times where I struggle being patient: when I'm hot, when I'm hungry, when I'm tired, when I'm trying to stick to a schedule, when I'm trying to make others stick to a schedule get the point.

When I was in the store that day with my parents I was impatient because I was trying to take them to Red Rocks and in my mind it was imperative that we got their quickly. I was impatient and rushing them because I had their best "tourist interests" at heart, or at least that's what I told myself.

But the real question is, what's the rush?

Was Red Rocks going anywhere? Did we have an important dinner that we had to get to after? Why couldn't I just relax and have some patience?

Those are all questions I mulled over for a while after my mom's comment. I didn't feel condemned by what she said but rather convicted and here's what I've come up with so far.

My impatience at times lies very heavily in the fact that I don't know how to deal with not being in control. I so much enjoy being in the driver's seat, literally and figuratively. I avoid uncertainty, I plan ahead, I don't ask for advice often and I enjoy spontaneity most when I'm the driving force of it.

However, the more I reflect, I realize that this is not how I want to continue to be.

As I'm growing in my faith my biggest road block lately has been my resistance and apprehension about giving God permission to guide my life. It's so hard for me to imagine waking up each day and asking anyone what I should do or how I should act throughout the day, even God. The reason why is because I struggle with trusting that God will take me to heights higher than where I can take myself.

Trust is not something that I've mastered and honestly until recently it wasn't at all something that I was even open too but now.... well now I am and it's making all the difference.

The other day I met with my church family and we talked about this together. I shared how I was feeling and after the meeting I cried with one of my dear friends about this and she spoke so much life and truth into my heart. You see, this walk with Christ is all about faith.

That might seem like a simple truth but when you put it into practice and aim to walk it out everyday, this faith thing is more than just going to church. Faith is believing that God will always have a better plan for us than we have for ourselves. Faith is the daily decision to follow a Savior that you can't see. Faith is telling yourself that even if you can't feel a difference or see an improvement that God is surely at work in your life.

Faith is more than just a weekly church service, it's a seven days a week, rain or shine, life or death resolve to follow Christ.

For me, faith is about letting go of control. This faith journey is centered around accepting Christ and trusting that God will never and I truly mean never ask us to go where his grace can't sustain us.

Romans 15:13 says "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

I don't know where God is going to ask me to go in this life, but today I make a decision to trust him and to be an obedient passenger on this road trip of life.

This week I invite you to explore your life. Take some time these next few days to reflect on where you've been, who you've met and where you're going. Most importantly, if you will, I encourage you to explore where you can have less control and invite more trust into your life.

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future, to a known God." Corrie ten Boom.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Denver, Colorado...year one.

A year ago today my whole world changed. I carefully packed my entire life into two suitcases, a backpack and a carry on and hoped on a plane to move from Pennsylvania to Denver.

At the time I genuinely had no idea what the future held for me. I  knew that I had a place to live and a job but the rest...well the rest I was hoping to figure out as soon as possible.

In the twelve months that I've been in this city I've lived at three different addresses, changed careers, bought a car, cried too many times, laughed till I peed and so much more. This year was unexpected, predictable, terrifying and exciting all at the same time and as I look back on it, it's hard for me to believe that I came out on the other side better than I started.

So right now, in this space, I just want to take a moment to reflect on this past year and how I've been impacted and forever changed by this city.

One of the first things I learned when I moved to Denver is that it's not impossible for things that you're excited about to turn into things that terrify you. My first night here, I laid in my bed on the phone with my best friend and cried for what seemed like hours. Unlike all the other times when I left home, this one felt permanent, less flexible and like I was forever leaving all of my family and friends behind. Very dramatic, I know.

I couldn't understand how I could be so sad about being there when just hours earlier I was beyond excited and ready for the adventure. My friend told me to give it more than 12 hours, to take it one day at a time and to know that I could always go home to my family. That night, as I drifted off to sleep on my tear soaked pillow I was comforted by the truth that sometimes new adventures can be daunting and that's okay.

Another thing that I've learned this year is that in order to build strong, healthy and life giving relationships you have to be willing to abandon your comfort zone. The first few months of living in Denver I was so lonely and disconnected from the city. Besides going to church on the weekend by myself I was not open to saying "yes" to new situations at all. Fear of the new and unknown left me feeling, for the first time in years, like I only had one true friend.

Thankfully, that one friend was someone who really pushed me to meet new people and to step out of my comfort zone and it made all the difference. Now, I not only have a community of diverse, passionate and talented people around me but I'm a more dynamic and well rounded human. It was by making myself uncomfortable and putting myself in awkward situations that I was able to meet people that pour into my life in so many ways and help me to be a better person. You'll never reach your full potential with people and relationships without jumping outside of what feels safe and trusting that the net that's supposed to catch you, will do just that.

Last but not least I learned that with each dark transition comes a sunny and bright horizon. It might seem cliche or corny to say but my darkest moments in Denver can't compare to the joy that I've found here.

Denver's magic far outweighs it's nightmares. It's a city where you'll meet people from all over the country and even the world. People that have made the same decision as you, people who have uprooted their entire lives to chase a dream, a job opportunity and even love. It's a city of music and art, of love and loss, of mountains and deserts. It's a place that's big enough to get lost in but also small enough to be found and it's with ease and excitement that I can say that for me, it's a place I call home.

You don't have to move to a new city or change your entire lifestyle to find yourself but for me, that's exactly how it happened. Whether you're in transition, feeling a little lost or simply searching for purpose in an ever changing world, know that with time all storms are calmed.

So cheers to Denver for embracing me, another east coast transplant, into it's lovely terrain. After one year of being on it's soil, Denver is deeply rooted in me. I'm connected, I'm invested, I'm here.


Friday, June 3, 2016

For the moments when you feel too much.

The other day, I had a moment where I became unsettled and upset about something that I thought I was over. I was revisiting a memory and I went from laughing and being what I perceived as completely okay with everything to borderline sobbing at work.

I've noticed that the older I get the more I feel like I need to get over things faster but the truth is, the more years I get under my belt the more in tune I become with what's going on in my heart. I've always been the type of person that pushed feelings away until they boiled up to the point where I was so angry or sad that I didn't even know what to do.

As a kid, I remember and I'm sure they do as well, going from laughing with my siblings to crying over something really small that they said. They would call me sensitive and not want to play anymore and the truth was that it wasn't just that moment that upset me but rather the accumulation of many small things that turned into something so big. 

So back to the other day, there I was sitting on my bed stuck between two thoughts and really two very different roads. One was telling me that it wasn't that big of a deal and I needed to get over it and the other thought whispered to me gently that it was okay to feel and if I felt like crying maybe it was okay to cry too. 

So that's what I did. I sat on my bed and talked to God and cried. I cried a lot. 

I cried because I was sad. I cried because every fiber of my being was fighting against becoming the type of woman that doesn't allow herself to feel, one that is hardened by the pains and disappointments of this life. So often I try to numb myself to the struggles and anguish of this world and pretend that I'm not the type of person that is deeply moved by it all, I don't want to do that anymore. 

Crying is not a sign of weakness. Let me repeat, crying is NOT a sign of weakness.

I've never felt stronger than in the moments where I allowed myself to be honest with what was going on in my heart and mind. I am strong, bold, confident, proactive, sensitive and sometimes pretty emotional and I'm okay with that. 

I had to remind myself and maybe I'll have to everyday for years to come that it's okay to feel. It's okay to be upset about something even if the world tells you that it's not worth crying over. It's okay to reflect on things that have been tough and situations that have hurt you and when you feel too much it's okay to cry. 

When I wiped the last tear from my cheek, I couldn't help but to close my eyes and smile. It was in the confronting of my pain that I was able to find true freedom and be released from the past. It was in trying to be strong that I found myself crumbled in weakness and it was in my pain that I was comforted by and wrapped in God's strength. 

As you head into the weekend and wrap up the last few lines of this blog, know that it's okay to feel and when you feel too much, know that it's more than okay to cry.