Thankful for the love

“We have to allow ourselves to be loved by the people who really love us, the people who really matter. Too much of the time, we are blinded by our own pursuits of people to love us, people that don’t even matter, while all that time we waste and the people who do love us have to stand on the sidewalk and watch us beg in the streets! It’s time to put an end to this. It’s time for us to let ourselves be loved.”
― C. JoyBell C.

I posted this quote on my Facebook wall a few years ago, and just ran across it today. It fits perfectly with what I was wanting to write my Thanksgiving post about: love.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for love in all its many forms.

DSC_0014Romantic Love

“…blinded by our own pursuits of people to love us…” the quote says. Wow was that ever true of me for years and years in my relationships with guys. I was always in constant pursuit of receiving the love of a guy, and it was usually the guys who weren’t interested in loving me back.

It’s been years since I could say I was thankful for romantic love at Thanksgiving time. And even then, five years ago when I was in a relationship with someone who “loved” me, it was on the rocks. This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for the love of my “manfriend,” as I call him. He is showing me so many things I never knew about love, and he’s showing me a love I’ve never known before. For that, I am so thankful.

Friend Love

“…the people who really love us, the people who matter…” Similar to how I treated romantic relationships in the past was the same way I treated friendships. Friendships shouldn’t be hard work. They shouldn’t be one-sided. The people who matter will always be there for you, they will be loyal and have your back at all times.

I’ve spent many moments of my life wondering what happened to certain friendships, especially those with my high school friends. While a group of them have remained in contact with each other and get together every time they’re in town, somehow I stopped being invited. There was no falling out or anything, it was like I just disappeared from their memories. It upset me for years, and sometimes it still stings, but instead of dwelling on it, I allow myself to be loved by the friends who choose to love me right now.

2I am so beyond thankful for my friendships. I do not have what many people call a “circle” of friends, and, to be honest, that’s the way I prefer it. No disrespect to anyone who does, I’m just speaking for myself. I like fewer friendships that are of a great quality. I’d rather get coffee with a close friend than go out for drinks with 10 friends. And let me tell you, my close friends are amazing. I’ve never been more thankful for those who stand by my side, near and far.

Family Love

 12115756_1102313943121710_7441055260110890453_n“…the people who do love us have to stand on the sidewalk and watch us beg in the streets…” Who knew that those words could apply to family? I love each and every person in my family, but that love isn’t always returned. However, those who want my love, those who cherish it, who recognize it, who “beg in the streets” for it, they are the ones I am going to focus on. You can’t make someone love you, and that includes family members.

I am thankful for the love of my family. Family is never perfect, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the people I’ve been blessed with.

God’s Love

My “manfriend” and I might not last long enough to get married. A good friend of mine might do something spiteful. A family member might decide to disown the rest of us. But God, and His love, are perfect. There is absolutely nothing that will change God’s love for me.

So even if God’s love was the only love I had, I would have enough. God’s love is all I need. It’s all anyone needs. It’s what keeps me going when the love, or absence of love, from guys, friends, or family members, isn’t cutting it. My heart is satisfied and thankful for the love of my Savior.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to let yourself be loved. If there are people who refuse to love you, it’s OK to love them back, but focus your attention and time on those who love you with open arms. Stop beating yourself up for whatever reasons certain people have for not loving you back.

“It’s time to put an end to this. It’s time to let ourselves be loved.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am thankful for each and every one of you! God bless!

 

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The first goodbye…

“After this year, we go back home.”

“Looks like we won’t be back next year.”

“I put in my notice. I’m going back to America in a few weeks.”

1240220_585275881853_518517809_nI wasn’t prepared for this part of working at an international school- the part where teachers and students come and go like there’s a revolving door at the front of campus.

Yesterday I said my first goodbye to a new friend here in Uganda. Katrina knows God led her here, but through her experiences and a lot of time spent in prayer, she also learned that God only wanted her here for a short time. Two months to be exact.

Katrina and I are a lot alike. We bonded almost instantly over common tastes in music, movies and television shows. I was happy to find a fellow American who reminded me so much of my best friends in the States. But for various reasons, Katrina’s time here in Uganda was cut short. She left yesterday, and is now back in America.

It hurt to see Katrina go, but I realize now that this is a common thing I’ll have to get used to here. This was only the first goodbye.1377040_587489186373_734753264_n

I know of a handful of students who will not be back next year. Either their parents are missionaries moving them to another country, or they’re children of fellow teachers who are done working at our school. So not only will many of my students be gone next year, but some of my co-workers I have already grown to love.

Goodbyes are never fun, but they are certainly going to be a major part of my life throughout the next few years I spend in Uganda. I pray that God will use each and every person I meet to enrich my life, and I hope I can do the same for them.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

I have no doubt that God will use Katrina to do great things back in the US!  I’ll miss you, girl. We are all praying for you and the start of your life back home again!

What you might be shocked to know about my trip to Zambia…

Two weeks from now I’ll be flying over Africa somewhere, headed to Zambia where we will serve God at Lifesong for Orphans. What’s really awesome about this trip is that Janeth, one of my best friends, will be going on the trip as well! But there’s something you don’t know about our friendship.

Let me tell you about Janeth. Janeth is amazing. Although just a young grasshopper, she doesn’t mind being friends 488122_3188445239546_496056400_nwith an old woman like me (she’s 24 and I’m 32). Never once has age stood in the way of our friendship. She always makes me laugh, and since we became friends almost a year and a half ago, she’s been there for me whenever I’ve needed her.

Even though Janeth is in Texas and I’m in Indiana, she’s managed to be my rock this past year, especially when I had my heart broken. Her advice and prayers got me through some pretty rough times.

What I love about her the most is that she’s such a Godly woman. She is so spiritually mature for her age, and I have learned so much from her beautiful heart for God and her passion for humanity and the earth in general. She is, quite simply, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.

Janeth is also the reason I even know about the trip to Zambia! The day she suggested I go was one of the coolest things ever. I’m so excited to serve God on this trip and to do it with one of my best friends.

Here’s what you don’t know…

Janeth and I have never met.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

No, we didn’t meet on FriendFinder.com (is there such a thing?), or some sort of Christian website. We met right here, on WordPress.

A few years ago I had a blog that none of my family or friends knew about. It was very personal, and for some reason, lots of people found it interesting. Janeth was one of those people. She followed my blog, I followed hers, and one day in February 2012 I posted a comment on one of her posts. She sent me an email with the subject: “Hi from Texas :-)”

We were both going through some heartache at the time, and her words in that email were so comforting and helpful. She was very open about her relationship with God, and what she was going through. Little did I know that a little more than a year later I would be going to Africa with her.

532521_3195916786330_513696476_nWhat’s weird to think about is that GOD knew. He orchestrated this entire friendship. I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life. God has used Janeth in a major way to help me grow as a Christian. I believe He’s used me in the same way for her.

Janeth and I will meet for the first time in London when I meet the rest of the group going to Zambia. We’ve text and Skyped before, so we’re definitely not complete strangers. Like I said, she’s one of my best friends! We talk pretty much every day!

I know plenty of people will find this all rather bizarre, and that’s OK. I think it’s all pretty awesome that God would use someone so far away to help transform my life. Just one of the many amazing things He’s done for me!

This verse definitely sums up my friendship with Janeth:

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Thank you, Janeth! Can’t wait to serve God together in Zambia!

“Some of your friends are… terrible!”

I’ve heard that phrase quite a few times from my out-of-town friends since I’ve moved to Fort Wayne.

“Isn’t she supposed to be a good friend of yours?”

“None of my best friends would ever do that to me.”

“What’s with these people you know in Fort Wayne? Some of your friends are… terrible!”

Becca, me and Heather - these two girls are two of my true best friends. They know the meaning of the word "friendship."
Becca, me and Heather – these two girls are two of my true best friends. They know the meaning of the word “friendship.”

Of course at first you don’t want to see it. It’s hard to believe that you have “friends” who are actually the people in your life pulling you down, holding you back, and stabbing you in the back while they’re at it.

I think about some of my female “friends” here in Fort Wayne, and I kind of see what my out-of-town friends mean.

More than a year ago I was the best of friends with someone here in town. She was very manipulative and took advantage of me and my kindness on many occasions. She didn’t know the meaning of the word “loyal” by any means. This girl was a liar to me and to the people around me, and she destroyed relationships I had with other people because of her lies. She also tried to hook up my ex (who I was still in love with at the time) with his ex-girlfriend (who she barely knew). Wow. Some best friend. When I told an out-of-town friend this, she was shocked. Not one of my best friends from IU would ever, EVER do something like that. I believe my friend’s words were, “Why do so many of your friends suck?!”

Well, I ended that friendship more than a year ago, but it appears I’ve still got some snakes in my life. This weekend I was telling a friend of mine in Texas about a conversation I had with a “friend” this weekend. She was like, “Are you serious? Isn’t she supposed to be your friend? Why on earth would she say those things to you?” And she was right. Those things shouldn’t have been said to me, and they wouldn’t have been said to me by anyone who was a real friend.

It’s very sad to me that so many of my out-of-town friends have pointed out that some of my female friends here in Fort Wayne are pretty terrible friends. (There are other times it’s come up with other people, more than the two I mentioned here.) I know there will always be selfish people with ulterior motives in the world, but how did I become “friends” with so many of them? And forget trying to explain to a guy that another woman is a bad friend. That’s just a waste of everyone’s time – especially if the girl is “hot”.

Sure I’ve been burned in relationships with guys before, who hasn’t? But in the past couple of years I’ve really, REALLY been burned in female friendships, and it has me putting my guard up with any woman I meet who could be a potential “good friend.” But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe guarding myself a little more when it comes to friendships is exactly what I need to do.

Good fun in 2012…

I had a lot of fun with my friends in 2012. Here are some of my favorite moments with friends from 2012:

Being in Indianapolis the weekend of the Super Bowl was one of the best weekends of 2012 by far!
Being in Indianapolis the weekend of the Super Bowl was one of the best weekends of 2012 by far!
Becca was a wonderful host when I stayed in Indy for the Super Bowl festivities. We had a blast!
Becca was a wonderful host when I stayed in Indy for the Super Bowl festivities. We had a blast!
In May I went to my first Indy 500! It was the hottest Indy 500 on record, but we still had fun while we were melting.
In May I went to my first Indy 500! It was the hottest Indy 500 on record, but we still had fun while we were melting.
One random summer night I went to Cheddars with Ashley, Automne and Bender. We had a blast with drinks and girl talk!
One random summer night I went to Cheddars with Ashley, Automne and Bender. We had a blast with drinks and girl talk!
Nikki's bachelorette party in Indy was a great time! Especially meeting some of the new Cotls!
Nikki’s bachelorette party in Indy was a great time! Especially meeting some of the new Cotls!
Ken and Nikki's wedding was a good time- probably the craziest night of 2012!
Ken and Nikki’s wedding was probably the craziest night of 2012!
Went to a lot of Snider and Northrop football games with Nikkie and Daylan in 2012! The Green family even came out for a Snider game!
Went to a lot of Snider and Northrop football games with Nikkie and Daylan in 2012! The Green family even came out for a Snider game!
More than 20 people showed up at Flanagan's for my 32nd birthday! I am so blessed to have so many amazing friends!
More than 20 people showed up at Flanagan’s for my 32nd birthday! I am so blessed to have so many amazing friends!
Pretty much any time spent with Nikkie was a great time in 2012! We had fun out for her 30th birthday, but we have just as much fun at home playing Sorry with her son Daylan!
Pretty much any time spent with Nikkie was a great time in 2012! We had fun out for her 30th birthday, but we have just as much fun at home playing Sorry with her son Daylan!
Tawny's birthday was quite a night! Love this girl!
Tawny’s birthday was quite a night! Love this girl!
One of the best things about 2012 was getting closer to my cousin Laura. She's the best! We had some good times in 2012!
One of the best things about 2012 was getting closer to my cousin Laura. She’s the best! We had some good times in 2012!
One of my favorite weekends of 2012 was the women's conference I went to with my friend Ronna. Not only was it spiritually uplifting, but I got to meet Lisa Welchel from The Facts of Life and more recently, Survivor!
One of my favorite weekends of 2012 was the women’s conference I went to with my friend Ronna. Not only was it spiritually uplifting, but I got to meet Lisa Welchel from The Facts of Life and more recently, Survivor!

Lessons everywhere in 2012…

I’m glad that Tuesday is a new year. Not that 2012 wasn’t good, I’m just positive that 2013 will be better. Once you truly believe that God has an awesome plan for your life, you actually look at the future with hope.

I learned a lot in 2012. Some lessons were new, others I was just reminded of. Here are the top things I learned in 2012:

A liar to others is a liar to you. I should have seen the light earlier. When you have a fairly new friend and you realize she doesn’t keep friends long, that should be a red flag. But you know me, I stayed friends with her, let her manipulate me throughout the entire friendship, and I believed all her lies. It was silly to believe her when I knew she was lying to pretty much everyone else in her life about the most random things. Never have I felt so betrayed by a friend in so many different ways. I don’t know what she’s like now in her friendships, but I know that for me, I’ve become a much better person since I cut off the friendship and her lies last February.

Some of my TRUE friends, who I love with all my heart!
Some of my TRUE friends, who I love with all my heart!

Guys will never ever understand some things. I’ve learned that with a person like I mentioned above, guys will never see it. A girl can sit there and lose a female friend after female friend on a consistent basis, but guys will never see the girl’s true colors. That’s because she won’t reveal her true colors to them. I learned this years ago because I’ve seen it my entire life. Just a lesson from the past that I had to learn again in 2012.

Life is short, don’t save things. I’m not talking money for retirement here. I’m talking about gifts, perfume, vacations, etc. etc. I have gift cards from last Christmas that I still haven’t used. I have a spa gift certificate (that never expires) from COLLEGE. I let my favorite perfume sit on the shelf unless it’s a special occasion. That’s crazy! Life is too short to save so much for a “better time.” No time is better than now. I’ve learned that I need to enjoy life and the gifts I get when I get them. No need to wait.

I’m tired of going “out”. I’ve been tired of this for quite a while actually. I really didn’t go out much in 2012, but it was enough to annoy me. This is a blog post in itself. It’s hard when you’re single and want things to do and want to meet people and there are so few options of ways to do that.  I’m not saying I’ll never go out again. I might step out for a birthday or something, and I’d really like to do some entertainment writing, but for strictly social reasons, I’m done. I don’t need that “escape” or that atmosphere to feel better about myself.

That's me, happy as a clam just out to eat with my parents!
That’s me, happy as a clam just out to eat with my parents!

I can move on from someone I thought I’d always be in love with. This is an amazing lesson to learn, because at the time of the breakup, it seems so impossible. I thought I would never, ever get over my ex from a few years ago, but I did. Not only that, but I’ve realized his purpose in my life, I’ve realized how our failed relationship taught me so much. And he’s become one of my very best friends. I learned that I can move on, because in early 2012, I did move on. So while I’m sitting here now trying to mend my broken heart from someone else, I can confidently say that I’ll be OK. I will move on. It gets easier every day.

You can’t make someone love you. We all know this. So why do we try? Why do we constantly think that there’s something we can do to make someone love us? We can’t. There is nothing you can do. It’s exhausting and pointless to even try. You have to let go. There’s no other choice. Even though it hurts and literally feels like someone is ripping your heart apart, you have to let it go.

Blogging changed my life. I started a blog that no one knew about. I was crazy honest in it, and random people from around the world read about my most personal experiences and commented on them. It was amazing. The support from people who had never even met me was overwhelming. One specific person has turned out to be one of my best friends. How crazy is that?

I don’t need a gimmick to lose weight. I’m not against Body by Vi or any of those weight loss programs, but I’ve learned that you can lose weight without them, simply by changing your diet and exercising. I’ve lost 15 pounds since October by counting calories and exercising. I’ve only been exercising twice a week most weeks, and I’m going to kick that up a notch in 2013. I have another 30 lbs I’d like to lose!

The Jorgensen YMCA where I work out. Zumba twice a week! About to start yoga and belly dancing in January.
The Jorgensen YMCA where I work out. Zumba twice a week! About to start yoga and belly dancing in January.

Peace can only truly be felt when you accept the fact that God’s timing is perfect. To say I’ve grown spiritually in the past four months is an understatement. By accepting the fact that God’s timing is perfect, I’ve got a new peace in my life that I haven’t felt in a long time.

Happy New Year everyone! Have a wonderful and blessed 2013!