Hurricane Florence is set to make an appearance this week and weekend.

I’ve never lived in a place where paying attention to hurricane patterns is a good idea, but this particular one might actually affect the east coast. I live in inland Maryland, so we won’t get the brunt of it–not like South Carolina or North Carolina will–but we will get lots of rain and probably some flooding. I’ve never lived in an area where I had to worry about flooding, but there are areas near where I live that can affect my, albeit short, commute to and from work and getting Belle from daycamp. So, for the first time, I’m keeping an eye on the storm. (And if you are in the path at all, I will be praying for you.)

And I’m reminded of how a year ago I felt I was directly in the middle of a hurricane, being spun around without real direction in the midst of utter chaos. After a while, the storm subsided, and I was left with a painful humming. I seemed to be surrounded with the destruction.

Like any storm, though, things get rebuilt. It takes time–lots of time–but reconstruction begins and, eventually, even though the storm made it’s mark and it’s remembered by those who suffered through it, things start working again.

It has taken me a long time–about a year–but I’ve begun rebuilding myself. The storm made me realize there were some things that needed to be taken care of that I had neglected. It made me realize I had lost myself, and I needed to work on finding myself again. At the time, I cursed the storm. Don’t get me wrong–I would not wish it on my worst enemy. But now I can more clearly see that God has always been working.

Weather storms usually leave a trail of destruction behind them, with daunting possibilities of rebuilding. That process isn’t easy by any means, but it is possible. Personal storms leave a different type of destruction in their wake. They can damage relationships, our spirit, and our faith. And I would argue that a personal storm is much harder to rebuild from, because no amount of money can heal a crushed spirit–only God can. And if you’ve been in a storm where you didn’t feel like God was there, then the ability to confidently go to Him can be nonexistent.

But I found that when I pushed through, even in the moments of unbelief, He made Himself known to me. When I prayed in the moments I didn’t know what to say or didn’t feel like He would hear me or care, I felt His presence. And that is when healing could begin.

I still sometimes struggle with going to God. I sometimes let life and my own schedule get in the way. It’s something I’m working on. Because when I make time with Him more of a priority, my focus shifts, and I feel more capable to tackle my storm.

So as I keep an eye on Hurricane Florence, I’m also keeping an eye on my personal storm. I am taking inventory each day of how I feel and the damage the storm left behind and continues to create. But I’m also taking inventory of how God has spoken to me in the storm and the times I have seen His hand in it all. And that gives me hope.

. . . . . .

Have you ever been in the path of a weather storm? What was that experience like?

How did you overcome personal storms? Or, if you are in the midst of one, what is helping you through it?


Making Friends

I realized yesterday that I have quite the busy weekend.

I have a girls’ night with some friends from church this evening, I have family in town and we are going to do a tour and tasting at a distillery tomorrow, and I am hosting a rum tasting at my place for a few friends on Sunday evening.

A year ago, I couldn’t even handle entertaining the idea of making friends. I had just started going to my church (we celebrate our first birthday the 16th!), and I was still in the throes of my depressive state and multiple episodes. Going to church frightened me–heck, meeting people frightened me–and I kept feeling I would never return to the at least semi-social girl my husband had married.

And yet, here I am, going to events and actually inviting people into my space.

I admit, I almost backed out of girls night. I do much better in smaller groups, but our small groups with church are about 12 to 20 people, and that is about how big this girls’ night will be. So I’m going for it. I even made food–a roast with some glazed carrots. It’s Harry Potter-themed, actually, because we are all huge fans, so I also made Butterbeer (the non-alcoholic version).

But the closer the time got for the events, I found the more excited I was. I have friends, I thought. And, while it’s nerve-racking, it’s also exciting.

So here’s to making new friends and expanding horizons. Because we do better in community.

Movin’ On Up

This past weekend, I turned 27. I spent it with family I don’t see nearly enough–that I haven’t seen in about 6 years!–and trying not to think about the things that are wrong with this birthday, instead trying to be hopeful. I felt like nothing has gone the way I had thought it should, the way I had planned, and I was reminded it isn’t about my timeline at all. In all honesty, I sort of felt like a failure.

And then… Today, I officially received a promotion.

It is my first ever promotion, and it will also mark my first ever full time job! I am truly excited for this opportunity, and I am so grateful.

A few weeks ago, I had a bit of a moment when I realized I get to tell people I am a writer for a living. Sure, I’m no J.K. Rowling (yet), but I get to create things for work. I never thought I would see the day that was possible. And here it is.

I am so glad the conversation that encouraged me to take this job reminded me about personal fulfillment. I am finding meaning in what I do for the first time in a long time, and it feels really good.

So today I am thankful. I am thankful I was reminded to think of personal fulfillment in accepting a job. I am thankful I took what I thought was a risk and accepted the job. I am thankful for my gifts. And I am thankful God has provided for me, always at the right time. He is ever faithful.

. . . . . .

What was your first promotion like? Were you excited? Do you find meaning in your work?

Trusting in a Panic

You never realize how much you trust someone–or someone trusts you–until you’re in a panic-inducing situation.

Belle had her first experience swimming in a lake on this trip, and she was a bit panicked, even with her life vest on. She has never before been in water where she could not feel the bottom, so the instant she jumped into the water and she realized there was no bottom to feel, she started swimming in circles and breathing heavily.

I know how she feels. When this season of life started, I felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t feel the bottom of the abyss of despair. I had no idea what to do.

But Belle did. She swam over to me and leaned into me. I held her up a little bit so her face was a bit more above the water and cooed lovingly at her. She wasn’t interested in moving away from the dock area, a little scared, and I eventually helped her back onto the dock.

When this whole thing began, I sat on my bed and quite literally cried out to God, tears streaming down my face. As I worked through the panic and despair, as I came to realize I really did have other mental demons I needed to deal with, I felt Him holding me and letting me know I could trust Him. And as I did, I stopped panicking as much. There were quite a few times I had no interest in going deeper, in feeling like I would suffer more pain–I wanted to stay comfortably on shore and watch Him work from a distance. But I have learned I can’t do that.

I want Belle to be comfortable in all water, and the only way to do that is to expose her to those situations. I won’t ever force her past her comfort zone, but I’ll insist she try it. (And my little cousins were very insistent.) I could see in her face she wanted to be out with us but she was scared of not having a footing.

I had wanted for so long to truly see God in my life, but I was afraid of being put in an uncomfortable situation–no one likes to suffer in any way. But those experiences help us to truly experience God.

So when we panic, we know we can lean into Him and He will protect us. He will not let us drown.

Like Belle, I had to have a thoroughly uncomfortable situation to really see I could trust Him. And now, while things are far from perfect and this is not yet over, I know He will not fail me.