Surrendering to God – 2017

What Happened when I chose to Surrender 2017 to God – An Intentional Spiritual Journey and Journal

IDEA

I just woke up after accidentally falling asleep, I must have been asleep for 1.5 hours, it is Sunday, January 15, 2017 and this idea came to me:  documenting the upcoming year in one blog but waiting until then end of the year to publish it.  I don’t know the story yet; this could also be an interesting study in faith.

(I start out pretty detailed and then realized no one will want to read all this!  So it becomes less detailed but still summarizes how I spent the entire year (it may be relevant in the future) There is a Summary/Conclusion at the end, so bear with me, or if you’re like me, skip the details and scroll to the very end!)

WHAT CAUSED THE IDEA

Earlier today, I attended service online via The Crossing STL, and the message was:  we need to be still at times to connect with God (Psalm 46:10): meaning don’t save our prayers for “on the go” multi-tasking moments, because we are not fully present to connect when we have other stuff going on.  I am a restless person, I’m always thinking, but this gave me a different choice:  Be Still.  So, after the 9 am service was over, about 10 am, I became still, cleared my mind, in my room, in my bed and focused on God asking him to guide me with His intended purpose for my life.  One of my prior stated goals for 2017 was to pray every day, and I’ve been doing that. I’ve also acted on whatever thoughts popped into my head in the morning when I wake and I’m not sure this is always the right thing to do (especially recently when I didn’t remember if I asked God for guidance), but it’s my intuition that I’m acting on.  This is Faith, the faith I’m putting in The Holy Spirit/Jesus/God to provide me with “the direction of the day” when I wake.  When I became “still” at 10 am, before I knew it, it was 11:30 am and I just woke up.  Wow, I’m getting good at this napping thing, which I NEVER did before, I could never fall asleep in the middle of the day unless I was sick, my mind would always come up with thoughts and those thoughts would keep me awake, but this was a different experience!  I woke up in a cheerful mood too, which is most common for me, but when I woke up from my night sleep this same day, I had a little bit of anxiety, from acting on a wake up thought from yesterday, Saturday:  sending a “facing fear” kind of message to a friend (who didn’t reply), so I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t have sent that?! But there is no way to take it back once it’s out there. It’s finished. So, for me to wake up without stress after my nap, that’s a positive already!

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SPECIFIC GOALS

My goal for each day in 2017 is: at night, before sleeping, say a pray of gratitude, then clear my head/meditate until I fall asleep and in the morning:  say a prayer asking for daily guidance.  I’m excited about this, hopefully it will be an interesting and exciting positive year!

THE FIRST WEEK – EXPERIENCES ALREADY?!  FEELING DRAINED

I had an incredible weekend with my kids: connecting with them individually, laughing and enjoying time spent with them, I am so grateful!

But, being honest, right after the good times, when I felt like all was going so well, I came to the realization that a few friendships I had were finished. It happened subtly over time, not an event at all; it was just one of those moments when I realized it was time for me to move on; but at the same time it hit me hard because I care about them and I am sad, but seemed like the right thing to do. There are times when it makes sense to put in the effort to keep a friendship going and there are also times when it’s best to just let it go.  And it was the “let it go” time for me.  This was not how I was anticipating the start of my “spiritual intercession journey” at all, because I care about my friends.  But I’m having faith that there is a reason for this, and maybe someday I will know.  (After all this, later in the year I realized the friendships didn’t actually end, it was simply a break! But we never realize these things until time passes and we look back!)  Heading into the weekend, at this moment, I am drained, I feel like doing nothing, but staying in bed or lounging on the couch.  I don’t want to be around anyone. My bubbly, happy, positive, cheerful self is crashing right now.

Donald Trump becomes the 45th President- this was the first inauguration I watched, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I thought his speech was touching and look forward to the future with hope.

donald-trump

I’m not sure if this is appropriate to enter here, because it’s really a culmination of recent events but it’s hitting me hard on this date.  There was so much fun, excitement, and new change that I was experiencing that kept me going, positive, looking forward, but tonight, I’ve gone to a depressing place I’ve not been in a long time, and I don’t like it.  It could be grief that I am dealing with from all that happened in 2016.  I was non-stop and didn’t have hardly any quiet time last year to deal with reality, or if I did have the time, I chose to do something active rather than experiencing the grief.

Seeing bright sunshine in the morning made my next day start better.  But I had two full days of crying, I guess getting it out of my system was what I needed, I’ve not been motivated either, only trying to stay focused on what absolutely needs to be done.

SUNDAY JANUARY 22ND 2017 – TRYING TO REFOCUS

I went to church, by myself, and the staff talked about upcoming programs, which they have mentioned in the past, about getting involved and one was starting on Monday, so I signed up online Sunday night:  “Body Life”  the focus is on the church community and relationships and is a basic class for members to take before getting involved.  So this week, again I was disorganized just trying to keep on top of the most important things, but still distracted.

FRIDAY 1/27/17 – TEMPORARY RELIEF, AN “ESCAPE FROM REALITY” AGAIN

Then Friday night, I had a ticket to the Parmalee concert at Ballpark Village, of course, friends who were planning on going, couldn’t. So once again, I attended the concert solo, this is the second concert this year, that I attended solo, the first was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, concerts are easy going solo because I love music, so it doesn’t matter. But on this night, I didn’t follow through with my 30 Days to Healthy Living, I was close to the end of the 30 days, but with everything that was going on, I decided to have a Redbull and Vodka drink to stay awake, but also calm down, because I didn’t get much sleep the night before, and had a lot on my mind.  The night turned out great, a couple of people I ended up standing next to, invited me to join their group after they found out I was there alone, which was nice.  Then one of the waiters remembered me from last year’s winter concerts, kinda funny,…and said he would look out for me, so sweet!  He had been an awesome waiter with my friends and me last year.  Then the band played new songs…one was:

that haven’t been released, which was awesome because I have seen them 3 times in the past year; they are one of my favorites, so it was good to hear new music. I can’t wait for it to be released, good music!  So after the concert, Parmalee announced they would be hanging out at PBR.  Going there crossed my mind, but instead I decided to go home because I didn’t think it would be appropriate hanging out at a bar, by myself!  So I decided to post a picture on Instagram from the night and was leaning up against a column near the exit, just before I was about to leave and heard: “Excuse us please” …it was the security guards escorting the band to a room I was standing near.  I looked up and said “hello” There was a spot for a meet and greet with only 2 people there at the time, so I went there and texted my daughter to see if she wanted a Tshirt or anything while I was there, and ended up with this picture:

parmalee-01-2017

The night turned out good, I went home and talked with my daughter and her friend until midnight when her friend left and then my daughter and I ended up talking until 1 am.  Good time spent together!

SATURDAY 1/28/17 – FAMILY TIME

My phone has been blowing up with unexpected texts and messages from people that I least expected wanting to make plans.  So I made plans with them. The rest of this day is dedicated to my mom and kids, celebrating her Birthday (which was yesterday) doing what she said she wants: family time and home cooked meals.  Plus we are going to see the movie: “A Dog’s Purpose” tonight.  So my spirits are lifted!   For the weekend, I was uplifted.

family-time

“BAD LUCK” STRIKES – SLUGGISH, UNMOTIVATED, QUIET, SAD AND TRYING TO GET OVER THAT FEELING

Then Sunday afternoon I pulled into the garage and once inside after the door closed, the spring snapped and trapped my car there until late Monday afternoon.   I had to reschedule meetings for the day and get my son to school a different way.  And some awesome friends helped me out too:  Angie S., Lisa A. and Beth S. For the next week, I was unmotivated and struggling; I tried to get out of the mood, but would only for a temporary amount of time, when I was working out or listening to music.  My friends planned a weekend trip to see Florida Georgia Line, but I wasn’t up for it this time, very unlike me.  So I stayed in town and decided to take my car to get the tires rotated, which needed to be done. Well several hours later, after visiting the dealership too, I found out from two opinions that I needed some major work done to fix my car: $2,600.  That’s Murphy’s law isn’t it?  Things tend to snowball, good or bad for me!

I ended up going out Saturday night for sushi and a live comedy show with my good friend, Beth.  It was good to laugh hard. I worked out in the morning then spent Superbowl Sunday with another group of friends which was fun, but still not back to my usual self. Monday class at BodyLife, I was not very talkative and felt down, then Kelly B. texted me right after class making last minute plans to get together after work on Tuesday with a third good friend, Christi J, whom I haven’t seen in so long; so I was looking forward to it.

FRIENDS WHO LIFT US UP

My friend Beth helped me out, again, picking me up in the morning after I dropped my car off for a full day of repairs.  Tuesday evening was motivating, Kelly B., Christi J. and I met at Brick Tops Restaurant and just couldn’t stop talking, discussing plans, ideas, ventures, catching up, etc.  It definitely elevated my mood.

friends-at-bricktops

 

PURPOSE/FAITH

Part of the “BodyLife” class is discovering our personal gifts.  I took two tests to determine what my natural gifts might be and the top 3 from the first test were:

  1. Faith
  2. Mercy
  3. Leadership

The second test I did indicated:

  1. Faith
  2. Hospitality
  3. Tied: Mercy, Creative Communications, Wisdom

I guess my next step is figuring out how to serve based on those gifts.

MID FEBRUARY- STILL IN A RUTT

Despite daily prayer twice a day, I’m still struggling with this mood I’m in and I don’t like it, but can’t seem shake it.  A lot happened last year and I’m wondering if this indoor winter season gray skies is affecting me?  Or is it grief from my dad passing away this past Father’s Day?  Whatever it is, I want it to end ASAP!  Church keeps reminding me God’s timing is perfect but doesn’t align with our timing. Patience, yes that is my problem, I am not patient; I do things quickly.  I’ve been working on patience and maybe that is what I’m being taught?

This weekend is supposed to be unseasonably warm, close to 70 degrees and my friends and I are hitting the Soulard Mardis Gras – Taste of Soulard.  I’m excited about that most definitely!  Can’t wait!

taste-of-soulard-event

Several friends dropped out, or couldn’t make it due to good reasons, and the one remaining seems to be wanting to cut the event short, which is completely unlike her normally.  Kevin Hart nailed it in this YouTube clip…I’m feelin it!!  I understand this is part of life and it’s okay.  I can do whatever I want with, or without people,  but it is always more fun with people, than alone!  I decided to add some positivity to my chalkboard:

laissez-les-bon-temps-rouler

So Friday, I woke up thinking: “stop being a whiner; focus on helping other people!” and I’m in a good mood too! Turning point?

So late afternoon I get a text from my one friend, most likely canceling for tomorrow.  So question…do I really do this alone?  Uber?  The weather is just sooo nice, I love the festival atmosphere, but who to talk to?  How awkward will this be? I went solo to a St. Pat’s parade years ago and ended up meeting a group of people that I actually spent all summer with and we all went on a lake trip mid summer too, with one of my girl friends it was so much fun that summer.  I just might do it again?  I just know if I stay home, I will be regretting it all day…so I guess I’ll “face fear” again!  I’m going…there….decided.  Well my original friend did cancel, but then to my surprise, two friends who were not sure if they could go, texted, telling me they can go!  Yay!  It all worked out.

MARDI GRAS

We had a great time and ended up going both days…

BACK TO WORK THE NEXT WEEK

I had a productive work week in commercial real estate and started a new Instagram account for my Arbonne business (working on it until 2 am) on Saturday night.

https://www.instagram.com/franchise_4_u/

MY MOTIVATION: TRAVEL

So another passion of mine is traveling.   I’m always ready to go; I absolutely love it and will do it any chance I get, so this year, I made some travel plans for March and April and can’t wait for those trips. The trips give me something to look forward to!

March 2017: Spring Break with mom, visiting relatives in California and sightseeing

April 2017:  Arbonne Conference – Las Vegas (and I bought a ticket to see

The Chainsmokers!!! I’m going solo, but this is one concert I am really looking forward to seeing and it doesn’t matter!)

May 2017:  (Background) Last year, late one afternoon, after pulling into the garage I received a phone call from a Colorado area code.  I work with a real estate team located in Denver occasionally, so I answered the call thinking it might be them.  It happened to be a time share spokesperson calling with a discounted vacation package to Breckenridge, so I figured since I was going through the divorce at the time, I might need this getaway within the next couple years so I bought it. (This year) So this year I have my kids for Memorial Day and we don’t have plans so I thought maybe we should use that trip and bike ride, zipline, go rafting etc., so I booked it, but before I bought the airfare, I happened to think about this again; the weather isn’t going to be ideal temperatures…what was I thinking?!  Then I started looking for places in South Carolina, Florida, but I also have experienced rain in the gulf area of Florida in May. So after a few hours of searching, I ended up booking a trip to Arizona!  The desert!  We should get good sunshine and warm weather there!  So I postponed the Denver trip and we are headed to Arizona in May!

June 2017:  Following our Mardi Gras weekend, and me being on the lookout for events, I found the CMA Fest in Nashville in June….all it took was one text to them and I got an immediate “Book It”….so we are going!  I’m slowing down on the trips after this because I may have another business trip in October which may coincide with Denver or there may be two separate trips, but either way, I am ready! This is going to be my Travel Year!  I forgot to mention that I may also go to Utah in late June with a couple other friends!

LAST CLASS AT CHURCH

I finished the 6 weeks of the “BodyLife”classes at The Crossing on this night and decided I should serve in some manner, but wasn’t sure of what to do.  I thought maybe “Outreach” to start, but most of the dates I had conflicts already, so I spoke with one of the Pastors and told her my top gift was “Faith” asking what would be a good match for that and the answer was, really anything!  She suggested the IT/Video production group, which is a little interesting to me, but also asked more questions about what is important to me, I felt passionate about helping teens. So I then spoke with the Pastor who heads up the Teen Program and it turns out their events are on Wednesday nights 7-9, so that might really work out best with my availability. I need to submit an application and then have interviews before this happens though.  At the end of our class, we were invited to write a prayer message on a rock that would be added to the new church site under construction, if we were ready to become a part of the church. I chose to do so and my message was “I surrendered to Jesus 2017; help me follow thru”

MARCH 2017

One of my favorite winter things to do is attend the Friday night concerts at Ballpark Village, on 3/3/17 I saw Canaan Smith for the first time and really enjoyed the concert.

SATURDAY NIGHT-CHURCH

I went to church with some friends 3/4/17 and we planned to check out the acoustic concert in the cafe afterwards.  There were some unusual things that happened that night. First, briefly into the service I thought I better silence my phone and as soon as I reached for my phone, my friend’s phone went off! Then, numerous times I was”thinking ahead” when the Pastor was talking and he actually said the things I was thinking. It was happening frequently enough that I noticed how weird it was. Then the message was something that was highly relevant to a conversation I had earlier in the week. So much so, that I had to send a message to that person which I usually don’t do in church, but this time I did.  As soon as I sent the message, Pastor Greg mentions the name of the person the conversation was about. It actually brought tears to my eyes.  I let the person know the next day what happened;  too many coincidences at one time, very strange.  The rest of the night was normal fun, nothing strange just a good time out with friends.

The highlight of this month was the trip to California to visit relatives.  This getaway was perfect in every way:  I was able to spend time with family, explore and be so distracted by the beautiful surroundings and mini-adventures; it was such an enjoyable trip.  I felt re-energized coming back home but also felt like “home” is temporary for me.  I really want to move away, but need to wait for the kids to get to college.  I wrote about the places we visited in this blog link.  One day back from traveling and I went to another concert, I had tickets for both kids but Lauren had to work since she missed hours/pay from her trip to the Bahamas and Nick wanted to hang out with a friend instead, so I went on my own.  It was a fun night, great band, Judah and the Lion; and yes music is a happy place for me!

I haven’t yet signed up to serve at church, but I need to do something soon.  I’ve just had a lot of changes that I’m adjusting to and trying to get settled: taxes coming up, new estimated tax payments as a 1099 instead of a W2 filing for 2017.  All new to me, and trying to get my personal finances, will, insurance, etc. in order too.  I’m a little unorganized right now but working towards getting settled.

I received an email from church looking for people to serve at Easter, so I signed up for Good Friday at 7 pm and filled out all the paper work.  I feel much better that I’ve finally taken action on this.

I enjoyed serving on Good Friday  4/15/17, I ended up with the Pre-K kids and they were so darling, fun, and interested in singing and playing.  They had so much fun while their parents attended church.

APRIL 2017

First part of the day, Beth and I went to the Battlegrounds Bootcamp at Kor Fitness and LOVED the experience!  Such great training and strategy on approaching the obstacles; I wish I had more weekends free to do more obstacle training but this was the only one I could fit into the schedule.  Excited thinking about the upcoming mud run even more now!

So once again, Saturday night, I had tentative plans to go to the April 1st Spring Opening Celebration at Cedar Lake Cellars Winery, but as time progressed more people were unable to go (and my friend Kelly suggested an alternative plan: the Cardinals Home Opener on Sunday, which sounded even better), so my choice was go to the winery solo on a Saturday night or volunteer at a fundraiser benefiting kids that my friend was chairing…well that was an easy decision: I volunteered.  Several friends were there volunteering too, so it was a fun, but late night, with the photos (our station) and surprisingly I met someone that evening.  I was not ready to meet anyone and actually tried to avoid it when I heard that someone asked about me; I  handled everything very awkwardly but this person was someone I had seen before, many times, although we never actually introduced ourselves, we were frequently in the same places, so much that my daughter and I had a running joke comment “there is that guy again!”  So I was curious, but nervous.  Then Sunday some friends and I went to the St. Louis Cardinals home opener and had so much fun once again, he was there with friends also and ended up meeting my friends. My friends liked him, so that made it easier.

It’s so nice having good friends to spend time with and the weather was beautiful too.  Springtime!

So, I decided I’d accept the offer to meet and we stayed in touch for awhile.  Being a mom, I was most concerned about my kids and this.  I didn’t want them to find out from anyone other than me, that I was going out with someone, but it was also way too soon for my kids to meet anyone, so I asked a generic question wondering if they would want to know whenever their Dad or I decided to go out with someone following the divorce.  And my daughter responded: “I don’t want to know anything!”  then immediately questioned: “Are you dating someone?”  Needless to say this didn’t go over well at all and I decided to not say anything to my son for now.  Fast forward, and this didn’t work out anyway! So I thought all those coincidences of repeatedly seeing this person were “a sign” that I should give it a try, but not in reality.  I also have always thought people come into our lives for a reason, but maybe it takes awhile to figure out why!   Relationships or getting to know someone is best left personal and not blasted out to the public, in my opinion.   It works out, or it doesn’t, and the world doesn’t need to be involved!

On April 29th I joined a long time mentor in my life, Vicki, who has been such an advocate in helping others and mentoring, ever since I first knew her.  She had a table for the annual fundraiser/auction for Safe Connections and invited me and a guest to join her. I was pretty moved by the stories as well as the 500 attendees who were there supporting the organization in their 10th year.  It made me think more about what I need to do for others and how important it is to give back in some way.

Concerts:

Zed’s Dead and Hippie Sabatoge

MAY 2017

This month was a busy and fun one with music, travel and fitness:  Eric Church Concert, The Battlegrounds Mud Run and the Phoenix Arizona Trip.

JUNE 2017

This month was more concerts and more travel:

Luke Bryan/Brett Eldredge concert

Nashville during the CMA fest

Muse & 30 Seconds to Mars Concert

Tour of UNC visiting Nashville and Banner Elk, NC.

Florida Georgia Line Concert with Nelly 

311 Concert

Visiting the newly opened Tin Roof STL.

JULY 2017

This month again I kept very busy with more concerts and events:  the way timing worked out, I didn’t have my kids for almost 3 weeks, so I had to occupy my time with something fun and it was packed with events!

Sports:

I went to the Cardinals Game with some friends.

Live Music:

Tin Roof STL again

Jake Owen and Dan + Shay Concert on the 4th of July

Sam Hunt concert (had to take down my post due to reported copyright infringement)

One Republic Concert (my first time seeing them, one of the top concerts I saw this             year –  an unexpected surprise)

Third Eye Blind Concert

St. Louis Magazine – A List Party with Broseph Lee performing

Kip Moore Concert

Jason Aldean and Kane Brown concert

Echo & The Bunnymen with the Violent Femmes concert

Nickelback concert with Chris Daughtry

Dierks Bentley Concert,Cole Swindell, John Pardi

Country Line Dancing:

Stovall’s Grove

AUGUST 2017

More music and travel this month:

Incubus, Jimmy Eats World and Judah and the Lion

Taste of St. Louis (Chesterfield)

A trip to Washington DC

Lady Antebellum, Kelsey Ballerini, and Brett Young

The Solar Eclipse

Zac Brown band

SEPTEMBER

Getting back to the subject of Surrendering to God, I’ve been attending church frequently throughout this year, more than ever before, and praying most every day and night since I made that decision in January 2017.  I guess I had expectations that my life would change for the better right away, but it didn’t, I actually had things I didn’t want happening, happen to me, but I also had good things happen at the same time.  At this point in the year, I have to say that I may have learned something from all of this and that is:  Patience!  Patience has been a struggle of mine forever but I’ve learned to be patient, and it definitely reduces stress in my life.  Patience and letting go, not forcing anything, these were two significant experiences that truly changed my outlook on life and how I respond to change, or lack of change!

More music, events and travel this month:

Labor Day weekend at the lake– non stop laughs and relaxation!

Sublime, Offspring, The Urge

Ballpark Village entertaining clients

Brantley Gilbert, Luke Combs, Tyler Farr

This concert was such an unexplained mix of events and Tyler Farr’s song “Damn Good Friends” really summed up the night. Looking back on the night, it was one of those evenings that is best summed up numerous times: if this hadn’t happened, then that wouldn’t have happened.  Hindsight puts things in a different perspective and sometimes it seems that things happen for a reason in our lives.

Wildwood BBQ Bash/Drake White

Brad Paisley

Colorado Trip to see the Aspens

OCTOBER

Cedar Lake Cellars

Football: KC Chiefs Game vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Satchmo’s to see Johnny Henry perform

Montelle Winery in Augusta

NOVEMBER

Drinks and Movie night out with Friends

Birthday Celebration with Friends

I decided to become more involved with Music, since that is what I’m continuously            drawn towards so I took action and signed up as a volunteer with Sofar Sounds.

Lantern Festival

Smithfield at Tin Roof STL

Bebe Rexa and Marc E Bassy (this one was canceled unfortunately because I was really looking forward to it!)

Tom Petty Tribute

Football: Green Bay Packers vs Baltimore Ravens

Nashville

DECEMBER

Lee Brice, Easton Corbin, Midland Concert (John SpicerBand substituted since they were snowed in Atlanta) – a memorable evening with another hindsight: if this hadn’t happened, then that wouldn’t have happened.

Old Dominion, Lo Cash, Walker Hayes

X Ambassadors

New Years Eve – ended with a quiet night at home, publishing this blog post, but the first event of the day was attending the Crossing, a great start of the day, click here for the recorded service and message it’s much better to listen directly but in summary, Tim Bounds covered one of the 10 Commandments:  regarding keeping holy “the Sabbath” the importance of giving ourselves a day of : REST (literally) , DELIGHT (enjoy what makes us happy:  friends, family, nature, etc) , WORSHIP (give thanks to God)  AND PEACE (note: Peace is not the absence of something, but the presence of Someone (God)- it’s a time to connect with God…it’s important that we all set aside time to personally connect with God

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

I arrived at a point in my life when I questioned everything about my life: my purpose, my decisions, my career, my relationships- absolutely EVERYTHING!  Looking back on my life there were definitely plenty of great moments, but I still felt like I unintentionally made bad decisions along the way and wanted that to stop, or at least lessen them, become a better person, and the only way to do that, in my thoughts, was to surrender it all to God, build a better relationship with God through prayer, because I obviously wasn’t doing exceptional at this life thing that was happening! 

This year I learned the following, from my personal experiences:

  1. Pray frequently:  in good times (be thankful and grateful) and bad times (ask for wisdom and guidance)- prayers are answered, but timing is not always understood until hindsight happens
  2. Accept the low points and bad experiences in life; those points are teaching moments and make us better people…so it’s really a positive thing in hindsight.
  3. Get comfortable being alone: take the time to improve: physically, spiritually, reflect on relationships and interactions with others, improve our personal skills during this time.
  4. Follow what we are drawn towards, even if it doesn’t make sense, don’t rush for the answers, stay in the moment experiencing everything, it will become clear with time and there will be a sense of calmness and peace when we eventually see why were drawn to something; it’s only in retrospect that we understand…just let it be, let it happen, naturally, unforced.
  5. Change equals growth; don’t fear it, there is something better on the other side!  Embrace change!
  6. Let go of what causes pain; experiencing pain is telling us something is not right, let it go: don’t hold on to anger about anything (it holds us back and keeps us in a bad place), pain teaches us lessons…”Pain is Gain” if we let go, we grow, improve and life becomes better!  
  7. Patience:  we have to be patient in order to follow through, because it all takes time and if we don’t develop patience, we will feel frustrated.  Patience is developed, it doesn’t come naturally; it’s something to acquire over time by letting go (the opposite of trying to control).
  8. People and relationships: come and go in our lives. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense “why” but I believe that people enter our lives to teach us something that we need, we will learn something from everyone, if we allow ourselves to be open minded.  People in our lives are extremely important: they can lift us up or bring us down, so learn to add more people that lift us up and eliminate time with those who bring us down or don’t support the same values as we have and be friendly to everyone you meet: kindness spreads kindness, if we want better relationships, it starts with each of us 
  9. Honesty: this is the foundation of any type of relationship; it means more than simply telling the truth: it means speaking up when something is important to us, it means not hiding something relevant, it means delivering the truth in a way that doesn’t hurt others, it means introspection about who we are, what we feel and what we need to improve about us (being authentic)
  10. But the greatest thing I finally understood was to love God above all (have faith, hope and trust) because everything comes from God.  Our individual and personal relationship with Him is the most important; He provides what we need.  There is no better way to explain this then to experience it personally; that’s the only way to grasp this concept, which probably doesn’t make sense unless you have faith, pray and then experience “unexplainable” things in your life, in retrospect.  That’s how it happened for me.   I grew up in a faith based home, so the faith concept was probably easier for me than for anyone who didn’t grow up that way.  If you struggle with this, but are open minded to explore and question everything, and are looking for a resource to grow spiritually: I recommend getting to know The Crossing, which is available online.  

I don’t like to admit this but, I grew up Catholic and when multiple friends first suggested this church to me, I pushed back and thought I’m not into that demonstrative religious service atmosphere (which is what I thought it was before I visited) :  my faith is between God and me,  I grew up conservative and that is very different to me!  However, I am also open minded enough, and know it’s not fair to draw a conclusion without exploring and experiencing it personally.  So that is what I did. I found The Crossing is led by well educated, knowledgeable, welcoming leadership who don’t force anything on anyone, but direct every question back to what is written in the Bible for answers.  This is a non-denomination Christian Church, a place where it’s okay to question whatever doesn’t make sense to us and grow in understanding through questioning.  Everyone is welcome.  I found that much of what I’ve learned through my religious education is supported by the Bible, and by this church, but I’m still learning, questioning and exploring the differences, and I’ve been participating in this church service since December of 2015, and now becoming more interested in exploring the differences and understanding why. This church also appealed to me personally because music is a passion of mine and is very present (as a form of worship) in this church.  I’ve never been to a church with greater musical talent than I’ve seen at The Crossing , truly incredible!  If you love music, you really should experience The Crossing.

 I realize 2017 was only the beginning: a year makes an impact, but there is more to come.  Surrendering all to God helped my perspective in life and someday in the future I will understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and see where it takes me; it’s a never ending commitment to improve, follow life with passion, purpose and ideally help, and be of value to others.  I’m excited and hopeful about the future!  Wishing you the best in 2018! It will be what you make it!

 

 

 

 

THE LANTERN FEST

“Letting Go,” my prior blog, was written before attending the Lantern Fest,  I waited to publish it because the releasing of lanterns symbolically fit the topic of letting go and I was hoping I would get some great shots to add to that post.  But there was so much more to the Lantern Fest we attended, beyond the symbolism, so I wanted to write about it.

LEADING UP TO THE EVENT

I found out about the Lantern Fest on Facebook, which, in my opinion, is Facebook’s strength right now:  finding events of interest.  I’ve seen so many photos of Lantern releases in other countries and the events always appeared so magical, so I knew when I saw the event on Facebook, I wanted to experience it.  I also found out that it is an event that runs nationally and was founded in November 2013.  There are several other USA locations forthcoming.

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EVENTS WITH TEENS

I’m going to bet that many people with teens know that, at this point in life, spending time with mom or dad isn’t high on their priority list.  In fact, I think, as parents, we rank near the bottom of the list of whom they want to hang with on the weekend!  I am faced with this reality; despite all the travel and events we did when they were young and they couldn’t wait to go somewhere with me. But that is a part of them becoming independent, which is important.  So, most of the time, they spend their time based on their plans. This time, I wanted to experience this with them because we don’t often have that opportunity very often: with just us, so I signed us up.  Heading to the event I didn’t have two very excited people with me.  One kept asking how soon we could leave once we got there and the other was just silent and both were exhausted from the soccer games they played all day.

ARRIVAL

I love Google Maps especially because it reroutes us based on traffic jams, so we ended up taking some back-roads and missed most of the traffic arriving quickly.  We arrived just after sunset due to the soccer game schedules and getting ready after them, but if I ever go again, I would be there before sunset.   Immediately upon arriving we could see lights all over a field ; it was a huge festival.  We headed through the Brookdale Farms gates, opposite the activity for parking and took a long windy gravel road back to the corn fields where we parked.  It was dark out now so we found our way back to the event from headlights shining on the gravel, highlighting a few mud puddles, but of course one of us found a puddle on the way.

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THE EVENT

I wasn’t sure when the release was going to happen, so I wanted to find the lantern packages as soon as possible.  I knew the event started at 2pm and there were little ones running around, so people with them would be getting anxious to release the lanterns soon.

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We initially saw all sorts of food trucks and tents lit up, then asked someone in one of the tents where we would find the lanterns.  They directed us to the back of the event and told us to look for a white tent.  We walked for quite a while, and kept going, following the crowd.  As we passed in smoke filled air, we saw fire pits with groups surrounding them, tiki torches, and groups enjoying s’mores- awesome!  We made it to the tent where we were given our lanterns and boxes with the instructions and s’mores sticks.  We stepped to the side and noticed we were at the edge of a lake which was so beautiful reflecting the lights.  We could hear music in the distance, then heard the announcement that the launching would soon occur.  We didn’t have much time to figure it out, so we waited to launch ours, preferring to watch and video this massive launch.  It was beautiful, incredible sight!

 

I attempted to get some good photos, but it was so dark I couldn’t see my camera settings and fumbled around with the camera, taking whatever I could get and hoping to capture some of it.  Most ended up blurred.

LAUNCH TIME

Learning how to light the lantern, waiting until the gas filled the balloon then releasing into the dark sky…

BON FIRE

Our arrival timing worked out because many people left after the launch, so some of the fire pits were now freed up.  We found one near the lake and decided to try out our newly purchased GABOSS inflatable loungers.  These were perfect for the night.  We had an energetic one with us who loved filling these bags with air.

As soon as we had them set up people kept stopping by asking us about them and where we got them.  Click the GABOSS link if you want to order one!  They are sold with a shoulder bag and are much easier than carrying a folding camp chair.  They can be used individually or as a lounger with two or three people and will support over 400 pounds.

We made s’mores, then relaxed in the loungers, waiting for the second launch.  By this time, my phone died, but I still had my camera and could get a few more shots of the night.  The music added to the atmosphere, the night was a little chilly but when the fire was going it was an exceptional outdoor night.  Being near the lake was perfect too, as the first wave of people were leaving, the white and red car lights looked like Christmas lighting.  We decided to lounge outside until the traffic died down.

 

LEAVING THE EVENT

By this time, everyone was starving.  Because of the soccer schedules, there was very little time between games, so none of us ate much since breakfast, besides a few snacks. The craving was Italian pasta, needing those carbs!  My daughter searched on Google maps and found Joe Baccardi’s which was still open, thankfully!  It was about 9:30 pm, so we headed there and everyone ordered.  We barely made it through the meal, with my son was falling asleep at the table, so we headed out just before closing time. I think all but me fell asleep in the car on the way home.  I know for me; this was just what I wanted:  spending time with them and both of my teens seemed to enjoy it too!  We talked about attending one again.

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OPPORTUNITY FOR SCIENTIFIC CREATIVE PEOPLE

As with anything, there are multiple viewpoints.  After I posted pictures and videos on Facebook the next day, I had a friend send me some pictures of the after math.  This was bad, it looked like trash everywhere, on trees, homes etc.  The event was so much fun, but this was not good. Hopefully with technology and creative people, there can be a solution for some biodegradable, quick dissipating material that could possibly be used in the future for lanterns to avoid the landfall?  I’m hoping that someone reading this knows someone or is creative and comes up with a solution, maybe a future Patent?  If you read this and know of someone who might be able to do this, please share this post!