Dear Diary

Dear Diary,
This sucks. I mean really sucks. I slightly cringe using that word – sucks – because it was forbidden to leave my mouth growing up even if whispered under my breath. But this, this is a whole new level of suck. And it’s selfish. Yep. Selfish. That’s me right now, and I feel bad about it. I’m not proud of the anxiety I’ve allowed back into my chest after several years of having it under control. I’m not proud of the anger I let boil up inside of me over and over until it came out in words shooting from my mouth like flaming daggers as one thing after another stacked up to this level of suck.
Ten days. Just ten days. That’s all that stood between us and the first of two life-changing adventures we had plans for this year when the president declared a National State of Emergency due to COVID-19. Stupid virus.
The excitement that had been building and building like a balloon being filled and ready to float off into the air was turned into turmoil in our stomachs as we felt our dreams begin to deflate within us. We went from being ready for the best year of our lives to a nightmare wishing someone would pinch and wake us up from. Normally we would have a couple weeks worth of food in our cabinets and meat in our freezer, but we were preparing to leave. So we had been eating what was left and not buying more. We were prepared for an adventure not a quarantine. Not mass panic as many Americans became hoarders overnight. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer disappeared as if part of a magician’s act across a national stage.
We were unsure of our next step. Do we stay? Do we really have any other option? Other states are worse than ours. As a nation we’re not supposed to go anywhere that isn’t necessary right now.
I cussed. I cried. I threw a fit like a selfish toddler. I argued and pleaded with God.
Why? Why this year? Why after telling me not to be anxious and putting me at peace with our plans? Why after all the scriptures and messages of faith put in front of me these last few weeks are our dreams that we’ve saved so earnestly for suddenly fading away?
Can’t you fix this God? Can’t you save us from this mess? Can’t you just give us a break? Why is this happening to us right now?
Question after selfish question…directing my anxiety, uncertainty, heartache, and anger towards God.
Then my best friend, who knows about our adventures, checked in with me. I told her my fears and shamefully confessed my wavering faith, and she reminded me that even heroes in the Bible struggled with their faith.
That’s what trials are for. I don’t know how strong my faith is until it is tested. I can’t improve if I’m not challenged.
Faith is believing even when you can’t see. I had faith that we could do this adventure until other things started closing in around us. As I saw walls being placed in front of our dreams I lost sight, and I forgot. I forgot that I don’t have to see what’s ahead in order to have faith. I forgot the very essence of faith – choosing to trust no matter how bleak things seem. I forgot the peace that comes with it – the peace of knowing God is still working. He knows his plans for me, for us. We may not see our dreams come true right now. If that’s the case, it’ll be okay.
This situation is so much bigger than us. This suck isn’t just affecting us. This sucks for our family, our neighbors, our friends, our nation and most of the world.
I’m well aware of how selfish it is for me to complain about our dreams being put on hold, but I remember a therapist telling me after the devastation of our 2011 tornado that it’s okay to mourn for my own situation. It’s okay to be sad for our own loss even if someone else’s loss is greater.
It’s not okay to just shut down though, and it’s not okay to take from others, especially when we are all struggling.
We are still on this Earth to love one another.
I’m done wallowing in the suck.
It’s time to put my faith into action. It’s time to smile, to laugh, and to encourage others even if I’m still hurting.
Chin up, Ash. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.

xoxo

-Me

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27 NIV

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Philippians 4:6 NIV

“But you, Lord , are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”
Psalms 3:3 NIV

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 NIV

“because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
James 1:3 NIV

The Perfection Plateau

The Perfection Plateau

Do you get stuck moving forward with something because you don’t feel prepared enough or it doesn’t feel perfect enough? Welcome to the perfection plateau…bleh.

I seem to get plagued by the perfection plateau at times. I’m working along on something and BAM! I’m stuck. Progress comes to a halt. And the thoughts flood in…

Are you sure you’re ready?

Are you sure you know enough?

Are you sure it’s good enough?

Are you sure this is what you really want to do?

Well, great! Now I’m doubting myself. The raging fire that was fueling my passion now resembles a small flame on a flickering candle. Again…bleh.

So, what do I do? I get this brilliant idea to work on something else in the meantime. That gets the fire going…

And then I hit the perfection plateau on that project and the cycle continues. When I break free from the haze and look around I realize I have plenty of items in the start column, but the finish column is, well…empty.

Don’t let the perfection plateau plague you. You’re not going to accomplish much if you’re always waiting for things to be perfect.

Now, preparation is still important. I’m not saying you should launch a business without any research or money. Just don’t put everything on hold over and over waiting for the perfect time or the perfect website.

Stop doubting yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others and get it done.

So what if she knows more than you. So what if she looks classier than you. So what if she has a million followers! That’s her…not you. (And NEWSFLASH: she’s not perfect either.)

Be YOU! That’s all you really need to do.

Be brave, not perfect. And push past that plateau.

xoxo

Ash

 

 

Expand Your World

There’s more to life than your own back yard.

I started subscribing to a couple of expats on YouTube last year and it’s had a beautiful impact on me. I’ve talked to people living in Italy, France, Finland, Germany… I’ve learned a lot about other countries in the past year. I’ve become more fascinated with other languages and cultures…what we have in common and what we do differently.

A while back I mentioned my desire to go to Europe to someone and got told it was too dangerous to be traveling over there. Um, it’s dangerous just being alive these days…right? So why worry?

With social media now, it’s so much easier to connect with others, not only across our vast country but also the other side of the world. I encourage you to connect with other people. Learn about other cultures. Learn another language. I’ve studied Spanish, Mandarin, and Italian.

People have asked why. Why do I waste my time with it? Why am I so interested?

Because I want more. I want to know more. I want to see more. I live in America, but my ancestry is not American. We’re not an old country. The majority of us are from European descent.

I want to expand my world. I want to see ancient Rome. I want to float in the Dead Sea. I want to stand in places my ancestors came from, like England and Germany.

I want to see the way others live because our way of living is not the only way. We seem to think the other cultures do weird things. Um, they were around before us. Think about that for a second…Maybe we are the weird ones. Maybe ice isn’t so common in summer drinks. Maybe peanut butter is not a common item in the pantry in a European household…😊 Maybe life isn’t meant to be lived in such a rush all the time. There’s so much to learn from other cultures.

I don’t think we were put on this Earth to stay in our own back yard.  I mean, aren’t we told “Go into all the world…”

I challenge you to learn something about another culture or start learning another language. What’s the first country that comes to your mind that you might want to visit or learn more about?

Be brave. Expand your world.

xoxo

Ash