five ways ADD impacts my life (and how I cope)

Growing up I often heard phrases from my family and friends like, “Janelle, you’re not listening” or “Janelle, for the hundredth time…” Every time I would hear these responses, insecurity flood into the deepest parts of who I am. No matter how hard I tried, I still had difficulty focusing and maintaining my attention to the person or situation right in front of me. I am going to share what a day in my shoes looks like. Maybe you can relate as I share my heart with you. Also, I hope this doesn’t scare you away. HA! ADD is not an excuse. It’s an explanation. So here it goes.

1. Projects take me twice as long to finish.

When I have to tackle a project, I will get distracted during the process and it takes me double the amount of time it would have taken me if I stuck to one task. For example, cleaning my room is a week long project. You may ask, “Why?” I walk into my room and have the plan to clean it, and boy, do I clean it. I start with hanging up the clothes on the floor after not finding the right outfit, leaving my entire closet on the floor, basically. Before finishing the clothes on the floor, I start noticing some being clean and dirty. I then leave my clothes on the floor to begin sorting through all my dirty laundry by lights, darks, and colors (I am a little OCD when it comes to my laundry). I go to start my laundry by putting the first load in the washer only to realize I probably should strip the bed to throw it in with my load of lights. I start the washer and go to change the sheets. As I am stripping the bed, I notice the place on my nightstand where the sheets made a line through the dust. Gosh. I push pause on stripping the bed and go grab cleaning supplies from the hall closet to clean my night stand. I go into the kitchen to snag the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink and notice I didn’t do the dishes from the night before. So of course I get that done. Walk back to my room to see the mess and remember why I went into the kitchen. Go back, get the supplies and before you know it, I have taken everything off the surfaces in my room to do a thorough dusting. Dangit! The washer paused – totally forgot to finish the load by throwing my sheets in. I finish stripping my bed and throw my sheets in. I’m exhausted as I walk back in my room to see everything on the floor. At least my dressers are sparkling and clean. So pretty. 🙂 *Phone rings- one of my friends wants to hang out. DEAG. That’s what I say. “Drop everything and go.” So I do, only to come back to the mess hours later, not wanting to do any of it. Eventually I finish ALL the half-started projects in my room. But for example, you see why ONE project takes a while because I do about fifty others in the process. Take this blog for example… It’s taken me a couple days because I hit a wall and have to go do something else.

What I do:  Create checklists and push myself to work through the list in a methodical way to prevent jumping around and causing unnecessary stress. We all have enough of stress in our lives and do NOT need to create more of it.

2. Perfectionism is wired into me.

Many people are perfectionists, but for me, I always try to do things right the first time so I don’t have to trickle back to it again. I have the biggest problem when I make mistakes. It is hard for me to admit that I was wrong as it was probably a project I spent hours on end working on. This also trickles into my personality. Typically when around different crowds it’s easy to display a different person. Not necessarily that I am two-faced, but I would say that it’s an act to please the person I am with instead of being confident in who I am. I attempt to live up the expectations and standards of others at its finest, only to find that my behaviors affect my not being completely true to myself.

What I do: Pray and stay rooted in who GOD says you are and not get carried away with pleasing people.  If I am struggling with confidence or self-worth, I tend to look up verses on the word “secure” or “confident” and read through them, sometimes read a chapter where the verse is drawn from. If something stands out I will jot it on a post-it note and post-it in places I will see it. This is a daily practice in writing God’s words in my heart.

3. Procrastination is my drug.

This is the motto I live by. I work well under pressure. What can I say? All throughout high school and college, with projects I had very little to no interest in, I would wait until the crunch to hammer it out. Completing work in this way would cause some errors as I wasn’t being thorough with checking things over after I would finish it. For the most part, the pressure helps as I plug in my earphones, listen to some tunes, and get things DONE. Go back to “Number 1” to find out what happens if I give myself a ton of time to finish a task. Even though this is the way I tend to gravitate towards, I’m not condoning it. I am just providing you with the “why”.

What I do: If I know that I have a big project ahead, I will make benchmarks to help me get to the big picture. Maybe this is where the teacher in me comes out. With knowing the goal of where I need to get to, I take steps by preparing short objectives for me to obtain so I am not overwhelmed and get burnt out, lose desires and passions, etc. If you’d like me to help you with this, I’d love to help! Kick me a message.

4. Planning is necessary.

I have to write every commitment down in my schedule. Every morning I wake up, my mind begins the marathon, not the morning two-mile jog like normal people. Because of my mind racing, I have a hard time paying close attention to details or the little things in life that may seem second nature to some, like leaving my sunroof open. Haha. Same goes with my commitments. I love being with people and scheduling to be with them. People like me have a hard time sticking to a schedule because we unintentionally overcommit.

What I do: If I do not write things in a planner or on my post-it notes, I WILL forget. I usually take a trip to Target, duh, and buy a cute planner and colored pens to make it fun. I use this to plan out my goals and jot down commitments as they pop up each week. I also plug it into the calendar (and set a reminder) on my phone so that I REALLY don’t forget.

5. People are annoyed and frustrated easily with me.

I have earned the nickname of Dory. With my mind racing all the time, I have difficulty keeping details straight, or even worse I’ll ask you a question you have already provided an answer for to me. People get so frustrated with me about this. Let me explain a little. It’s not that I don’t care or I am thinking about what I am going to say next. I literally have a lack of control of my wandering thoughts. If I were to ask you a question, and you give a detailed response, I can’t say that I will be with you the whole time. Some days I am super focused and taking it all in. Other days, my mind is rabbit trailing off what you said. In fact, if you have heard me ask a question to you and say, “…or have you already told me that?” my mind indeed rabbit trailed, again unintentionally. For instance, we are having coffee. You mention a new coffee shop you tried out with your boyfriend. My mind may or may not hear what you say after that. This is the mental run I go on:


I’m trying to picture where that coffee shop is.

With her boyfriend, aw. So sweet. I love that he took her there.

I wonder how long they have been dating for.

Wait he doesn’t like coffee. He just took her there because she does.

Good guy. Props.

I am really glad she found a guy that treats her right. Very rare.

Rare.

Hmmm. I actually hate my steak rare. I like it well-done.

Man, steak sounds awesome right now.

I am actually really hungry.

I have literally missed the past minute and have no idea what she is talking about.

Dangit.

*Waits for a pause in conversation*

Are you hungry? Let’s go snag some food somewhere.

For those of you who KNOW me have experienced this first hand. I only share this with you so you know I try to stick with you, but it’s a steep progression away from the person talking in front of me that causes me to miss a lot in my relationships. It’s not that I don’t care. Every part of me cares for the person in front of me. I just have no control over these thoughts as they are going through my mind a mile a minute. Maybe that’s why I hit a wall at 8pm and want to go straight to bed. I am mentally exhausted.

What I do: Get a fidget spinner. Just kidding. I am actually opposed to them. I actually don’t have an answer. Maybe it’s what you can do. Be patient, be kind. I am trying my hardest to be intentional in my listening.

 

my tipsy twenties

Darn near thirty…. I have heard this phrase and have used this phrase several times over the past year. For those of you who don’t know, I am indeed darn near thirty. In fact, twenty-nine to be exact. So I guess you could say that I have done a wee-bit of thinking and contemplating over my twenties as a whole as I soak in this chapter. Come reminisce  with me my tipsiness…

I remember the day that I turned 20. I was a sophomore in college. Great roommates, boyfriend, friends, and big improvement on my grades, all attributed to getting my freshman year out of my system and actually starting to take my life seriously. I was more adjusted and settled into the college groove as I devoted my time to studying, even though my grades reflected someone who didn’t care about their academics. But that is absolutely not the case with me. I legitimately tried my hardest. Paid off tutors. Gave up part of my social life. Skipped meals. Developed majorly poor eating habits in the process all because I wanted to measure up to my older brother who literally could walk in the day of his chemistry final and ace the junk out of it. On the other hand, I would study for hours on end by highlighting major points, making up note cards for memorizing, and saying my prayers before bed believing that God would bless my efforts by giving me at least a “C” on the test. Even with my tutors, parents, and friends cheering me on, I would get the test back with a whopping, fat, red and capital “F” on the top of the test. With extreme insecurity, I would flip the test back over and put it under my notebook for no one to see. I would look around to see and hear my classmates vent over the one or two questions they got wrong and fought back the tears that were stuck in my throat. Test after test, class after class, failure after failure. Test anxiety is a real thing, and I exhibited it at its finest. Age 20, everyone. My struggles were insecurity and comparison for sure.

I remember when I turned 22. I literally had my life planned out. I was eager to get engaged to my hilarious, talented, god-fearing boyfriend whom I was love struck with at first sight, maybe even before I actually met him in person if I am 100% honest with you. I was excited to land my first job in my teaching career. I retook the ACT to get a qualifying score to simply stay in my major, and by God’s grace, obtained the score needed to and walk on graduation day. My plans were working out great. “My” being the key word. I was trying to fit God in the tiny little box labeled “Janelle’s Happy Ending”. Little did I know that my plans would be thoroughly wrecked in the blink of an eye. The dream of me and my littles waiting by the window to see their daddy pull up in the driveway and running out to smother him with kisses at the end of a long work day quickly vanished as Jordan pulled up in his car in front of my dorm and said to me the words that are forever in my heart, “Janelle, I just can’t do ‘us’ anymore. Something’s not right, and I can’t pinpoint it.” Just like that, I was left with a broken heart, and I literally felt like everyone could read the word “Reject” on my forehead as I crumbled and cried in the corner. I was hurt beyond words as the life we dreamt of and were moving towards was suddenly ripped from underneath me. As these circumstances continued to shake the ground I walked on, I closed the chapter of college on an ugly, bitter and discontent note of what my life should have looked like upon graduation. Age 22, still insecurity, low self-worth, and depression began settling in.

Turning 25, quarter of a century, was a highlight year for me. Being a special education teacher has it’s own set of problems that we encounter. I feel like this was one of the hardest years of my career professionally; however, during this year I developed some of the most special, long-lasting friendships whom I hold very near and dear to my heart. These are those friendships that have lasted over the years. We’ve seen each other at our worst and still couldn’t imagine life without each other. I was involved to an intense measure in a college and 20’s ministry downtown Greenville, and it was there that God ripped all legalism (and continuing to do so) out of my mindset. I learned who God was and it pushed me to walk in His ways. At this point I was still single, wondering if God was going to bless me with a man who loves and pursues God so much and in turn does the same for me. I would say my mid-twenties was filled with the desire and longing to be loved, to be known, and to be chosen. I really struggled with understanding how to find my true contentment in God and shifting my perspective to building God’s kingdom and not my own. This season definitely had me shopping for bridesmaids dresses and attending more weddings than I can count which always kept me wondering when it would be my turn. I would leave these ceremonies in tears for a couple of reasons.

 

  1. I was really darn happy for the couple and
  2. I felt like I was wasting away, and God was holding out on my from my happy ending that I have always desired and wanted.

 

After dating wrong guy after wrong guy with no prediction of their disrespect and manipulation of me, I kept wondering what I am doing wrong and why does this keep happening to me.

Age 25, continued insecurity, low self-worth, depression, and comparison. So I naturally bought a dog. OOOF. I literally won the jackpot with Milo. Literally the best dog in the world. You may beg to differ because we are all partial to our own pets, or essentially our kids, but I would definitely fight you on this one and 100% win. So yeah, there’s that.

As I neared twenty-six or twenty-seven (I couldn’t actually tell you when because I have one of THE worst memories in the world- true story – people call me Dory), God began doing a stirring in my heart. I felt that God was calling me out of my “normal” to do something different. To this day, I cannot describe what was taking place in my heart. I just remember starting to feel withdrawn in the circles that God had placed me in. I remember sitting on my front porch with dearly loved friends with tears running down our faces, telling them that God is calling me out and I have no idea where he is leading me. It was one of the hardest conversations we had, but I still knew that there is a calling the Lord has for me and it just wasn’t at my current location. And sure enough, just like that, God provided a job in Wisconsin near my parents house. Just like that, I packed up my car, left my heart with some of my favorite people in Greenville, SC, and began the 13-hour long trip home. My twenty-seven year old self struggled with proving to the world her calling, that she was hearing from the Lord rightly, and still, experiencing lies of insecurity in who she was in the Lord.

And here we are! Twenty-nine! Twenty-nine has sure brought a lot of changes and disappointments for sure. I landed a job in Wisconsin in hopes to make it my next ten years. Again, putting God in the “Janelle’s Happy Ending” box. With this job came a lot of tears, frustrations, wounds and devalued me as a person. Fear was used to elicit more production out of me when I was already at the end of my rope and begged for support. I was devalued by my administrator as he listened to unfiltered gossip and faulted me with untruth. I lost trust in that relationship as these tactics were a means to an end of unethically pushing me out of the environment. I lost all passions to be relational and communicative. Unknowingly, I began to shut down, close off and retreat. I slipped into unhealthy eating patterns and dealt with anxiety and depression after I took off my mask when I left school at the end of the day. I was just scraping by until the end of the year not even realizing or maybe acknowledging the hurt so that I could essentially deal with it head-on. On top of that, I began dating someone who threw it all away and cheated on me. Completely blind-sighted and wrecked, I felt as if I would never recover. And if it couldn’t get any worse, I had to go to the emergency room for a virus I had contracted,  and I accrued close to $5,000 for out-of-pocket bills. Awesome. BUT… yes there is a but here, I will say this. God has brought me through it all and has engraved such a deep faith that I have never experienced before. A faith that is genuine, holding my hands open to him saying, “Anything, God”. A faith that I can honestly hold fast to and believe that God will provide for me and meet my every need. I am starting to believe and truly accept that “Janelle’s Happy Ending” does not look like it did back when I was twenty-two. I am currently single, living back at home with my parents awaiting to embark on a new adventure with God. Also, a couple of years ago, He placed a desire in my heart to foster and eventually adopt. Because I have had the desire to do so for a while now and these desires only intensify,  I will be taking steps towards getting certified as a foster mom by the end of this year. I desire to see racial reconciliation, and I am currently stepping out by reading and learning how these differences impact people’s lives. I desire to support single mothers in their process by coming alongside of them and caring for them, practically and spiritually. For those of you who have been walking through these passions and desires with me, it is to you I am forever grateful for. I am terrified of this calling, but thankfully I know a God who is put in us a love that casts out all fears. 

The other day I was on Instagram scrolling through, and I came to a post from Bob Goff. It said, “In the wait time, God gives you friends.” TRUTH. PRAISE HANDS. CHURCH. If there is one thing that I choose to see as I look back over my twenties, it’s not the fact that I had trials and was placed in some intense and upsetting situations; rather, I choose to see that God blessed me with people so I didn’t have to go through any part of it alone. I ALWAYS had people around me who chose to walk through this ugly thing called “life” together.

When I was younger, and about every year on my birthday, I believed that I will become stronger and figure out my calling on my life and really kick these struggles in the butt and kiss them goodbye. And I stand before you today to tell you that I am darn near thirty, still trying to figure it out. I have no clue what I am doing and okay with that. I feel that one day I will become braver and say “yes” to the one thing I am afraid of. We are all in this together. Sure, we have life experiences that cultivate us into who we are today, but that doesn’t mean we have it all figured out more than the next guy. I think of Joseph in the Bible. He had no clue how God was going to use him someday in a big way for just being faithful in the little. Little did he know that “what man meant for evil, God meant for good.” Maybe you are like Joseph in the story. You don’t know what your happy ending is. A friend said to me the other day that “God is asking us to open our hands up so that we can receive what He wants to give us and grasp onto something new.”The thing is, when Jesus is in it, he will see to it that peace will be enveloping you in the process, and the enemy will fight it hard to plant fears in you to scare you out of your calling. Let’s learn together how to stop comparing ourselves to others. God has created each of us to walk different paths. Be confident in and true to yourself, what YOUR desires are and not living out your friend’s. Run the race that God has called YOU to run and run it well. Just like Joseph, and just like the Father did with His own Son, He sees us through.

“ He sees me through like before. He is Lord.”  – Elevation Worship

 

open sunroofs

So I am going to share one of those not-so-smart-janelle-ism’s that happened the other day for me. A couple of days ago, I got a massage for the first time ever in my life. Mainly because I got a gift card (I am too cheap to actually treat myself in that way). I had no idea what to expect as I walked through the glass doors that took me into a swanky spa, a place I should but do not get to see very often. When I approached the front desk and gave her my name for the appointment set up, she then proceeded to lead me up the spiral staircase.

I am so rich, I thought.

When the massage was over, I gathered my things together, got into my car, opened the sunroof and windows and began my drive home, blaring country tunes, because that is what you do in the summertime. Because of being extremely relaxed and not really all there, I turned off my car before the sunroof was completely closed. First mistake. I got out of my car, grabbed my things and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon reading and drinking my La Croix on the front porch swing. Around 7:00 that evening, dark clouds started quickly moving towards me. Because I have a thing for storms, you can always catch me staring at the sky waiting for slow drops of rain to begin flowing down in sheets. I love rain. I love lightning. I love thunder. Even more so, if I have the option of sitting on the porch allowing my senses to kick in and take over, I could sit in the midst of a rainstorm until it ends. There is something just so mesmerizing and beautiful about it all, even somewhat of a thrill.

As it neared time for bed, I cracked my windows so I can hear it roll on through as I closed my eyes and drifted off. Dear Journal, what a relaxing day. I closed a chapter of life by stopping by school and turning in my keys. I got a massage for the first time. Again, feel so rich. And I feel like now I can fall asleep with nothing on my mind. Today was a refreshing and a much-needed kind of day.

The next morning, I woke and did my usual morning routine. Lay in bed for about ten minutes while checking my phone, slowly get moving by saying “Good Morning” to my dog Milo, and head downstairs to make coffee. Without coffee, you’re going to have to give me at least an hour to come to life, so naturally, coffee speeds up the process a bit. And I mean, of course it’s my favorite smell and taste in the world. After I filled up my cup, I grabbed my journal, pen and mug and went out to the front porch swing to enjoy the slow sunny morning filled with the humidity and fresh smell of nourishment that the rain brought. As I scanned the front yard, my eyes shifted towards my car, and to my dismay, I noticed the sunroof guard of my car up.

No.  No.   You have GOT to be kidding me. There is no way the sunroof is open. I swear I closed it. Shoot. How did this happen.  Slow blink. Still open. What.

Also me, all of these thoughts were running through my mind as I stopped myself from happily swinging on the porch swing, staring at my car. Just staring. Sure enough. As I walked over to my car the sunroof was indeed open and I had about an inch of water sitting in my cup holders.

Awesome. My life. Praise hands. High-five, Janelle.

What I thought was going to be a slow, relaxing morning, turned into me frantically grabbing the dehumidifier from the basement and researching/texting friends to gain insight on how to dry out your soaked car. Roll my eyes. That night, I laid in bed with my journal reflecting back on the past couple days and how significantly different my response was to the situations that panned out, obviously. Life changes, and in most times, we aren’t prepared for nor expecting the change that is to come.

This passed year, I decided to begin preparing for a change in my life by leaving my current teaching job. The experiences and skills obtained for the duration of my time there are invaluable as I am now entering into the process of discovering God’s calling on my life, one day, one decision, at a time. As we undergo the many changes in our lives, it is a sweet reminder that Jesus is holding our hands, going before us, and making a way to plant his desires within us, even if we’re human and make silly mistakes, like leaving the sunroof open during a torrential downpour. We can always remember that even when we can’t see what is on the other side of the decisions we make, the changes that occur, or the upsetting trials that hit us without warning, God is still good and we still have him. Even when I get a phone call telling me a loved one has passed, He is making a way. Even when the adoption process falls through and we have to pursue another option, he is making a way. Even when I step out on faith by quitting my job without having another, he is making a way. Even when your family simply cannot communicate effectively with each other, he is making a way. Even when you have done everything, and still can’t get pregnant, he is making a way. Even when I am diagnosed with a terminal illness, he is making a way. Even when my bank account is low and not sure where the next paycheck will come from, he is making a way. 

One thing remains is that when life makes shifts, we have a hope in our Heavenly Father, sweetly lifting our chins, reminding us we are not from here. He says that in this world we will have heartache, but that we can take heart. He has overcome.

light in the darkness

I have most recently began practicing yoga again after taking a season off. I will most certainly say that yoga has been a lifesaver for me. I never actually realized how good it was for my emotional and physical well being until I get into child’s pose and come to center on my mat. For those of you yogis out there, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t practice yoga, there is a phrase I go by:  “Because you can, you should.”

Anyways, back to sharing my most recent yoga practice experience with you.

I come into class and the instructor asked each of us to set an intention for our practice. This intention can be a word, phrase, or sometimes for me, a verse. I chose the word “endurance”. These intentions really motivate you when your practice gets harder throughout the session. I found this word, more often than not, come into my thoughts as I was struggling to hold certain poses, and yes, even falling down during one of them because I had zero ability to balance on one leg. Go ahead and laugh. I did.

I got back up and kept going. My favorite part is when I am able to stretch and breathe deeper when holding each pose. I truly felt like an amateur as I have been out of the game for quite a bit of time and have lost all flexibility and strength, especially when I look around and people are flying their crows and posing in a half moon for lengthy periods of time (sorry-yoga jargon). Of course as I immediately start to compare my practice to the experienced yogis around me, I constantly catch my thoughts and bring them back to the fact that today, I have decided to at least show up to class.

As my practice concluded, I laid on my back with both arms stretched out to the side, palms up. I arranged my body so that all my muscles were 100% relaxed. The instructor dimmed the lights, and provided time for us to conclude our practice with quiet meditation. I LOVE the fact that when I laid there, I felt time was actually on my side in that moment, and it wasn’t against me, creating stress and major “rush” in my life. Time actually forced me to lay there, to be still before Father, and listen to what He had to say to me in that moment.  Anytime I sit in carved out quiet time, Father never ceases to stop talking to me. Recently, I heard on a podcast that “God is always talking to us, we just don’t take the time to listen or recognize his voice”. So there I laid. Centering myself on the mat.

I opened my eyes, even though I probably shouldn’t have because that wasn’t fully relaxing myself. My eyes became fixated on the light above me. My eyes soon adjusted to the light, similar to when I was a little girl seeing how long I could stare at the sun on a hot summer day. I know, so stupid. When I was no longer squinting at the light, my eyes scanned the other parts of the ceiling, unable to see as my eyes were slowly adjusting back to the darkness. It took a good portion of time for my eyes to not see spots from the light as I scanned the ceiling and other areas of the room.

That’s when He spoke to me.

“Do you see me? I am everywhere. You need to stay CLOSE to me to begin seeing more of me.”

When my eyes trickled away from the light, I was able to see the light for a short time frame after, and eventually, my eyes adjusted back to the darkness.

I feel that is exactly how it is with our walk with Father. It’s only human for our eyes to be able to see in the darkness; however, when we spend significant time with Father, our Beloved, we become so deeply rooted and fixated on Him, our light, that we are unable to see the darkness around us. As long as we are on Earth, living out our day-to-day routines, we will experience the weight of sin in this world. Maybe your darkness is your character is being ripped to shreds that you worked so hard to keep and maintain. Maybe your darkness is your job where you have given away your boundaries and allowed your boss and coworkers to walk all over you. Maybe your darkness is rejection from a dating relationship. Maybe your darkness is struggling through school, wondering if you chose the right program that will determine the course of your life. Maybe your darkness is going off birth control for months, even years, and still not being able to get pregnant. Maybe your darkness is your spouse is choosing pornography or another’s love over you. Maybe your darkness is unresolved conflict and hurt in the relationship with your earthly father. Maybe your darkness is fear of the unknown and what your “next steps” will be.

No matter what your “dark cloud” is, God is talking with you and wanting you to stay close to Him. He wants you to come sit with Him in the quiet, free of the distractions of this world. He wants more than anything for your eyes to be fixated on HIS eyes, and His presence only, so that when you go about your day, you see the Light’s spots everywhere you look. 

When our eyes are on the Light, the Light is all we’ll see.

Psalm 139:7-12

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alike to You.”

I asked myself these couple questions after the yoga session that day:

  • What am I currently allowing in my life that is preventing me from staying close and spending time with Father?
  • What am I actively doing to pursue my relationship with Father, first and foremost?
  • How am I combatting lies of the enemy, and not allowing these lies to be a stronghold in my thoughts and life?

Please give me some feedback and/or future topics you would like me to touch on. Thanks for taking the time to read this today!

Remember how much He loves you today,

Janelle

put your hands up, single ladies

pizza

Dear Single Girl,

To be sincerely honest, I was never a huge fan of Valentines day.

The giant life-size teddy bears.

The dozen roses.

The chocolates.

(Side-bar: I dislike chocolate, unless it is combined with peanut butter. Or very small doses, like chocolate chips. I am just more of a Haribo gummy bear kind of girl.)

The love notes.

The heart-shaped pizzas.

Flooding pics on insta and the book of sappy couples.

The expectations that some women have on ONE given day.

I mean, the list goes on and on. I’m sure you have a couple things you can think of that drives YOU crazy. I wondered WHY I have had such of a bad taste in my mouth about it, and I came to the conclusion that I had this preconceived idea that it was all about me. Let me explain…

It is easy to come into a day such as today, Valentines Day, and reflect. It is either a day of reflecting on what you DO or what you DO NOT have. If you are like me, I always focused on what I didn’t have, and essentially, I was a big, mope walking around. I was missing all of it. We do the school/work thing, come home and binge on netflix while scrolling through and switching back and forth between social media accounts comparing our lives to something that is fake. We hope that God “drops” a mate in our laps and we have this “A-HA” moment and just “know” that we are going to marry this guy. Single Lady Friends…We are missing it.

I have three things I want to encourage you with:

  1. You will never be able to love someone until you learn to love yourself.

Mark 12:31 says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

What does it look like to love my neighbor as myself? We need to learn how to love ourselves. I know that most of the time, I am my biggest critic. I need to give myself a little more grace. I am way to hard on myself over the smallest things. God has created me to be ME and to fulfill a role that I have been prepared for and He has prepared for me. No one else can do what I have been called to do. He formed me in my mothers womb. He knows how many hairs are on my head. He has created me beautifully and wonderfully. Simply put, we need to have the confidence and believe that God has created us in this very way. Otherwise, it will be carried over into our relationships and that will always hold us back from relentlessly loving one another. It will hinder fruit from coming out and will give off an unpleasant aroma that is filled with insecurities, lies, unreasonable expectations, and frustration with our current “status” or situation. I know that I cannot fully love someone in a relationship until I know how deeply loved I am by God.

  1. God loves you.

I know that this sounds cliché, but it is absolutely, 100% true. The older we get, the more baggage we gain. It seems like we are in and out of relationships wondering when all the “no’s” will finally point to the “yes”.  We have been hurt, and we have scars to prove it. We have been manipulated and controlled in relationships without even knowing it. We have things that haunt us from the past that never seem to go away, no matter how bad we want to heal from the situation.

Sisters, WE ARE LOVED BY GOD. This is the HOPE that we are always able to come back to when we are taunted by the past. When feelings and thoughts of low self-worth or insecurities rise, we must remember that these are lies from the enemy to doubt that God is good and wants the absolute best for us. When the horrific memories come back or hit you at a time you are weak, REMEMBER that you are not defined by those “bad apples”. We also cannot beat ourselves up for pursuing our own way and allowing these bad relationships in our lives. They are part of our story to remind us how faithful God is and how he protects us from what is toxic in our lives. God desires that intimate, love relationship with you that IS your “forever”. Even if you get married, that man should never be the end goal. The end goal is Jesus and the reciprocated pursuit of each other.

  1. Your now determines your later.

STOP SITTING AND START LIVING. Girls, I am just going to get real here. Stop complaining and start doing something with your life. We all have those single friends that talk about wanting to be married every single time you’re together. They are defined by their singleness. They believe that their lives have not yet begun. They mope around and complain constantly (this points to the heart issue of not believing that God has remembered you).Do you live a life that someone else wants to join? Is your life intriguing enough where guys are pounding on your door wanting to do life with you? OR, again, are you a netflix binge-watcher waiting for L<3VE to fall in your lap? What better of a time, now in our singleness, to become who we want to be. This thought has really challenged me in many different areas of my life, especially with the habits I have, bad and good. Whether it be being diligent in the Word, working out, getting crafty, learning new skills, etc., we need to remember that we may not have the time later to pursue the things that we have always wanted to do. “Marriage is not a promise; its a gift.” Girls, we will be 40…50…yes, I am pulling it, 60 if we continue on this path of not being wise stewards of what God has blessed us with in every way- our emotions, our lives, our time, our resources. What are you doing to be faithful in the here and now for it to engrave in you for the later?

So girls, what will you be doing today? Eating a box of chocolates while watching a chick-flick, crying your eyes out and thinking about what you don’t have?  Or are you going to start hoping, believing and living… #likeagirl.

Sincerely,

A girl who doesn’t want to waste her life

too human.

Today in church, we had the chance to lean over to the person next to us and tell them what our favorite thing of the season of fall is. I of course was caught in a catastrophe attempting to narrow down the one thing I liked most of fall, with it being my favorite of all. I turned to the girl next to me and stumbled across all the thoughts of favorites, finally blurting out, “JACKETS!”

I mean, how can I pick just one?

As little as this moment seemed in the grand scheme, it was a lightbulb going off in my current “season” of life. I just recently made a very massive and very hard transition to the snowsuit state (80% of the year) of Wisconsin. Why? Because God called. For three years, God was preparing me for this move and it is completely obvious he wanted me here.
So…I am here now.

Side note: Fall.
Just so you are in the know – I love apple cider, apple pies, heated blankets, boots, JACKETS, scarves, socks, the smells, the sounds, the temps, the activities, pumpkins( actually PSL’s are not on my list), campfires…the list goes on. I cannot just pick just one…

Just like my thoughts of God…

I cannot just pick one of my favorite things that I love about the character of God. There have been so many seasons of my life where God has revealed a different aspect of His character to me.  I think for me, my thoughts of God are too human. I try to understand Him more by humanizing him and placing him in my circumstances and comparing Him to other humans in my life. I am faced with the harsh reality over and over again how minimal my thoughts are of God. hashtag too human.

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:who created all of these?He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:26

I sit here in awe as I reread His Word and how intentional my Creator is with me and how He knows me and STILL pursues an intimate love relationship with me.

God – how can I pick one aspect of your character to be thankful for? It just is not possible. You have brought me out of the pit and set my feet on a rock. You, Father, are my favorite. Continue to give me the perspective how you are before all things… above all things. You are a good, good Father who wants the best for His kids and what will bring you the most glory. Father, thoroughly ruin my shallow, human thoughts of you. There is nothing or no one who compares to you.

“Living becomes an awesome business when you realize that you spend every moment of your life in the sight an company of an omniscient,  omnipresent Creator.” (J.I.Packer)

enjoy it.

“Enjoy it,” I heard.

My mind flooded with noise from various areas of my life. Lies were whispered to me. Discontentment flooded my soul.

“God, I mean, will it every happen to me?  I packed up my life and moved back home. I am living back at home with my parents. When will the time come to move out? When will I every find the right house to call mine? House hunting is emotionally and physically exhausting. Where will I find my community? What church do you want me to get involved with? Will I ever meet a person I want to spend the rest of my life with? (or maybe more like someone who WANTS to be with me? Ha!)”

“Enjoy it.”

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
You know, I am incredibly thankful for a Father who KNOWS me and knows what is GOOD for me. It is not a matter of what; in fact, it is ALL about the when. As we listen and walk with Him, desires are planted in our hearts while we are here.  When we experience those desires, we should be practically, spiritually and emotionally taking steps towards those desires and patiently waiting on the Lord’s timing of Him bringing them to fruition.

The enemy’s lies should be a fleeting thought in the wind for me. My real struggle is that I overanalyze and worry about the very thing that God has called me to simply “enjoy.” Enjoying and trusting God leads to contentment and consistency in your life.

Instead of us growing weary in the wait time, I pray for the ability to focus on the beauty of the Father and how much He loves us kids. Simply put, He wants us to BE kids and ENJOY having Him and only Him.

I still have him.

Recently God has called me to relocate my life. What goes hand-in-hand with moving is the fact that I have to purge my belongings. For the past couple weeks, I have been purging my things, getting rid of practically everything. I have made at least four Goodwill trips-what?! It’s borderline ridiculous how much of a compulsive hoarder I am.

Amidst the purge, I came across many things that I sat there and thought through the memories that were paired with the item. I found notes and cards of dear life-long friendships, lids to tupperware containers I do not even have, some socks I have been missing(no one ever knows where the other sock goes), a $10 bill, and lastly a box full of journals of essentially the past nine years of my life. I had to laugh at myself. I began flipping through them, realizing I would write and only fill up half the journal and then begin a new one… I MAY be slightly addicted to journals.

I eagerly thumbed through one of my prettiest journals I received as a gift and started skimming over the pages of my past.

My spirit began to   f a i n t.

It was in that moment that I heard Him say gently,

“Janelle, get rid of it.”

I shut the journal and closed my eyes. I was immediately flooded with memories of circumstances that God had led me out of and had healed my soul from wounds that were so deep only He could fill.

“Get rid of it all,” He said again.

He is SO loving with me. He showered with me with His presence in that moment. He told me He is performing a NEW work in me. The old has gone, the new has come. GET RID OF IT.

So…I did. I threw it all out. Years of journaling. I always thought that if something would happen to me it would be nice for someone to have my journals(Sorry if that seems morbid.) I also previously thought it would be good to turn back through the pages to remember His faithfulness. To some degree? Yes. But the more I thought, the more I realized those journals are not a definition of myself.

The purge continued. Like I said, I am a hoarder. Maybe that is the teacher in me? But I obeyed. After the journals I just kept going. Got rid of my furniture. Got rid of Christmas decor. These are just some of my favorite things.

All that to say, it just got me thinking about where I place my value. I am part of God’s family and not of this world.  I am just passing through. A stranger. An alien. Things like my job, my belongings, etc. do not define me. HE DOES. The things of this world pass away and are WORTHLESS in the end. They carry NO weight or value when it comes to my final Destination-Heaven.

In the beginning of this process when there were many challenges that I was facing, a close friend asked me, “Janelle, what makes you the happiest in life?” I responded, “Jesus. He is unchanging. My Rock. My Joy. My Father who loves me.”

“Then if this does or doesn’t work it, you still have HIM. Rest in that,” she said.

As of yesterday, I have about a car load to my name. It is weird. I do not have somewhere to call home. My comforts are dwindling. The living-life moments I have with dear brothers and sisters in Christ are in the last days. Relationships I have at work whom I have a deep respect for are coming to a close. I am turning the chapter with mentoring relationships/conversations with some of my favorite people. The tears have started in the little moments of laughter or sharing memories on a porch with friends. It’s so surreal.

I still have Him, and that is what solely matters. He is all I need.

the brevity of life.

Purpose. Identity. Perspective. 

Those three ideas ring loudly as I take moments to “breathe” amidst the chaos here. Why am I here again? What are my goals, aspirations, hopes and dreams? Is what I am doing contributing to God’s Kingdom here on earth? Will what I WANT to do contribute to His Kingdom? Do I place my identify and find validation in my career or relationships? Do I keep in mind that everything I do is secondary to Him and what He has called me to do?

God has reinforced His greatness in my life in this most recent season. He has shown me over and over that He is my Father who is tremendously faithful and simply good to me. He is my Peace that passes all of my understanding. He is my Creator who KNOWS me and LOVES me. He is out for my good and WANTS to bless us. He aches when we ache. He hurts when we hurt. He cares for us when we are unable to stand.

God has called me into a teaching career for the past five years in a low-income school. It has been completely eye-opening, challenging, and refining 5/7 days of the week. I would wake up morning after morning attempting to budget for what that day may hold-various behaviors of the students, parent/teacher meetings, paperwork completion/deadlines, etc. No matter how hard I tried to budget or prepare, I still found myself realizing that I am completely inadequate. In the moment, I would begin praying aloud to God for strength to endure the current circumstance. I kid you not, there were many times I wanted to grab my car keys and just go home and cry myself to sleep. To be honest, I can’t believe I stuck it out and didn’t just walk out.

I cannot tell you how many times I heard things like, “God has called you to this, so you need to be faithful.” OR… here is another one… “God promises to never give us more than we can handle, so that must mean your pretty great!”  During those conversations, I would smile and nod. Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Shut up! Are. You. Kidding. Me? WHY ME. What if I don’t WANT to be faithful. It’s hard!! Why did He choose ME to do this?I do not want to be here nor do I want to come back tomorrow just to go through the same type of situations again. I am too weak to go one more day.”

My job had no relief. I would take weekend trips to get away with friends to refresh my soul with community and God. To remember my purpose and identity and perspective.

Being the good, good Father that He is, He heard my cry and lifted me up out of the pit and set my feet securely on high. He did this with my circumstances, yes, but He also changed me at my core in the process. I really love how when we get to the “other side” and look back and just count the crazy, beautiful ways that He was faithful, never leaving us during the process. This gives us Hope. Even though our lateral is up in arms, we can be sure and hopeful in the fact that our Vertical is peaceful, steadfast and a safe haven for us.

I do not want to dwell on the past, because He has created something new for me and He is continuing to perform it in me until His return. However, remembering His faithfulness provides a renewed perspective waking up in the morning. He is the reason why we are here. We are not here for us. We can attempt to manipulate or control our every day circumstances, but I am just going to tell you how completely FREEING it is to just give it to our Savior because He REALLY does care for us. Control is a fallacy. Control is a fallacy. Control is a fallacy!

He is so much bigger than the box we put him in. He is wanting to do far above what we could ever imagine, ask or think. He wants us to go through life and enjoy all He has done in and around us. Why are we so surprised when He blesses us SIMPLY because He loves us and wants more for us? (Gosh…so rebuking, yet thankful for His mercy and grace towards me.)

I believe my Father. He is out for my good. I trust that.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5

“He is for us…”

come.

After reading a devotional the other day, I reflected back on my life and came to the sad realization of how I am always asking, asking and asking God for His intervention in my life and actually not coming back to simply express gratitude when He (always) redeems the situation. I found myself literally on my hands and knees pleading to release me of what He was allowing in my life at that time. The quote I read from She Reads Truth made me step back to consider how I actually respond to God, my Father, when He indeed lifts those burdens from that season in my life. When you are in the midst of “fighting” a battle in whatever season it may be, as humans we tend to not look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Over the past couple months the Lord has allowed me to undergo specific circumstances that would strengthen my faith and dependence on Him, increase my confidence in who He has created me to be, and exercise my voice on behalf of others. I have never felt stretched so thin in my life! It was truly one of the most trying seasons of my life. But God… God in all His goodness and greatness heard my plea. Day after day of fighting for what is right for the sake of another and my voice not being taken nor even considered was a humbling reality of Who really IS in control. Trusting in the sovereignty of God does not seem so simple when you go through a trial or situation that requires patience and endurance. 1 John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”

“Abide, Janelle. Abide in Me. Come.”, He told me.

Those sweet words were spoken softly to me as I surrendered it to Him. I told Him I couldn’t do it anymore (I actually yelled). I was frustrated. My voice was not being heard. I was fighting…so…hard. After my frustration and yelling passed, He continued to bring His words to remembrance from Psalm 40:2 which says, “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”

“Janelle, I am drawing you up. You’re secure. You’ve been faithful. Come.”, He said again. 

He did in fact release me of that burden. He heard my cries and answered my prayers. My voice was heard BY HIM. He hears and knows what is best in all situations. He fights on our behalf when our words do not even suffice.

“Jesus, thank you. Thank you. You have lifted me up. Thank you.”

We are constantly in a battle that is called the process of life. The process that He is making us look more like Himself. Take the time to go back and praise and thank your Father for all He does in our lives. He always provides strength to get through the day, and His mercies are new every morning. Renew your body, soul and spirit in the Father today as we rejoice in our current sufferings. He WILL draw us up. He will plant our feet on solid ground. He will fight for us. Let His will be done.

Exodus 14:14 – “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Still.
Be Still.