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Tonight.

Tonight, I am going to go meet new people. My palms have been sweating for hours. My heart rate elevated to the point where I can’t sit still. I’m not socially awkward or am I?

I just keep repeating over and over in my head how my one step of social bravery in Fargo 5 years ago brought me some of the most amazing friends on God’s green earth. Tonight, lightning could strike twice… now, if I could just stop feeling like a wreck.

Dear Andy,

A few weeks ago a friend of mine e-mailed me asking “how is your story compared to last year?” I wrote him this charming letter full of random thoughts and lists. I think it sums my last 365 days up pretty well.

Enjoy!

(Oh, btw… check out Andy’s blog. He’s swell.)

My story. Honestly? It’s pretty dang good. I’ve been writing a lot, not publishing any of it because some things just don’t need to be known by the general reading public, but I’ve been writing.

I think the best way to summarize my then and now will be bullet points.

Last year

  • Just quit job, moved all crap to storage unit, cried my eyes out until it hurt, and did youthworks.
  • Painfully afraid that I wouldn’t find a job after youthworks
  •  Ready to go on an adventure knowing that I had a great family to catch me at the end of it
  • Feeling very poor in spirit and in finances
  • Having no idea what was going to happen after August
  • Ready to stop feeling sorry for myself, serve others, laugh hard, and learn who Laura was again.
  • (I don’t know if you know a lot of this but I was in a long relationship, and really kinda lost myself in the process, became really un-fun, super serious, really depressed, and kinda hated me, but decided to do YW to find me (and I did!) woot. Ok, end of side story you may have already known)

This year

  • Just got a job. It’s been a whole year of not making enough money to fuel my car, and pay my bills but God has been good, proving His faithfulness even when I am so far away.
  • I’ve spent the last year having my heart-broken over and over. Once by a fellow (which… yeh, he was an jerk, but he gave me an iPhone… so win-win?) and over 20 times by jobs.
  •  I was pushed to my limit several times by people I thought were on my team, and forced to stand up for myself, my values, and tell people to stop walking on me. (that wasn’t easy) I’ve been forced to find my big-girl pants and stand up for myself, call people out on things and be affirmed in what I know about my skill set, talents, and giftedness.
  • I’ve had to walk away from a church I loved dearly because one person in power decided that I wasn’t good enough. I’ve had to learn to not believe the lies. (I wasn’t any good at this before this last year)
  •  I’ve been stuck a few times. I’ve written a couple crappy lines of story, and decided to wallow in self-pity, but then again, even some of our most cherished heroes lose their way.
  • At the end of the day, I know who I am, things I’m good at, gifts I’ve been given and people who are on my team.
  • Oh, and the biggest thing I’ve learned this last year is that I love to write, and that I’m not bad at it. That was a shocker. Honestly. Had you told me last year that I would be a paid writer, going to grad school for writing… I would have laughed.

To use your crazy West Coast language of “stoked”… Yes, I am stoked. Do I like living my story most days? No, because the more I try to write it, the more I realize that I’m not the only author. If I had it my way, I would have found some hunky piece of man, found a sweet place to live and worked a job that paid me $20 an hour to make pretty pictures, but I don’t get it my way. I love what I’m doing, where I’m going, and who I am becoming, but most days I still feel like a stubborn child stomping their feet in the toy aisle of Target.

Would I change any of it? Nope. Not a single piece. There has been good, there has been bad, there have been mistakes, and triumphs… but most of all there has been adventure of every kind, and that’s what I did all this for… to write a story worth writing this kind of note about, to get off my bum and do something. I did this because it has allowed me to be me, love others, laugh hard, and build relationships with those around me. I am happy.

All-in-all I’d say that this last chapter of my story hasn’t been so bad.

<3 Laura

A Good Story Includes Blind Adventure…

(Note: I’m not 100% sure this makes sense or is actually a whole thought, but I’m trying something new where I don’t overthink things. Any questions, comments or suggestions are always welcome as I’m trying to get better at this.)

Blind adventure… what in the world is that? Let me explain.

I have a good friend named Craig. We’ve known each other for over 12 years. I remember the first day I met him in 7th grade. I’m not sure why I remember it or even what I remember, other than the fact that he was wearing khakis and had the darkest hair I had ever seen. According to the 7th grade girl gossip ring, he was the dreamy new student that every girl wanted to date. Please note: I was NOT one of those girls. I had recently started day school again after being homeschooled for a few years. Boys weren’t really on my “liking” radar yet.

Had I known that Craig and I would be friends 12 years after we first met I probably would have been nicer or better behaved or cooler… yeh, I would have tried to be cooler.

We’ve had a few trends in our friendship but the one that sticks out the most to me is that I have done most of the huge life things first. Craig was older, but kind of a slow bloomer. Although he had a steady dating relationship first, I got my driver’s license first, broke up with someone first, went to college first, graduated college first, made a lot of poor choices first and so on. One thing he did beat me to though, was finding the love of his life.

It was about 11:30pm when my phone rang under my pillow while sleeping in a hotel room in Boston.  He was calling to tell me about this amazing girl he just went on a date with. I sat in the hallway for about an hour hearing how amazing and beautiful and funny and caring and wonderful she was. It actually brought tears to my eyes to hear a sound in his voice I had never heard before. He had met THE ONE.

Now, I could break into a diatribe about how I’m sure there is more than 1 “The One” in this world for each of us, but I don’t have the brain power or time to explain so I will continue with this charming fairytale of love.

It wasn’t long before Craig decided to propose, and I decided to be insanely jealous of all of my friends who were madly in love. (This was a dark time in my life, I’ll discuss it later, I promise) Fast forward 5 months and I am boarding a plane at 5am to fly to Denver, Colorado to see my oldest friend get married in the mountains in the middle of winter. Deciding to attend Craig’s wedding was a difficult one financially, time wise and honestly… emotionally. Life was about to change drastically and for the first time, Craig was changing it before me.

The wedding was beautiful. Craig married the girl of his dreams. People were happy. It all went off WITH a hitch… get it? They got hitched! (Remember how I wished I was cooler?) The whole thing really got me thinking about my story and how this piece of my story was ending. Life was changing… And that’s ok.

Have you ever driven up or down a mountain? There are these things called switch backs, which essentially means that you are going to drive back and forth on the side of a mountain and go around some INSANE dark corners hoping there isn’t a dinosaur standing in the road. (Yes, I said dinosaur… remember? Not cool)

Living a good story is kind of like driving on a mountain. There are a lot of dark corners to go around while having no idea what is around them. I said that living a better story includes blind adventure and this is where it came from. As I was driving around corner after corner I realized that I have no idea what is around my next corner. In fact, I never have. Yes, there are those absolutes such as, I will die someday, just like how I knew that I would eventually hit the bottom of the mountain. These are truths I just know. But I have no idea what is next in my life.  I could look at this fact with fear, but I’ve decided to look at it as an adventure. I believe it was Disney’s Pocahontas that said, “I look once more, just around the river bend…” with expectation and excitement of what was yet to come. As I try to live a better story, I want to be filled with the same emotions. I want to look at the dark bend in the road and be excited that I could meet a new dinosaur friend or find a career I love, or meet my Captain John Smith, or even find my passion in life.

As I drove around my last dark corner of the mountain and was headed on a straight road back to Denver, it all hit me. I had the privilege of journeying with an amazing friend through life’s incredible joys and destructive lows. We were able to laugh, cry, and laugh more. We were fortunate to live several chapters of our stories together. When I look back at Volume I of my life, the pages are filled with moments with him. I was blessed to be a part of his first chapters, and to watch him begin to write a beautiful new story as mine with him closed.

This whole life is a journey. It’s not always certain or defined, but if we look at each blind unknown as a new adventure being born, maybe we’ll have a shot of making it a story worth telling.

Let’s talk about prayer!

Today I know what it feels like to be absolutely bathed in prayer. I’m not kidding. The thought literally brought tears to my eyes as I drove to a job interview.

Let’s start at the beginning. (side note: The Indigo Girls is playing on the Musac at Bruegger’s Bagels right now. Best.Day.Ever. Oh Nostalgia!)

Over 2 months ago I applied for a communications associate position for the city of Shoreview. It was a posting my mom found on the Star Tribune website. It felt like a long shot. But Hey! What do I have to lose… right? After reading the job description my heart skipped a beat. It was THE  job for me. Seriously! I had to print out an application, hand write all my information and snail mail it in. I was motivated. The whole idea of this position just felt like it clicked.

Well, 2 months passed… no call. Whelp! Chalk it up to wasted ink. Continue being depressed and worthless! UNTIL!…. bum bum BUM! My phone rang! (do you feel the suspense?) Last week I got called for an interview. I was so excited I skipped down the hallway at work.

It wasn’t long until my excitement turned to fear, anxiety, dread, and self-hatred. I had quite the panic attack yesterday before yoga class about how inadequate I felt and how I think God is playing mean games with me. I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. If you completely lose your mind before you go to hot yoga class you will NOT be able to hold any poses, you WILL cry for the entire class, and your yoga instructor WILL ask you if you’re ok after class. It’s a little embarrassing, but also incredibly healing.

In the midst of a sobbing filled yoga class God and I had a good talk. Well, He listened, I cried. To be honest, this whole unemployment thing feels like a sick joke, hand delivered from God to test my faithfulness. If it actually was, I have failed the test. I am officially broken, bruised, damaged, destroyed. I find no shame is saying God and I aren’t on the best terms sometimes, but it’s because of my arrogance.

As I stand crying in the tree pose with my arms out stretched to the sky while standing on one foot it occurred to me to ask my friends to pray for me. (I love that this had to be a great revelation. How dumb am I?) I have been incredibly blessed with a really neat community of friends who are on my team no matter what I do. They are my supporters, encouragers, co-dreamers, laughing partners, and prayer warriors. I usually forget that last one.

So today as my anxiety was at full capacity I sent out a text/Facebook status just asking for a little prayer around 2:30. I know that I will always remember driving down Highway 10 to Shoreview today, not because of terrible traffic or a meteor falling or anything crazy. I will remember it because of the texts that flowed in with ferocity.

“You’re amazing Laura! I’m praying for you!”, “…Just be your awesome self and you will be just fine. God’s got it!”, “Praying!!!”. I am humbled. Utterly humbled. I am humbled that these people in my life would take a moment out of their day to care about mine. I am humbled that my friends think I’m awesome. (Yes, I’m aware how dumb that sounds.) I am humbled that God blessed me with such amazing people who love me. I am humbled.

I am also incredibly thankful. I have no idea how the interview went. I think it went awesome, but I’ve thought that before… and my empty wallet says I was wrong. What I do know is that God answers prayers. He alone, calmed my nerves. He alone, sent my friends to my aid. He alone, hasn’t forgotten me even though I might be angry.

I’ve always wondered what it feels like to be bathed in prayer, and now I can say I finally know. There is a peace that passes all understanding and today I felt it through every fiber of my being.

Thank you friends. Thank you for your prayer, encouragement and ability to teach me a valuable lesson even though you are so far away. You are loved.

… Rejection

Screw it all. lol. ok, I got that out of my system.

Dear Rejection, 

You officially SUCK! I never asked you to be my friend. I never asked you to be a part of my life. You are an unwanted, un-invited guest to a party that is too awesome for you. You show up when I’m finally out of a funk just to see if you can push me back in that hole. Well, rejection… You are not going to win. IN FACT! I reject YOU! bah! take that.

I hate you. Sincerely,

Laura

Rejection. It’s a necessary part of life, right? We all go through it, whether it’s rejection of our first love, or rejection from a job we thought should be ours, or even a friend who cuts themselves out of your life. I guess the real question is… Rejection, is it a requirement  of a good story?

Unfortunately, I believe it is. I have a good friend named Steve who recently experienced a long period of unemployment. In his many months he collected an impressive stack of rejection letters. He kept each and every one of them with the hopes that they would inspire him. I’m afraid they did exactly the opposite. Just imagine looking at a stack of letters on your desk, each and every one of them saying you weren’t quite good enough… can you imagine that being inspiring? Yeh… me neither. But his collection proved something to me. He proved that each story needs a healthy dose of rejection, it’s how we deal with the rejection that truly defines how it’s written.

I’ve amassed my share of rejection letters. I have an entire e-mail folder of “inspiration” to look over if I ever want to see what I wasn’t quite good enough to obtain. I even have a few letters stuck in old journals from loves that I’d lost because of one reason or another.

One of my favorite rejection letters comes from the first boy I ever officially dated. Matt was a nice fellow, I suppose. Well, he was nice until I dumped him. A few weeks after I shattered his heart I came home from work to find a wrapped package in my mailbox. Sidenote: did you know it’s a federal offense to tamper with the mail system… such as putting mail that isn’t mail in some else’s mail box. Yeh, Matt committed a crime to deliver this beautifully wrapped take-home container from the restaurant where he worked.

After I got past how alarming it is to find a strange package in your mailbox, I unwrapped it only to find a  collection of items  from when we dated. On top of all of them was a hand written letter from Matt. To summarize: Laura, you WERE great, now you’re a terrible person and I hate you. Signed: your friend, Matt… nope, wait, that was crossed out. Then it said: Your used to be friend, Matt. Nope, wait ,that was crossed out too. It eventually ended with just his name.

I say all this not to embarrass Matt, but to explain how rejection is part of our story. I knew within a week of dating him that he wasn’t the man I would marry. Rejection by one of us was inevitable. It’s how we chose to handle the rejection that really mattered.

You can get angry, you can be hurtful, you can say things you will regret, decide to stop trying, yell, scream, cry, decide that you are not good enough OR you can do ALL OF THOSE THINGS and then realize that rejection is room for change.

I’ve been rejected a lot lately. Honestly, I’ve been calling these last 7 months The Rejection Months. The title isn’t really far from the truth. I’ve gone on more failed interviews than I can count. I’ve had horrible dates with men who are far from The One. I’ve lost opportunities that should have been mine. The phrase “good enough” is what all my nightmares revolve around. Will I ever be good enough? Will I ever be the one?

Yes. Yes, I will be. When I received another rejection letter today did I react in anger, tears, and self-hatred? Yes. Yes, I did.

Rejection and I are not friends, we never will be and chances are, I will usually react to rejection impulsively BUT I refuse to let rejection of any form define my self-worth. I’m too exhausted for that.

I haven’t been the right one yet. The right job candidate, the right girl to marry, the right person to save the world, but that doesn’t mean I never will be. That doesn’t mean you never will be. It just means it isn’t our time yet.

As I look rejection in the eyes tonight I keep repeating to myself… Laura, you are good enough. In fact, on a scale of 9-10 of how awesome you are, you are TOTALLY a 10… maybe an 11.