The one thing I will teach my daughter…

While there are so many things I am so excited to share & teach with my daughter someday, this is the one thing I pray daily that she will learn from me. Not by what I say, but how I’ve chosen to live my life.

Sweet girl, you are capable of doing extraordinary things.

Growing up ridiculously shy, the baby in the family, and to top it all off, the only introvert in a family of extroverts who thrived on adventure, I was protected since the day I was born. I was comfortable in the safety of knowing my parents or sister would speak for me so that I did not have to. I would rather sink into the back of the room & possibly take death over being the center of attention. But no matter how much my family protected me, I always had this irrational fear of being left.

I have always had strong gut instincts & I believe this was something God was planting in my heart in preparation for my future. I would be stripped of all comfort & safety that I knew, in order for God to turn me into the woman He created me to be.

My 20’s were a place where I took extremely calculated risks when it came to my career. I turned down a promotion with Benefit cosmetics when I was 24, in order to stay in the safety of the comfortable. In a job I knew I could do well, rather than trade it for the unknown. God brought the same job to me 6 months later, but now, it would require me to move to Houston. My best friends lived there, so I gladly accepted the job this time. I was laid off 6 months later.

At 30 years old, I found myself in a place where my life was so calculated that I would eat at the same 5 restaurants & order the same thing at each one as a form of control. The moment I turned over my life to God 4 years ago, He threw me in a job where I traveled alone 50% of the month. During this time, I became severely ill & was told after each of the 14 tests run that I was perfectly healthy. This began my journey to wellness & health.

By the time I moved onto my next role, covering 23 states, I thrived on the adventure of a new city & being able to explore all that it offered. I revolved experiences around what would bring me wellness to keep myself healthy on the road. I no longer feared food – I knew I had learned all that I needed to in order to keep my body strong.

After many failed relationships, I began to see a therapist because I was convinced that I chose the wrong men to date. After listening to a hand full of my dating situations & dissecting them so lovingly with me, my therapist looked at me & asked me what 1 thing all of these men had in common. I have never wanted to punch somebody so bad in my life.

I was sitting at church alone one day when a girl next to me asked me if I was a part of a small group & invited me to come to hers. I was craving community, so I attended immediately, having no idea what to expect. I had not participated in a bible study since high school. It was co-ed & what I observed were women craving a space to be raw & real whenever the guys left the room. I felt God call me to start a women’s bible study in my home 6 months later.

I was driving down the road after a therapy appointment 4 years ago when I felt God tell me I was going to become a therapist. I laughed, as I was not sure what a broken girl who could barely take care of herself, had to offer the world. I nervously shared this with my therapist, who informed me that most therapists go to therapy themselves.

I cried watching the documentary “Minimalism” on Jan 2, 2017. I called my dad & told him that the season of my cosmetic career was coming to a close. He gave me the best pep talk that I shouldn’t worry about a disappointing holiday season. On Jan 9, 2017, I received the call that my position was being eliminated, effecting Feb 28.

I accepted a position with a start up company for a product I personally adored. I met one of my closest girl friends, connected with a gal who introduced me to IIN, the school I would enroll on a whim, and solidified my passion for wellness & health. I moved to Austin. I left my friends, my workout routine, my loft that had become my safe haven, a church that grew me into the woman of faith I never knew I could be.

I would switch jobs again 4 months later. Take a huge step down in my career. Go to an office everyday. Get up to workout at 7a every morning at the same studio. Life would return to comfortable.  And I finally had a rhythm again.

A few weeks ago, thanks to a picture popping up on Facebook’s “On this day”, I realized it has been 4 years since I left the abusive relationship & turned my life back over to God. One of my girl friends asked me how I felt when I realized that. And for the first time in my life, I felt so unbelievably grateful. When I look back at all of these little moments in my life, all I can see is a God who has been so unbelievably faithful at orchestrating each second to prepare me for the next. And ultimately, leading me to what I am ultimately made to do. If you would have told me the woman God would turn me into someday, I would have never believed you. I would have been too scared & paralyzed by fear.

Thankfully I serve a God who only asks me to walk 1 step at a time in obedience. I see a girl who believed & loved her God so much, she always took that step, no matter how scary it felt. She trusted that even when she said “no”, God brought it back around when she was ready to say “yes”. She took risks.

I see a story of life experiences that have fine tuned me to my ultimate passion & purpose. To help women realize, they are so very capable of doing extraordinary things. When we trust where God is leading us, He writes more beautiful stories than we can ever imagine.

Every single one of those moments added up to creating a strong woman who was so excited when God revealed the plan for her to open a wellness center for women.

I know I am capable of extraordinary things. Not because of me. But because I serve a God who has been preparing me every step of the way for this.

And He has strengthened my faith so much that I no longer fear what step is next.

I’m actually excited 🙂

Father’s Day

Growing up, I had a dad who would come home after teaching & coaching really long days & light up the minute he walked in the door & saw me & my sister. He dedicated mornings to sitting with both of us to do our morning devotionals & closed every night with reading our favorite books to us while we fell asleep. He scheduled one on one dates once a week with each of us & I can remember spending time getting ready & picking out the perfect outfit to wear. Weekends were dedicated to beach days, camping, skiing or hiking.

My dad attempted to finish seminary during the summer months when I was about 3 years old. We lived in Houston at the time & he would spend the week days in Dallas, then come home every weekend to see us. One weekend, he walked in the door & I cried because I did not recognize him. He quit seminary immediately because his priority was his family.

He made it so clear that we were wanted. We were loved. And he always made us the most important thing in his world from the moment he woke up until we laid our heads on our pillows every night. He taught me that it was not about religion or going to church, but stressed the importance of always leaning on my relationship with my heavenly father. And that no matter where life took me, that would be my safe landing. He absolutely hung the moon, in my eyes.

When we moved back from Japan when I was 10 years old, our family completely fell apart. My dad tried his hardest to be the glue to hold it all together, but ultimately my mom chose to leave when I was 14 years old. Years later, I found out it was because my dad put his foot down and told her he would not move me yet again because I finally had been able to put roots down somewhere. So she left without him & took me with her.

Right when my mom & I were about to leave, I walked back into the house to get something I had forgotten & I saw my dad on his knees crying. It would be one of the few times I have ever seen him cry & it absolutely broke me. Once we were in California, my mom ended up beating the crap out of me, so my dad fought to have me sent back to him right before my freshman year of high school. He attended every drill team meeting, even though he was the only dad. He was determined to give me as much normalcy as he could & fought hard to protect my childhood.

But he was broken. And he completely emotionally shut off.

He met my now step mom & began spending weekends out of town with her. I was left to fend for myself & deal with all of the emotional baggage my family had poured onto me. We went on like this for the next several years, until they ultimately married & we moved.

We had an extremely strained relationship. My mom had come back in my life at that point so I distanced myself as he settled into life with his new family.

Until the day my mom died. I was standing in the middle of his kitchen, crying out for him to be there. I needed him. He looked at me, gave me an awkward side hug, then retreated to his room & we never discussed it.

That was the moment I knew I was completely alone. And I completely broke.

We went through over 10 years of fighting & not speaking. There was so much resentment & hurt on my part & guilt was eating away at him every time he looked at me. I could not understand why my dad was physically here, yet the dad I knew as a child was gone. I was so angry. He could barely have a conversation with me without it turning into a massive blow up.

I finally realized I was only hurting myself & I had to start to accept how things were, rather than hanging onto what was gone. I started therapy on my own at 27 years old & eventually my dad did join me for a few sessions a few years in.

What we learned through the process is that we were both carrying so much heart ache around that there was no other space for grace or love. So we both began the tough journey of healing ourselves.

I went through trauma therapy for all of it. I put in the hard work to heal. And so did my dad.

I finally was able to see the situation from my dad’s perspective & show compassion & grace for what he had endured. One of the hardest conversations I have ever had was the day I asked for forgiveness from him. I knew that for us to have an authentic, real relationship, my walls had to come down. My dad just looked at me & teared up.

That was the first step towards us writing a new story.

I am not sure why our story is a story of redemption when others are not. But I do stand here & ache for those who are still yearning for their story to be different.

The biggest lesson I have learned through all of this is that it truly does take both people willing to lay down their swords, surrender to God & allow Him to heal the hurts so that you are no longer carrying the baggage of the past into your space of attempted grace. We have learned so much throughout this process about ourselves & each other. And we truly have a relationship that is so much more beautiful than what it was when I was growing up. Because it’s real, it’s raw & it’s vulnerable. It’s no longer about what my dad is doing. It is about who he is & who he has chosen to be in my life.

So to the dad who has fought for me, spent so much time learning how to love me well, guided me, and most importantly always sacrificed & never left, no matter what I said or did….I am so thankful that God turned our story around & gave me the exact dad I need.

I know I am the woman I am today because of the countless hours of prayer you prayed over me. For my faith that you worked so hard to instill in me. And because you always stayed.

I admire you & look up to your strength & wisdom more than you will ever know. It takes a strong man to re-write stories. And I am so thankful for all of the hard work & investment you have poured into my life.

I love you.

Why I’m such a hippie & what’s next for me ;)

I posted this picture, with this quote written next to it the day after my abusive relationship ended.

“That was the day that she made herself the promise to live more from intention and less from habit.”

That day, I promised God I was done with the tug & pull of trying to live my life dancing on the line of my will & His. I was ready to surrender to Him completely.

I had no idea the journey God was about to take me on.

Shortly after the breakup, I began to get extremely sick. I was throwing up at least 3-4 times a day & was spending every day off of work at endless doctors appointments trying to figure out why. I had 14 tests run on me, including a colonoscopy & endoscopy at 30 years old. The end result? I was completely healthy. And I was given an anti-nausea pill prescription & sent on my way.

Small problem: the anti-nausea pill made me feel severely drugged. So I began my journey of trying to solve this on my own. My idea of healthy eating at the time was calorie counting & lean cuisines were my go to choice. So through my research, I started learning about this thing called organic & clean eating. Over time, it slowed the sickness down to 2-3 times a month, which was manageable, at least.

A year later, I realized I really needed to figure out how to fix this, as the unpredictable outbursts of sickness were really affecting my work life as well as my quality of life. I really did not want to be poked or undergo anymore invasive testing, all to come up empty handed again. So I did some research & found a naturopath that was also a licensed MD. After 1 appointment that lasted an hour & 6 months worth of homework, I finally had answers. My body was in complete distress from years of binge drinking, fast food, and the stress my relationship had taken on my body.

So I started my journey of healing my body, as well as my soul.

I felt God calling me to start making some major changes in my life at the beginning of this year. My season of healing was coming to a close & it was time for what was next. The biggest lesson I have learned over the past 4 years is to walk when God says “go” & to stop when He commands me to “be still”.

I have felt God calling me to go back to school to become a therapist for 3 years now, but the timing never felt right. While speaking to a potential client, I learned about a school called The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I was completely fascinated, as my passion for whole body healing was confirmed during this past role. Through a series of events over the past 6 weeks, God’s plan for what I am meant to do started unfolding rather rapidly.

So when I heard God tell me to “go”, I enrolled & started school. With the shift in focus, it became apparent that the role I was in was not where God wanted my energy to be spent & it was time to close that door. So I am taking a step back in my career to pursue my health coach certification, followed by my BA & Masters in Psychology, with the purpose of opening up a whole body wellness center for women.

The past 4 years have been such a hard journey.  And I still have a long road ahead of me. But when I look at that picture, I do not even recognize that girl anymore. It feels like another life. That’s when I’m reminded how far He’s carried me.

When we walk in obedience, God writes more incredible stories than I know to even pray.  It’s not my job to know where He’s taking me. It’s my job to walk when God says “go” & to stop when He commands me to “be still”.

And before we know it, we arrive right where He wants us to be.

At the exact perfect time.

Becoming Free

Growing up in a home with a lot of unpredictable outbursts & unhealthy behavior popping up on a consistent basis, I became really good at watching patterns. I obsessively studied those around me to become an expert on every trigger, in order to try to keep the waters calm.

While this is something that has actually served me well in the business world, it has destroyed any intimacy in my life. Because what I felt was a way to protect myself is actually a way that I am trying to control all that is around me. And the reality is, while I can analyze numbers and business practices, I cannot control people.

And this is a really hard thing for me to embrace.

I recently finished therapy after 4 long, hard years of digging through all of the mud to pull out all of the stones that have hit me at some point in my life. And one of the things I learned was that I have a problem with fearing that I can’t hold it all together.

After my mom passed away, I went into complete survival mode. I cried 1 day, then went back to work the following day. I shut off all emotions & kept pushing forward. In therapy, I discovered that I have been carrying the anger & weight of her dying with me for 11 years. I never allowed myself to go there out of guilt for the feelings I had over something she could not control. But it had suddenly become too heavy of a load for me to carry anymore & I was ready to put it down. So I put in the excruciatingly hard work to unpack the suitcase, one feeling at a time. All of the guilt over the emotions I had towards her for leaving me suddenly faded, and I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a very long time.

Recently a really close girlfriend of mine made an observation that I speak a lot about who I was. And asked if I have put down that load & accepted that I am no longer that person & really embraced who I am today. A week later, my dad made the same exact comment to me. So I’ve spent some time really sorting through to find the root of all of this.

Four years ago, I was in a very traumatic & abusive relationship. I remember spending a lot of time wondering how I got there. I was SO good at observing patterns & watching for triggers—I deemed myself as a very smart woman who would never be dumb enough to fall in that trap. And yet, here I was. Another woman who was just another statistic.

Looking back, this has caused me to stop trusting myself. It has made me second guess every move I make, and look at every guy I’ve dated since through an extremely close microscope. I have spent countless hours running through every detail in my head to make sure I have not missed any minor detail that could be a sign of the explosion that is to come.

But the reality is, I have a choice to make. Do I let 1 person offset the course of the rest of my life or do I choose to believe that people are good?

And most importantly, where does this leave my faith?

When I look back through my childhood now, I see God’s hand of grace through all of it. I am so focused on the beautiful story God has written in my life from so many hours of darkness. He yanked me out of that relationship before it destroyed me. He has never abandoned me & has always been more faithful than I could ever deserve.

And I want that same freedom when it comes to relationships. So it’s time to start unpacking the load that God never intended for me to carry. The first step is to allow myself to feel the pain from the wounds, and trust God to slowly heal them. It takes hard work & it is painful.

But it is nothing compared to the exhaustion & pain that comes from a wound that keeps getting re-opened.

And it will be so worth it to finally be able to breathe.

And feel completely free.

Why I left my career in cosmetics after 11 years…

I sat at the kitchen counter of my cousin’s home this past thanksgiving & admitted a really hard truth—I wasn’t happy with my life. And it was turning me into somebody I didn’t want to be.

I felt trapped in a life I never planned to be in. And it felt like it all just happened to me.

When I was 23, I was working at Ann Taylor LOFT part time & bartending in a small town. I had taken a break from college after my mom passed away & had no clue what I was doing with my life. Two of my best friends had moved to Houston after graduating college, so I decided that would be the next step. I transferred with LOFT in a full time role & crashed on their couch until I was settled. Within a month at my new gig, the assistant manager asked me if I wanted to work in cosmetics. Being the girl who circled every gorgeous look in magazines with a sharpie & made notes of potential edits, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. She hired me in a full time role in the prestige cosmetic department of this up & coming beauty store called Ulta.

Within a few months, I was hooked. I never knew that my love of feeling beautiful could actually mix with my intrigue for business. I felt like things were falling into place for me, finally.

But there was one small glitch—I had met a boy a few weeks before moving to Houston. And we were head over obsessed with one another. I would drive home to visit him on every off day that I could. He was suffering tremendously from PTSD, after spending time Iraq after 9/11. I did everything I could to make him happy. It wasn’t enough. He told me, through tear stained eyes, that if I would just move home, everything would be better.

I came back to Houston, quit without 2 weeks notice, packed my things & headed back home. I started waiting tables & looking for a job religiously. I was planning on enrolling in Baylor in the fall & finally finishing school. We were together, and that’s all that mattered.

Within a month, I found myself sitting across from a girlfriend who uttered words that forever changed my world. “You do know that he got a freshman pregnant, right?”

Everything was shattered.

I applied for a job at a small Clinique counter & quickly threw myself into work. The counter grew so much that I was promoted to move to Dallas to open a larger counter. I was finally free of him. I never had to see him again.

And this was the beginning of it all. This was my escape.

I spent years traveling, getting to experience things I never imagined I would get to experience. And I found myself constantly drained, exhausted & on edge.

I watched a documentary called “Minimalism” at the beginning of this year. I heard the opening line “I felt like I was on a hamster wheel.” And I started crying. I called my dad & told him that I felt like this season was ending. He made comments about not letting one disappointing holiday season freak me out, everything was going to be ok, etc. A week later, we received the call. My position was being eliminated.

God had already been working in me to start pushing me onto something new. So I knew the answer. It was time to spread my wings & find what made me passionate & excited to wake up every morning.

My last week in cosmetics, I had to return something to Macy’s. The very Macy’s where I opened the 2nd brow bar in Texas when I was 25 years old. It was early in the morning & the store had just opened. I walked slowly through the cosmetic department & remember that very distant feeling that it was all magic. And I quickly realized that feeling was no longer inside of me.

I had changed. And that was ok.

I had stayed in a career that fell in my lap for 11 years, out of comfort. And as with anything in life, when we over stay seasons we are no longer meant to be in, I had begun to resent it. I no longer felt that passion & magic that I once had as a young 23 year old.

My company was so gracious to find another position within the company, with another brand. Everything would have stayed the same, just different product & different people. I remember having about a week of wanting to cling to this option. Because I know this industry. I know how to do this job.

Thankfully, everybody close to me encouraged me to spread my wings.

So I took the leap into a career I would have a lot to learn about.

How I know I made the right decision? I came home from a first week of traveling, meeting all new people, and learning a whole new world—the perfect recipe to completely drain me. And I felt energized & at peace for the first time in a long time.

We are meant to grow & change.

How often do we stay in seasons out of comfort because we are too scared to take a chance on what is unknown?

I am so unbelievably thankful to a beautiful 11 year career that landed me here. It has shaped me into who I am today, it has afforded me incredible moments that I never imagined I would get to have, and it has given me all of the experience I needed to grow into the person I am meant to be today. But I am sitting here today, so thankful for change. And a God that gently pushed me to find my passion again, no matter how scary it seemed.

The first step was making the choice to surrender what has been in order to make room for what will be.

Life

“The best day of your life is one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours-it is an amazing journey-and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day that your life really begins.” ~Bob Moawad

When I lost my mom at the age of 22, although I was absolutely not ready to part ways, her age of 49 seemed ancient.  As I am over the half way mark through 33, I have the realization that if history repeats itself, I have roughly 15 years left on this earth.

I truly believe that God gave me the exact mother that would raise me to be the woman who would be walking her adult life without a mom. There is so much wisdom that she gave me that I was not prepared to grasp at the time, but it plays back through my mind at the most critical points. And I breathe in all that she was put on this earth to teach me.

Towards the end of her life, my mother was on morphine most of the time to help subside the pain caused by the tumors. This made having any kind of coherent talks with her via telephone quite difficult. She requested they take her off of it long enough so that she could write journals to my sister & me. She also wanted to spend this time talking to us on the phone. One of the last things she said to me set the path for how I would walk the remainder of my life.

“Bethany, I don’t want you to get hung up on the breast cancer. I truly believe that when it’s God’s time for me to go, I would have gotten hit by a bus if it wasn’t cancer.”

She had an amazing sense of humor, even while facing death 😉 But the wisdom in that statement has never left me. We get 1 chance at this life.  And we have absolutely no idea the length that it will last.  I truly believe that we are put on this earth to serve a purpose. And I believe with all of my heart that her purpose had been served & God was ready to call her home.  Cancer just happened to be how she went.

My mother absolutely lived & breathed her life for Christ.  She always held onto the things of this world with an open hand.  She lived with a true awareness that this life was very temporary.  But it was always so very clear and known that she viewed my sister & I as the greatest joy that God gave her.

My mother was diagnosed with a rare eye disease early in my life & was supposed to go blind by the time I was 5.  On her death bed, she told me that she never thought she was going to actually get to watch me grow up.  She was praising God that He gave her that gift. She died with her eye sight still in tact.

Although her circumstances never changed, she chose the path of choosing joy & a heart of gratitude no matter what road she was asked to walk while she was here.

I try to look at each day through this lens.

If this was my last day on earth, is this how I would like to be spending it?  Is this worth worrying about?  Is this what I want to dedicate my energy & time to?  Is this serving the purpose that God placed me on this earth to do?

This life is but a breath, my friends.  We cannot control how long we get on this earth.  But we do get to choose how we are going to spend the time we are given & what we want to leave behind.

It took me many years & many messy miles for me to get to the vantage point I am at today.  But I’m so thankful for the mother that God chose to give me for 22 years.

And I am determined to fight hard to grow into the person that God put me on this earth to be.

Growing roots

This past Saturday, I went to brunch with my best friend, we did a little bit of shopping, then I went to the grocery store. It wasn’t anything out of my normal weekend routine, nor was it any special occasion. And that’s where it hit me.

There is such beauty in the simplicity of having a rhythm to your life.

My best friend & I have been friends since we were 19 yrs old. We have walked with each other through many life moments that most people our age have yet to experience. From our college party days, to losing both of our mothers & her father, to marrying her off to the most incredible man. We have been through a lot of major life changing seasons together. But I don’t feel like that’s what grounds us so securely in our friendship. I believe its the comfort, predictability and rhythm that we have established over the past 14 years. There’s something magical about having somebody in your life who knows exactly where your emotions are at when you are simply running through your list of playing catch up. She tends to know where my heart is before my head even has time to catch up with it.

While grocery shopping, my usual butcher noticed my voice was not normal. He showed so much concern and recommended a natural remedy for me to help it to ensure a speedy recovery. He knows about my nut allergy and always double checks everything to make sure that it’s safe for me. He shows deep concern because his son shares the same allergy and he knows the importance of keeping me safe. The guy that always puts out the produce asked me where I have been lately. I explained that work has been crazy & I have been sick for the last couple of weeks so I haven’t made time for grocery shopping.

While these may not seem like extraordinary occurrences to most, they made me stop to have a moment of gratitude. I have people in my life who notice when things are off in my world. They are such vast differences on their investment in my life, but the end result and comfort is still there.

My mom grew up in an incredibly abusive & alcoholic home. They frequently had to move without any notice to flee from whatever man had invaded their families life in that season. As a result, my mom had the instinct to flee whenever anything went wrong instilled in her from day 1 of her life.

People frequently ask me why we moved so much growing up. Their first question is if my dad was in the military. I usually brush it off & change the subject. But the reality is, any time anything went wrong in our lives, my mom would make us pick up & move. My dad finally put his foot down when I was getting ready to enter high school & my mom took off & left us as a result. While I appreciated his sacrifice somewhat at the time, I never really valued it that much until recently.

It was important to him for me to have roots & for my feet to stay planted.

When I look back over my journey, it’s interesting to look at the people that have come, some have stayed, and many have gone. But one thing I notice is that God always slides in the most perfect person to walk through my next season with me. And most of the time, I don’t understand the value until we are knee deep in the next lesson of the next season.

The most common thread & lesson that weaves its way through all of my journey is this:
There is such comfort and beauty in allowing your roots to grow deep. To give the people around you a chance to invest in you, no matter the depth or length their role in your journey may be. To be still and let God handle whatever is meant to come your way or what seasons change.

My job is to plant my feet firmly where God has asked me to be. To hold loosely to the things of this world. And to trust that he is orchestrating the most beautiful rhythm in my life.

I do not have to run. I do not have to control everything. I simply have to have my faith firmly planted in the knowledge that He will always fight for me and show me more grace than I ever could imagine.

And I am so thankful to be in a place in my life where my roots have grown strong.