October = Change

For most of my adult life, the month of October (and the season of Fall in general) has brought change for most years than I can remember. In this post, I’m going to go over some of the biggest changes I went through and how they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

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The year was 2007. This was the year I dumped my first long-term boyfriend. The actual break up didn’t happen until mid-November (right before Thanksgiving) but I initiated a break during the month of October in hopes that maybe we could mend things. But really, things were beyond repair. To be completely honest, I was in major denial since my ex never fully trusted me. Reading my emails, searching through old chat histories. He was on the hunt for any hint that I was unfaithful. Even when he found nothing, he just kept looking. And I just kept telling myself things would get better. I’m very thankful for the Fall of 2007 when I finally took a stand for myself and walked away from a toxic relationship.

The year was 2008. It took me a year to finally build up the guts to consider dating again. And I went in swinging. Asked a guy for his number that I met at a Young Adults (20s) Ministry, then called him 2 days later and asked him out. We went on several dates over the next few weeks. But after about a month or so, he took me to get coffee and basically dumped me. This was the year that I learned that I couldn’t always get my way.

The year was 2009. I told my close friends and my parents that I was dating a married man. Needless to say, no one took this well. My good friend went so far as to take away my phone until I promised her I’d end things. My mom yelled at me for what felt like weeks, maybe months. I had to even face HIS mom, who was somehow even worse. This was the year I decided to break all the rules.

The year was 2010. The married guy I was still dating was now divorced. This was the year I learned that divorces take a long time and a lot of money, especially when there’s an angry spouse involved.

The year was 2013. I married who I thought was my soulmate. This was his second marriage, but he told me everything was different. He said we were meant to be. He had never felt so sure, and I was right there with him. I loved him unconditionally and saw myself spending the rest of my life with him. This was the year that I learned that I loved planning weddings. After planning my own, I briefly considered becoming a wedding planner. Still wouldn’t mind this job one day, so it’s still on the table haha.

The year was 2014. My parents announce they’re moving to Pryor, Oklahoma. My dad got a job at Google and my mom will benefit with the amazing health benefits offered by Google. My dad recommends my husband to take his job that he’s leaving in Chicago. I start a new job as well, and finally make closer to what I’m worth (actually using my Master’s degree for the first time). Finally, my husband and I aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. This was the year I learned prayers do get answered, even if some of them aren’t exactly what you imagine.

The year was 2015. I ran my first half-marathon. My parents announce they’re moving back to Chicago. My mom’s health turns for the worst once they move back and she’s gone faster than anyone could’ve guessed. This was the year I learned that life is too short.

The year was 2016. My husband decides to fight for me for most of October, cancels our anniversary trip to Hawaii and moves out of our house the week of his birthday. My entire world comes crashing down. Soon enough I figure out everything that happened, especially since he refuses to meet with me in person due to guilt and shame. This was the year I learned that no person on Earth is worth losing your shit over. I even graciously didn’t destroy any of his things he left behind (which was everything). I’m very thankful I had an amazing therapist who helped me through the divorce.

The year was 2017. I ran the Chicago Marathon, my first full marathon. I trained hard and I raised enough money to provide clean water to 26.2 kids in Africa. Ok, actually 27 since it’s hard to cut kids into little pieces. This was the year I learned the most about myself. I invested in myself and my spiritual life. I’m very grateful for the change in 2017.

The year was 2018. I recently found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. While I wasn’t officially dating the father of my baby, I had let myself have deep feelings for him. Despite all the things going on, I was still too scared of rejection to really talk to him about how I felt. Lucky me, he decided to move on without really talking to me. I also decided to get baptized. I felt like it was extra-special since I was pregnant with Aria. This was the year I learned that while not everything is in my control, God is still on my side helping me be strong to face every challenge. This was the year I learned that I had to be strong and independent because now a baby was going to need me. I’m very humbled by the experience of being pregnant and single.

The year is 2019. And while I have a baby now, I am wondering what this October will bring. Hopefully good changes. Some things really aren’t much different from last fall, but definitely not pregnant this time.

What types of changes have you seen in your life? Do you see them in the fall like I do?

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This is 31

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Last year I did an entire This is Thirty series where I looked back at my past and took you through the process of my life pre-marriage and eventually to where I was, or where I thought I was. Looking back over the past year has me seeing double. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come, and I’m only getting started.

It feels like where I was at 30 is a completely different world and different life than where I am now. The crazy part is I thought I was in control of my life and thought I was mature. Thought my mom passing away and my dad starting a new family helped me grow, but little did I know I had no control and my marriage was already falling apart.

Today, as a single and independent woman, I am no longer in that fake-happy world I was stuck in. I’ve grown up and out of the “American dream” and I’ve found my own dreams. I not only was thoughtful, but also methodological in my choices and actions over the past 9 months. Moving to Oak Park wasn’t the easiest choice, but it was a no-brainer for me for several reasons. Reasons relating to my job, my friends, my sense of community, my safety, and my lifestyle. Above all, though, I feel like God called me here. And I listened.

In the middle of the storm of my previous life, I grew quiet and listened to God. He told me several things that still ring true today. He told me “He’s just a person” “I have someone better for you” and “I have something better for you.” I believe that something better was and is Oak Park, Free Church, and the community I’ve found here. I’ve moved on from the person who tried to control me, and find it surprising when people ask me about that old, long ago time and place.

I’m still growing and I’m still maturing. There won’t be a time where I will say I’m mature and I’ve grown, because there is always room to grow more. I learned that even when you think you’re in control, you never really are. And I’m learning to let go of that need to control and to let God. So far, he’s steered me into this new, wonderful life that I would’ve never imagined on my own. And I’m savoring every moment.

Party in the Park

This past weekend my church threw an amazing party in the park. This is an annual summer party they throw that just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. It was great to be a part of this event and to be able to hang out with my church community outside of church.

To give you some perspective, Free Church was started in 2012. In five years, it has grown from only a few to about 300 churchgoers. There were well over 100 people at this party yesterday. The growth is amazing to see, and we got our very own building this year (the Hemingway Museum). 🙂

I’ve only been going to Free Church since November of 2016, but I feel myself growing as well. While it’s great to see more and more people at church, it’s even better to feel my faith growing as I learn and dig deeper into this community I call home. I feel safe and cared for in my church community. And I feel strong. There’s about 46 of us training for the Chicago Marathon this year. We’re all running it for Team World Vision which brings clean water to those who need it the most in Africa.

This week is week 6 of training and I already feel myself changing. This past Saturday was the second time I ran with my church group, and it was amazing. We ran 10 miles and we crushed it! Not only do I notice my chub decreasing, I also feel my legs getting stronger. But beyond that, I feel healthier all around. Not just physically, but also mentally. My mind feels more clear and focused. I feel like I can achieve my goals that I have for myself.

If you have the means, please consider helping me bring clean water to the women and children in Africa. This small act will allow them time to do other things, like go to school and study. Thank you!

https://www.teamworldvision.org/participant/jenb