Weight Gain Is Not The Worst Thing That Could Happen

Sometimes I act like gaining weight is the worst thing that could happen to me. That it makes me less lovable, of less value and less attractive. I’ve recently put on an extra 20 pounds. A bonus to being tall is weight gain is more forgiving and less obvious on a body that provides more space for it to be distributed. I’m sure no one is looking at me like I could stand to lose a few but I know the difference. It’s discouraging and frustrating to see the difference in pictures or in how clothes fit. It may not be super noticeable but I know the difference! My weight, my body for many years, since I was about 14, has rarely felt like a friend to me. This can be so difficult because a body is something that one lives in and therefore can’t escape. 

A few years ago, after I graduated college, I became more serious about running, trained and participated in a few half marathons. Those were good years for me. I was not at odds with my body. I had put it under my submission and trained it to do things that I never thought that I could do. I was strong. I was fit. Most importantly, I had lost weight and was looking good. I was happy with the results. Runny became a part of the rhythm of my daily life and part of my identity. However, after hormonal issues, health challenges and surgery this last year, I slowed down on the running and began to refocus on other things; focusing on strength training, nutrition, sleep, and reducing stress in my life. I was recognizing that running was not helping me. What worked before was no longer working. Under-eating, carb restricting and over exercising was putting too much stress on my body. I was gaining weight. The weight gain felt like it was my fault. This is extremely frustrating to me. But what was I doing wrong? I take pride in my pursuits towards a healthy lifestyle. I’m all about functional medicine, healing my body through lifestyle and proper nutrition. I eat all the things that they say to eat and don’t eat all the things that they say not to eat; things like gluten, grains, dairy, soy, sugar, caffeine, processed foods, artificial flavors, and food dyes. I exercise regularly. I maintain a regular bedtime. Yet, I have been gaining weight. I don’t know what to do differently to fix it. Low carb isn’t working. Low calorie isn’t working. Increasing running isn’t working (I haven’t been running since I had surgery in February. I’ve gone on maybe a few little runs.). It’s easy to look at someone getting a burger at the drive-thru and think that you know the reason why they are fat. But what about me? I’m feeling fat. I’m frustrated with my body. I don’t understand why it’s responding this way. I don’t know why I’m always constipated. Maybe this would be easier if I would just poop. I’ve been to different doctors. My primary doctor doesn’t want to run lab tests. The functional medicine doctor gave me a protocol to heal my gut and says I’m being too hard on myself. Well, I’m still not pooping and I’m still gaining weight. I’m seeing an obgyn and she’s been a ray of hope. She’s been ordering labs for me and talking to an endocrinologist for recommendations. I went on my own and paid out of my own pocket to get lab work for a full thyroid panel done. I’m still waiting for those lab results to come back. Most doctors only test your TSH when testing your thyroid but all the thyroid hormones should be looked at too. That would include TSH, T4 free T3, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies. One of those other hormones could have a problem. You don’t get the whole picture if you just look at TSH. 

I am waiting for the obgyn to get back to me about my last lab test for my cortisol levels (I had been worried about my cortisol but my primary wouldn’t test it. Thankfully the endocrinologist recommended it). She is looking into possibly cushing syndrome. That can cause weight gain primarily around the gut and high cortisol. I am also waiting for the lab results for my thyroid too. I’m hoping for answers and something that can point me in the right direction. I sometimes think that I must be obsessed with nutrition science. The number of podcasts that I listen to and the number of books that I read on the topic make up a lot of my recreational time. However, I have not gained any new revelations on what I should do. What should I do when I already do all the things? Should I just pray that the Lord causes my body to lose weight? Isn’t my life more than my body? Isn’t my purpose more than reaching a number on a scale? I was recently reading Proverbs 31, “Beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord should be praised.” Why am I so focused on my body and desiring it to look a certain way and hating it for looking the way it does now? 

I am wrestling with these questions. The answers seem obvious but the application seem difficult. I want my body to be healthy, look good and work the way it should. If I accept it the way it is I am still left with a gut that is descended, pants that don’t fit, bowels that won’t go, and unbalanced hormones. Can I really be comfortable in my skin in a body that gives me so much discomfort? Can I honor God with my body, my life, my attitude, and my mind? Am I a woman that fears the Lord? Oh Lord, heal me! Show me how to treat my body, the right steps to take, give me discernment, and a spirit that fears you.

I Sold My Precious Treadmill!

I had been mulling it over for months. I was realizing that for the health of my body I should probably cut back on running. It was putting too much stress on my body. But I continued. I needed to run. I wanted to log more miles and go faster. I wanted to reach my goal of running a full marathon. But it was becoming an idol. Running had become too important and I could sense that the Lord was prompting my heart to make a change. Running became part of my identity. I loved telling people about how many miles I ran before 6:00 am that morning. I loved how it changed my body. I loved that people would notice that I look athletic and ask if I played a sport. To which I would explain that I was a runner. 

I bought the treadmill after Covid regulations at the gym required you to wear a mask. I did not want to run with a mask on. So, I canceled my membership and bought a treadmill. I could not let anything stop me from being able to get my miles in. 

I have been serious about running since 2017. In 2018 I ran my first half marathon and since then I have competed in others and have run many 13 mile runs on my own time. I would rest one day a week and push myself on all the others. Running was becoming an idol. If I was going to go on a trip, half my bag would be my running gear. Heaven forbid I miss a day. 

However, over the last year I was beginning to see the signs that the stress of running was beginning to have on my body. It was impacting my sleep, my menstrual cycle was nonexistent, and I was beginning to put on weight. Overexercising puts a tremendous amount of stress on the body, with the potential of raising cortisol and insulin levels and even causing weight gain. I was feeling frustrated and fearful. I wanted to lose the weight I had gained so I ran harder. I was not getting the desired results that I hoped for. It was stressing out my system more but I was afraid to stop. I was afraid that I would become fatter and unhealthy if I didn’t get that daily run in. 

Then I had surgery. Due to needing to rest while I recovered and not having energy because I couldn’t eat while my tongue healed, my running took a much needed sabbatical. As I recovered I slowly transitioned away from running and more towards strength training and walks. Surgery took its toll on my body and I haven’t been the same since. I need more time to recover from the trauma that it was to me. As I was recovering and refocusing on how I care for my body, my treadmill sat in my living room. I knew I needed to let it go. I wanted to honor God with my body. The treadmill was a way for me to have a back up plan if I couldn’t run outside. I felt safe knowing that I could run whenever I wanted as long as I had it. But I’m rethinking what I’m doing. I hope to be healthy enough to run again. Right now I don’t even know if I can call myself a runner. I’m a runner in rehab. If it is no longer part of my identity it doesn’t make me any less valuable. I may never reach my goal of running a full marathon. I had to ask myself, “who is holding me to these goals of mine? Who is keeping track of my miles? Who is going to be disappointed if I don’t reach them?” I am the only one holding myself to them. No one is going to be disappointed if I don’t. I am still loved. I am still beautiful. I am still a child of God even if I don’t run. 

Put my treadmill on Facebook market and sold it today. I wasn’t even sad to see it go. I knew it was the right thing. I can honor God more with my body, time, and resources without it. 

Solitary Bee

The Solitary Bee

Quietly, faithfully, and silently

Is the solitary bee.

Little notice, little know

Where this bee will go.

His rhythm is one of his own

No colony, no hive, no home.

Just the solitary bee.

What do I see in this lonely bee?

A creature small, simple, free.

A heart searching for community

A hope that this scarcity is only momentarily.

I see me in the solitary bee. 

Praying patiently

Praying carefully

Praying hopefully

Praying for words like honey

A message of hope for days bright and sunny.

When the flowers bloom

And a place where my heart finds room

The father sees 

He knows the bees!

My hearts is free

As I rest in thy!

My love of bees and my interest in how vital they are to our world really became a passion of mine as I have used bees as a theme in my classroom. I teach kindergarten and my name is hard to pronounce, Bjerre. No one ever knows how to say Bjerre but it is pronounced like this, “bee-air”. So, to make it easier on the families at my school I had adopted the bee theme for my room. This perpetuated a mass collection of bee things as I now given anything with a bee on it as a gift. It also set in motion an interest in bees in my own personal life. I love bees. They are responsible for, I believe, 90% of the pollination of the crops needed for our food supply. They are a necessary part of our world and our lives. These little creatures are feared by many but really are harmless. They don’t sting if left alone. When left alone, their hard work allows beautiful flowers, fruits and veggies to grow.

In my classroom I have found that there are many positive ways to use bees in giving instructions and lessons for my students. We talk about how we can “bee” kind, “bee” patient, “bee” happy, and “bee” humble. We want to listen and “bee”have. We “bee”-long together. We want to work hard like the bees. We use many more puns in class too. You better “bee”lieve it! I can’t even read a book to the class without them noticing a bee in an illustration and pointing it out to me. “Ms. Bjerre! I see a bee. It’s your favorite!” I hear that almost daily. I have bee bulletin boards, t-shirts, pens, coffee cups, and posters. Enough to make my head “buzz”! 

As I have taken an interest in the bees, I have discovered that there are two major differences in the kinds of bees. There are bees that live in colonies and there are solitary bees. In my work life, I relate to the queen bee. Though, I haven’t always liked the attitude that is so often associated with the queen bee. I think a queen bee is often looked at as having a negative attitude or being a diva. That is not something that I want to be. But really she is a strong leader and spends her days doing what is best for her hive. When she leaves her hive to start a new one, her bees follow her. In many ways I can see parallels in this with my role as the teacher in my classroom. My days are spent with one focus, the students. 

In my personal life, I’m a solitary bee. My poem is a reflection of that. I spend a great amount of time alone outside of work. My only other social circle is church and right now that feels lonely. There are not many 30ish, single, women or men there. I’m a breed of my own. Due to social distancing rules, I sit on a chair 6 feet from everyone else. I’m sitting on an island. Others are gathered together because they are sitting with their family group. I have no family here. I am alone. I am always alone. It even feels this way at work. Adult interaction is passing. I see other teachers and staff in the halls or when I pop into the office but a majority of my day is spent in a room with 5 and 6 years. And… I don’t plan on baring my soul onto their little shoulders. I live alone. My free time is spent going on walks, reading, or cooking, all mostly isolated activities. 

I find myself in this place of loneliness. I see myself as a little solitary bee. But I believe that this bee is content and is made to live this way. I am not meant to be alone. I will rest in the Lord and be content on this day in the place where I find myself. But I pray that this is not my lot in life. That I can be surrounded by a community of believers and drink in the fellowship that we are meant to share. I pray that I will have a home where there will be human companionship through the love of a spouse. I wait. Quietly I wait. I hope for one day and ask what does the Lord want of me today. This is what I have been given. May I handle it well.

I Backed Out Of The Deal

I left off sharing that my offer on a condo had been accepted. It seemed so mysterious why God would allow that after I had signed the lease. Then everything about this condo turned out to be a lot of back and forth, rigamarole, and wearisome decisions that this stressed out and hormonal chick had to deal with. The home inspection proved to be very insightful. I found out that my water heater and electric panel are located in the garage belonging to another unit. The condo is sitting on top of three garages. One is mine and the other two belong to the two ground level units next to me. The garage that contains my water heater and electric panel was deeded to the wrong unit. The garages need to be switched and deeded correctly. This is a huge legal issue and it did not look like it would be complete before closing. However, another issue came up during the inspection. My siding, my siding is in bad shape and the estimate of what the repairs would cost was 25,000. Yikes! I showed the inspection report to my parents and they were concerned. Between the legal issue of the deed and the issues with the siding, they advised me to back out of the offer. I expressed this to my realtor. She asked if the seller would take care of the siding before closing and pursued fixing the deed. The seller would not and when asked she asked the HOA rep for the email from the lawyer about the deed, they did not have it. Then I read in the HOA rules that they did not allow partial renters, only renters of the entire unit. So, I could not have a roommate who paid me rent. That was a deal breaker. I wanted to back out. I signed the papers to do so. However, my realtor did not submit them that night. The next day she found out that I could, in fact, have a renter as a roommate and she got the email from the lawyer regarding the deed. We discussed asking if the seller would come down 20,000 and pay the closing cost to compensate for what I would need to pay in repairs. Everything else seemed to be lining up. The updates on my status of where I was at with this condo was constantly changing, I didn’t get it, I got it, I’m backing out, I’m reconsidering. My realtor asked me to pray about it and we would talk at the end of the day. I was at work talking to her during the 20 minutes I get for planning during the day while I was trying to organize my students’ leveled reader. After school I had a training to attend. She had tried to call me. I finally called her back later that evening while on a walk down a beautiful wooded trail near my new home. I needed to decompress. I was going to go ahead with the big ask of 20,000. The realtor said it was like a 2% chance he would go for it. I was feeling frustrated. The night before I had thought I was done. I had signed the papers but here we were continuing to try and make it work with this condo. I had until 6:00 to submit my new offer. It was 5:30. I appreciated all the extra work that she did to get documentation about a renter and the changing of the deed but when all was said and done I would still have that troubled siding. I could not do it. Even though the seller most likely wouldn’t go for the offer, I didn’t even want to try. I found myself thinking, “I’ll ask and pray that he doesn’t”. But then if I don’t even want him to go for it because I don’t want to be stuck with that siding, then why even ask? I called the realtor. I told her I can’t do it. She was proud of my decision and it was done. I walked away.

Back to the beginning again. Where I do not have plans of moving this summer. Where my parents are not coming with my furniture and to help me install new carpet. Where my dream of having a permanent home of my own instead of the revolving door of temporary living situations, lays dormant again. Where my plans to nail pictures to the walls is replaced with command hooks so that I don’t leave marks on my landlord’s property. I had it. I had a home at my fingertips and I let it go because of bad siding. Maybe I should have tried. Maybe it would have worked out. When will another one come on the market that is within my price range? What if one does come and my next offer is not accepted? It has been two days since I submitted my decline. I was relieved. Now I’m disheartened.

Looking for a home is very similar to looking for a man. In both cases it pays to be picky. It will be something that I will have to live with. It is not like buying a dress at the store. Returning it because it doesn’t “fit” isn’t an option. I’m in these things for the long run. As I wait for a home to come on the market, I think, “It would be nice if I got email notifications when men who met my criteria were available.” Right now I can’t see when my future home will become available nor do I know when a man, my man will come. Then like my condo, there are the hopes of something but it quickly changes after the home inspection. I met a man. It appears that it might be something. But then like the inspection I discover that his electric panel is not in the right place and he is moldy under the siding. I back out of the deal and wonder if I did the right thing. Maybe it would have worked. Why do any of these things have to be if they just have to end in disappointment. I am waiting for the day when my pursuit of a home comes to completion. I am waiting for a man who will stay. My fingers touched it. I thought it was right there before me. I was in that condo. I saw myself living there. I went out with that guy. I imagined what it would be like to meet his family. I hoped that I could take him to Reno to meet mine. I saw us dating seriously and planning a future. Both realities reduced back to dreams. Dreams that once again sink back into their hole to remain dormant again until something stirs their possibility. Possibilities that I have had countless times but end up as another disappointment on my list. I wait and pray. When, God, will my sorrows be my tomorrows and that in which I wait will be my fate? I do not know.

Hormones, Moving, and Condos

Sorrow stacked upon sorrow is how I describe the last month. They are small grievances compared to some of the circumstances and heartaches that many find themselves experiencing. Though, one cannot compare the pain the heart experiences. Sometimes the world feels heavy and small things can break the camel’s back. Along with some of the major changes that I experienced recently, surgery on my tongue, a disappointing ending to a dating relationship and needing to move, there has also been a hormonal shift too. I believe there is no denying that the chemical changes that take place with hormones drastically impacts how one experiences the events that take place in his or her life. Be prepared for some TMI. Due to my excessive running and dietary restrictions, I had stopped having a regular menstrual cycle about a year ago. I actively worked on correcting that at the beginning of this year. Having surgery created a much needed sabbatical from running while I was recovering. Therefore, aiding in the return of my cycle. However, when it returned, it came with vengeance. I went from no cycle to too much of a cycle and all the hormones and emotions that come with that shift. So, the events that were taking place in my life during normal circumstances may have been easier to handle but all of these things together created the perfect storm. My world felt heavy and I was nearly despondent over the changes that were taking place. My sorrows were stacked and continued to stack.

I always knew the day would come when I would have to move out of the home I was living in. But when it did, I did not feel prepared to handle the grief that I was experiencing over leaving what had become my home. I moved out 2 days ago and that now makes 6 moves within 5 years. Most of these moves took place in a short time frame. However, I had been living in this house for 2 years, making it the most consistent living situation I had in a long time. The whole situation was miraculous and I give God full credit for his work in my life and in that living situation. I originally moved in to be the roommate of an older lady who was experiencing mental decline. It was rent free. I was anxious about entering into this living situation. Who moves in with a lady that they don’t know, with a mind is going, in a house that is dirty and full of her stuff because she’s a hoarder, oh and with a mice problem? I did. I was terrified and really had no idea how it was going to work out. But okay, they were not going to change me rent, so I did it. Everything worked out. The mice problem was resolved, slowly her stuff was cleaned out, and 3 months after I moved in, she moved out. Sadly, she declined quicker than expected and needed to move into a home. They said I could stay until they sold the house. Then COVID hit. The selling of the house was perpetually postponed. Two years later I was still living there, alone and rent free. It was miraculous and God’s provision. I don’t know how many times I was on my knees praying over the situation and thanking him for his goodness. He gave me a home of my own for that season. I had space. I was comfortable. In the past, I have been a live-in-nanny and have rented a room in someone’s house. Both of those situations caused so much anxiety. I felt suffocated and watched all the time. I felt shame over cooking and eating food. I have a variety of deity restrictions and allergies. People don’t always understand the special needs of my diet and that makes certain living situations harder to adapt to. But in that house the Lord not only allowed me to save money to pay for the schooling I was pursuing and money for a downpayment (I’m in the market to buy my own place right now), he also gave me freedom to live and teach in Washington and to cook and eat in peace. 

Aside from the joys of the kitchen, I loved sitting in the backyard with a book or just watching the sky, caring for the home as though it was my own, enjoying walks in the neighborhood, watching a movie, having a friend over, and getting to know my neighbors. I felt rooted there. The neighborhood became mine. The stores in the community became part of my regular routine. I had a rhythm. I had a life there of my own. Though in the back of my mind I knew that it would end. Though it didn’t feel real. The dialog was constantly, “We need to put the house on the market. Our plans to sell have been postponed.” I stopped feeling like it was actually going to happen. Then the dialog changed. “We are going to have a realtor come to the house. We need you to move out by this day ___.” I was given notice. That sounds cold but it wasn’t. It was reality. A reality I knew would come. They expressed their thankfulness in my willingness to live in her house for all that time. No one could have known how this situation would have turned out. I didn’t and everything that I feared upon entering it, became non-issues. God was good. He was good to me. 

The need to move caused me much stress and anxiety. The plan was that I was going to leave this house and move into the upstairs of a house belonging to a 90 year old lady from church. The house is 100 years old and full of a lifetime of things. She was not going to charge me much to live there. The plan was to stay until I found something more suitable. I was willing to do it because the cost was low but I really did not know how it would work with my stuff moving upstairs or with her packed kitchen and my desire to cook everything that I eat. Also, she lives in Portland, 17 miles from where I work in Vancouver. Moving day was approaching quickly. As it came closer, my anxiety and stress over it grew higher. I was almost despondent over everything, praying that God would carry me through the day as I would be near tears 10 minutes before my students would arrive for school. This was what I was going to enter in and I didn’t see any other options. I was a wreck. I was manless, felt homeless, and had raging hormones. My sorrows were stacked!

Then about a week before moving day the plan changed. Through a friend of a friend another option came up, a studio apartment. It’s an attached unit on the side of this couple’s house that they rent out. The rent was more than I would have paid at the house in Portland but I felt so much better about this arrangement. They usually have tenants sign a year long lease but in my case they let me sign a 6 month lease. I had explained that I was in the market to buy a condo and was afraid that I would find something but be locked into a year lease. I really didn’t know how the timeline would work and was trusting that God would work out the details surrounding the timing, the finances and my next home. 

The crazy thing was, on the day I met the owner and saw the apartment, I also made an offer on a condo. I was a little conflicted, “Do I want to enter into this agreement? What if I get the condo? I’ll be out a few thousand dollars.” I could not know how things would turn out. So, I was going to go for it. This was on a Friday and Monday was when I was going to sign the lease. Well, my offer on the condo was not accepted. I felt better about signing the lease. I did and moved in on Wednesday. Thursday, my first day in my new place, I got a call from my realtor. The condo I put an offer on, the other buyer’s offer fell through, it was mine if I wanted it. I was losing my mind. I was just praying over everything and wondering what I was going to do and how long I would end up in the apartment. Instead, I got an immediate answer. I was going to be a homeowner. Now I’m feeling a bit stressed about the upcoming cost of things, the down payment, the closing cost, the home inspection, a new washer and dryer, and my rent for the next 6 months. I pray and trust! I know that God knows every aspect of my life. The timeline of these events I find baffling. Why couldn’t I have known on Friday before signing the lease that I would get the condo? Why did God give it to me after I signed? He keeps me in a state of constant reliance on him. He knows my daily needs and I know he will provide. In the meantime, I think I need to start looking at appliances and my sorrows don’t feel as stacked up against me anymore.

I wouldn’t kiss him on the second date!

It was too short lived to be too emotionally attached but it still left me feeling angry, frustrated, alone, and sorrowful. Once again the hopes of something turned into disappointment. Why is this my lot in life? I go back and forth from trying dating apps to being annoyed with them and diactivitaving them. Nothing is going to change unless something changes. So, in this weird world of Covid, I found myself back on Bumble, praying that God would somehow bring something from what feels like vain attempts to meet someone. Bumble to me is, sorting through creepy men, swiping right on the few that I do like, hoping that one of those ends up as a match and that if we match we actually can have a conversation that doesn’t leave me feeling even more annoyed at the options of men that are out. 

Two weeks ago I matched and sparked up a conversation with a guy who was nailing it with his answers to my grueling questions. I waste no time asking about one’s faith, financial habits and lifestyle. I don’t want to spend all this time talking small talk with someone I don’t like. I filter through people quicker this way. If they give me wacky answers the conversation can end and it spares me from exerting unnecessary energy on them. So, this guy that I was talking to was impressed with my questions as well and asked me them right back. We messaged long, detailed, involved text on the app all day. By the end of the day he asked if it was too soon to exchange phone numbers. I don’t normally give a guy I met online my number the first day we started chatting but he was different. Our meaningful conversation continued for the rest of the week and by Thursday we planned to meet for coffee on Saturday. The date lasted 3 hours. I was going to say my goodbyes after 2 hours but I was having such a great time, I didn’t want to go. It was too good to be true. Here was a guy, 6’3” (totally my make and model of a man), who loved Jesus, was financially responsible, kind, respectful, actually ate vegetables, loves his family, funny, and interested in me. Before I got home from the date I had a text from him asking if I thought a second date was in our future. I of course did. He was so happy and said as much and we planned date number 2. 

Date number 2 took place 3 days later. We met for dinner when he got off work. We had a great time. Afterwards, as we walked to the cars and stopped and talked in the parking lot for a while, he asked me if he could kiss me. I told him no. I gave him a hug and we parted ways. 

Later I texted him and told him, “Thanks for asking about kissing! I appreciate that. I haven’t kissed anyone in 10 years. I’ve only had one boyfriend. We broke up on my 22nd birthday after about a 3 year relationship. I’ve dated some but mostly have been busy with school and moving. How many relationships have you had? How many girls have you kissed.” 

To this he replied, “I totally respect that! And applaud you for having only one relationship. I have kissed quite a few women, and I’ve been in 5 serious relationships throughout my life. I’ve also had sex before, which I highly regret. If you don’t want to continue after knowing this information, I completely understand.”

I thanked him for sharing and said that it didn’t change my mind and I wanted to continue. He said he was so happy to hear that and asked if I wanted to meet up on Friday. I did. We planned it. This was Wednesday. Thursday was texted as normal. Friday I woke up to a text explaining that he did not think he was in place where he should be dating right now and promised that this had nothing to do with me not kissing him on Tuesday. I was hurt! I was frustrated and knew it was too good to be true. I replied graciously as I believed I should. “We can end this or just be friends or just part ways! I’ll respect whatever you want to do and commit you and your future to my prayers. Thank you for your kind words! I may not have let you [kiss me] but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to! But I don’t take kissing lightly nor do I want to start anything being too physical. Being physical was what made up most of my one and only relationship and I don’t want a repeat. Upon reading what you just said I’m even more grateful that I declined. It spares me of additional heartache. Thank you for your kindness and taking the time to get to know me. If it ends here, I will thank the Lord for you!” He replied saying that I am so awesome and thanked me for my kind words too. He said he will keep me in his prayers as well. I didn’t reply. It was over. 

There seemed to be so much hope and potential in this relationship. I think this guy has stuff that he has to work through. Maybe he liked me but the thought of being serious was too much for him? Judging by his history, he likes women. His past wasn’t an issue for me. It did bring up more questions. I wouldn’t write him off because of it. I would like to know where he is today from where he was. Maybe I was the first girl to ever decline his offer of a kiss? I don’t want to be just another one on his list. I’m glad I didn’t. It seems my questions to him in response to him wanting to kiss me brought up things that he didn’t want to face right now. Well, if he is going to be flaky, it’s better for me that it ended early. However, that does not take away the sting of disappointment and sorrow I feel over this. Once again, I’m alone, no “good morning” text to look forward to. No more dates. No hope in the potential that his guy could be more. Sorrow is stacked on sorrow. Why is this my dreaded fate? How much longer will I have to wait?

I had a tumor removed from my tongue!

A significant event took place last week. I had a tumor removed from my tongue. Gross, huh?! Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I was almost embarrassed to tell people. What! Your tongue? I could see the cringing faces. If only it was on any other part of my body. Maybe then the recovery would not have been as hard as it was too.

I discovered it about 11 years ago. Actually, I noticed it not too long after my first kiss. About 5 months later I felt something in my mouth. I looked in the mirror and there was a purple bump on the top of my tongue, kinda on the right and in the front. My first thought was that my boyfriend had given me something weird (since I had just recently started kissing). I called him and he didn’t have anything like that in his mouth. I went to see a dermatologist. She diagnosed it as a hemangioma. It was a filled blood and that is what gave it its purple color. I also saw an oral surgeon, an ENT, and my dentist measured it every six months. The consensus was that due to the nature of the tumor it was best to leave it unless it was growing or giving me problems. The risk of it hemorrhaging or growing back after being removed kept doctors from wanting to do anything with it. So there it sat for years. It was my silent little buddy. 

This last year things changed. It started to become noticeably bigger and was beginning to give me problems. It would swell and feel like a marble in my mouth. It bled a couple of times and other times would have a gray murky color to it. It was time. It needed to go. Getting better could cause more problems. So, I saw an ENT, also considered a head and neck surgeon. She was confident that removal would be easy and didn’t expect there to be any problems afterwards. So, plans were set in motion.

My breakup with my boyfriend will have its 10 year anniversary this August. In my mind, my tumor is a marker of the beginning of our relationship. The relationship has been over nearly a decade and my heart has more than healed from the event. Though, that breakup was a significant event in my life and propelled movement in life that took me to places I would never have gone and have made me more into the “Alina” that God wanted me to be. Yet, I still carry some of that heartache. Especially as the years go on and I remain single. I believe in a BIG God and have seen him answer big prayers. I want a job in Washington: Bam, Kindergarten Teacher! I want a home of my own: Bam, a home rent free! I want a man: Dial tone! I know God hears me and yet I wait. 

Like my breakup, the recovery of my surgery was rough. My tongue was SUPER swollen for about 5 days. I couldn’t eat or talk, barely. My tongue was so big that I couldn’t close my mouth. This made sleeping a challenge because I couldn’t swallow and my spit had nowhere to go but out; I drooled a lot. As that went down things got easy but were still difficult. The incision bled a couple of times when it should not have. Even after the swelling was gone, I still struggled speaking normally. I had to take more time off from work. I’m a teacher. Talking is my job. I need to sound normal. By day 9 things were looking up. It was a short season of suffering but not one that I would even wish on my enemies. 

My breakup was a lot like that recovery. There was the removal of something that had become a part or my life. My heart bled. I couldn’t eat. Many are familiar with pains such as these. Moving forward, I will no longer have my little hemangioma. Instead, I will have a scar across the top of my tongue. I’m almost considering naming it. It marks a new beginning. It marks a new decade. I love what God has done in me. The good work he has done in my life, he continues to do. I praise him for this and eagerly await for the man I hope he has for me and maybe the removal of my tumor will mark the beginning of a new relationship like the appearance of it marked the old.

Does God have the “One” for me?

I love living alone. I love my space. I love having the ability to cook and meal prep without anyone around to wonder why I eat sweet potatoes and ground turkey for breakfast nearly every day. I’m delighted to sit in the back yard and watch the hummer birds hover by the flowers. Another simple pleasure, such as not having to close the door when I am in the bathroom, is a perk to living alone. However, the current state of things with COVID-19 can cause anyone who enjoys living alone to feel isolated. Living alone is great when I have my regular job to go to and a social life but there isn’t much to spice up the week when social distancing has become everyone’s new normal. Also, now the hopes of meeting someone seem to rest solely in the possibility that the Amazon delivery guy is single and serious about Jesus.

I still regret not going for online guy, Nathan, when I had the chance. As I process my feelings about Nathan, I believe part of the struggle I’m having is due to the isolation that I’m in and wishing things were different. Friends of mine try to encourage me with statements like, “If God wanted you to marry him you would have”. I am not so sure that is so. It’s hard to know in this what is God’s sovereignty and what is human responsibility. Nowhere in scripture does he promise that he has the “one” for us. He wants us to be wise and equally yoked but Christians can still end up choosing bad spouses. In my life I could encounter many godly men and any of them could be an honorable choice. If I marry one God could bless that but if I chose a different one that too could also be blessed. I don’t know what to think about Nathan. Did I make a mistake and now the Lord is allowing me to live in the consequences of that mistake? He is getting married. So then, I could think that surely the two of them must have been God’s plan all along and I have to suffer the heartache. God is sovereign and it would be wrong of me to think that there was anything that I could do to mess up his plan. His plan is to bring redemption and restoration to his people and all his created things. In life I’m given choices. I don’t always make the best ones. That doesn’t mess up God’s plan. He uses it. He even knew it would happen. The sovereignty of God is not something that I can even pretend to understand. All of these things are concepts too lofty for the human mind but I am grateful that God is so great. I don’t want a God that is on my level. That would diminish his power.

 I believe God is in control. I know that he can take all the broken places in my life and turn them into something that is redeemed and beautiful. There are many scriptures in the Bible that speak of the future hope we have in Christ. I read those and think eternally. There is hope, God will make things right, and he promises that it will be good. However, in life Christians don’t always get it right. I don’t always get it right! Relationships get broken. The promises of God stand true but I may not see the fulfillment of those promises while I’m still here on earth. I have hope that God will make this right, any mistake I made with Nathan will be fixed. However, that may not happen until Jesus comes back to rule and reign. In the mean time, I’m forgiven and God is good but my choices are still impacting me today. Maybe I’m just afraid that I will not be given another chance or opportunity to meet someone. But two things I can do now, trust and obey. Mulling over in mind the past doesn’t change it. Therefore, I’m left with the choice to move forward in trust and obedience to the Lord. There is hope! As I move forward, I will no longer dwell on what I cannot change but focus on the one who can change me and change my life, my situations, and my future.

Regret

Over a year ago I met a man online and dated him for a brief time, five dates total. I ended the relationship for several reasons but since then have regretted the decision. I have a short list of qualities that I filter men through to see if they are someone I would want a relationship with. I call these things “My Five F’s” (Faith: serious about Jesus, Finances: responsible with money, Family: similar values, Fitness: values a healthy lifestyle, and Fun: similar interest). Online guy, Nathan, I discovered had them all. He was also kind and respectful.  Yet, during the time I was dating him I was overwhelmed and fearful of the thought of letting things move into a committed dating relationship. 

I don’t know why. I can’t seem to sort my emotions out any better today than I could at that time. Why did I let him go?  Was it my pride? I struggled with the fact that I met him online and had preached openly that I would never do the online dating thing. Was it out of fear of embarrassment? I didn’t want him to meet my friends and have them ask how we met. Was it out of fear? Fear that if I committed to dating him I would have regret? I was interested in a guy from church, Jeremy, (Jeremy doesn’t even meet 3 of my 5 F’s) but that wasn’t going anywhere. However, I thought that if I entered into a relationship with Nathan I might always wonder what could have been with Jeremy. As if, somehow Jeremy might come around if I just waited long enough. Well, he didn’t! 

As we dated I began to fear that I was going in too deep and started to back off. I wouldn’t reply to text and would tell him I was busy if he wanted to hang out. I texted him and told him that all of this overwhelmed me and that I had feelings for someone but wasn’t dating him. He was very gracious in his response and recommended taking things slow and even taking a break for a while. We went out one more time. We talked a little bit more after that and then I blocked his number from my phone and removed him from my contacts. At the time it was a relief. I brought my life back to the state it was in before I meet him. However, memories cannot be blocked as easily as one blocks a number in a phone. 

For a brief moment, after this, I thought things with Jeremy were finally going to move forward. I was wrong. It didn’t work out. Friends of mine even told him that I was, “head over heels for him.” He did nothing. He’s silence was my answer. 

When I made the decision to end things with Nathan I had hoped that something would work out with Jeremy. However, I was more convinced that I would just end up with neither. I knew that if things with Jeremy didn’t work out, it wouldn’t be fair to return to Nathan. He shouldn’t be treated like a plan B. 

Last summer, months after I stopped talking Nathan, I looked him up on Facebook. To my surprise he had a girlfriend. Never in the scenarios that ran through my mind did I imagine him with someone else. This is where my heart was sinful with pride. Did I think so highly of myself that I thought I would be in a relationship before he found someone new? I thought surely I would have more opportunities and options for that to happen for me than for Nathan. Well, I was wrong and not only wrong but alone. I prayed that they would break up. I would deactivate my Facebook for a couple of months and then check back. Still they were together. Now they are engaged and getting married on the 19th of July.

Now, I regret the choice I made and wish I responded differently. I wish I could go back and change what I did and just go for it. There is no shame in meeting a great guy online. There is no embarrassment in it either. I wouldn’t need to regret meeting a great guy. But no, I turned down a great guy, a sure thing, someone who really liked me and expressed his interest and intentions in a godly way, for the dream of something that left me disappointed. I’m comforted in the truth that God can take broken things and fix them. That even if I made a mistake, it doesn’t mess up God’s plan for my life. God is the same even when I am fickle. The best I can do now is commit all these things to prayer and trust and obey. I can’t make choices that will change the past but I can do my best today to make choices that are good and honoring to the Lord. 

Maybe I just want my situation right now to be different as I am still single and didn’t think I would be. Also, I am facing a move and do not know where I will live. If I was the one that was getting married this summer, that problem would be solved. Or would it? When I think like that, where is my trust that the Lord is the one that solves my problems? I think I just want right now to be different and I think if I did things differently back then, they would be. However, the Lord may still have someone for me and a home for me but it’s not time yet. I think I made a mistake because I can’t see now how things are going to work out later.

I’m a Fox without a Hole!

I’m a fox without a hole. At least, I joke that I am. It’s partly true. Since the first time that I moved to Washington until now I have had 4 temporary living situations. Even my current one I would consider temporary (though I may be here longer than the others). I was a live in nanny. I knew I wasn’t going to do that forever. Then I moved back in with my sister who at the time was planning her wedding. The good Lord knew that I wasn’t going to live with her after she was married. She, her man, nor I would have wanted that! After she was married I moved in with my parents. That was a humbling experience. I love them but after living on my own for 8 years and not only on my own but out of state it felt like a set back to my life. Now I live back in Washington. I love my living arrangement. I rent a room in the home of a very kind couple. There is another girl, a friend of mine that also rents a room there too. The four of us get along fabulously; we respect each other’s space and have a system that works when it comes to sharing the kitchen and getting our laundry done. But once again this is a temporary arrangement. I’m going to be 30 this year and help me please if I’m here more than 3 years. See! Still, I’m a fox without a hole. I don’t have my own home. As I consider these facts about my life the goal setter in me starts scheming.

Somewhere along the way as I’ve gotten old, remained single and pursued my interest, I made a conscious decision to live as though I will always be single. Living 600 miles from my family has also shaped my independence. That was almost by force. When one is removed from their source of support they are put in a position where they just have to figure things out. For example, first time I got a flat tire in Portland and daddy couldn’t just come help me; I learned how to change a tire after that. Now that my 20’s are ending and I am approaching 30 I have a plan regarding a home for this foxy lady. I spent my 20’s focusing on becoming who God wants me to be, getting myself through school, figuring out my career path, prioritizing my health, developing healthy friendships, remaining debt free, and doing some traveling. These are all great things for someone in their 20’s to work on and then maintain through their 30’s and onward.

I’ve decided that my next goal will be to save to buy a house. For some reason I was thinking that would come when I have a man (either he’ll have one or we’ll save and plan together). I didn’t think that I could do it by myself but then I realized why not? I put myself through school. What I paid in tuition could have been a down payment on a house. I’m a young, ambition, smart girl who can and has done more than I ever thought I would (by the grace of God). My plan in the next 3 years is to save enough for a 25% down payment on a house. Hopefully the housing market will be better by then. So, as I think of my current situation. It doesn’t feel as endless with a goal in mind. 3 years! I can do. And if a man comes along he can jump on board with my plan or we can revaluate the plan and set our own goal. Here’s to the future! I don’t know what God has in store for my life but I’m going to take it one day at a time. I have my plans but he determines my steps.