Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God speaks to all of us. Are you listening?

For those who know me, you know that I have been a runner, well, basically since I was old enough to race my sister. Running has always been a huge part of my life. I competed in high school, at the collegiate level and even ran a half-marathon. I took about a year and a half hiatus from running after training so hard (and long) for my half. During this time I graduated from grad school, did the whole job search thing and packed up my life and moved to Colorado. As you can imagine there was not much time to train during this stressful and exciting time. Once I arrived in Colorado I had to get used to, you guessed it, snow, and the cold that came along with it. Running was the last thing I wanted to do on a cold, dreary, snowy evening. So I continued my hiatus.

Lately my love for running has blossomed. This love was rekindled by the beauty of Colorado, the amazing weather and the great running routes around my house. For years, running was about competing but then I transitioned into the kind of running where you just want to "get away from life".  With shoes double knotted, muscles stretched (barely), and headphones securely placed into my ears blaring my favorite song of the moment, I would hit the road, "getting away from life." Don't get me wrong, this definitely helped with the stress of daily life and gave me time to just get away from it all. But is that what life is all about? Doing things that you so called "love" so that you can "get away from life"?

I have been running consistently for about 3 months now. I tried something new this time (as suggested by my dear friend and mentor Emily). I started running without headphones. I'll admit it was hard at first, but like anything it took time and the resistance of the temptation to just stick the headphones back in. I have now been running for 3 months without music blaring in my ears. I have actually tried, on occasion, to run with them and I have to take them out because I feel like they are clogging my thoughts. Well, God thoughts.

We all hear from God in different ways. I think He can speak to us through people, the arts, well frankly, through just about anyone and anything. This last Sunday, I headed out for a long run. My chosen route was the loop around Sloan's Lake and back to my house. Before I go on, I have to say that Sloan's Lake, to me, is one of the hidden treasures of Denver. As I made the move to this area, many people expressed their negative thoughts about this lake. I had this preconceived notion that this lake was going to be a dump. Readers, let me tell you, this lake is purely God's work. The view is absolutely gorgeous. When you look one way you see the backdrop of downtown Denver. The lights, the high-rises, the great skyline of a bustling city. Look the other way and you have the clearest view of God's handy work in the Rocky Mountains. Ok, enough on Sloan's Lake. Anyway, I set out on my run which ended up to be 45 minutes. During this 45 minutes of dodging traffic, leaping over piles of doggy mess (wasn't sure how to best say this) at Sloan's lake and taking in the cool, crisp Denver air, God challenged me. He truly spoke to me while I was running. Now before this running transition, I would never have heard Him over the lyrics to Katy Perry's newest hit single. How many of us have things in our life that are our own "headphones" that are blocking out God's voice? I truly believe that God is always speaking to us, but are we listening. I challenge you to find ways to hear Him. Put down the book, turn off the music, turn off the TV and just listen.

You might be wondering what God said. Well you will be highly disappointed to know, as we all know, God doesn't necessarily spell things out for us. In my opinion, He plants seeds. So what seed did He plant? As I returned from my run, my mind was spinning. From all the spinning surfaced a question that God had challenged me on: "What does it mean to live a purposeful life? Can living a purposeful life simply be in how you live your life (decisions, kindness, etc.) or is living a purposeful life about what you do?"

As soon as I stepped into my house I immediately sprung this question onto my roommate Autumn. I am sure she was unsure of what was going on when after immediately returned from my run I said, "Can I ask you a question?" I asked her this question and we discussed this for little while. I have to tell you that I was so emotional, with tears on the brink of falling down my face. I felt so moved and also humbled by the fact that God spent time to speak to me. Since this happened on Sunday, my week has been shaped by this question. I had a chance to talk to my dear friend, Leslea. Of course I explained all of this to her and asked her the question as well. I think everyone's answer to this question is different, as it should be. God uses all of us in different ways to be witnesses of His love.

After hearing others answers to this question and reflecting on it myself, I feel that I understand the message that God is trying to send me. Of course we all struggle with what our mission is in life. Even after finishing grad school, I still question this (which I don't think is a bad thing). It means God is keeping us on our toes, ready for whatever need He has. I initially went into the field of Student Affairs to make a difference. If I could make an impact in one person's life I knew that I would be fulfilled. I constantly question if I am making a difference. Should I "do" more? Now that I am not in school I look at my free time and I am starting to feel guilty and think I should "do" more. This goes back to the question of whether living a purposeful life is about how you live it or what you do?

The answer I have come to (with help from some dear friends) is that it is a combination of both. We can all do things that glorify God and we can all live a pure life that glorifies God. Most importantly (as a friend pointed out), its about what others see. One of the most purposeful lives we can live is one where others see God in us (thanks Leslea!). This can be a combination of what we do, how we life our life, who we surround ourselves with, etc. Now, finally figuring out my answer to this question that God posed to me on my run is great and all, but the answer scares me. Living a life where others see God in you! Am I living a life like that? I hope to think so but I know I have a long way to go on this. I guess I have realized that no matter what we do, we should live and live and do things hat let others see God in us and through us. This is the life that I long for and I am working towards. Aren't we all? So this new question that God has posed, that I now try to reflect on when I run is, "In what ways can I live a life, where others see God in me?" I'll let you reflect on that question as well! Until next time.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2-minute Joplin Mission Trip Reflection

Our Joplin Recovery Group had the honor of presenting a presentation to faculty/staff across campus about our experience working in Joplin just 2 weeks after the tornado hit. We only had 1 hour and there are quite a few of us so we each had to limit our reflection to 2 minutes. When I found this out I started to stress out about not only what I wanted to say but also, how am I going to do it in only 2 minutes! I struggled for over a week with what I was going to say. After a conversation with my dear roommate, Autumn, and a refreshing run, I finally knew what message God wanted me to share. I started writing. Of course I had to take alot out to keep it to 2 minutes (Thanks Autumn!). I decided that I would write it the way I was going to read it. I remember hearing the students stories during Kairos where they had written their story and then read it. It was so effective! I know that when you talk about a reflection or something personal, its hard to stay on track so I knew this was going to be the right way to present the message that God had placed on my heart. The following is my reflection that I shared during the presentation:

My name is Andra Bickel and I am the Assistant Director of Student Activities and this is my Joplin reflection:

I could stand up here for hours to share stories of the amazing Regis family that I shared this experience with. Or tell you of the many unbelievable stories of survival that we heard. I would love to share with you the funny moments our group experienced and tell you about the projects we helped with. But I only have 2 minutes and if I had to sum up my Joplin experience it would be this:

I believe that God places a calling on our heart and will show us an opportunity to serve in that capacity, our role is to take the leap of faith.

Immediately after hearing about the devastation in Joplin, God put a call on my heart to help. I kept throwing around options in my head. Maybe I could donate food, clothes or maybe collect money from friends and colleagues and send it to Joplin? Nothing felt right. By word of mouth I heard about a Joplin relief effort that was forming here at Regis. Instantly I knew that this was my opportunity to serve. Without having any information about when the trip was leaving, who was going, what we would be doing, or even if there was still room, I emailed Janet to see if there was space for me. I took the leap of faith. I found out within a few hours that there was room and that the trip was leaving in a few days. The next few days were filled with making sure I could take the mission leave, getting a tetanus shot and mentally preparing for what was ahead.

This unavoidable call on my heart and the hoops that I jumped through to be able to go on this trip in the short amount of time reminds me of a few lines from St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“Teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and to not count the cost.”

As busy as our lives get and the many responsibilities that we have, this is not as easy as it seems. We might feel a calling placed on our heart and God might show us the opportunity to serve in that capacity but the “What about” statements start running through our head, “What about all of the projects at work, What about my kids or my significant other and so on and so on?

But I think St. Ignatius is calling us into a deeper trust with God to know that if we take that leap of faith and choose to “give and to not count the cost” that He will make sure that all of those other details work themselves out.

This trip was one of the most humbling and moving experiences I have ever been part of. Now, a few months removed from this experience, I still reflect not only on the difference we made, but how this experience has ultimately changed me. I know that from my experience in Joplin, God has put another call on my heart and that when he reaches out in this way to each one of us, we just have to be ready to take the leap of faith and to be ready as St. Ignatius calls us “to give and to not count the cost”

Friday, June 10, 2011

The beginning: Road trip with strangers

Day 1. 8am. Strangers meet to embark on a journey that will certainly change us. To my surprise Channel 7 News is there. Interviewing and taking video to create a story about our team. We load up our caravan with tools, luggage, much needed water & sunscreen and our hope for the experience. We huddle around and share our hopes for this trip. I shared my hope that we would all truly be able to "be" with the people of Joplin. That we will be able to truly walk beside them and comfort them in their time of struggle. Mike, a member of our team who has had many experiences with service trips and disaster relief shared a story with us. The story of the starfish:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?"
The youth replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean.  The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don't throw them back, they'll die."
"Son," the man said, "don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?  "You can't make a difference!"
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said
"I made a difference for that one."

At the time I believed that I truly understood why Mike was telling us this story and just loaded up into one of the two vans. It is clear to me now (sitting here back in Colorado) that I had a very small understanding of the message behind this story.
We loaded up and left our normal lives behind us. Filled with excitement, anticipation and fear we headed East. In 11 hours we will be in Pittsburg, KS, ready to face the day ahead. Boy were we wrong. I need to mention this because it is very relevant to the unexpected adversity that we faced. As we loaded up, one of our leaders, jokingly mentioned something that he mentions to all of his trips and that was "No Whining!" I think we all half - way took him seriously. Come on we are all adults here. We don't need to be reminded not to say "Are we there yet?" a million times. It turns out this simple statement proved to be a great deal of advice. Our trip certainly did not go as planned including an extra long stint to find gas right outside of Denver, our stake-bed truck loaded with tools and equipment ran out of gas and proved to add an extra hour to our trip. Actually that truck added quite a bit of time to our trip. Our mechanic on the trip found that the problem was unfixable, but it could have been worse. It could have been undriveable. But it wasn't. And we were off. Having to stop every 160 miles to fill the truck up. Extra stops added time (including losing an hour with the time change) but after what seemed like forever with very little whining we made it to Pittsburg, 2:00am.  It was amazing that throughout this lengthy trip, no one whined. I think this was so because we all knew what were were here for. We knew the importance of this trip and the impact that we were hoping to make. There was no room for whining with a mission so strong and giving.
We were supposed to meet at Missouri Southern State University at 8:00am the next day. With the 30 minute drive we were looking at less than 5 hours of sleep. We decided it would be in our best interest to start a little later which proved to be a wise choice. We all woke up energized and ready (or at least we pretended we were) for what we would see and hear in Joplin.  I think that was the shortest stay I have ever had at a hotel. We were in and out just like that. Ready to face the day ahead of us!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pre-Joplin Trip Reflection

At 8:30am tomorrow morning a group of 20 Regis faculty, staff and students will leave our regular routine lives and head to Joplin, MO where the lives of many have been completely turned upside down. I am humbled by the opportunity to give my time to the rebuild of Joplin. I have no idea what to expect. I have never done anything like this before. I am unsure of what to expect and how to prepare myself for the experience that is before me.

In our pre-trip meeting we talked about how this experience will change all of us in some way or another. I sit here, on the the eve of our departure, and wonder "How will this experience change ME?"

Ever since the news of the deadly tornado, my heart has been heavy, wanting to help in any way that I could. I did a lot of research in the days following and kept coming up at a dead end. There have been so many generous organizations and individuals who have donated items and their skills that monetary gifts were the suggested means of help. To me, this wasn't enough. I knew in my heart that I was to do more.

This trip came as a surprise to me. I hadn't heard of an organized trip from Regis until Wednesday afternoon when I saw a posting on our community website calling for donations to send along with the group. On a whim, I emailed back and just asked if there was an open spot on the trip. Sure enough there was. Everything happened so fast and I basically had less than 24 hours to decide if I would attend or not. I kept going back and forth of whether or not I should go. Was I prepared for this or was this something that "I" thought I was supposed to do? I started to doubt my motives. But I realized that I really was supposed to go on this trip. For one thing, unlike many people who would love to go, I have no attachments (kids, etc.) that are holding me back from attending. When discerning whether or not I would attend I remembered a passage from the book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris. He states that: "God gives us singleness- a season of our lives unmatched in it's boundless opportunities for growth, learning, and service..." I realized that God truly was calling me to go on this trip; to use this time in my life to grow personally, serve others (especially those in need), and to learn what He has in store for me.

Once the decision was made I finalized the paperwork, got a tetanus shot, rearranged my work schedule and tried to start emotionally preparing myself for the experience. I am not sure how much I can prepare myself for what we will see and the stories we will hear. One of our group leaders grew up in the area and actually worked at the hospital that was hit for 15 years. She has contacted many people in the community and hearing about the devastation just makes you cringe. We were informed that the pictures and coverage we see on tv and the internet does not do the damage justice. That is what I am scared about! What will my reaction be when I see the devastation first hand. Will I cry? Be numb? Be strong? Not sure yet. I will get back to you on that. One thing is for sure. This experience will change me. How? We'll see.

I hope to keep a blog while I am in Joplin. I will not be taking my computer to save room so I might not have internet access. I will keep a journal and once I get back I will add each day's reflection to the blog. I know that so many people want to help those who have been affected in Joplin by making a trip such as the one we are. I know that is it not possible for all so I hope that you can experience a little bit of what is going on there by my trip. I will post pictures as well. Here is some information about our itinerary:

8:00am - Meet at Regis
8:30am - University Ministry will be at Regis for a Blessing and Sending
8:30am - Leave Regis for Joplin, MO
11 hour drive full of anticipation, adrenaline, and probably some boredom
Late evening - Arrive at hotel (about 35min from Joplin)

7:00am - Leave hotel for MSSU (Missouri Southern State University) which seems to be a hub for volunteers and the relief effort. This is my connection with Joplin. During college our Regional XC meet was held on the MSSU campus. I believe we ran there 3 times so I am familiar with the area and have some great memories there.

Monday - Wednesday
8:00am -Arrive at MSSU and learn what our assignments will be. We have been told that they are currently just going day by day with volunteers. They are unsure of what they will need but we will be there and do whatever they need us to do. A few possible assignments will be debris removal, cooking for the many families who have been left homeless, or sorting donations and doing inventory.

Like I mentioned earlier, our trip leader grew up and worked in the area. Her father lives 12 miles from Joplin. She grew up in a very small farm town and when she informed her dad that a group from Regis was coming to aid in the relief efforts, amazing things happened. She started calling different family members to find housing and before she knew it she was getting calls from people who were offering there own beds for us to stay in. So the plan will be that we will have a host family to stay with each night. Our group leaders' father will also be hosting our group 2 nights for dinner on his farm. The second night our host families are invited as well. On our last night we have reservations  at a local restaurant that is know for it's fried chicken (Yum!).

Thursday - Drive the 11 hours back to Denver

It is amazing how all of this has come together in such a short time. It would not be possible without the support of the Regis community, those who have given up their time to make the trip and the many families who have offered us their homes to stay in.

I leave you with this closing reflection. We reflected on this at our pre-trip meaning. Really take the time to let this sink in:

(Father Kolvenbach) urges students to "let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering, and engage it constructively." He notes that "solidarity with our less fortunate brothers and learned through 'contact' rather than through 'concepts.' When the heart is touch by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change. Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the degradation and injustice that others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry, reflection, and action (Kolvenbach, "The Service of Faith").

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Are you "available" to God?

Should I buy a house? I might as well go ahead and buy now since I will be here for a couple more years. I am spending so much on rent right now and at least then I would be putting money into something that is mine. I really want a dog and buying a house will allow for me to have one. Buying a home will make me feel at home here.

These are the thoughts that have been going through my mind the last couple of weeks. I even bought the Idiots Guide to Buying a Home. What is hilarious about that is the fact that I read the first chapter and realized that buying a house was not right for me at this point in my life. I guess the book was just the way in which God pointed out my irrational thoughts that were going through my head. But this was not the only point of clarity for me in this house buying decision. I had a discussion with a woman a few weeks ago who had just purchased a house with her husband. I told her about my thoughts of buying a house and we discussed a few things. Then she commented that maybe buying a house wasn't the best option because what if I met a guy and was stuck here in Colorado with a house? Well of course I shrugged that off because even if I did meet a guy I was independent enough that I wouldn't just follow him anywhere. What about my passion and my career? Yes these thoughts are very "Miss Independent".

The conversation with the woman didn't discourage me at all from pursuing my option of buying a house. But during this time I started re-reading "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris. I read it a couple years ago and thought I would pick it up again. If you are single or even if you are in a relationship, I highly recommend this read. Basically Harris points out how society has changed the way that we as Christians date. It is probably very radical to some but to others it reminds us of what relationships are supposed to look like regardless of what society deems acceptable. My favorite part of the book is when he talks about singleness. He describes singleness by stating that:

God gives us singleness - a season of our lives unmatched in its boundless opportunities for growth, learning, and service - and we view it as a chance to get bogged down in finding and keeping boyfriends and girlfriends (p. 44). 

Until you realize God's gift of your singleness, you'll probably miss out on the incredible opportunities it holds (p. 51).
As a single you have the freedom right now to explore, study, and tackle the world. No other time in your life will offer these chances (p. 51).

If you are thinking that since it is near Valentine's day and this post is about the tragedy of being single you are mistaken. All of these thoughts, the house, the comment from the woman, and this concept by Harris all came together for me. The woman's comment meant so much more than I took it to mean. To me now, it didn't have anything to do with a potential boyfriend. It is about the fact that if I bought a house here in Colorado would I be available to God? This time in my life, being single and unattached is a time in my life when God will use me when He might not be able to use others who are attached. To me her statement now translated to, well what if God was calling you to go across the country? What is God called you to pick up everything and spread His name? These are the thoughts now that go through my mind. I am not in a place right now to get bogged down with a house. God will be using me and I want to be available to Him. It is so comforting now to know that this decision to buy a house is squashed. Not for financial reasons, lack of time, or not finding the perfect home. It is confidently squashed because of my faith that God has some amazing things in store for me and I want to be as available to Him as I can be. It is such an amazing feeling! 

So my question to you is.....Are YOU available to God?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This week's RTD adventure

I told myself after the first couple times that I tried to drive in the yucky, and might I add, dangerous Colorado weather that I would start riding the bus to work for my safety and more importantly so that my level of anxiety will stay at a normal level. Well as all of you know, the weather has been pretty miserable across the country, hence my new experience with RTD. I have to admit riding the bus to and from work has been the most humbling experience for me. Being from a small town my whole life, riding a bus was not even an option. Now that it is practically outside my doorstep (well not exactly, I have to walk down 3 flights of stairs and about 1/2 a mile to the nearest bus stop, but hey, let's admit I could use the exercise these days) it just makes sense to ride the bus.

There are so many great things about riding the bus to work. For example, I don't have to park all the way out in Lot 6 anymore! The bus stop is right next to the Student Center so it's a fairly easy walk. Today I started to read on my way to and from work (it's only about 10 minutes but it's nice to read a little something here and there). It is great for the environment and for my debit card! And honestly it makes me feel good. It sounds weird but I think it is something that I never thought I would do. In just a week's time of riding the bus, I have realized how much I take for granted having a car and having money to invest in gas, insurance, check-ups, etc. It has made me take a step back and really appreciate something that others dream of having so they drive themselves to work.

There are so many great things about the bus system here in Denver but I did experience a couple of moments this week that almost made me reconsider taking the bus. First of all, learning when the bus arrives and departs takes more time than one thinks. I have such a flexible schedule at work so sometimes I never know until the day of what time I will make it in or what time I will be leaving (no griping here, just a statement!). It takes a little time and coordination to get to and from work. Well on Tuesday night I was getting ready to head home from work and got caught up talking to a few people and work and literally missed the bus by 30 secs. So I decided I would just wait by the stop for the next one thinking it would be there in about 15 min. I didn't mention that this was the day that the low was -15 and the wind chills were close to -24. I kept waiting and waiting and eventually thought I was literally going to freeze to death so I headed back in to make sure that I saved my toes (seriously you can get frost bite within 30 mins in that weather). It turns out that I had waited outside in that weather for about 25min. Luckily I called a friend from work who works in Residence Life and she took me home after about 30 minutes of defrosting her car and scraping off ice.

Overall though, the RTD experience this week has been a great one. I am definitely considering making it my main mode of transportation to and from work (yucky weather or not). I will be riding the bus tomorrow since it practically snowed all day today and it looks like next week will be the same. Looks like 3 more days of snow next week! This Texas girl has learned how to still function in this Colorado weather (unlike my friends and family who got 3 or 4 days off this week). Lucky!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A realization of God's plan

I am not claiming that I have figured out all of God's plan for me. Are you kidding, that is a continual process that I hope takes many years and many new experiences to figure out! I did however have a realization this week of the current challenge that God has put in my life. Unlike other challenges that I have faced in my life, this "seems" like the simplest of all but I doubt that this journey will be easy.

For the past 3 1/2 year I have truly felt God in my life. There have been so many things during these last 3 1/2 that have made me put my faith in Him. Of course the start of my new journey with God was during and after the passing of my mom. During this time I experienced God's love by who he put in my life, the constant conversations with Him trying to understand, Why?, and the way that God guided me over the following years in relationships, my faith, and my career. I felt like God had challenged me and that I definitely became a better, stronger individual because of all of this. My faith was stronger than it had ever been in my life and stronger than I ever thought it could be.

During this time I did a lot of soul searching, had many conversations with friends and mentors, and eventually found my path in life which was Student Affairs. I truly believed that God had aligned so many things that eventually led to this realization. It is hard to change your life plan, especially during your first semester of graduate school but there was not doubt that this was the path that God had for me. I changed my degree and changed my plan for my career. This was a huge step for me and especially since what I was planning on doing was so foreign to my family and friends. I have given up on explaining what I do. It's too hard! Fellow Student Affairs professionals understand what I mean when I say this.

I found myself the happiest I had been in months. Finally making sense of everything that had happened and so excited that out of a tragedy I truly found meaning in life. This discovery did not happen on my own, it was God' plan all along, it just took the time to go through these steps for me to realize this. As my first year in grad school quickly flew by, I found myself starting the journey of finding a job. This process lasted 5 months so believe me, my faith was so strong at this point because it was one of the only things keeping me going.

As I started my job search I had to do more soul searching. Was I willing to relocate? What type of job was I looking for? What type of school did I want to work at? What was important to me in a job environment? At this point in my life I had lived in the same area my whole life. I was very comfortable where I was and the relationships that I had around me. As I prepared for the placement exchange (this was an opportunity to interview with schools all around the country at one conference), I had to truly rely on God that he would guide me to the place that I needed to be. Instead of deciding where I would or would not go, I interviewed with schools out of state, public and private, large and small. I knew that this was necessary for God's plan for me to take course. I was lucky to find the job that I truly wanted at the conference but it was an anticipated position and who knew if the position would be available. Over the next few months I applied for jobs left and right. During this time I experienced a lot of rejection and it was truly hard to keep going in this process. My faith was truly tested and I had to keep applying and keeping praying that God would lead me to where he needed me to be. In the back of my mind I just kept hoping that the job I truly wanted was the one that God would lead me to. As graduation approached  I was a little disappointed because "my" plan was to know where I was going before graduation day. It wasn't looking too good. But that was all about to change. The day before graduation I received a phone call from the head of the search committee for the job that I wanted. They wanted to bring me on campus. I was ecstatic! I was so worried but in the end God knew that this was going to happen. Long story short. I ended up interviewing and was offered the job at Regis University in Denver, Colorado.

God moved me away from all of my family and friends to the beautiful city of Denver, Colorado. I didn't know why at the time but I knew that I was excited to find out. It has now been almost 7 months since I moved here. Life has settled down as much as it can in the field of Student Affairs. I absolutely love my job and am finally feeling confident in my position. Personally I definitely have struggled. Don't get me wrong, I have had so much fun these last 7 months exploring Denver. From an amazing Lady A concert, to meeting great new people, to the amazing mountain views, to learning how to function in snow, and to learning how to ski, life it pretty great. But there has definitely been something missing.

It has taken me 7 months to figure out this void in my life but it feels great to finally figure out one of the reasons God led me here. You might be wondering why I just explored the last couple of years of my life but they are part of this realization. For the past couple of years my life has been defined by challenges and major life decisions that have made me rely on my faith on an almost daily basis. Like I stated before, my faith was the strongest it had ever been and the strongest I thought it ever could be. My realization this week is that for the first time in the last 3 1/2 years, there is not a major decision or challenge that is defining my life. I have found that God's challenge for me in this time is to find faith in everyday life. This is something that I has come easy to me these last couple of years but now that life has slowed down, life has become somewhat normal, and now with all of this extra free time since I am not in school, it has become somewhat of a challenge for me. Now that my life seems "normal" how do I define my faith? This seems so simple but for me this is definitely a change and a challenge that I know God is wanting me to work through. Of course there will be more major life decision and challenges that come along the way, but what does my faith look like when these are not present?

So now that I have come to this realization, I know that God will start guiding me to figure this out and I know that I have to do more soul searching to figure this out as well. I am excited to start this journey with God and rely on him to lead me.