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From Reeling to Reborn

2013; It’s been quite a year. A year filled with heartbreak and disappointment. A year filled with love, family and friends. 2013 was a year that brought me to my knees in desperation, and in gratitude.

As I reflected on 2013 for this blog post, I thought about skipping over the bad stuff. However, the single most important thing I want to do with this blog is to be authentic in who I am and who I want to be. And skipping the bad wouldn’t be true to that. However, upon further reflection, I could think of only one bad thing worthy enough to even write about. It was a single heartbreak, although it’s probably not the kind of heartbreak you would think. It wasn’t a person, per sé, that broke my heart. No, it was a company. Specifically, my employer.

In order to protect myself just a little bit, I’ll forego the down and dirty details, but I can assure you that my heart was metaphorically ripped out, put in a blender, and turned into mincemeat. I had bounced back from the previous year’s disappointment, and even began to thrive and enjoy my role in the company. Then, in late January, some news came down that changed everything. I was given a new role, a new boss, new employees, and new responsibilities.  Ironically, I was given almost everything I wanted the year before, but in the worst possible way it could have been done. I know we all experience professional disappointments from time to time, but this was the kind of ongoing mental beat down that makes you want stay down. It’s the kind that breaks most people.

But, you know what? It has not broken me. I’m hurt and disappointed by what’s been done to me, but I know in my heart that what I’m going through is all part of God’s perfect plan for me. If there is one thing that’s come from this experience, it’s that I find myself growing closer to God. In 2013, my soul exploded with His love. I’ve read more books, listened to more music, and received more messages of God’s Word than ever before. I’ve found that in my very darkest times, God continues to fan the flame in my heart. That flame was bigger and brighter than ever on August 4 when I was baptized for a second time. There’s something about making that decision and commitment as an adult that means so much more than my childhood decision thirty-five years ago. It was the #1 moment of the year, made even more special when Gil surprised me by taking my hand and joining me in a commitment to live out this faith journey together, side by side.

2013 could also be summarized by the “F” word. Well, three little “F” words actually: faith, family, friends. I know it is cliché, but this was the year that those three words began to morph into the same entity. I cannot speak about one without talking about the others. My faith brought so many incredible friends into my life, friends that are now as important as any family member could be. And speaking of family, the most important person in my life, my husband, is also my best friend and a guiding source of God inspired love and service. I’ve seen Gil’s faith really grow this year, and I am so proud of him and so blessed to be his wife.

If I had to pick one word to describe 2013, it would be metamorphosis. This was my, “Year of the Butterfly”. I found my happy place right in my own back yard during the late summer months. Over and over again I watched something ugly become something beautiful. Sometimes it was in the birth of a pinhead sized caterpillar, or a bee sucking nectar from an alien looking passionflower bloom.  Sometimes it was in the sparkling sunlight reflecting off drops of rain on a vibrant, orange flower. Mostly, it was in the moments glorious new life emerged from an ugly, hardened chrysalis. These were the moments that took my breath away. These were the moments in which I remembered God’s grace. While the voices in my head wreaked havoc on my thoughts, I found moments of beauty and stillness in those fluttering, beautiful insects. The beauty would take my breath away and silence the demons in my mind. In those moments, I was reminded that God will make beautiful things out of all of us. I felt a kind of rebirth, very much like the moment of my baptism.

Metamorphosis is defined as a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something. My metamorphosis is happening. I can feel it from the inside, in very much the same way that the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly inside a chrysalis. You can’t see it happening, but you watch, and you wait with giddy anticipation. With hope. With faith that something beautiful is coming. I believe God gave me those experiences last year to remind me that He’s not finished with me. I believe I needed to see that the ugly doesn’t last. I needed to feel that special kind of hope.

So, it’s with giddy anticipation I enter 2014 filled with hope that God’s hand and His grace will continue to transform me into the person He wants me to be.

Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

280/365 Endodontic Royalty

I am 18 hours away from getting on a plane and guess what happens? My temporary crown falls out as I’m driving to work today. UGH. A pretty big panic sets in since I know that my favorite dentist is in Key West for the week, not to mention that today is my last day at work until June 22 so I really can’t afford to not be at work any today.

I decided to take a chance and call Endodontic Specialists, the clinic that did my root canal earlier this year. They told me to come in any time I wanted. I grabbed my purse and keys and sprinted to my car. I was back at work in under 45 minutes with my newly glued crown snugly in place.

I hope no one ever NEEDS an endodontist, but if you do, these guys are so amazing. And I’m not just talking about the doctors but the staff has been great to me. Truth be told, this is not the first time they have seen me in ’emergency’ situations and every single time they have been wonderful.

Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

261/365 Here Chicky Chicky

I will never get tired of this. Don’t tell anyone but I only go to church at Relevant so that I can visit the chicks in Ybor.  These little cuties totally distracted me as Gil and I headed from the parking garage to the church for a small group class.

PS…I love when the teacher becomes the student. That was the case in the small group we led tonight. I was completely schooled by these beautiful Christ followers.


Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

259/365 DaniLani

Gil and I trekked down to Ybor tonight to see one of our favorite band, Son of a Bad Man, perform at Collage Ybor. We also got to see another local band that kinda rocks it – Fight Another Day. I recommend you catch both of these bands when ever you have a chance. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

We had been to Collage before and I knew my friend Danielle’s artwork was on display here, but I had forgotten. So, it was a wonderful surprise when it grabbed my attention as I walked by.

Danielle’s art is some of my favorite on this planet. Period. She is able to take a few song lyrics, a canvas and some scrap paper and create a piece of art that evokes emotion at a very personal level. I can’t wait until I have one of these special and personal pieces gracing our walls.

Her name is Danielle Lanier and you can find more of her artwork and information here. If you are looking for a special gift for a friend or even for yourself, you can’t go wrong with one of her custom creations.


Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

215/365 Easter is Here

Six weeks ago I posted a picture from our very unusual church service that day. On that February Sunday, the entire worship area was directed out of the back doors and onto three awaiting tour buses. We weren’t told where we were going but watched Pastor Paul deliver his communion message via recorded video displayed on the bus’s TV monitors. He explained that we were heading to Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa. This was to be the site of our church’s Easter celebration and we were going there to pray over it. Upon arrival at the park, we were handed a Sharpie as we exited the bus and instructed to write the names of those we wanted to join us for this epic Easter celebration on pieces of pine bark mulch lining the various flower and plant beds.

I took a seat on the ground and grabbed a  few pieces of bark. I wrote my mom’s name first, then my nephew and sister. I knew that having them join us today would be a long shot but I wanted their names in that pile of mulch that so many have prayed over in the past few weeks.

Next, I sat and thought about who else I would want to join us. The list was long, but I wanted this to be special. I thought about those local friends and acquaintances who could use a serious boost of our Father’s message and honestly, no one came to mind. I’m sure if I had been given more than 10 minutes to think about it, I could have come up with a decent list but the time just wasn’t there.

Then, it hit me. I knew that my blood family would most likely not be able to be with us so I immediately thought about my other family. If I couldn’t have blood with me, I would at least want to celebrate this special Holy day with those I consider family by choice.

This is the piece of bark that I scribbled on.

Today was proof that God does hear and answer our prayers. For 12 months our church has prayed about this day and for His glory to shine in the city of Tampa. We asked for 5,000 people to show up and 5,560 did indeed. Pastor Paul asked for beautiful weather and at the start of today’s service, the thermometer registered a comfortable 73 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. We all prayed God would speak to those who needed him and at the end of the day, 30 people became new Christ followers.

One more prayer was answered today. That was my prayer said six weeks ago in a park over a piece of pine bark. I prayed that our friends Matt and Michelle (Matelle) and Jeff and Ellen (Jellen), along with their families, would join us for this special celebration. As you can see, they did just that. I am so blessed to call these people my family.

Back row: Ellen, Jeff, Tanner, Gil, Kurt, Michelle, Matt. Front row: Abby, Emma holding Olivia, Lee, Natalie, Chloe.
Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

207/365 Waste Done Right

I follow the City of Tampa announcements via my RSS reader (Google Reader, of course) and came across this announcement a few days ago:

City of Tampa Household Chemical and Electronics Collection this Saturday – Upcoming collection day on Saturday, March 31, 2012

We have a cabinet in the garage filled with old paint and chemicals, not to mention a dead TV and some old batteries. We were very excited about being able to dump all of this free. We loaded up the bed of the truck and even helped out a neighbor by taking their old cans of paint as well.

To say the City of Tampa did this right is a massive understatement. Wow. We were blown away from the minute we arrived at the dump site set up in an empty parking lot just off the interstate. We were directed to the first station where they took a quick inventory of what we had to dump and placed cards on our windshield to signal to the next stations where we needed to stop. There were orange cones directing us to each station where we simply had to pull up and the proper items were unloaded for us. We never had to get out of the truck. First were the electronics, then paint/chemicals, and last was the battery disposal. It was so organized and the logistics were so impressive.

Bravo to the City of Tampa for doing green right! And for allowing your citizens to safely dispose of our hazardous chemicals and materials with very little effort other than the 30 minute drive there and back.