Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Release.

There's something funny that takes place when you're getting ready to make big changes in your life.
It's almost like a real life "physical" shift...
but often time for me it's an emotional shift.
It takes the physical shift happening to push me through the emotional shift.
and into the release.

The release is the place of peace with the upcoming changes.
The place of feeling like you have literally been released.
Your heart is at peace.
Your mind is at peace.
You plans are at peace.
There is a great release that takes place in me before I can happily move into the next chapter.
It's kind of the way that I have always been.

Truth be told... the physical shift isn't usually a happy one.
I am usually angry and bitter about those "physical" things that are happening.
But once I get through them...
That's when I feel the emotional shift, the emotional release.
The emotional readiness.

I think I have reached that place in our latest transition.
Truth be told this transition on paper should have been my own version of a piece of cake.
I am getting to go to my top choice of where I want to live.
I am getting to be permanently near pieces of me... family... that mean so much to me.
I am getting to raise my girls near some of the most important people in my life.
I am getting to spend holidays and all around just getting to do life with my people near again.
I fought for this. I wanted this. I hinted at this for literally YEARS.
From the day I moved to Maryland from Minnesota almost exactly 3 years ago I knew that I wanted to go back.

I can't fully explain what it is about the midwest that enchanted me and stole my heart being that I am a west coast gal but I just knew that it's where I wanted to be. It's where I wanted to raise my children.
It's where I wanted to put down roots.

So why then when we officially felt like this was what God was calling us to,
why then when we decided it was the right choice and place and time.
Why then did it become so emotionally difficult?
(I know I know I am human and my life has been Maryland for 3 years but seriously, why?)

In October when we made the choice and call public, it was hard!
I was so emotional.
I had a lot going on that was GOOD here.
I was volunteering in a position that was so fulfilling and absolutely God's plan for my life.
We had finally found our "people" our place here with the friends and their kids that were our besties.
We had been apart of a church for one year that was rocking us to the core while we were a part of rocking the world to the core for His kingdom.

I knew that this is what God was calling us to, but it was hard!

To say that the last 3-4 months have been easy as we've moved forward with the plans that God has laid on our hearts would be so much of an understatement.
It has been truly some of the hardest months, both physically and emotionally.

Part of that struggle for me has been the physical shift that's been taking place.
God has been removing me from various things little by little and it's been a struggle
and truly it's been making an emotional shift in me as I work through them.

As I let go of what I am holding so tightly onto, and just be still, just wait.
Not grasping yet at what is to come, but having let go of what was, in preparation for the move.
Just emotionally being still, and waiting.
I think it's safe to say I have officially felt "the release"
Emotionally I am not at the place now where I was 3-4 months ago.

Maybe that's why it's taking the house so long to sell...
because God needed to take that time to prepare me in all aspects.

I feel like now I am truly ready.
I can joyfully walk from here into the next chapter He has for me/us
Where ever and how ever He wants to use me/us.
With a new appreciation for his plan.

I could never have imagined the things that we encountered on our journey here.
I could never have dreamed up the AMAZING friends that we would get the honor of doing life with.
I could never have imagined the definition of my life calling that I could experience in such a short powerful time.
I could never have thought up the journey that we have walked these last three years.
No, this was all God. Highs and lows. This whole experience in Maryland was a part of His plan.
Knowing that leaves me so excited to live out the next part of His plan.

I feel like "The Release" has happened and I will freely and happily move on to the next chapter now.
Don't get me wrong, I will so deeply miss the people here.
We have truly created life long bonds here, and have friends that we will make a point to see for the rest of our lives.
But, I feel like God has officially given my soul peace.

I have officially been released from all the things that were tying me back here.
And I am pretty eager for what comes next.

This song has been on my mind a lot the last few days...
Hey who knows... this could be our day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


At the end of 2013 going into the beginning of 2014 I spent a lot of time really processing what our past year had been like, and the possibility of what our upcoming year would be like. I shared a little bit of what was going on in my heart with all of that here.

In going with my desire to "rise from the ashes" of a brutally bitter sweet year I spent a lot of time praying through what I wanted my "one word" of the year to be. What one concept/idea/theme I wanted to focus on for the entire year of 2014, but even more than that what I felt like God wanted me to focus on and meditate on this year. A lot of words bounced all over my mind and across the pages of my journal during my quiet times but one in particular shimmered and came to life every single time that I came across it.

I knew in my heart walking into this new year that it was going to be a year of transition... A year of great change and growth, a year of growing pains and overcoming new obstacles and fears. A year where we leave behind all that we've known for our adult lives and walk into a new season of living and learning in a new place with new jobs and a new church and new friends. I can't possibly know that all of this new, different, change is going to take place and not also anticipate the growing pains. It's a part of life, but I do have great anticipation and excitement for this new journey we will be walking. Right now much of it is unknown... when we sell the house, when we move, when Mike get's out, how/why he gets out, when we get our own place, we when and where we get jobs, what church we will go to, where we will be financially at the end of the year.... all of this is VERY up in the air. As we prepare for our new season... we are in a season of transition already... a season of unknown... a season of preparation. And if I'm being honest.... this season is far more challenging than I expected it to be. I feel like we are at a great stand still... like we are frozen in this place... there is no going forward yet but we also can't go back. It's a place of waiting.... and we came into this place of waiting after being in a season of great struggle and trial and turmoil and pain.

In processing all of these "seasons" in processing where we've been lately, where we are now, and where I anticipate us going that one word continued to shine...

There was no doubt in my mind that "JOY" was the word that God wanted to carve into my mind this year. So... it's my word for 2014.

I want to continually direct my mind and my heart and my family to a place of JOY. A true ever lasting joy. A joy that is unfleeting and unchanging regardless of what season we are walking through, regardless of what circumstances we face, regardless of what challenges we struggle through because it's a joy that comes from Jesus alone. So I am going to focus on it.. I am going to mediate on it.. I am going to study it.. I want to know joy. I want LIVE JOY this year, and every year forever.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Out of the Ashes We Rise: What Our 2013 Looked Like and How We're Moving Forward in 2014.

2013 was A YEAR for us.
Truly that's the only appropriate way to say it.
The best word that comes to mind to explain the last 365 days in the Allen family is

2013 brought so much growth, accomplishments, special days, precious friendships, and undreamed of opportunities... Some of which included:
-- I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Religion with a double minor in Church Ministry and Christian Counseling in May after 6 years of school, 2 cross country moves, getting married, having two babies, 3 different schools, changing my major twice, and the everyday general mayhem This was obviously a huge accomplishment and something I am so proud of and thankful I had the opportunity to do. Plus my sweet dad flew in from SD to be there for it, huge surprise and blessing.
-- My babies turned 1 and 3 and we had a HUGE birthday party with all our loved ones.
-- Mike and I celebrated 5 years of marriage.
-- We made a BUNCH of new friends, and have created bonds that will truly last a life time. I am especially thankful for all the fun we've gotten to have from parties, to game nights, to playdates, to just hanging out... we've been BLESSED with some amazing friends. [[Thanks to you guys!]]
-- I was able to go on vacation for 3 weeks and be there for my sweet sissy's wedding
-- Sierra was dedicated to the God in May with a beautiful ceremony, delicious cake, and a bunch of our best friends around.
-- Mike made Petty Officer 1st Class in the Navy, started his Master's degree, and after months of studying passed the exam to get the CISSP certification which was one of his number one professional goals.
-- We've been a part of truly the best church we could ask for, for the entire year and were able to be a part of several big milestones for this growing church.
-- I was asked to be the volunteer Community Group Coordinator for our Church (a position that is typically a staff position, but we're a growing church). A position that truly brought SO MUCH growth and direction for my future and affirmation of my calling... from a phenomenal mentor, being a part of staff meetings, successfully launching 15 C.G.'s with over 100 people in them.
-- We led a Young Adult Comm. Group all year in our home in which we made some of the greatest friendships and were immensely blessed by them and the fellowship and support.
-- We have had  SOLID support system of friends and people who love us thanks to our church, friends from Mike's work, from this sweet little blogging community and our neighbor, who have been there for us in the day to day, in the thick of it.

Having written all of that, and reading all that good I had to actually stop and take a deep breath, and kind of just sit as my eyes teared up... There really has been a lot of good this year, a lot of growth and celebration.

That being said.... even with so much growth and change, this year was truly one of the hardest years for our family. The last half especially. We have STRUGGLED this year. We've been beaten down and stomped on. There have been tears and brokenness, fear and devastation, there has been down right anger and frustration and PAIN.

Unlike listing the good... I won't list the bad stuff, because even as much growth has come out of the bad stuff, I don't want to sit and grovel in the pain. I don't want to remind myself of just how much pain we've come out of. I will just say that for months it felt like one after another things just kept going wrong. We battled a lot of scary stuff this year, some of it we're still battling... some of it the dust seems to have settled on.

But ALL of it left us ready to see the clock strike midnight and to bring in the new year and leave much of what 2013 did to our bodies, minds, spirits, and hearts behind us.

We did BATTLE in 2013 and we are so ready to put some of that battle and struggle down and move into the next chapter. While I am so aware that the battle will never be over, I am expect of what this new year holds for us.

2014 for us is a year of change, it's a year of rebuilding in a new place and in a new way.

We're selling out first home and moving to Minnesota in the next few months. Mike will be getting out of the military (most likely medically separated) and we will enter into our first taste of civilian life ever as a couple. I'll be getting my first "real" job. Kaylee will start preschool in the fall.

When the clock strikes 2015 this time next year I am sure that I will still look back and see much I didn't expect and a year full of growing pains as we step into the unknown and do life in a way we've never done it, but right now as a family there is so much beauty to see us lined up with the ashes of bittersweet 2013 behind us. To see us STANDING after a year that could have left us knocked down. For that I am thankful, for that I am joyful. The Allen's can do hard things. We can survive hard things, and we can even thrive!

For all of this and more... I am expectant. I am expectant of all the God has in store for us in this upcoming year. I am expectant for seeing His plan become unfolded this year. I am expectant for the changes. I am expectant for things like being close to some family and the ways that will impact our lives.

2013 knocked me down and threw me around y'all but it didn't win. I'm still standing. I might have had a very heavy heart lately, but it's feeling lighter lately. It's feeling excited lately.  My heart is feeling expectant for everything as we move ahead..... and ready.
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