When a change of plans reminds you that you’re enough

Life is weird and unexpected and crazy and difficult and wonderful and confusing and chaotic and interesting all at once.

And it’s beautiful—so, so incredibly beautiful.

I own a planner, but sometimes I don’t know why I even bother with it. Sure, it helps to remind me of appointments and plans I have, but it also gets filled with too many tasks that shouldn’t necessarily be added to my already-almost-overflowing plate. I often feel like those unaccomplished things on my list are staring back at me, mocking me with words that make me feel like I’ve failed. Like I’m not doing enough. Like I’m not giving enough of myself. Like I’m not trying hard enough. Like I’m not succeeding enough. Like I’m, simply put, just plain not enough.

And even though I know those thoughts are all lies, every once in a while, I let myself believe them.

This isn’t my author bio photo, but it almost was.

I wrote a book (which I can’t wait to share with you VERY soon), and it’s filled with constant reminders that you are enough—that you are valued, and you are loved, and you matter. And all of these things are true about myself, too. So why do I let these feelings of running a never-ending race in which I’m doomed to cross the finish line in dead last get to me so much?

I blame it on being human and having emotions.

I sat across from my dear friend and mentor Cristy earlier this week and poured my heart out with these feelings to her. I tend to bottle my emotions, so they all come out at once when I least expect them to, and the tiniest thing generally sets them off. She sat there with me and listened and spoke truth into me and reminded me of my value and in Whom I find that value. She encouraged me to take time later that day to rest—to do nothing and to be OK with that.

As a teacher, I’m a fan of spring break, because we truly do need rest more than we realize. I took some time that afternoon to lie in the sun by the pool and bask in its warmth. I turned on sounds of ocean waves to take me back to my days in California when I would sit on my favorite lifeguard tower or the sand and stare out at the ocean (I miss you with my whole heart, SoCal) and did something I hadn’t let myself do in far too long: I relaxed and did nothing. It felt so nice.

Almost 80 degrees and freezing

After a while, I decided to dip my toes in the water, and my reaction would have made you think that I was attempting the polar plunge in sub-freezing temperatures. It felt crazy cold! For some reason, though, I wanted more of that. I’ve been trying to increase my running mileage and speed lately, so my legs have been taking a beating. Even though I hate ice baths with everything in my being, I thought it might be good for me to suffer through one. I stared at the water, letting it challenge me to a dare. I went and sat on the side of the pool and dangled my legs into the coldness, the water only coming up to about the middle of my calves.

I don’t like the cold. At all. I don’t think that it’s a good idea for people to experience it, but some insist on being fans of things like snow and skiing and using the air conditioner. I don’t get it. As I looked down at that water, though, I knew that I was going in it soon. I didn’t want to, but I needed to—for reasons beyond a simple ice bath. Before I could talk myself out of it, I slid into the water until my legs were completely submerged. And even though I acted like I was a passenger on the Titanic who suddenly found herself in the middle of the icy Atlantic Ocean with no door that was clearly big enough for two people to float on, I survived.

I needed that victory.

I only lasted about seven minutes, but I did it. To me, that moment felt bigger than being able to highlight items off of my to-do list. While I was in there, I read from a book that sweet Cristy had given me earlier that morning, and there was a truth in there that I needed to be reminded of in this season fo my life: He will never put me where He cannot sustain me.

Saw Jules at the airport

On Wednesday, I went with two other teachers and 13 kids to D.C. for a film competition. I felt like I was running on fumes, but I knew that I needed to be there. It was only a few hours after we arrived that the organization in charge of the contest notified everyone that it had made the decision to cancel it entirely. After communication with our district, it was decided that we would all come home as soon as we could get a flight back. We ended up being in D.C. for barely 24 hours, and it felt like one of the longest days that the earth ever rotated around the sun. All of us were tired and confused and frustrated that the organization waited until everyone had arrived to make that decision, but one thought kept resonating in my mind and heart.

He will never put me where He cannot sustain me.

Good thing she isn’t actually driving yet.

Life won’t go as we planned all of the time—probably even most of the time. But I know that that’s a good thing. If everything panned out the way I wanted it to, I’d be much more of a mess than I am most days. The reality of my life can’t always match what’s written in my planner, and I feel like I’m in a continual pattern of learning to embrace that. I want the days when I end up jumping into cold water. I want the days when trips have plot twists, but you end up making some hilarious memories on an unexpected journey. I want the days when my heart feels emotions that it didn’t predict it would feel. I want the days when I can sit in the sun with no concept of a schedule. I want the days when I remember what it was like to be a carefree kid again and have zero worries in the entire world. I want the days when the storms blow in, and I am stuck on my sofa with nothing to do but nap.

And I forever and always want the days when God reminds me of his immeasurable love and grace and sufficiency in ways I never imagined.

Remind yourself that you're enough

I hope that you don’t have to question whether or not you’re enough in any area of your life. And I hope that, if for some reason you do, you are immediately reminded of just how much you are valued. None of our days will be perfect, and that’s OK. Sometimes it’s best to embrace the mess for what it is and replace your frustrations and anxieties with joy and gratitude in the small victories.

Because those seemingly small victories are often much more significant than you realize.

Because worrying shouldn’t replace joy

Worrying and stress try to take the place of joy and fun, and that’s just not right.

Especially when bikes hanging off of cars are involved.

When I first moved to California, I bought a beach cruiser at Walmart. I know that it’s not good to get attached to material things, but I love that bike. It’s the perfect seafoam green color, and it just makes me incredibly happy when I ride it.

For my move back to Dallas, I packed most of my bigger items (and by “most” I mean all two big things I actually own—my bed and my love seat) and a few other possessions in one of those cube things that you load yourself before the movers pick it up to transport it to your destination for you. The day that it was picked up, something hit me while I was at work: Shast! I forgot to pack my bike in there.

I almost cried.

This bike and I have a lot of memories together.

I was trying not to stress, but moving across the country (again) brings with it some anxieties that you try really hard to avoid but sometimes fail. The fact that I forgot to pack something that definitely wasn’t going to fit in my car—I have too many clothes, and I admit it—started giving me heart palpitations. How was I supposed to get my bike to Dallas from Orange County?! I immediately consulted the Google.

I researched the costs and logistics of shipping a bike, but most of them involved taking the bike apart in some capacity. Again, this is a $99 beach cruise from Walmart—it didn’t work that way. If you take off that front wheel, you lose that bike forever. I ended up buying a bike rack for my car and told myself that the spare tire on the back of it wouldn’t be an issue.

Sometimes it’s best to ignore reality for as long as possible, right?

My friend JP helped me attach the bike rack to my car and the bike to the rack, but there was definite concern from both of us with the soundness of it all. The spare tire simply complicated things and made it look and feel not as secure as I would have preferred. But I needed and wanted to get home, and I wanted to take that bike with me, so I was going to give it a go and hope and pray that it wouldn’t suddenly become unattached and fly off and hurt someone else on the road while I was driving.

My sweet sister made that long journey home with me just like she had made it out there with me—she helped send me out on that adventure and was now helping to bring me home. She’s the actual best. And she, too, had some slight concerns about my beach cruiser and the likelihood that it would make it the full 20–21 hours back to Dallas.

When I picked her up from the airport in Orange County late on Wednesday, we immediately drove down to San Diego to stay in a hotel for the night so that we didn’t have to share an air mattress and because a hotel down there was slightly more affordable than one in the O.C. and was along the way on the route I had decided we’d take back. We didn’t get too far before I became overly paranoid and had to stop at a gas station to check the security of the bike. Steph got out of the car to help inspect it with me and to try to tighten all of the straps. We decided that it seemed as tied down as it could get, and we’d trust that it would survive.

Perhaps you can see why I was a little concerned.

It was comical with that thing on the back. The parking situation at the hotel in San Diego was laughable, and I don’t know how larger vehicles are able to stay there with the tiny aisle between the two rows of cars and the packed-together spots that look like they can only fit MINI Coopers and smaller. Steph had to get out to guide me so that I wouldn’t hit another car, especially with the bike protruding out pretty majorly on the right side, and what should have been an easy turn became at least an 18-point maneuver. It was almost like the pivot scene from Friends but in a car.

The good news is that the bike made it the entire trip back to Dallas, and no one was injured or died. The bad news is that I wasn’t as relaxed as I should have been for a good portion of the trip, and I checked the security of that thing during every single stop we made. Sure, I reached a certain point when I stopped thinking about it and simply trusted that everything would be OK, but it took me a while to get there. I was worrying about something that I had no control over at that point, and my worries tended to magnify when I noticed any slack in the straps or tilting/shifting of the bike rack. In all honesty, the thing was super secure and wasn’t going anywhere, but it was tough not to check it in my rearview mirror probably more times than I’ve ever looked that way in the more than nine years that I’ve been driving this car.

Yet I didn’t worry about something that likely should have been a bigger concern—you know, like running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

Road trip warriors at it again.

There was a stretch of desert that we went through that didn’t have a gas station for a pretty long time. I had checked before when I mapped out the trip to make sure that we wouldn’t encounter such situations, but it happened nonetheless. We were as far past empty as you can get, and my gas was burning much more quickly because of all that was in and on the car (apparently losing fuel at a faster rate that way is a thing—freaking science). At one point, I didn’t know if the gas pedal was actually working or if it was just my mind playing tricks on me that it was more difficult to push down and wasn’t really giving much oomph. Steph was getting pretty concerned, and I would have felt awful if she had given up her time and energy to travel across the country yet again with me only for us to run out of gas in a desert area full of mystery—not necessarily the good kind—and the words “no service” in the top left corners of our phones.

I remember saying a little prayer right then and there, and I felt a calmness that everything was going to be alright. Even if we had to walk to get gas (which I was confident we wouldn’t have to do), we would be fine. And guess what? We made it. We filled up with more gas than my tank can actually take, so that was special. I tried to be better about monitoring the gas the rest of the trip, but Steph ended up being the one to make sure to check with me every so often to see how we were doing in that department. I love that gal.

So why was I so worried about that bike?

I thought about it later and realized that I do this quite often in different areas of my life—I let myself get anxious about things that won’t get any better or any worse by my worrying. Some situations leave me trusting God completely, while others seem like they’d be better if I had a brown paper bag to breathe in and out of repeatedly. But what I need to remember is that, regardless of what happens, and even when things don’t go the way I want and hope them to, He’s still there, and He’s still good.

And nothing will ever change that.

We’re all going to find ourselves in moments when we have to choose between stressing out about things we can’t control or living fully in the present and enjoying every second of life that we can. It certainly isn’t always easy—there are plenty of scary and daunting situations people face every single day—but it’s absolutely possible.

Having fears and doubts doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. But releasing those fears and doubts and letting yourself trust that there’s nothing that’s too big for God to handle makes you brave. Last May, I got “Be brave.” tattooed on my right inner forearm as a reminder that I want to live a life full of taking chances and chasing dreams and pursuing passions and speaking what’s on my heart and letting myself love in big ways and not ever letting fear keep me from doing anything I know I’m called to do—and doing it all with the complete faith that there’s a God who loves me more than I can ever comprehend.

Home.

My sister and I made it safely back to Dallas with no issues. We drove the long stretch to Midland the first day and stayed with me sweet cousin Rachel and her family for the night, and then we woke up and drove the remaining four or five hours home. Every single moving stress I had before and during that entire process is in the past. I’m back and settled in now, and everything feels right. And, as usual, the anxiety I felt was for naught.

The truth is that we don’t actually know what’s going to happen tomorrow or even in the next few seconds. Life is beautifully unpredictable, and that’s how it should be—because that’s how faith comes in to play. I hope that you never let fear cause you to miss out on the joy of the present, and I hope that you know that, no matter what happens in life, you’re valued and loved just as you are.

And I hope that you’re brave enough to believe that you’re worth that kind of love.