Is anyone still following this little blog?
Real talk….This year has thrown me for a loop (side note: I feel like I have said this in almost all of the posts I’ve published in the last two years). There have been many challenges and what has felt like one very long, hard season. I haven’t had the motivation or the courage to write about it in this space–or at all really–and talking about anything else just didn’t feel authentic… so, we had silence.
I’m still working through some things but I am finally feeling like it’s time to post a life update. So, here we are.
One of the most exciting changes is that Farmer Ben and I made a big move! As of November 1, we now live in Rochester, NY! (Also-never imagined that I would live in Rochester!)
How did this happen?
The short-handed version is that I was dealing with recurring frustration and a lot of unknowns, and after what felt like repeating the same conversation numerous times, Ben encouraged me to talk to someone about it…so I reached out to a friend of mine for some advice and he casually mentioned that his home church may be looking for another staff person. I didn’t take this seriously but I ended up speaking to his boss a few days later and before I knew it, Ben and I were driving to Rochester that weekend to meet him and see the church. It happened so quickly that I had to call my boss and explain the situation to see if I could even go…which still cracks me up when I think about it.
The longer version is that after a long period of remaining and trusting God in the midst of said frustration and unknowns, something shifted. Sitting in church one Sunday and not knowing what our next steps were, He finally told me it was time to move on. I say with all seriousness that God made it very clear that our time in that church was coming to an end…and two days later, we were making plans to go to Rochester for an interview.
“It’s just a conversation.” That’s what we kept telling ourselves. This made it seem less intimidating. And less real.
Now, this is a running joke because, well… we just moved to Rochester because of said conversation!
A week after that first phone call, I accepted the offer but because of some other circumstances, Ben and I decided to wait until the end of October to make the move.
So, on November 1, 2017, Farmer Ben and I drove from Plattsburgh to Rochester to begin a new chapter. I am now the Family Life Pastor at a church here. I am on the hunt for a side gig. Ben started working last week.
The church is very different than where we came from so Ben and I are figuring out how we fit into this new church family, along with navigating a new city and this huge change in our lives. But we are full of hope for our future here!
Not gonna lie, I am not loving the free time. I am not good at down-time. But I have to admit, I have been out straight for the last two and a half years and I know that God wants me to slow down and take a breath as I step into a new role…So I am trying to be intentional.
There is a lot from the last three years that I am still processing and grieving. One of the main things is Duane’s death and the aftermath. I’ve also been especially challenged in my calling this year and what that looks like as a female pastor. I’m using this time to work through these things.
That being said, the last couple of weeks have been a time of restoration and refreshment for us and while we still have a long way to go, I truly believe that God has a plan for us here and we are so hopeful for what He has in store! There has been overwhelming confirmation that we made the right choice…when I stop and think about it, it almost takes my breath away.
We have been so blessed by the kindness we’ve seen in our first days here as we settle into our new normal. I am more excited about ministry than I have been in a long time and Ben is dreaming about what his next steps are.
So … that’s where we are right now. Joyful, expectant and loved.
Let’s catch up! What are you doing/working on these days?
What are you excited about?
Happy Friday! Not gonna lie, it’s been a while! Let’s catch up!
I finally crossed over to the dark side and got an iPhone a couple of weeks ago. In all honesty, I had been thinking about it for a while (since August/September) but my poor old phone was finally on its last legs, so I gave in and made the switch.
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to show you some pictures I’ve taken in the 2 weeks since switching phones. I have to say, the camera on this phone is WAY better than my old one and I LOVE that. I also love that I can take screen shots(as you’ll notice!)…I know… I’m like 2341343 years late to the screenshot party. It’s fine.
What you’ll find:
- My friends’ excitement over my finally switching to the iPhone.
- Final grade in the last class I took (So pumped about getting that A!)
- Screenshot of some books I recently added to my Kindle library
- Food (Lots of food)
- Chocolate (the BEST chocolate for baking)
- Farmer Ben (my favorite person) and I freezing our butts off at a youth retreat
- The not-too-shabby view at said youth retreat. Still freezing.
- Screenshot of my workout summary on Map My Run
- Some books I ordered and am excited to dig into (both for class and for pleasure)
- A page I really liked in my reading for the class I just finished.
(Click on the collage to see individual photos)
That’s all I have for today! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
What are you taking pictures of lately? Screenshots? Let me know! (I’m really nosey like that and am dying to know!)
Today is my 28th birthday. Ever since I turned 25, I have begrudgingly gotten older, panic setting in as I realize that I am hurdling toward my thirties and there is no turning back. As an example, I vividly remember a conversation with an old friend last year. They wished me a happy birthday and asked how my day was. My response? “Thanks. I’m okay… I just thought that I’d have my sh*t together by now.”
But this year is different. I am totally okay with 28. I feel that I have fully used my 27th year and am ready for the next adventures that God has for me. I want to celebrate this life that I was given!
As I reflect back on the last year of my life, I smile at that conversation. I had no idea of the wild ride that God had in store for me.
I am so incredibly grateful. Not that it was an easy year, by any means, but I (eventually) chose to be joyful. And I am so grateful for the blessings that came with all of the hard things.
Year 27 was a year filled with loss. Ben and I left the restaurant; we lost a great mentor and friend and closed the book on jobs, projects and relationships that meant a lot to us. I struggled with not feeling my best and not doing things that I enjoyed doing. Not gonna lie, the first few months of 27 were spent very angry, upset and feeling as though I could snap like a rubber band.
But then something changed. I surrendered. And I let go of the fear and the bitterness that I was holding onto. Life didn’t get any easier; I simply chose to be grateful for whatever good I could find. I sought contentment and it changed my life.
Because of that choice, year 27 was filled with blessings, renewal, strength and so much love! Looking back, I realize that these things never would have happened if I had not decided to find joy and to submit to God’s plan.
I am absolutely amazed and humbled by how much God has done in my life as a result. He has blessed my marriage, my career and my friendships. Everything! I’m not saying that I have it all figured out, and there are definitely hard days where I would rather choose a pity party than gratitude, but I am actively seeking Thanksgiving and Joy.
I took a chance to start a book club, and have seen so much growth, friendship and wisdom come out of this.
By clearing out our schedules, Ben and I were able to spend more time with another couple. As a result, Ben and Ashley are some of our closest friends and we can’t imagine doing life without them! We’ve been through a lot with these two and are so grateful for their friendship.
We were also able to spend more time together. This year, we were able to have dinner together almost every day. Before my 27th birthday, I don’t think we ever did that more than 1 night a week. We’ve been able to take walks, to try new things together, to read and just be together in comfortable silence. I know that it won’t necessarily be like this forever but I am so grateful for this season of life.
I also took risks. I left my comfortable, secure job and am trying something new. Every day is filled with new challenges but this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it is not anything like I imagined it would be.
So, this year, instead of groaning at the thought of turning a year older, I am smiling. And I’m looking forward to what year 28 will bring. Because God has a plan.
If you’ve seen my last few posts, you already know that I’ve been working through this Gary Thomas book. I finished it a couple of weeks ago.
I typically read very fast–I am totally guilty of rushing through a book to finish it and not taking enough time to think critically and reflect on it. I couldn’t do that with this book. It’s not incredibly long, but it is FULL. I have about 2/3 of the pages dog-eared with information/quotes that I want to go back and read.
The basic premise of this book (at least from my point of view) comes from 2 Timothy 2:20-21:
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
As Christians we are called to be:
- Instruments for special purposes
- Made holy
- Useful to the Master
- Prepared to do any good work.
That’s a lot of responsibility.
As Gary puts it:
“Desiring a silver soul means that we stop treating our bodies like ornaments-with all the misguided motivations often displayed by those who build their bodies out of pride and ambition-and start treating our bodies like instruments, vessels set apart to serve the God who fashioned them. Whether we have strong or weak bodies, healthy or sick, overnourished or undernourished, how do we begin moving from where we are now to more purposefully building bodies that function like instruments?”
Um… treating our bodies as ornaments? Guilty. This means that we must put our vanity aside. That we stop beating ourselves up or worshiping our looks and start treating our bodies as something that God has given us…and use them accordingly!
This is heavy stuff. And that was only the first chapter!
I mentioned before that this really hit home. I’ve been a bit lax about taking care of my physical health the last few months. Not that I’ve taken up binge drinking, smoking and eating bacon cheeseburgers for dinner every night (How fun would that be?)… I just haven’t made a concerted effort to get out and move. And I was starting to feel it.
With my new-ish job, being healthy and physically fit is important. I have to be on the move at any given time…I never really know what I’m going to end up doing during the week (Seriously).
And then there is the other aspect of my job; As much as I don’t like to admit or think about it, people are watching what I do and say. Especially younger people. And their parents. What I do directly impacts my accountability. How is that for scary responsibility/reality? Wow.
There is a chapter called The Three-Hundred Pound Pastor that hit the nail on the head in this regard. Let’s just say that my Gross But Necessary posts came back right around the time I read that chapter.
To quote the book:
“Let’s be honest: There were times when I was discredited because of the way I looked. When I talked to the kids about self-control in other areas, they could look at me and understandably ask why I wasn’t addressing my issues with food…”
The chapter goes on to talk about how the church can actually enable people who struggle with food/physical fitness. Farmer Ben and I have definitely noticed this before-someone always brings cake/cookies to a group function, there are donuts and coffee on Sunday mornings, and so on.
As the books states;
“Please don’t misunderstand. Making delicious meals is a wonderful way to serve and love others. There’s nothing wrong with communal meals and tasty snacks. There is something wrong, however, about enabling someone who is trapped in an unhealthy pattern of living…
…Let’s create room in our churches for conversations rooted in love as we show concern not just for a person’s emotional well-being but for the physical well-being of that person too. Let’s be more concerned about someone walking in right relationship with God than with whether that person thinks we are loving accepting, and tolerant.”
Now, I realize that I may have a slightly different view because of my employment and my personal areas of struggle…but I think this is definitely something that needs to be talked about.
And the author is not saying to go around and criticize someone’s eating choices/physical appearance. Not at all. But he is saying, that maybe we shouldn’t be so accepting, so nice about letting someone continue an unhealthy lifestyle. There’s a balance.
Moving on, the book has many stories of people who were spiritually strengthened as a result of becoming physically stronger and as I mentioned before, there were many inspiring quotes.
There was also some tough reading.
Gary Thomas doesn’t mince words. He’s very honest about what he feels is the role of the church and its members And he doesn’t excuse a total focus on spiritual health:
“All this talk about fitness, facing the pain of getting in shape, actively combating indulgence and laziness, is in many ways an appeal for the church to get tougher. We are soft. We often cave in at the slightest challenge. Men are lost to superficial sins; women are lost to superficial cares, and the work of the kingdom is neglected. If we don’t get tougher, the work will never get done.”
He has a point. Being a Christian isn’t easy. Heck, being human isn’t easy! If we can’t suffer through an hour of strength training, how will we suffer through persecution? A crisis of faith? Or worse?
It’s pretty clear that I loved this book.There is so much more that I could go write about but we’d be here for another week! That being said, it was not an easy read. Did I take everything in this book as an absolute? Of course not. But it gave me a lot to think about.
There were many pages that made me say, “Amen! Yes…Absolutely!,” There were slightly more that gave me pause… that caused me to ask if I am really living up to the standard to which God calls us.
It’s definitely a process.
Because I loved this book so much, I’m going to give one away!*** Update: Giveaway closed!
To enter, simply comment on this post and tell me what gets you motivated to improve your physical health!
(US or Canada Only)***
For additional entries (1 entry for each item):
- Tweet about the giveaway and leave a comment telling me you did so.
- Follow me on twitter and comment telling me that you did. (@noellesnotebook)
- Follow my blog and tell me how you follow (email, WordPress, BlogLovin, etc.).
- Follow me on Instagram and let me know in the comments! (@noellesnotebook)
I’ll pick a winner on Saturday, August 29! Good luck!
*I purchased this book (and the giveaway copy) with my own money. No affiliation, I just really loved this book and want to share with y’all!
Another week has flown by and it was a good one! I had a “laser maze” evening with the kids at work and Farmer Ben and I celebrated 4 years of marriage. Thanks to all who called, texted, emailed and brought bottles of wine to celebrate!
I will admit, I didn’t get out the door as much as I would have liked, but sometimes spending an evening with your hubs and watching him make you an amazing dinner* (which will be continued this weekend) far outweighs needing to workout.
And then, on mornings like this one, we need to run. We need that time to be alone with God, to cry out to Him and to push ourselves…for Him. This morning’s run blew me away.
Anyway, here we go!
Gross But Necessary-August 16-22:
Sunday-Rest Day? I’m still trying to figure out how to get a workout in… And then I wonder if I should just call it a rest day. I can’t seem to get a handle on Sunday workouts because I’m busy with work. Any thoughts?
(Side note: We were also recovering from a super speedy trip to Mass the day before. No big deal.)
Monday-Afternoon Walk with Farmer Ben. We didn’t have a lot of time, but it was good to get some steps in, even with the heat.
Tuesday-Rest Day. I had every intention of going for a short run…instead I spent the afternoon taking a hardcore nap and reading. You win some, you lose some.
Wednesday-4 mile run, 1.6 mile walk/jog/cool down. It was disgustingly hot and I was completely drenched by the time I finished this run. It took me almost all day to recover.
On Wednesday evening, my friend Tina and I prepped the Laser Maze (a workout in and of itself).
Sidenote: I think we made it too hard.
And then the “Something Stupid.” After the maze, I was pooped and had a ridiculous amount of stuff that I had to lug in from my car. I decided to carry as much as I possibly could inside, instead of making two trips or pausing to shove a few things into my bag. As I was carrying/juggling everything into the house, I managed to drop a mason jar on my foot. Let’s just say, it hurt and I had a few choice words that do not bear repeating. It still hurts.
Thursday-Date Night with Farmer Ben. *I ended up going into work a bit early to make sure I would be out by 5. And then I had a date night in with Farmer Ben. Dinner, wine, etc. Perfect anniversary date. This was supposed to be our appetizer… but we were full after this.
Friday-4.5 Miles. I mentioned above, this run blew me away. I could tell it would be a struggle and I could not get my head in the game. So I gave it to God. I spent the run praying. I prayed for loved ones, personal struggles and so much more. I was absolutely empty, yet overflowing when I finished. That peace which surpasses all understanding… and it helped so much.
Saturday-5 or 6 miles. I have a route picked out and I’m aiming for 5 miles. If I feel good, I’ll run 6.
Overall: The heat and humidity was rough this week. I have given up feeling badly about not running fast… it’s too stinking hot! I’ve been using my runs to pray, to think and to listen to terrible girly pop. Also, I’m still not a morning person. Yes, I’ve been running in the morning, but it’s only because I force myself to. I’d much rather go for a night run any day of the week.
I’m happy to report that I’m down 3 lbs since I started running again and our food has been relatively healthy (80/20 principle).
Your Turn: How are you sweating this week? Are you better at running in the heat or in cooler weather? (I’m definitely a cold weather runner).
Hi Friends! Happy 2K15!
I hope you and yours are safe, happy and healthy today (and hopefully not nursing too much of hangover–from food or drink).
This year I decided to join the #365daysoftruth reading plan (reading the entire Bible this year) with the She Reads Truth community. I’ve never read the entire Bible and felt today was a good day to start. I’ve got a lot to learn and fully admit that!
It is so amazing how God works; I’ve really felt it pressing on my heart and soul to be more of a sign that points to HIM and less of … Myself, if that makes sense. That sentiment has been a constant subject of prayer lately and I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m supposed to accomplish this.
Part of this morning’s reading on the 365 plan was John 1. Though I’ve read the book of John several times, the first chapter really struck me this morning.
Though John was a great man of God in and of himself, he always made it so clear that the world was waiting for someone far greater than him. He “was not the light; he was only a witness to the light (John 1:8, NLT).”
The whole chapter was the perfect place to start this journey that is the new year.
My favorite verse was John 1:23.
A voice shouting in the wilderness! That is our purpose… Not to conform to this world but to stand out and to give glory to Him.
Wow! John empowered me this morning and though I’m still not entirely sure what this means, I’ve got these words to push me closer to that end goal.
That’s all for today friends, have a great day!
Have you ever felt completely certain that you were in the perfectly right place at exactly the right time?
This has happened to me a few times in my 27 years. Many people would say that it is fate or coincidence….the stars aligning, whatever you want to call it. I say with complete certainty that it is a God thing. Something happened to me this weekend that I had to share. When moments like this occur, when everything is so perfectly aligned… how can you doubt His existence?
This is something I have gone back and forth about posting…because, well… I don’t know what to say! Full disclosure: I sat here staring at the blank screen for a long time before I started typing.
My apologies because, to protect identities, I’m going to keep this vague. I know that would drive me insane.
I received some news about a friend from my past a few months ago. To say it was horrific and completely shocked me would be an understatement. This person had done something absolutely terrible. I won’t go into detail but will say that my heart broke for this person and all involved.
It’s been difficult for me to process…this is someone who I spent a LOT of time with, and though we haven’t spoken in some time, if asked, I would still say that they were a friend. Many of my memories growing up involve this person. Needless to say, this news has occupied my thoughts often.
It is a prime opportunity for me to truly live out “Hate the sin, NOT the sinner.”
I try to live by this philosophy…it is not my job to judge other people because I, myself, am far from perfect and I know that I’ve done some pretty terrible things in my past. To God, sin is sin, there is no difference. It is my job to love others, regardless of their choices. No exceptions.
Now, this practice is easy when you have a friend who doesn’t tip… or a loved one who tends to be quick to anger. But this particular situation? I’d be lying if I said that I’ve been able to live this out to the highest degree.
My memories of this person feel tainted. I can’t see my old friend in this individual. They are so disconnected from this other person, someone I no longer recognize in the midst of everything that has occurred. My heart aches for their situation and I wonder what on earth could have happened to push them down the current path they are on…but for them to do what they did… I can’t look past that (on my own).
For whatever reason, I’ve had more trouble pushing this out of my mind as of late. I’ve been spending a lot of time praying about it; praying for this person and others involved… and last week, I blurted it all out to a friend of mine. Though it helped to get everything out and talk to someone who shares my faith, I’m still having trouble. I’m still asking “Why?”
So, when an unexpected answer to my prayers came yesterday evening at church… I was pretty shocked. It was a service on Thanksgiving with a very different format than what is usually followed. There was more music than usual and our pastors were having people speak, mostly on what they were thankful for.
This seems completely unrelated to my situation, right?
There I stood in church, listening to someone give their testimony.
This is a person I have so much respect for, but never in a million years would I have guessed their story. They began with a few statistics and then just came right out and said that they had been directly affected by almost the exact thing my old friend had done.
I listened to this person tell of how they had so much hatred and unrest in their life as a result. And then something happened between them and the person who had done them wrong a few years later.
Their offender had gotten saved. They had found God and found redemption. And this person would, five years later, do the same. And their offender, who they had hated so much, would become their biggest hero.
This may sound crazy, but this was a moment that I felt God speaking directly to me…there was no bright lights, parting of the clouds, or harps playing… it was just a person telling their story, but at the moment HE was speaking directly to me.
I could barely get through the last song and then I went to my seat and immediately bowed my head and prayed for my friend. And I may have cried.
I felt an inexplicable peace.
After the service, I thanked the person who spoke and they told me that they almost didn’t come to the 5 pm service! My thanks was confirmation that it had been the right choice to go.
Now, PLEASE don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that I can completely forgive my friend (on my own). And I’m not saying that what they or this other wrong-doer did was right by ANY means. NOT at all.
But the fact that there is HOPE for them—for anyone—was confirmation enough for me.