Monday, April 2, 2018

Keeping the Faith. 04.02.2018

Hi kids (only parts of my family will understand this joke)!

Thanks for joining me on another round of my blogging adventures. I haven't written in over a year. So, if you're wondering what I've been up to here are some things I did since January 11, 2017:

·        I ate an entire bag of crazy bread and half the crust off of a hot and ready in one night.

·        I accidentally tucked my shirt into my underwear instead of pants at work (that happened last week).

·        I was called out in a meeting for accidentally typing "ASS grippers" instead of "SAS grippers" on a machine specification.

·        I spilled a bottle of vegetable oil all over the passenger seat of my car.

·        I played in a kickball league and we lost every game.

·        I did the cupid shuffle around a police officer in a gift shop.

·        I accidentally called my boss Dad.

·        I convinced an intelligent, handsome, and friendly guy to call me his girlfriend for almost 14 months.

So...that about sums it up.

This one is difficult for me to write, but as always, this is my unfiltered and unapologetic writing style.   

I want to say, first, that I have been pissed and angry and really shook up lately. My faith has been frustrating me to all Hell. 

My faith and my walk with Jesus has been tested and flipped upside down.  It is evident that it is not what it was and it’s taking new meaning in my life.

My faith used to be all about me feeling good and experiencing things for myself. 

I prayed and I worshiped so that I could experience God for myself.  It felt good and it felt right because I felt close to God and God felt near when I needed Him to be. 

I want to pause for a minute, because I'm not trying to say that your relationship with God shouldn't make you feel good or be a source of comfort.  Because it absolutely should…

I’ve just been super frustrated by my faith because as I start to get a better glimpse of the world, I feel like there is no place for my mustard seed faith.  My faith feels insignificant and useless.

Yes, I think I’ll start with that.

Recently, I moved away from the city and I've been commuting to work. With that said, I have become a National Public Radio junkie.  I drink my black coffee and I listen to current events—God help me, I am my father.  (Just kidding, I love you dad…I love that I’m like you.) 

The other day, I listened to a story about a great number of Kosovar women who were victims of war. An alarming amount of women were brutally raped and abused as a result of the country’s war against Serbia.  This took place nearly 20 years ago.  Recently, the women activists in the country have fought hard so that many of these victims can now receive compensation and support to help them deal with the suffering they endured.  I listened to two victims tell their stories about how they would cry every time they walked past the places they were raped.  One woman talked about how she used tranquilizers just to get to sleep at night.

This blog isn't about this story of suffering. But my reaction to this story helps me  to send the message of this blog.

My heart started to break and I was overwhelmed with tears and emotion.  I mean, I was a mess.  That day, after work, I called my mom.  I told her how I felt so guilty that I had to change the channel to listen to a Sidewalk Prophets song on the local Christian radio station because I couldn't stop crying and I just wanted to feel good.  I couldn’t handle hearing about the world we live in. I didn’t want to feel so broken.  And I drove the rest of the way home feeling so confused.  And turning over all of these philosophical and faith related questions.  Why can’t I face this properly?  Why do I feel angry at myself?  Why do I feel like I just copped out of trying to understand the condition of the world I live in??

Our world is so, so broken.  I wanted to do something and I felt so helpless. And I felt so confused.  God, you are good, right?  I sing it about it all the time.  I say it on Facebook when I post pictures about my life…

But, why is our world so broken if you are so good? Why are people dying and suffering unjustly? I couldn't feel good. My faith wasn't enough to save me from what I was feeling.  I was so mad at God and felt like my faith hadn’t equipped me to handle the unjustness of the world.  My faith felt little.  I felt stupid for listening to a feel-good Christian song to ease my own pain that I felt because of tragedy and suffering I could not fathom or understand.   

It’s funny because we were never taught that walking in faith would be easy.  And if we read the Bible, we would know that it never has been easy.  So, why is it that my understanding of being a Christian is that it will just make you feel so good, even if things are bad?  Especially when the very leader of Christianity faced unimaginable affliction…why did I think this would be easy and would always make sense??

My faith hasn't been making me feel good.  In fact, when my life is a little hard and someone tells me to pray-I almost feel bitter.  It's like I want to laugh.  My problems don't seem worth a pathetic prayer to an almighty God who must be busy trying to make himself known to such a dark world.  I think to myself, “I don’t want to pray that I get along with someone better. I'd rather pray that my eyes be opened to the fact that the struggles I've endured and the pain that I've experienced pale in comparison to the state of our world”.

I see the world and the darkness and I'm scared. I see Christians getting a bad rap because we are pegged as judgmental and selfish.  I'm mad.  I feel like my relationship with God must be bad because my “feelings” are on the left and my relationship with God is on the right.  And they aren’t making sense anymore.  These two things seemed so aligned when my faith was new and it felt good.

I'm so confused. I'm frustrated by my faith. I'm frustrated with people telling me to pray when nothing in this world is changing and it's breaking me and shaking me up in ways I didn't think were possible. 

Real talk: Living as a follower of Christ right now is tiring and miserable. I read verses like “His mercies are new every morning” and “take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” and “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you”..... and now it just seems so out of context and unreal. 

This is your will, God? Why? I don't want to thank you for all this death and persecution. It used to seem so great reading these verses when the focus was on MY life.

Yeah, God. Money is tight right now, but thank you for my brand new bed and my new set of flannel sheets from Eddie Bauer. 

Yeah, God. Thank you for allowing me a good education, because I got a raise and that was the desire of my heart. 

UGH. Can you understand my frustration???? When there are mass shootings and terrorism and injustice happening all around me...and all I can think about is my small world...what was the point of all this church going and praying?!

These are some of the things that I’m dealing with right now and I’m not trying to offend anyone but I need to be real with you:

·        I'm ashamed to claim the name of Christ and say that I'm a Christian because I'm afraid that people will see me as selfish and small-minded and judgmental.

·        I'm afraid people will see me as "fake" and "nicey-nice". 

·        I'm afraid that if I mess up that people will say "see, that's the problem with Christians, they talk the talk but don't walk the walk". 

·        I'm afraid my liberal friends won't like me if I say I’m a Christian.

·        I'm afraid that if I'm friends with a gay person, my conservative friends won't like me. 

·        I'm afraid that if I have a beer with dinner or if I say shit, my Christian friends won't like me. 

What is my faith right now? What does it mean to be a Christian right now?

Segway.

It's Easter. Or, it was yesterday.

I posted a funny meme on my Instagram about Easter and I got some PB Reese's eggs from my boyfriend's mom (thanks, Brenda). 

But there is an element of Jesus in Easter that should help me put my faith back in order, right? I mean, Jesus is the reason for Easter??  I say it’s an element of Easter, because—let’s be honest—the Easter bunny has been stealing the show for years.

Ok. So Easter: Here we have a man (Jesus) that no matter how much he loved people, he was scrutinized.

Actually, let's really put this into perspective:

He was betrayed by one of his best friends.  Has this ever happened to you? That really sucks bad. Trusting someone and having that trust betrayed and thrown in your face. 

He was falsely accused.  Ever been blamed for something that wasn't your fault or that you didn't do? Was it by your own family? Or was it by a leader of your church?

He was abused and mocked by soldiers.  He was so tortured that he was unrecognizable. 

Jesus didn't die symbolically or metaphorically.  He actually died.  His heart stopped beating, he stopped breathing, and he suffered greatly.  He was blameless and loving and compassionate…and then he was murdered. 

Jesus. The man who was the human embodiment of real love. The 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. The kind of love on the Dollar General artwork I have in my bathroom. 

The representation of the kind of love that could save the world. 

But Jesus wasn’t just known for how close he was with God, the Father.  Right?  We don’t remember him all these years later because he kept to himself. We remember him because he changed the world. He changed the way people loved because he himself defined what love is.  It’s merciful, it’s gracious, it’s patient, it’s compassionate, it’s kind, it’s giving…

So, I guess Easter took on a different meaning this year as I was in bed last night taking that photo and posting it to my Instagram. It reminded me why I choose to follow Christ.

Actually, no.  It didn't remind me.  It taught me something entirely new. 

I initially chose to follow Christ because it made the life that I was living easier.  It gave me hope and comfort amidst dealing with the aftermath of an imperfect life. And this is good, but this wasn't enough to keep my faith alive.  It wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied.  I couldn’t turn a blind eye to the world anymore.  

As my eyes are widened to the world outside myself, I come to a point of sink or swim. Where does my "feel-good" faith come into play now? It's still present. And I still desire to be close to God. But, for a different reason. Not to help me cope with divorce and abuse.  Not to help me see my worth after dealing with body image issues…it’s more than that now.

I want to reflect the love that I received from Christ to this broken world. It’s not about me and it has never been about me.

I grew up hearing that we shouldn't put God in a box. Bevere stated, "It’s easy to put limits on God, allowing Him to intervene in the simple moments of calming our nerves or giving us the endurance to make it through a long day. But how often do we forget He’s more than capable when the cancer spreads, a marriage is on the rocks, or mother nature plays her course and devastates an entire community?"

I agree. We shouldn't limit God.

But we all shouldn't limit our own faith, either.

If you're experiencing God and he's filling you up and his mercies are new for you every morning and you are delighting in him and he is giving you the desires of your heart...then you are being called to action. 

Faith isn't about easy living and feeling good all of the time. It isn't about taking all that God has to offer and building a great life and attributing it all to how blessed you are. We aren’t being rewarded for how good we feel. God isn’t up in Heaven keeping score.  He isn’t blessing someone with a bigger house or a better life because he loves them more than the woman who was brutally raped because of the wars in this world.  

God loves us all the same. And that is confusing and hard to understand.  We can’t earn his favor.  And he couldn’t possibly love us any more or any less than he already does… no matter what we do or say. That’s why Jesus died. So that we could stop feeling like we have to earn it and start receiving it freely. For what reason?

We get closer to God through prayer and worship so that we can reflect that to the rest of the world.  We receive the gift of God so that we can start making an impact with the love that changed the world 2000 years ago and has the potential to change the world today.  We just need to step out in faith and not keep this feeling to ourselves so that this world doesn’t have to keep experiencing the kind of pain and suffering that those Kosovar women are enduring.

2000 and some years later we celebrate this holiday that is about the death and resurrection of a man.  ONE MAN. Why???  Because he was so close to the heart of God and used that to send a ripple through the world of what love really is.  He didn't keep it for himself. In fact, he died brutally so that we could all experience the love and then be the light in a world that is riddled with pain and suffering.

Our faith doesn’t stop at the blessings poured out on us. Our faith doesn’t stop at the euphoria we feel from God being present and near in our lives.  If I choose to be a Christian, I am choosing to follow Jesus’ example of growing close to the heart of God and then allowing that level of intimacy to reflect on my own character.

I might experience trial for claiming the name of Christ.  I might be called out of my comfort zone or my God box. I might not always do it right.  But my God endured death so that I could love freely.  To Hell with me if I can’t face a little bit of backlash for showing people love that I did nothing to deserve in the first place. 


I will continue to be a Christian.  I will continue my walk.  I will probably still say shit, on occasion. 





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Resolutions Revelation REDEMPTION Reduce Reuse Recycle and more fun alliteration 01.11.2017

I lied.

There probably won't be much more alliteration.  Unless it's unintentional.  It just made for a quirky title.

Hi friends. Happy 2017. Hope the first 11 days have been awesome.  (All those sentences started with "H"...totally unintentional.)

Raise your hand if you are:

Practicing a healthier lifestyle?
Reading more?
Spending less money?
Traveling more?

If you raised your hand or just nodded at your phone screen (please don't raise your hand in public...that could be weird...or do... that could be funny)...ANYWAY, if you're doing these things... gosh darn it... good for you!

All of those things are awesome and so smart!

I REALLY didn't want to but I'll admit it--I made one New Year's Resolution.  I wanted to be more organized.  ...LOL and thaaaat resulted in me just using a BAJILLION sticky notes as tiny little yellow task reminders. I write a task that I have to get done at work on a sticky note and when I finish it, I throw it away.  Sometimes I rip it up and THEN I throw it away.  One might argue that it's not helping in the ways of organization--but man does it feel good to throw those away!  At the end of the day I get to look at that recycle bin and feel really stinking accomplished. (It's actually getting out of hand and I'm starting to look like a crazy person. Heck, there's probably a sticky note that says "Make sticky note to remember to make sticky note. ...I digress.)

It's really cool that every year on January 1st--we get to this opportunity to start fresh.  It's like there is something in the air that just excites our little souls and this little inner voice whispers to us... now is the time.  Start over. Make changes. And everyone is in it together, too.  We all are so excited to live life in a better way! All because of the calendar year starting over again. And man, WE GO BIG.

All or nothing.

And therein lies the problem.

Now humble yourselves for a minute....

Raise your hand (dare ya) if you've fallen off from a New Year's Resolution.  You're trying to go to the gym every day... but life happens and you can't go for a few days or a month even... so you throw in the towel.  Maybe next year. And you go about the life you were living before. Maybe even eating more frozen pizza because heck, you're really gonna go hard in 2018.

I used to compete in NPC bikini competitions (yeah yeah) and during your preparation for the competition your life is all about discipline and restriction.  I would restrict myself so heavily that when I would jump off my diet... I would REALLY jump off my diet... I'm talkin... eat a whole cake and then eat the platter that the cake was on just because... whatever... I've ruined my body anyway... might as well eat cardboard and see what happens. And then I'd go days where I just stopped working out and stopped eating on my plan... because I just gave up.  I was past the point of no return, in my mind.

New Year's resolutions are cool.

This blog is not about how I think resolutions are crap and everyone is stupid and should save themselves from the disappointment they will inevitably experience when they face a hiccup when trying to accomplish their goal..

Nope. This blog ain't about that life.

THIS blog is about Jesus. And if you're not down with that, you can go ahead and click back and calmly return to the usual facebook entertainment of videos of cats and cute pictures of your friend's kids and memes with kermit the frog talking to himself and people fighting about politics.  That stuff is pretty fun, I wouldn't blame you.

If you're still here, let's get it.

Guys.  I really fell off this year.  In a big way.  It wasn't until very recently (when I wrote my blog about my year in review) that I realized how far from Jesus I was.  And not just in this last year, I realized how little I knew about relationship with Jesus--my entire life I never fully understood grace and redemption.

My life has been a series of resets. A series of ALL and then...nothin.

Man oh man, I was about to go into testimony mode and be all "I grew up going to church my whole life but...."

Don't worry.  I'm not gonna go there.

But seriously, I did grow up in church. hehe.  And man... the church provides the opportunity to make a New Years Resolution of sorts all the dang time! Um.. hello! You wanna get things right with Jesus? Churches got it goin' on. Alter calls? Walk your cryin' butt to the front. Prayer after service? They waitin'. Retreats? We goin'. If you want Jesus,.. if you want to live in freedom...there's opportunity for a "I want more Jesus now" resolution all OVER the place.  Go church!

Remember that Staples commercial with the big red round button that said "easy" on it. (Bear with me here--this will come full circle.)  And you just pushed that baby and it said "that was easy" and something else happened.. I can't really remember what happened. I'm imagining maybe somebody just standing there and then they just magically had a box of pencils and a ream of paper in their hands. Something like that.

So, first of all--there ain't no button.

But I thought there was.  Every SINGLE time I had this radical opportunity to be prayed over and come closer to the Lord I thought that all my problems would disappear and rejecting sin would be freaking EASY and I would just be perfect and ride around on a unicorn carefree.... and I bet I would shave my legs every day, too.

So for a few days, I would ride my unicorn.  And then eventually I would fall off the unicorn.  Why the cuss am I talking about unicorns....

OK. Without the metaphors:

I would have a really great and awesome experience with God but then life would hit me.  I would be tempted to sin.  And I would do it.  I would SIN. BLECH. I would. Yeah. Me. I did it. I sinned. I know, it's unbelievable. I sinned. (That's really what I would think--)

And just like that, I would turn my back on Jesus again.  Because, if I wasn't gonna do it right--I didn't want to do it at all.  I didn't want to face my God and I didn't want to face my CHURCH and be vulnerable and say--I'm messing up.  I'm messing up over and over and EVERY DAY. I keep doing it wrong.

Alter calls and prayer after church and retreats are great.  But I was using them as opportunities to get the high of coming back to Jesus again. And not realizing that Jesus isn't just at the alter in your church building. Or in your cabin at your church retreat.

Do you guys know that experiencing God and coming back to his heart is not just meant to be found in Sunday morning worship or conferences or rallies or alter calls (although, all are good things...)...that sounds like a stupid question....but I realized that's what I perceived. I wasn't looking for God anywhere else.  Even though He's everywhere and He's omniscient.

My REVELATION recently was that I need to come back to Jesus every day. Oh my word, I can just feel all the grown up Christians rolling their eyes at that statement...like WELL DUH SHELBY WE'VE BEEN SAYING THAT FOR YEARS.

I need to be vulnerable with him regularly and say I messed up and the big thing here is that we need to be accepting this major SCANDAL that is grace. All of us. You think you're going to enter into Heaven with all the people you went to church with? Guess what guys?  There are going to be ex-cons, prostitutes, addicts, carnies, corporate executives, janitors, couch potatoes, glue eaters...because you know what we all have in common? Sin.  Know what else? God's love and his grace.

The world weighs sin and says God loves a person more if they don't do this sin and less if they do this sin.  But GRACE says, I don't give a flying flute what you did (He does actually care..but), I love you ALL the same (even the glue eaters),

ALL of us. He loves us all the same because He created us all and put us in an imperfect and sinful world knowing full well we do not have the capability to be perfect or better than the person next to us.  And His grace extends over all of our sins as long as we know that we gotta keep working at it. And continue to humble ourselves.

This is a serious revelation for me, guys.  Recently, the more I practiced "relationship" with Christ, the easier it was for me to continue to stay rooted in His will for my life. Oh oops.  That came across as it's so easy to avoid sin now.  It ain't.

But it is easy to stay connected to God's overall purpose if I keep my focus on Him--even when I make an absolute fool of myself. (Everyday.)

And once I understood that I just have to keep coming back to Jesus, I understood the word redemption.

For some reason "redeemed" and "redemption" are scary words to me.  Like... oh goodness, that sounds like I'm gonna have to do some crazy stuff and then I'm gonna have to know some other big words and probably be able to talk in front of groups of people with a Bible in each hand.

I remind myself of the real definition regularly. I have to realize that although life has battered me and taken me down some very dark roads that Jesus waited for me to choose him so I could feel a whole lot better. He waited for me to realize that redemption is not just ONE radical experience. Redemption isn't even an experience at all. Being redeemed means that every day we can still feel comfortable being a Christian even though sin will always exist in our lives.  We don't have to be scared to come back to Jesus.  We don't have to be afraid to admit our shortcomings to God.  Heck, he already knows anyway. We just have to go back knowing that God exists so that we can be free of the weight and shame of sin--REDEMPTION.

Every day, every minute, every hour, every second is an opportunity for resolution.  You messed up one second ago--take this next second to make things right with God and in your heart.

You messed up ten years ago? There's no waiting room for Jesus.  Right now.

You messed up last week? You messed up today?  You want to start over? Start over. Keep starting over. Keep pushing forward with God.

Guys, I really have to start over with Jesus every day. Gosh sometimes a lot more than that.  Because sin doesn't magically go away. I so wish it would.  I so wish that sin would just go away and I had an easy button.  But then I would be dead and in Heaven--which would be cool--but yeah.. I don't know where to go with that one.

As long as I'm living on this earth, I'm a sinner.  But that doesn't make me dirty or unworthy of receiving love (and it doesn't mean I have to keep making the same mistakes).  It means that if I stay focused on the constant renewal of my faith and seeking Jesus... I'll find a balance.  There will be no more highs of alter calls and lows of feeling dirty and unworthy.

Man, I sunk so low this year.  I rejected my faith and Jesus. The darkness that entered my life was severe.  Holy Spirit was still somewhere within me. I know this because the little bit of light left in me knew that God probably wanted me to stop allowing sin and shame to take root in my life, but the darkness in me did not want to care. The light in me knew I wasn't ever really satisfied despite my failed attempts at earthly happiness. And although my facade was strength, in reality, I was spiritually crippled.  I had allowed so much darkness into my life.  And growing up I probably would have thought it best to come back to God with a conference or a Sunday worship.  But I didn't want to do it this time. Because this time, I knew it wouldn't be that easy or simple.  I thought I could never be perfect, so why even put myself in a position to be disappointed again with how far I had fallen? Heartbreaking. I know I actually uttered the words "I'm going to hell"...out loud.  As a joke. WHAT.

I thought that if I went back to church that I would be rejected because my life was tainted with a divorce...at such a young age.  And I also knew that church (but really Jesus) requires vulnerability which would mean that I would have to open up some major wounds that had not yet healed because I was too busy putting band-aids on something that needed some real time and love to heal. Good Lord, Thank you Jesus for breaking me down. My heart has never felt lighter and smile never more genuine.

And then I would think about potentially getting married again. Oh, here we go. (I'll admit... this is still a fear for me...I'm human...remember?) And the tiny flicker in my heart knew I would never want to marry someone who didn't love Jesus. I didn't want to go back to Jesus because what kind of Christian man would want me, anyway?  I actually received a message from a person I had probably spoken to a few times--he reprimanded me for allowing divorce.  How dare I claim to be a Christian and boast of Christ in my life when I clearly didn't read the Bible. How I was was unacceptable. Even though he knew nothing of my situation.  He knew nothing of my heart and more importantly he knew nothing of how deeply his words would affect me.  I've been through hell and I allowed it to send me into this confused spiral of numbness and into deep dark waters. Is God going to equip me with the strength to tell someone about the heartache I have endured one day? Is God capable of equipping a man to love me despite how much I've been hurt? Am I going to be too much? I thought.... I'm not worthy of a man who knows Jesus.  A man who's heart is pure.  That man would want someone with less history, less baggage. So why the hell should I even try to let God back into my life when I don't know if God could even provide such a love?

PUMP THE BRAKES (Revelation)

If we know Jesus, we better know about redemption.  You are SAVED from your sins.  They hold NO weight.  If any man or woman claims to be in relationship with Jesus, they should know what he's capable of.  He's capable of healing and restoration--all it takes is us coming to Him.  This isn't just one prayer once in your life.  And this doesn't mean that you only get one shot when they call people to the altar. This won't happen once a year on New Year's Day. This is relationship. This is constant communication in order to fully understand God's grace and God's heart for you.  This takes commitment.  But not in that you gotta read 10 sentences in your Bible every day and pray before bed.  I mean commitment to knowing you're going to fall short but you have to keep coming back. It is a commitment to knowing when you fall off or you take the easy way...no matter HOW far it is you fall, no matter the shame you feel...He's there and He's capable of loving you all the same. No amount of sin can pull us too far from Jesus. There is nothing on this earth that has the power to make you so dirty or so wounded that God doesn't have the power to clean and heal and restore and make pure.  So take that, hypothetical future perfect Christian husband. What you see is what you get, man.  And God says I'm pretty dang great (and you are too, I'm sure).

Anyway, I've ranted enough.  If you're making a New Year's Resolution to do more or less of something and you fall off for a few days or even a few months. Just go back to it, dude.  If you need me to come over to your house with a sparkly dress on, some streamers, and a 2017 party hat, and then count backwards from 10...just to get you in the mood, I freaking will.

I've said it before but I really can't write conclusions, guys.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Shelby Jones: In Rare Form. (2016: A Year In Review). 12.13.2016

"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life." -J.K. Rowling

2016.
New Friends.
Moving.
Independence.
Loneliness.
Travel.
Hangovers.
Failed Relationships.
Bad Dates.
Restoration.
Laughter.
Tears.
Music.
Weddings.
Sleep.
No Sleep.
Confusion.
Realization.
Reading.
Decisions.
Faking It.
Success.
Failure.
Hope.


So, if you want to skip the rest of the blog, that about sums it up. (But I promise, it's not the fun part!)

For those of you who've decided to stick around--welcome to another round of Shelby's blogging adventures. Always bound to make you chuckle and think to yourself "at least my life isn't as chaotic as hers". ;) Kidding. Maybe. It's relative. Whatever.

Alllllright. Where should I start?  How about January 1st, 2016? Yeah?

I woke up to 2016 with a raging hangover. I had no dreams and hopes or certainties about the upcoming year. Honestly, there wasn't much depth to any of my thoughts at that point.  I was living fast.  I was living day to day with no clue what the good Lord had in store for me. (And it was a LOT!!!!)

Thankfully, in one short year--I've come a long way! And done a lot of cool things! And met a lot of cool people! And traveled to a lot of places!

I'm kinda flying by the seat of my pants on this one people--I don't have an overwhelming theme for this blog except that I'm not that scared lost lonely sad "January 1st, 2016 Shelby" anymore and I've had a lot of cool/scary/sad/happy/humbling awesome experiences this year that have helped me become a less lost/embracing the uncertainty and chaos "January 1st, 2017 Shelby". ;)

Let's talk highlights, people. Enjoy.

On January 24th, 2016--I settled into my apartment. Living alone sucked. Do not recommend. But hey, it was cute:




On March 20, 2016--I was smack dab in the middle of Paris, France.  The company I worked for sent me there for a "Group Integration Seminar".

On March 20, 2016 I saw the Eiffel Tower.  I was eating my meals at a pretty castle outside the city every day.

On March 21st, 2016.....I'll save this detail until after Paris details.

On March 24th, 2016 I went to the Palace of Versailles.

And then on March 25, 2016--I was riding around the city, by myself, on top of a double decker bus, stopping at all of the places I had only seen in movies.  Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre...ME. I WAS DOING THAT.

Here are some of the pictures I took:






Amazing.

SO. ALSO.

March 21st, 2016. The cool thing that happened while I was in Paris--I got an interview request for a job at Summit Polymers in Portage, MI.  Game changer. Going back home was so close, I could taste it. Screw Paris (not really, not at all), BUT this was a real opportunity to finally be back home.  There was a hope stirring within me.


Shelly or Shelby... whatever.  I'm going HOME.

April 1st, 2016--April Fool's Day! Oh yeah, and my divorce was finalized.

On April 7th, 2016, I received my job offer from Summit Polymers.

On April 7th, 2016, I put in my two week notice at Plastic Omnium and cried/laughed my whole drive home.

April 21, 2016 was my last day at Plastic Omnium.  My program managers had a going away party for me.  They're dorks.



On April 27th, 2016--I did what any unemployed person would do--and I took my best friend to Vegas for a week.





On May 1st, 2016 I moved into my Dad and step-mom's basement and I started work at Summit Polymers as a Manufacturing Technical Leader on May 2nd, 2016. I was finally home. <3

On May 2nd, 2016--I met my best friend in the whole world.  This girl has changed my world. We've been inseparable since that day.





On May 20, 2016--I turned 25! I had my 4th annual 21st birthday party surrounded by all of my favorite people. Let the quarter life crisis commence!




On June 25th, 2016, my best friend got married. That was awesome.




And so began, the free and fast summer of Shelby Jones. Filled with sunsets, bonfires, friends, baseball games, miller lites, and FAMILY.  I was adjusting well.



July 24th, 2016, Linny Lou and I saw Jon Bellion in concert in Detroit.  That was radical.

On August 1st, 2016, I moved in with two of the goofiest, most hilarious, kindest, most loving and beautiful women I have EVER met in my life.  I feel like I should write a blog on all of the shit that has gone on in this castle of crazies since I've moved in...we have fun.





August 11, 2016--my grandma Miki passed away.  She was amazing.  Gave me one of the greatest gifts on earth-my Daddy D.  On August 12th, 2016, DD and I had a few beers together and celebrated her life.



On September 10, 2016, my best friend(s) got married. Kristin and Nate Thompson.  They know how to throw a party.



On October 13th, 2016--I was in the heart of Guanajuato, Mexico. I was in Silao for work and was able to go into Guanajuato to be a tourist.  Beautiful city.







On November 4th, 2016 I booked a flight to Tacloban City, Philippines.

On November 25th, 2016 at 6am I landed in Tacloban and on November 26th, 2016--AGAIN--my best friend got married.  (I also lost my shoes that day--but that's a minor detail.)






SO--that brings us to the present. I've done some cool things this year.  In the midst of all these blessings--I've been becoming.

Just becoming.

I don't have it all together. I'm sitting here eating the last bit of moosetracks out of the carton. God, will I ever? Not likely. But, I've come a long way since the sorry sad hungover "January 1st, 2016 Shelby".

I'm so thankful for the experiences and the people that have walked in (and out) of my life this year.


Here's to 2017 being the best year of my life. Thank you to all who have played an integral role in getting "January 1st, 2016 Shelby" off of her sorry ass and back on her feet. I owe it all to you all and to Jesus.

December 13th, 2016.....




hahaha. I love you guys.

Shelby


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tiny Jesuses. Dumbasses. and thoughts on guarding your hearts and minds. 09.6/7.2016

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5Let your reasonablenessd be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I feel like we desperately want someone to understand who we are and our experiences and we feel that in order for some type of earthly love to exist between people (in any type of relationship) we must too quickly divulge the workings of our hearts and minds and not use discernment when judging who will protect us and our hearts while doing so.

The investment in someone else's heart and emotions is territory that I am not an expert in and I never will be.  I used to be quick to diving into all my thoughts and emotions and inner workings in order for people to better understand my character or "feel for me" or "save me". I did not understand the meaning of guarding our hearts and minds.  I just thought it was a bossy Bible verse that told us we gotta be female warriors who don't take shit from anyone and never let anyone see me weak or emotional. (I was wrong.)  There is nothing wrong with opening up to someone about your emotional struggles and battles that you might be facing.  I have a lot of respect for someone who can humble themselves and say that they are working through some heartache.  But there needs to be an understanding of the way God made people before we decide to reveal the intangible parts of our make up.  Which means we need to be the people God called us to be when offering an ear to a friend but we also need to discern whether or not the people that we decide to share with are equipped to handle our hearts.

We are all different.

One thing is for certain, not one person has gone through or experienced the same things you have. Even if the situations are identical--each person has their own set of emotions and feelings and even though the world has done their very best to categorize those into words like mad, sad, angry, confused, happy, excited, etc., those definitions and words will never articulate exactly how we feel in the depths of our souls.

I will never be able to fully understand what another person has been through, but when a person decides that they trust me enough to let me see their heart and hear their experiences, I take a lot of pride in that.  Because I believe God has equipped me (because of my experiences with NOT guarding my heart) and I'm hoping I can offer you some sound advice to help us all become more Christ-like.

I've seen people jump into emotional relationships in hopes that that person is going to "save" them or offer the right words (me).  I am glad that I have relationships in my life where they feel confident that, even though I will not save them or offer up the perfect words or be able to pull them out of the darkness I know that I will always offer up this: I don't understand your situation but I am here as your friend to ensure that you're not alone and that I love you.

I can't give people perfect direction or expect the best advice and understanding from other people, because neither I or the people in my life are at all qualified to do so. The first reason is that I am not you and haven't been through or felt what you have felt and vice versa.  The second reason is that we are not God and our advice will be far from perfect and it may not make you feel ANY better at all.

When you talk to PEOPLE about issues, they might appear to be insensitive to what you have experienced--but really it is just that they cannot relate to or understand the things that you have seen. Wrap your mind around that truth because I'm going to drive that point home a MILLION times.  I've had some of the closest people in my life say to me "you're too emotional" "you're too dramatic"...it's been spoken over me for my ENTIRE life. And I know I'm not the only one who has heard these things before.  But God never says that about us.  He loves us all equally and we are never too much--even though we are a bunch of idiots.

Your emotions are not unwarranted ever. The emotions and feelings you have (no matter what they are) are absolutely warranted, even though there are many people who cannot understand them. I will never tell someone that the way they are feeling is wrong. Because feelings and emotions are never EVER wrong. I could never get upset with you or anyone for feeling a certain way. Because feelings are something you can't help. YOU need to understand that someone saying "I can't handle your emotions" has NOTHING to do with YOU or your emotions and it has everything to do with the fact that people cannot relate to or understand your struggles because they aren't Jesus and they aren't you. Am I driving this home, yet?

I am fortunate to have a lot of people in my life that care for me and love me and would do most anything for me--but I cannot have the expectation that they are going to do or say the right thing all the time--because they are PEOPLE and people are FLAWED. Get it? Get it?  Once again, people are not qualified to give that level of emotional support that goes as deep to save someone fully from their hurts and heartache. People are only able to care for you in the BEST way they know how to--which is sometimes questionable. Lol.  It's hard for people to hear of heartache.  I used to offer up advice like "get over it" or "I can't believe you let him do that" or "just forget about it".  This kind of advice is more common than not.  And I'm here to tell you that it's bullshit. And it's exactly why God said guard your freaking heart.  Because when you open up yourself to someone who isn't prepared to receive all you are with grace and compassion it could end up hardening our hearts and making us resent ourselves or resent other people.  And God didn't want that. He's a God of Love.

I hope that this makes sense.  I'm writing this blog to myself and to all of you. You know... as previously published, I got divorced when I was 24. I was hurt badly by someone that was supposed to be protecting me and taking care of me and LOVING me. And guess what? The thing about being 24 and going through that...is that not a single one of my friends or family could fully relate to or understand my situation. And I was MAD all the time that they tried to give me advice that didn't make sense or offered up "I understand".  And all I could think was NO YOU DON'T, GTFO. lol.

In some cases I was to made to feel extremely guilty for feeling and acting the way I did throughout my divorce and the time after the divorce. But, in time I learned (with the help of qualified professionals and Jesus), it was wrong of me to expect them to understand and have the right words for me because they don't really have a clue and all they were doing was trying to help me and love me.Some people would shut down when I would start to talk about specific details or things I had experienced and I would get mad and feel rejected because I felt like they didn't care or didn't want to understand or that they couldn't make me feel better.

I used to say I struggled with dating people my age because I felt like they were insensitive to my situation. Well, duh. What I realized is that age has NOTHING to do with it, really. Of course people are going to appear insensitive to me if I'm revealing the depths of my heart to a person who has no clue how to even react to something that is far beyond what they have experienced. Why the heck would I expect anyone to understand my experiences and emotions without them actually having gone through them? And when I realized this, my heart softened toward the people that I felt were being jerks or insensitive because praise God that they don't understand. They've been protected.

I'm SO GLAD that they don't understand the things I've been through because that would mean that they too would have endured the hurt that I have endured to some degree. And I would not wish that on a person that I loved and cared for--or a person at all.

Try not to be hurt when people don't act the way they should because it really isn't their obligation or even in their make up to fully understand or to be able to fully help you through what you're going through. They only know how to be concerned for you and love you. Even if I walked people through all of my experiences or even if I told them my story from cover to cover or played them a movie of my life--they will still never really be able to learn who I am at that intimate of a level because---(AGAIN) they are not me.

Our hearts are God's first and then our own and it takes a lot of time and effort to realize that we cannot rely on other people to dictate whether what's going on inside is valid.  It is ALWAYS valid because they are ours and they are unique. They aren't tangible or explainable, even. They just exist. It's what sets us apart. Never should you feel rejected because another human can't offer you up the support in a way that makes you feel validated or understood. It takes years of difficult schooling and Doctoral degrees to even come CLOSE to doing something like that and it takes even more years of experience in that field to be GOOD at that. Two of my best friends are going to school for clinical psychology and counseling. And the amount of respect I have for both of them and their career choice is far beyond what I can articulate. I work in a field in that if I do my job well, I have tangible, objective and concrete results. The workings of the mind are not tangible and it's as complex and unknown as the ocean. And they are going to be Doctors and counselors in that field. That's some stuff.

What I've realized is, I'm not ready to reveal my heart and emotions and feelings until I'm sure of the trust in the relationship--and I feel that this is what God was asking of us. Trust takes time and experience. I think that I want to be keep going on that pursuit of owning my feelings and emotions and bringing them to God first and not projecting them on to someone else with the expectation that they will be able to relate and understand and solve the puzzle of me (impossible). I still have to remind myself of this daily. Even with my closest friends and family. They aren't insensitive. They aren't bad at advice and I no longer sit around angry with them or pushing them away because "they just don't get it".  Well, duh Shelby...they really just DON'T get it. And that's ok!!

I'm not called to be bitter toward them for that just like they aren't called to be my Savior. I'm called to love them and be thankful that they are showing concern for me in the best way they know how to and that might be imperfect and flawed. But the good news is--I DO have a Savior and he's everything but imperfect and flawed. And in reaching into the spiritual side of my life, I've been able to soften and heal the wounds of my heart and be genuinely happy again--because he is in charge of the restoration in my life..not me...not another person.  And although one day I would like to reveal those things to someone (a husband, ideally), I don't want to do that until I'm sure that they have this same understanding. Because I won't place my heart into the hands of anyone lightly. My future husband needs to be prepared for how my experiences will shape our relationship and the ways that he needs to love me. So basically, the only person prepared and qualified to marry me right now is Jesus, but Justin Timberlake would likely be acceptable, too. ;)

We are all so unique in our experiences and make-ups. And the only being that exists in this world that understands all of those emotions, feelings, soul-level and intangible workings within us... is God. I'm not God, you're not God, your therapist isn't God, your parents, your family, your closest friends--they aren't either. And the only one responsible for entering into that intimate relationship with God is you. Which requires letting go of the expectation that people will understand and fix us and then grabbing hold of the understanding that God knows we are imperfect and stupid and he LOVED us and forgave us regardless. Which is why we need to love and forgive others for being dumbasses. I think that we are all going to be continually disappointed and end up jaded, unless we allow for humility to take root in our hearts. People are going to mess up and they are going to listen to our thoughts and emotions and feelings and deepest secrets and then they are likely going to shit on us one day in one way or another.

Full circle, if we trust only the Lord with our hearts and the most intimate parts of us, we will NEVER be disappointed. And it will also allow us to be so in tune with his desires for our lives, so that the right person (Justin Timberlake) will come into our lives that will be worthy of knowing all of those beautiful and broken parts of us--and will also understand that we are precious and God will have equipped them to handle those parts of us with ease (most of the time--reiterate, we are all stupid sometimes).

Unlike his children, Jesus doesn't mess up and he's not a dumbass. And he doesn't say "your emotions are too much". People say that. Because we really DO feel like some people's emotions are too much because we don't have the ability to understand everyone's shit. And if we did, we would all be tiny Jesuses down here on earth. And that just seems weird and unlikely.

And all that to say, I will not always have the right words for you when you're hurting, and you likely won't know how to save me from the pain of another idiot that I've gone on a date with. Meaning that I can't see into your future and you can't see into mine and say "it's all going to be ok" and I can't give you a how-to book or step-by-step process on getting over a hard time. But, that doesn't mean you suck and I don't care for you. I shouldn't expect myself to be able to know all things to cure hurt and I shouldn't expect other people to know the answers for me either.  Because it's God's responsibility to handle our hearts and our hurts. And if we all, as flawed humans, took on that responsibility, we would likely end up feeling helpless and inadequate because we just CAN'T be the ones to do it. But, what we can do is pray for each other and love each other. Me? I'll pray for you and say I love you and then I'll probably just tell you you're cool and then make you laugh because I'm awkward.

I suck at conclusions.

K bye.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

How to: NOT live life well as a 24 Year Old Female 04.18.2016

Once again, my insomniac brain decided to bring it with another blog. 

It's not my best idea yet but whatevs:

Lately: I'm either messing up a crap ton. Or I'm being primed to author a book on how NOT to live life well as a 24 year old female.

So, I thought... hey all you 24 year old ladies out there, here's some things you should NOT EVER (NEVER) do this year. And maybe if you do not do them life will go a little more smoothly for you this year. :) I will not say whether or not these actually happened to me. :)


DO THESE 24 THINGS if you want to NOT live life well as a 24 year old Female:

1. Put your coffee mug upside down under your Keurig while it makes your morning coffee at least once a month!

2. Don't keep a spare set of keys handy on Christmas Day when you're packing up your vehicle to catch a flight to Miami and lock your keys in your trunk.

3. While in Miami, get a Margarita the size of your face with your girlfriend and then accept the server's suggestion to take a to-go cup after you've asked for your check.

4. No need to plan ahead for getting back home when you go to your first NYE party single.

5. You should definitely feel ok about saying "sure" when some guy you're not REALLY that interested in asks for your number. No need to read the manual on your iPhone on how to use the block feature.

6. Going to the gym after happy hour is a fine idea. The stairmaster isn't that difficult to begin with or anything.

7. You should totally give blood again even if you pass out every other time. 8 billionth times a charm!

8. Don't eat your leftovers. You just made dinner for yourself and you're 24. It's not a huge deal and it wouldn't make sense to appreciate that for a few more days.

9. Just send text messages without pre-screening who the recipient is.

10. Throw your laundry in the washer and then get sleepy and go to bed and forget it for 3 more days. Good idea.

11. Don't put your keys/wallet/phone/charger/bags in the same place every day when you get home. That's way too complicated.

12. Definitely take an idiot's advice on going to a cheap dry cleaning place. You won't have to get them all done somewhere else...again.

13. Wait until the VERY LAST MINUTE to "find a power source" and don't worry about pressing "save" too often.  Live life on the edge.

14. Post one selfie every single day so that you will feel major validation when people like it.

15. Always finish the bottle of wine in one night if you've opened it.  Re-corking is complicated anyway.

16.  Drink a solid 4-5 cups of coffee every day. Skip meals. No harm there.

17. Go to bed every night after 1am. A good 4 hours is all you need to barely survive.

18. When you're nervous, the best thing you can do is NEVER STOP TALKING. It makes everyone super comfortable.

19. You can most likely trust a person even if they sketch you out a little. Don't fact check anything.

20. Set ALL your alarms for the wrong time of day. Don't double check AM/PM.

21. Your knees and legs and toes and butt and hips aren't that important. Run them hard into every sharp corner or surface. Big bruises look cool.

22. You should definitely make decisions without consulting anyone that you trust or value their advice and opinions because what do they know, anyway?

23. Don't ever take time to step away from life and process your emotions and feelings. Just keep doing whatever and making decisions a little blindly. It won't all catch up with you when you are sitting in an airplane alone with no one around you but this guy who might ask for your number after he watched you cry about not having your life together. I REPEAT: DON'T BE AFRAID TO SAY SURE.

24. Girl, don't learn a single lesson from all the mistakes you've made. And don't smile every day knowing that everything is gonna be juuuuust fine.