Taking a Blogging Vacation

Here's the deal.  I have been blogging off and on since 2009.  For the past few years, I have been publishing multiple posts each week.  With the exception of a few days off around Christmas each year, I have been constantly sharing.

It is getting to be too much.

I think I need a break.  My writing creativity is being stretched thin.  I am reading through my growing stack of drafts and feeling that every post is starting to sound the same.  This summer, I am more interested in doing things than sitting at my computer and writing.

Also, I am in the process of giving my blog some much needed updates and TLC.  It is not plausible to work on the back end and continue to write at my current pace.

I am already committed to sharing a book review as part of a launch group in August. That one post will go live as planned.  If the first chapter is any indication, this is going to be one amazing book.

Other than that one post, I will not be posting again until September.

What will you see in September?

I will return to blogging September first with an update of my summer.  I will also share what is new to the blog, what kind of blogging schedule I hope to have, and much more.  The reveal of the new and improved Leelee Finds Herself might also include another project I am starting.

In the meantime, feel free to catch up on my archives.  Sign up to be featured as a guest writer.  Keep in touch via instagram.  Share my content on Pinterest.

P.S.  If for some reason or another, the date of the relaunch changes, I will give plenty of notice.

Watching the Sun Rise

The BF and I took a weekend trip to Ocean City, MD.  Yes, we know that New Jersey has lots of beaches, but we wanted to try a different beach.  It was good to get away from everything for a few days.  Our hotel was right on the boardwalk, and just steps from the beach.

Since we were so close to the ocean, we decided that we should go and watch the sun rise on Saturday morning.  There was some cloud cover, but it was still amazing.  I was thrilled because I have wanted to see a good sunrise for a long time.  

Why Finding Yourself

This journey started right around the time I finished college.  See, nothing was working out according to MY plans. I was at a total loss.

I was losing friends.

All the friendships I had worked so hard to build over the last four years were suddenly going to change.  Some of those friendships would survive this season, but many were going to dissolve.  Without classes to talk about, we were going to lose our common bonds.

I was losing the best built-in community of fellow believers that I have ever known. 

As much as I told myself that nothing had changed, I knew weeks before the final NJCF service that leaving college was also leaving this community.  No longer would I be able to literally walk out my door and find people I could tell my secrets.  Not only could I share my secrets and struggles, but I knew these people would pray for me and support me.

Not only that, but I went on a spiritual retreat and returned with less answers than when I left.  (Although, I was able to redeem my upstate NY navigation skills).

 

My dream of starting my career while living in a cute apartment near the ocean was so far gone that not even the best hound dogs could find it.

 

I had no back up plan.  I felt utterly lost. My plans only went into the following week before all was a mystery.

I lost hope.

Then, to make matters worse, I literally got lost in the woods.

Those moments I sat crying in my car along the shoulder of an unmarked country road were a pivotal moment in my life.

It was not the end.  This journey was only just beginning:

 

         Saturday May 24, 2008:

I was on my way to Matt and JoLynn's wedding, which should have been an easy hour drive. There were literally two turns after I left the highway. And yet, I missed the last turn... twice. After a frantic call home to get directions again. I ended up back on 206, but heading away from the venue. Trying to keep a cool head, I decided to do the two smartest things in my life: pull onto a side street to turn around and PRAY.

 

When I get back on 206, I am behind a car with PA tags. Its out in the middle of nowhere, so its not like they could really be just passing through. When they turn onto the same road I just came from I knew they were in the same area for the same reason I was. And to confirm it further I saw the car had a 6:58 bumper sticker a la Calvary Chapel Mercer County. IF I wasn't sure of God's hand in this situation before, I was then.

Which was totally great because my last semester was rather bumpy. Even after going to Basileia, I felt off-center spiritually. That frustrated me because previous years had those big ah-ha moments where I could point to and say this is definitely God. I know I told my worries to everyone on the work crew multiple times and no one seemed to have an answer. I'm not sure I should have expected one either. But I should have known NOT to try and put God into a mold. He works on His Timing, not mine.

It is proof of His superior ways that I go on a spiritual retreat and learn little and then return home to learn a lot when I am lost between the pine barrens and some fields. He is the same throughout all time, after all.

And was only the beginning of that particular tale. The end is still yet to come...

Prayer still works.

Catching up With Jesus

God speaks to us in a multitude of ways.  I just wanted to put that information out there right at the beginning.  We will be returning to this truth later.

Journaling is great. It helps to record our thoughts and feelings at any particular time.  Many writers use this practice to identify those tricky feelings.  Journaling helps us remember.

However, journaling is not the cure for all that ails us. It is not always convenient or practical to write the words down.

Not too long ago, Jesus and I were working out some details of my faith. It was intense.  There was a lot of hurt that I needed to get out of my heart. As I was driving to one of my sacred spots at the shore, I was also trying to remember every single word that I was praying.

My attempts at intense memory were futile.  It served no purpose for me to pray the words, remember the words, and then pray them again as I was writing.  The two of us conversed off and on all morning. The conversation favored me because I felt that He needed to hear all of my questions right then.

What about this? Why that?  Why not this? How? When? Did you hear this idea? Do you remember that you promised THIS was my year of change?

Finally, he spoke in the quiet between the sentences.

Pause.  Stop.  Take a holy break, a selah.  Just stop.

No more writing.  No more questions.  No more angry words.  Just breath and wind and waves.

At this point, I looked down to notice the sea shells around me.  There was an exquisite, little spiral shell. I remembered how those shells have so many functions in the ocean.  Also, their shape is an exact proof of a mathematical formula.

That’s right.  God is so wise and precise that he created a shell and the numbers used to describe the shell.  He gave mathematicians the interest and skill to study numbers and their relationships in order to discover a formula. 

Surely, if God can pay attention to a little shell, he has also given the deepest part of my heart plenty of attention. He keeps his promises and he loves me.  He loves you.

He will take care of us and give us pretty shells to admire.

Do not worry.

You aren’t doing this life wrong if there are moments and conversations that go unrecorded.  The mind is an incredible organ. You are capable of remembering much more than you give yourself credit.  Do not cheapen God’s gift of your intelligence.

Fireworks and Celebrations

Some weeks ago, the boyfriend surprised me by remembering that it was our unofficial anniversary.  On that date, five years ago, we were introduced to each other by some scheming mutual friends. We didn’t do anything special, but then again we never do anything for our “real” anniversary either.

I can describe that afternoon very well. Despite everything I said and wrote for weeks, I knew in an instant that there was something different and wonderful about this guy. I can tell you that I bought funnel cake off of a food truck and shared it with everyone. I can tell you what the ladies bought at a secondhand store.  I can tell you the four of us ate dinner at Friendly’s.

It took him a little while longer to demonstrate any interest.  By a little longer, I mean a few weeks longer. There we were, watching the fireworks from the balcony.  There we were, lingering to see the faraway displays.  There we were, just shooting the breeze.  There we were, growing closer and falling in love.  There we were, not exactly sure where to go from there.

(In case you forgot, we didn’t start dating for about another year and a half.  No need to rush things.)

Slightly more than five years ago, I was writing through some deep, intense feelings:

No one wants to be lonely.  I have discovered that loneliness sometimes acts as a catalyst to promote meaningful change.   I have seen the aching loneliness become transformed into something new and lovely. I have seen this in and in the lives of several of my friends.  It is a slow and subtle change.  It is the force deep within that compels me to offer helpful advice to my friends when my life is no more orderly than theirs.  It is the thoughts that turn into blogs that touch the lives of so many.
Sometimes I feel lonely, but my life is a part of something quite lovely that is so much greater than I could ever imagine.

I had no idea was lay ahead of me.  I had no idea how close he was to me already.

We have watched the fireworks together every Independence Day since then.  Each year we are closer and more sure of us. It has been so much sweeter and so much better than I had hoped it could be.

Where is the best place to view fireworks?  Do you have any special memories of watching fireworks?

On Wearing What I Have

I generally like to think that I am a reasonable human being. I make decent money.  I try to save when I can. My bank account goes up just about every month.

I also love clothes.  I enjoy shopping.  I enjoy finding bargains. This means that my closet is pretty much full.  Since I took the time and effort to find all these lovely pieces of clothes, I want to wear them. A few months ago, I decided to make a pointed effort to wear all of my clothes.  In order to keep track of this goal, I decided to try out the reverse hanger method.  As I started wearing more and more items from my closet, I also started brainstorming ideas as to how to include those forgotten but still loved pieces.

This means that I spent some time carefully looking through outfit ideas online.  I wasn’t looking for new items to add to my wardrobe, but for new combinations to try with my existing clothes. When I became overwhelmed by the options, I stopped.

This seems like a simple exercise (or a waste of time, depending on your perspective) but it gave me tons of outfit inspiration.  Suddenly, I was looking at my clothes in a whole new way.  Sure, it was the same pieces of clothing, but now there were new combinations and outfits.  Very few items only had one way to wear them. Most of the clothes that could only be worn one or two ways were my few nice dresses, so I didn’t feel the least bit guilty not including them.

The second way that I changed up my wardrobe is refashioning certain items. I took some scrap fabric and added side panels to a tight tank top to make it more flowy. I looked through my pile of ribbon and trim and decided to give one of my favorite skirts a layer of lace.  I have also found several other ideas for refashioning clothes that I might try out in the near future.

The third way that I decided to give my clothing some extra oomph is to consider the accessories.  I cleaned out my collection of jewelry, scarves, and belts.  This means that I am more likely to wear them.

As I am wearing my clothes and accessories, I am also realizing that I no longer like certain items.  Also, some things just do not fit well anymore.  I get rid of these things because why waste room in my closet with clothes I don’t like.

How do you prevent boredom with your clothes?

wearwhatyouhave

An Epic 4th of July Weekend

I don't know about you, but my weekend was jam-packed with fun activities.

The BF had spent some time online looking for new and different date ideas. The idea that we tried out was foot golf.  Foot golf is a combination of soccer and golf. It sounds weird, but it was really fun.  I hadn't played any kind of soccer in years. The only downside was that this particular course overlapped the real golf course.

My Dad had the brilliant idea to head down the shore Friday morning.  We had to leave early in the morning to beat the holiday traffic.  When we got to the beach, it was incredibly foggy.  After a less than perfect morning, we were able to get some sun.  Five minutes before we arrived back home, it started pouring.

I was able to spend a little bit of time working on my box of unfinished sewing projects.  Of course, I chose to finish a kimono/ swimsuit cover up so that I could wear it on the Fourth.  Speaking of clothes, Suz and I accidentally wore exact opposite outfits yesterday.  It was absolutely hysterical.

The BF and I spent celebrated the 4th at the same cookout we attend every year. Even though it was cloudy and rather temperate, we still spent a little bit of time in the pool. The kids enjoyed having some adults to play with.

As we waited for the fireworks, it started to get cooler and windier.  The wind lead to rain. This meant that the party moved indoors. No one was sure that the fireworks were even going to be set off. All of a sudden, we heard the first big cracking sound.  Everyone hurried outside.

The display wasn't perfect because of the rain.  Still, it was fireworks on the 4th of July.  Everyone grabbed for umbrellas, sweatshirts, and any sort of cover possible.  

When we returned to the house, the BF took my wet sweatshirt so that he could put it in the dryer for me. I had a warm and cozy sweatshirt and a warm and fuzzy heart.

June Blogger Love

Haley wrote this lovely gem about friendships.

This is a great reminder about comparison.

I love this post about testimonies since faith is a life long journey.

There is more that is unknown about our lives, especially the future, than what is known for sure.

Introverts tend friendships differently than our extrovert friends, usually with more deliberation.

Life isn't perfect.  It is time to embrace the imperfections.

Beth does a great job of articulating the big questions we all have during times of transition.

What is your sacred ground? Bethany wonders.

There is beauty to be found even in the broken parts of your life.

Lara took a break from blogging and now she is back telling an incredible new story.

Puppy fever is so real.

I love this encouragement for the times when life is hard.

Read this piece by Nina all the way to the end.  What she shares about prayer is an incredible proof that God cares about even the little details of us.

Lexie gives us an update on life, her new marriage, and moving.

 

June Was Awesome

June was awesome because I found a polka dot bathing suit that I love.

June was awesome because Suz got to join us for our routine Chick Fil A breakfast.  We had been taking pictures of us and our food the whole time she was overseas.  It was one of the things she had missed about the USA.

June was awesome because Hero came back to count down the days until PreK graduation.  (Or he might have been watching us in secret the whole time.  We don't know how elf magic works for sure.)

June was awesome because seeing our little students "graduate" is such a fun moment.

June was awesome because a picnic is the BEST way to end a school year.

June was awesome because I finally got to visit the beach.

June was awesome because I needed time to rest and recharge.  I am glad that I work in a profession that gives me part of the summer off. (I am start working for the summer program next week.)

Brave While Waiting

This isn’t the post that I wanted to write.  This is the post I feel as though I have to write. I wanted to wait until everything was wrapped up in a neat little glittery bow.  So far, such a moment hasn’t happened.

I was reading Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs.  Some of her words really resonated with me.  Now, I regularly connect with my beloved books, but this was extraordinary.  God was using the book to speak to me.   Have you ever felt his tender mercy just tug at your heart strings?

 

The waiting is almost over.

 

I didn’t need to ask about which thing from my list of prayers and desires that I was specifically being encouraged about. It could be anything.  It could be all the things.  It could be some of the things.  Relentless hope will do that to you.

Yet, as I write out these words, from my point of view, it is still the messy middle.  I get so tired of being in the middle.  I keep wondering when I am going to see these big changes in my life.  Maybe it is not the big changes that I should be looking for, but the thousands of little changes that are paving the way.

I wonder how others perceive me.  I wonder if they can sense my frustration and angst. I wonder if they look at me and think about how silly I am to keep on looking for the future with hope when nothing changes.  I wonder if they think me odd for not trying another way.

I know what has been promised to me.  I know there is a reason why life has taken me on this specific path.  I know that I cannot rush God’s timing, no matter how much I plead.  I read over and over in the Bible about people who got tired of waiting for God.  It never turns out well for them.  I do not want to be like them.

Until I get a very specific word to lay a dream aside (or it comes true, obviously), I am going to keep on believing.  I am going to keep on hoping. 

I’ve been called worse things than silly.  I have been judged and pitied before. It would mean the world to me if you could be a part of my tribe and support me.  If not, I don’t need your pity.  I need people who are willing to watch alongside me.  Watch me and see how God’s plans are unfolding. Watch and be amazed.