The House

Once I was thinking about transferring jobs (read March/April of this year) and that the likelihood was growing that I would be moving to Baton Rouge, I started looking online at houses for sale. Everything I loved was out of my price range and everything in my price range needed a tremendous amount of updating. After a couple of weeks of frustration, I realized that this was becoming consuming to me. All I wanted to do was look at houses that I couldn’t afford and be upset by it. When I finally prayed about it, God made it abundantly clear that I needed to look for a place to rent.

After I interviewed, I would search online for places while in Kansas City and then drive around after hours looking at neighborhoods when I was in Baton Rouge for work. Place after place would get marked off the list. I did find a couple of apartment complexes that would be ok but they were expensive and didn’t have good availability. Plus I really wanted to live in a house.

On my last trip to Baton Rouge, I found around four houses to drive by that were for rent and in my price range. This was one of my quickest trips to BR – I left KC at 8am Wednesday morning, landed in New Orleans around noon, drove to Port Allen and had meetings until 6pm then had meetings from 6am to 11:30am, drove back to the airport to catch a 3:30pm flight back to KC, landing at 10pm. Only one house that I drove by that Wednesday night was one I would want to live in so I called the listed realtor at 9:30pm and asked to tour the next morning on my way to the airport. She agreed to meet me at the house.

The house was new – 5 years old – in a gated one street subdivision. Two car garage. One story. 3 bedrooms. 2 bathrooms. Builder grade everything. Not bad to rent. I called my mom on the way to the real estate office to put in an application and she suggested I ask the realtor about running some numbers to purchase the house since it was also for sale.

By the next Monday I was pre-approved for the list price on the home and had submitted an offer on the house since the mortgage payment would be several hundred dollars cheaper per month than the rent payment. The sellers did not really want to negotiate and after several counter offers, we had agreed on the purchase price but not on the closing costs and status of who was getting the refrigerator. I was frustrated and called my mom for some advice.

This was a Wednesday morning and I was meeting her and my Dad on Friday in Boston for a fun weekend prior to speaking at an annual conference held in Boston starting the following Monday. Mom asked me what my plan B was if I wasn’t going to buy this house? I told her that God must have one but it’d be nice if He would share it with me because I didn’t know when I was going to be available to go back to Baton Rouge to look for a place to live. She started asking me about our plans for the weekend – I was supposed to be planning our activities for Boston since we were leaving in two days. Meanwhile, she’s google-ing houses for sale in the same zip code as this house.

After a few minutes, Mom asked if I had seen this house on Barrett Lane – it was 200 more square feet and $25k less than the house I was negotiating and way cuter. I hadn’t looked at any other houses for sale in the area because God had taken that from my heart months before. She told me that I should buy this house she had just found. I hung up with her and called my realtor.

I’m sure my realtor thought I was nuts but she agreed to find out more information about this house on Barrett Lane. A few hours later, she was facetiming me from the front door and taking me on a walking tour of this house. It was adorable. Terrible paint colors but adorable.

She asked if I was going to try to fly down the next day on my way to Boston for a tour. Her face fell when I told her no. She thought that I had loved it. I told her I was going to buy it without touring it in person. I think she dropped the phone at this point. First time homebuyer who isn’t going to tour the house and lives 900+ miles away.

When she called me back later to work out the numbers, she told me that there were two other offers on the house but the sellers were willing to accept my offer before making a decision the next day. Apparently the house had been under contract before but the previous seller’s financing fell thru so they had re-listed 5 days prior. This house wouldn’t have even been listed when I was searching for housing (for rent or sale)!

I came in over asking price and asked for them to leave all the appliances. They accepted my offer and by the time I was in Boston, I was calling for home insurance, set up the appraisal, and waived the home inspection (one had been conducted 30 days prior with the previous buyers which I accepted).

August was a blur – I’m sure I’ll post about it in the coming days/weeks but suffice it to say I only spent 4 days in Kansas City and two of those days were to pack the Uhaul I was driving across the country.

We had to close after my first day of work (apparently the bank wants you to be employed when they write a big check on your behalf). The sellers were less than helpful in providing me with access to the house prior to closing and in setting up when closing even was. In fact, when I started driving on Thursday August 27th, I didn’t know if I would have to live out of the Uhaul truck until Monday August 31st. But God is a good provider – the sellers moved out of the house Saturday morning and I was able to get the truck unloaded that afternoon. Grass was high, house was dirty, sellers took stuff they weren’t supposed to (the flag pole that was one of the big motivators of me buying the house in the first place) but I was in.

Closing was chaotic. I am very thankful my Mom was able to come with me. The sellers brought their twin 18 month olds would screamed and ran around the entire time. I write and execute contracts for a living so I read every line of every page in the entire process – much to the seller’s dismay. By the time we were done, I had bought a house and was ready to celebrate with a margarita!!

Here’s a glimpse of my new home. More to come.

House

The Interview

Kansas City was a season of God withholding what my heart desired and granting what my heart needed. It was a season of intense struggle for me but was a season of intense glory to Him when He led me out of the valley. This is the story of climbing up to the next rise to see a glimpse of His promised land.

My job had been deteriorating for a year, or maybe even two. I was traveling almost continuously to Baton Rouge Louisiana or Freeport/Houston Texas and the people I was working with and for were becoming less and less appropriate. The gore-y details don’t add enough to this story so I’m not going to share them here but by the time I left, 4 hours didn’t pass at work without someone cussing me out or telling me I wasn’t good enough (as a person, as a female, as someone who is under 30 years old, as an engineer) to be in the position I was in or getting blamed for something I didn’t do.

God provided me a new job. He orchestrated long ago, for my Dad to be in the same industry as me, and for him to have mentors and friends. Those mentors and friends caught wind of my situation and offered an interview.

The night before my interview, I was driving around Baton Rouge trying to figure out a part of town that I could see myself living in if I liked the job the next day. I was balling – tears streaming down my face – as I cried out to God that I didn’t have any friends in Baton Rouge and I have wonderful community (finally!) in Kansas City so why would I want to leave? And why don’t I quit construction all together because I didn’t believe that men in construction could be inclusive of a woman like me.

Fast forward to a breakfast meeting that lasted almost 6 hours where I struggled to comprehend that men in power in the construction industry were patiently listening to my opinion on the current state of affairs in our business. They wanted to know what I thought about how to run a project, how to leverage technology to produce faster results, how I could teach others my leadership skills, if I would be alright moving across the country for a job in a different culture, if they would be able to afford my salary to even hire me in the first place.

Lunchtime meant introducing me to another female engineer – the lead process engineer on the largest company project, also under 30 years old, and from Texas with a family full of Aggies (she’s a LSU grad but I won’t hold that against her). She and I were able to talk like we’d been friends for years. God was showing me to trust Him and He will provide me with new community.

I wanted to work for a company affiliated with CII (construction industry institute) because I hold a couple of leadership positions within this volunteer organization to help further the construction industry and didn’t want to walk away quite yet. I also felt obligated to finish the project I was currently working on at my old job regardless of how I was being treated, I was speaking at a national convention on behalf of my previous company, and one of my best friends was getting married in Jamaica in August so I needed a little time to finish everything up from Kansas City. In His generosity, God provided a slow down in the project at the new company so my timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was able to “finish” everything prior to turning in my two weeks notice.

Months later – I look back at my time in Kansas City and I still miss my community and church family. I wish it was colder here in Baton Rouge. but my job has already afforded me tremendous opportunity both for my career and for space in my personal life. I am still excited to see what God is doing with me here.

Trade Offs

I owe you some updates but I’m going to push those off for a few more days…right now I want to talk about trade offs.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what my life would be like if I had made one (or two) decisions differently in my past. About the time I start second guessing, God provides me a really clear understanding that my life is His plan and has His timing. Sometimes these trade offs are obvious and instant and sometimes they are not.

I don’t often get homesick – I don’t really have a home, per say – but sometimes I am pretty bummed about having to miss things going on wherever I’m living because of work.

This week God has blessed me to show me both with one simple meeting.

I’m leaving on Wednesday for San Diego to see my best friend (she’s from SD, came to KC for grad school, graduated in May, and moved back to start working). On Sunday I fly from San Diego to Indianapolis for a week long conference for work. Last Thursday, during my last minute trip to Houston for the day, we set up time to have another meeting in Houston on Tuesday. This means flying to Houston tomorrow morning, staying with another good friend of mine, and then flying directly to San Diego a few hours earlier on Wednesday. Not a bad plan. Lots of packing but lots of fun as well.

Came into work this morning and found that my meeting had been pushed to Thursday instead of Tuesday. This means another refund to my credit card and more canceled plans with friends in Houston.

In reflecting on this change of events, I started listed off reasons I’m thankful to be staying in KC:

  • 1 more nights rest in my own bed
  • 2 more crossfit workouts at my home box
  • not having to haul steel toed boots and hardhat for 2 weeks
  • 30 hours less clothing to pack
  • not having to file another expense report this month
  • picking up my own farmers market box
  • finishing my golf class I’m taking with a friend
  • listening to the presentation at lunch at work I’m interested in
  • enjoying 70 degree weather in KC in July
  • picking up all my home-finishing fedex packages
  • getting my eyebrows waxed before I leave
  • not having to cancel my massage appointment
  • not having to rush through neighborhood night tonight

I’m still bummed about not getting to go to dinner with a friend and stay with another (and I have to call into a meeting while on vacation in California) but I am happy to be hanging around KC for another day which is something I didn’t think my heart would ever want.

I guess this place is growing on me…

Back Home…

I went to Haiti last week. I got back Monday night – late. I haven’t made it physically into my office yet and it’s Thursday morning. It’s a problem. I want to be back in Haiti. So instead of embracing my life in Kansas City, I’m wallowing. I’m wallowing around a half packed house (I’m moving into a studio apartment July 1st) cleaning out my DVR and working remotely. I’m not sure what to do now. God is doing some pretty amazing changes in my heart with this trip and I’m having a hard time responding to them.

I miss salty kisses.

Stealing sunglasses.

Fried plantains.

Broken Creole.

Smiles as wide as an ocean.

Sticky hot air.

Colorful vehicles.

Cactus fences.

Concrete buildings.

Futbol.

Hair braiding.

Hand washing laundry.

Hugs that never let you go.

I miss the community I feel when I’m in Haiti. I have a life in KC and have some pretty incredible people that care immensely about me here but it’s not quite the same. It’s not the same as feeling people praying for me, supporting me, loving what God is doing in my life and the country of Haiti. Thank you for being part of that for me the past couple weeks. Please keep praying for Haiti, my team, and myself.

14.5 You Win

I was really excited about 14.5. See my post about it.

…and then it happened….

I was about halfway through the workout, in the set of 15 thrusters, when my left shoulder popped. So I set the bar down, shook it out, took a deep breath, picked it up, and tried again. Another pop. I set the bar down and walked away.

It feels like giving up.

It feels like defeat.

It feels like I’m not good enough.

I actually wanted to cry. I was the only one in the gym that wasn’t going to finish the workout. Everyone else who wasn’t going to finish the workout had intelligently decided not to attempt it.

I spent the afternoon icing my shoulder, went to be early, stretched really well on Sunday, and still felt funny going to CrossFit on Monday. Thankfully the workout wasn’t too bad and ended up stretching my shoulder more than working it.

My disgusted feelings about myself gave me permission to eat trashy all weekend. I’m not going to list out the nonsense of food I consumed but it did include an entire box of gluten-free oreos, cookies, wine, and popcorn. Eating trashy makes me sleepy and grumpy so I slept through a friend’s birthday party and made excuses for secluding myself all weekend. This only further exaggerates the issues. By Tuesday I was just angry at myself.

Thankfully on Tuesday I was meeting someone from church to review a volunteer role I’m assuming. After our conversation at Starbucks, I decided to continue reading a book I’m reading for my small group. A few chapters of “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller made me reach for my Bible and my Bible made me reach for prayer time with God. I need help from God to have a good attitude and to have my heart following His plans for me and not my own. The CrossFit Open gave me a really good attitude adjustment (after first showing me how self centered and physically-minded I am).

I still need God to help me with what I am eating (which sounds dumb but it’s the truth) as well as where my heart is focused, but He has answered prayers. I want to compete in the Open for years to come and see marked improvements. I don’t want to go to Regionals, just compete to the best of my ability. I need to push myself in the gym on a regular basis – more than I was in the past – but I don’t need it to define me. God defines me. Jesus defines how God sees me and for that, I am immensely thankful!

Flood My Soul

Wrench my soul free from thirts

For lower things, frivolous thrills, wrench my soul

Flood my soul, ‘whelming fount

Abundantly fill with passionate fire, flood my soul

Keep my days for your glory

Secure my heart for your ways

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

Stir my soul, boundless Light

To humbly display your radiant love,  stir my soul

Keep my days for your glory

Secure my heart for your ways

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

Set my gaze to the Kingdom

Ignite my love for your name

I cling to you, oh Lord of all, strong Deliverer

All my life is yours

Surrender everything I am to you, my only hope

All my life is yours

2 years

Today is my two year anniversary at my current job. There were no celebrations, no congratulations, no real acknowledgement which, if you know me, I’m thankful for. I struggle with how to respond appropriately when people focus all the attention on me. Don’t get me wrong, I love working for that power and acceptance. I love sinning and manipulating and desiring that all the attention and focusing the world on me but I don’t know what to do with it when it happens.

Two years ago today I was a vastly different person. I think this is true of anyone who has ambition or seeks to live their life. No one wants to be stagnant for two years. Two years ago I thought I was solving all of my problems by switching companies. I was stuck in a job with people that I didn’t respect, who didn’t respect me, staring at the wall without work to be doing and without friends. I had been living in Kansas City for six months and didn’t know anyone. I went to bars and got drunk with some co-workers but we didn’t have conversations, we made fun of people in the room with us. Leading a double life meant I had built up walls that didn’t allow people to get to know me. My life was pretty empty.

I thought that changing the company on my paycheck would solve these issues. I thought the grass was greener on the other side. I thought working for a smaller company in the same line of work (and less pay) would give me more responsibility, authority, and respect. I thought another job would solve my emptiness problem. I thought another job would give me friends.

In God’s graciousness, it did, but not in the way that I was thinking. I do have a little more responsibility at the office. I am working in the field my college degree is in. I make enough money to live on and get to participate in some “extras” in life. I do have friends. My new job introduced me to people God strategically placed in my path at a time when I was so vulnerable. He knew (and continues to know) what I need most. He knew that I needed to start understanding His Grace and Love. and He knew that I wasn’t going to listen if things were going well in my life.

Two years ago tomorrow, I walked into a fall protection training class on my second day of work. I tried to sweet talk my way out of taking the class since I was pretty convinced I should be the one teaching it – I had been working at elevation in a harness for the last 10 months after all (can you say prideful?). We went around the room making introductions and the girl next to me got all excited when I said I went to Texas A&M. So had she. Little did I know then that she would become my friend, confidant, roommate, and introducer back to faith and the church.

For several months she asked me to join her at church. I refused. I had started showing up late and leaving early at various Presbyterian churches in KC but didn’t want to make the commitment. I finally agreed to go one Sunday with her so she would stop asking me. I’ve been at Redeemer Fellowship every Sunday I’ve been in KC since!

Two years ago today I was chasing idols with my career. I was dying, literally, for the job. I was a slave to it. Jesus died on the cross to drain the cup of wrath of all my idol chasing and other sins. God placed people and situations in my life for my good. He chased me from my old company to my new one to provide me with opportunities to get to know Him better. There are still plenty of times (each day) where work still has idol powers for me. I still get frustrated, respond out of hate, boast, gossip, slack off, and don’t focus on God but He is redeeming me to learn how to work like He works, to love how He loves.

My goal two years ago was to create a well known and respected reputation while making lots of money. My goals for the next two years are to show people the love of Christ while working in the oil and gas business. I would like to make a decent living that allows me to love people in Haiti and my local community well and provides opportunities to seek the Kingdom of God. I am blown away by the power and plan God has for me (and everyone). I am so thankful He guided me into making a company switch two years ago. I am looking forward to the next two years!

Lines.

Lines.

I grew up in Texas, mostly. My family is from Georgia and Alabama with a little Mississippi thrown in. I’ve lived in 9 states. I understand state lines. I understand borders. The Alabama part means I understand football rivalries. I went to Texas A&M. I get pride. I get yelling and thinking you’re better than someone else. I get it.

There is a cast system in the southeast part of the United States that is alive and well. Just ask the frat brothers at Ole Miss. Go to any of the small towns in Georgia and look at the neighborhoods on either side of the railroad tracks. There’s the wealthy, the social elite, the upper middle class, then the working class, and then the poor. Everyone beats on the poor. Racism is alive and well. Progress has be minimal since the 1960’s.

When I moved to Kansas City two and half years ago, I was initially impressed with the “forward progress” the city seemed to have in regards to treating people equally. The last 30 months have slowly whittled away this progress. Kansas City is great at the appearance of progress but it is divided at every turn. Kansas vs Missouri. Black vs White. Downtown vs Suburb. Rich vs Poor. Christian vs Non Christian. White Collar vs Blue Collar. The list goes on and on. The tricky part about dividing lines within Kansas City is they are passive aggressive. At least in Georgia, or Mississippi, they put in on their flag and not try to hide it.

I am not condoning treating any one differently based on appearance, skin color, gender, etc. I am condoning being honest and forward thinking.

Tuesday, Redeemer Fellowship, the church I am a member of in KC, hosted an event that promoted, and delivered, honest conversations and opinions about race issues in town. This (hopefully initial) meeting wasn’t about solving The problem. It wasn’t about simplifying issues. It was about being honest about the angst on both sides, where some of these issues come from, and what baby steps we can all take towards a unified Kansas City. It was about hope that God will continue to redeem His people, His people who call Kansas City and the surrounding areas home.

The biggest take away for me was about living in community with others, spending money in your own backyard, and voting for people who have unity as a core belief.

I live west of the plaza. Right now I can’t change that. But I can continue to be in community with people from other parts of Kansas City. Redeemer Fellowship makes that pretty easy. Different people come to services each week and I love playing boardgames on Monday nights with our neighbors living at 39ths and Baltimore. (Come out the 1st and 3rd Monday’s of the month to experience these amazing people and get beat at spades!). Being a minority in my high school in Austin Texas means I love different backgrounds and food. I aim to treat everyone compassionately regardless of background.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

So what can I change? I can buy gas at the QT gas station on Westport road close to my house even though it costs $0.15-0.35 more per gallon than the QT by my office so that the money and buying market stays in my neighborhood and not down in the suburbs. I can continue to buy food at the local farmer’s markets (already one of my personal soap boxes). I can continue to be active in service projects in my community. I can also take a look at who is running for public office and make sure I’m voting for people based on their committment to unifying Kansas City.

What can you do?

Pray. Pray for the people of Kansas City to love each other and to seek out relationships with each other. Buy local. Help your neighbor.

The Open

For those of you who don’t CrossFit, this is going to sound a little weird. I’m sure my posts about CrossFit already sound weird to you but this will probably push past your understanding…

The CrossFit Open begins tonight. I am terrified. I am praying to God about the CrossFit Games.

There. I said it (kinda). I am completely afraid of the workouts they will be posting for me to do. At this point, there really is no joy or excitement about this actually. I am sure this will grow but not at this particular moment.

What is the CrossFit Open you ask? The CrossFit Open is the first in a series of CrossFit competitions that advance you to competing in The CrossFit Games. The CrossFit Games determine who (male and female) are the fittest person on the planet.

It is actually a pretty cool and all inclusive process. For five weeks (starting tonight), a workout is posted online and the two winners from last year’s competition complete it. You then have until Monday night to complete the workout in front of a judge or video record it and submit you time/reps online. Online ranks you against everyone else on the planet that has completed the same workout. After 5 weeks, the top so many people go compete at the regional competition. Those top two athletes then go compete at the CrossFit Games.

Anybody in the world can compete (for $20). It is truly a global competition. The Olympics try to accomplish this but certain countries, political issues, and monetary contraints apply. With CrossFit, it’s you against everyone else, with the support of your local CrossFit community of course.

I workout three times a week at a box I love and with people that make me happy in the midst of intense physical and mental challenges. I don’t want to workout anywhere else.

But.

I am scared of these workouts. I am scared to see how low I will be ranked. It’s pretty common for me to be one of the last people to finish or one of the people with the least amount of weight on my bar. This doesn’t bother me in the comfort of my own box, with my own people. Seeing it displayed for the world to watch is another story.

This fear of approval from others is an idol in my life. It is something that I strive for that is not God. At church we talk about this all the time. God please help me to remember that you don’t want me to be perfect, that you only want me to seek you. Help me remember that Jesus was perfect so I could have the freedom not to be.

It’s the same reason I never took to learning foreign languages in school. I studied spanish for 6 years but would get cold sweats everday when I had to go to class and actually speak it in front of my peers. I don’t want to mess up, to sound dumb, to be the person to not get it. This is the same with me trying to learn Creole to go to Haiti. I want to be perfect. It’s unrealistic. It inhibits my drive to be a witness and seek Christ. It is sin. With God’s help He can change me. I can’t do this myself.

So I signed up for the CrossFit Open. I am not going to make it very far but I am going to enjoy an additional workout each week with folks from my box. It’s going to be fun to see myself struggle and perservere. It’s going to be incredible to push the body God gave me in ways I never imagined when I walked into my first CrossFit box last year.

Running

20140220-103221.jpg

Somtimes things in life are worth being awake early for.

This was the case Wednesday morning as I found myself on a plane at 6am bound for Houston from Kansas City. As I looked out the window, I found connection with God. The Holy Spirit lives and dwells within us always (after conversion) but sometimes I don’t listen to those feelings. I don’t pay attention. I need God’s help for me to pay attention and when He paints the sky in these remarkable colors, I can’t help but sit up straight and give my full attention to where He is pointing.

20140220-103203.jpg

It’s only been above freezing in Kansas City the last couple of days which has been a nice change of pace but feeling the mid-70’s on my skin in Houston Wednesday was incredible. My current project in Houston is growing increasingly more challenging by the day. By 4pm I was done. I drove to Spring, to my friend’s house, and decided I was going for a fun. I needed to run.

I felt this way this weekend but a silly shuffle on the ice Thursday night had rendered my right big toe painful so I went to yoga but skipped the running this weekend. I hadn’t run in a long while. This probably contributed to my shorten ability to handle my work situation gracefully. Running was in order.

I laced up my crossfit shoes (since I didn’t bring my running shoes), took some directional advise from a friend, and headed out. It was a glorious 35 minutes and 3.5 miles. I ran mostly off-road (not entirely intensional) and was privy to some gorgeous scenery like the photo above. By the time I returned, I was ready to make some phone calls, dig thru some data, answer some emails, and finish the work I was too scattered to do earlier.

Thank you God for providing me two gorgeous opportunities to feel your closeness yesterday. You love us so much you paint the sky all different colors as a display of your power and ability. You love me so much that you give me eyes to see and a heart to understand that. Thank you. Thank you for my body; my body that runs, slowly, but still runs. Thank you for the lovely weather and the safety I found in those minutes. Please Lord, help my heart to stay that connected and aware of you today, and in all the days to come. Amen.