I am told I was exuberant from the day I entered the world. Born prematurely as a fraternal twin, I couldn’t leave the hospital until I weighed at least five pounds. But after two weeks still under my required weight, the doctors sent me home. Apparently, as I flip-flopped around the incubator, I convinced them I was lively enough to face the world.
Energetic and social, I attended grade school in a suburb outside of Chicago and then moved to Cincinnati the summer after my sixth grade year, where my parents still live. Following my high school graduation, I attended Taylor University where I majored in Elementary Education and minored in Spanish.
My favorite memories from college involve the rich relationships I experienced. Many of these meaningful friendships occurred at the “Brick House,” where my housemates and I lived during our senior year. Around the dinner table each Sunday, we shared our unedited thoughts with one another about our faith, relationships, and struggles. Through those conversations, I learned a tremendous amount about unconditional love, grace, and accountability.
Those dear friends also nursed my broken heart through my break-up with Jared. (Amazingly enough, he is now my husband.) Having met Jared during my senior year while student teaching for his mom, I instantly felt a connection with him and marveled at how wonderfully everything was aligning to my hope of marrying right after college. Much to my surprise, Jared broke up with me before graduation to pursue his dreams in Chicago.
Devastated and wondering how I was ever going to meet my husband (yes, it felt that dramatic at the time), I moved back to Cincinnati and began teaching. I taught for four memorable years, one at a private school and three at a public school. While striving to instill confidence in my students and their writing, I decided to also further refine my writing skills by enrolling in Miami University’s master’s degree program with the Ohio Writing Project. During this busy season of life, I also created a girls’ conference entitled “What a Girl Wants” with my college housemates. Preparing the material for the conference sessions and presenting to teenage girls around the country invigorated me. More than ever, I was convinced that I wanted to use my life to encourage girls.
After receiving my master’s degree, I moved to Orlando to write for Campus Crusade for Christ’s international magazine,Worldwide Challenge. During this time, I also worked with Campus Crusade’s high school ministry, Student Venture. It was a breath of fresh air to be involved in full-time ministry using my gifts of writing and working with girls.
To my surprise, during my season in Orlando, Jared re-entered my life. Remembering the previous heartbreak, I cautiously contemplated dating him again. But as he continued to pursue me, I could sense God’s guiding hand and recalled the reasons I fell for Jared many years before. Much to my delight, a year later Jared asked me to marry him against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean in South Beach, Miami, Florida.
Following our wedding at Fripp Island, South Carolina, I moved to Chicago to begin married life with Jared. Although the transition to a new city was more difficult than I expected, I adored living with Jared and settling into our home. Each day we spend together, I become more aware that God gave me exactly what I need in a husband: sensitive yet logical, hilarious yet deep, friendly yet reserved, intense yet relaxed. I fall more in love with him every day as we learn to work together as a team.
Once settled in Chicago, I searched for a local job where I could use my strengths. I was already working remotely with Miami University’s Ohio Writing Project advising teachers who were pursuing their master’s degrees. I ultimately accepted a job with the University of Illinois at Chicago as part of a literacy grant which involved presenting writing workshops to teachers in the Chicago Public Schools. I also felt led to begin a women’s Bible study at my church.
A year later, my life was turned upside down when I found out that my so-called harmless ovarian cyst was actually a cancerous tumor. (Read more here, here and here.) After two surgeries and many complications, Jared and I were told that I also had to endure ten weeks of chemotherapy. God carried us through an intensely challenging time both physically and emotionally. Though this blog was not originally created for me to process my thoughts during cancer, I am humbled that God is using my story to encourage women walking through their own difficulties whether they be issues with health, infertility, relationships, insecurity or anything in between.
I am so grateful to report that I have been cancer-free since 2010 but more importantly, I have learned to trust God in a whole new way–giving God my desires and fears and trusting Him to work good in my life for His glory. But that’s not to say it adjusting to my new normal after cancer was seamless. But life had a renewed purpose and while in Chicago I enjoyed leading a women’s Bible study, working with the womens’ ministry at my church, meeting with women for coffee and walks, tutoring, and leading Youth Writing Camps.
Just when I felt I was finding my groove, two new exciting changes disrupted our life’s rhythm: a new job for Jared and a new baby forming in my body! Since we weren’t even sure I could have children, we were elated to be expecting. God continued to teach me so much about trusting Him with the desires of my heart through my pregnancy and in November of 2012, we welcomed our gift from God, Olivia Marie. If I thought that I had learned a lot through my cancer road, my eyes were opened to realize the learning was just beginning as a parent. (Read more here, here, and here.) We were so grateful for all of the gifts God had given us.
I am so grateful to see how God organized my circumstances to mold me into the woman He wants me to become, even though I would never have written my story the way He has. I am amazed that in God’s infinite wisdom and love, He uses our difficulties to teach us more about ourselves and Him. My prayer is that this blog is a companion for us as we face the inevitable bumps in our roads and explore what God desires to teach us.