I’M NOT ALWAYS OKAY, AND THAT’S OKAY

Social media gives us this idea that everything needs to be okay with us 100% of the time. But honestly, that’s a load of crap.

Yes, I am a christian. Yes, I believe that I can pray to our mighty Savior to find peace and comfort. Yes, I am blessed with friends and family that love me. Yes, I have millions of things to be happy and grateful for. But no, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle on the daily.

Honestly, I have felt guilty many times that I have such a great life, but can still feel down and melancholic. Which is ridiculous, I know.

I would compare my reasons of sadness to other people’s and if I felt my feelings weren’t as valid as theirs, I would tell myself to get over it. But let me tell you… this is an AWFUL mindset to have !!!! And I hope you never do that to yourself.

I’ve had to teach myself that my feelings are VALID. If I am upset because of the way someone treated me, or because life didn’t go as I had planned, that is okay. Unfortunately, not everyday is going to be filled with rainbows and butterflies.

To be honest, I’ve been in a gloomy state for the past couple weeks. Life has been throwing me curveballs left and right. It can be hard to be present in life and fully connect with those around me. It’s something that takes lots of energy and will power, but it’s not impossible. And that’s okay.

What I’m really trying to tell you all is that every single person on this planet finds themselves in seasons of sadness. It’s inevitable as human beings. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with us, or that we’re different from others.

If you are feeling down-hearted, I would first identify what you’re feeling, then assess the situation. Depending on who you are, you may just need to step back from your normal, social, cheery self and take a deep breath. Or maybe you need to keep that consistent human interaction to process and cope with the struggles. Whatever you need to do, do it. Even if the world is moving at 100 mph, don’t feel like you have to keep up. It’s okay to take things slow.

The way you take care of yourself and your health is the only thing that is really in your control. You can’t control the way the world treats you or the things that happen, no matter how much you plan. What you can do is focus on the way you react to life’s situations.

Pray for peace, comfort, and strength. Really think about what you’re feeling and why. Give yourself a break. You deserve it.

PREPARING OURSELVES TO MOVE 4,000 MILES AWAY +tips we’ve tried to help us cope

the pros

Obviously this is a big change, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing. As my family and I prepare to move to Madrid, Spain next summer, these are the things going through our heads, trying to remember the life-changing experience that this is.

  • The experience that we will gain as we move to a foreign place is huge.
  • My sisters and I will be able to travel at such a young age and see things that most people won’t ever see or experience in their lifetime.
  • For me, if I don’t try this out now, I may never. I don’t want to miss such an amazing opportunity.
  • Social media and technology is so advanced.
    • Although phone calls aren’t as comforting as talking to people face-to-face, we are still going to be able to communicate with loved ones across the world.
  • We will be practicing Spanish daily and will most likely be fluent after awhile.
  • For me personally, I will be able to come back to the states if I find that Madrid is not a good fit for me.
  • We will meet many new people from Spain, and any other countries we explore while living in Europe.

the cons

  • Leaving friends and family.
    • My brother and his new wife just got married two months ago. It will be really hard to be away when they start a family of their own.
  • Leaving the town we were raised in.
  • Moving into a completely new culture. (Culture shock)
  • We have lots and lots of memories in this small town we call home.
    • As an Enneagram type 6, it’s hard for me to move on from good memories and to leave them behind. Looking through old pictures/videos is a hobby of mine, but it absolutely crushes me at the same time to know that we can never relive that moment.
  • Missing out on friend/family get-togethers.
    • I have major FOMO (fear of missing out). I have some theories of where it came from, but seeing the people I love spending quality time together (one of my top love languages), knowing I couldn’t join them even if I wanted, is honestly painful.
  • We won’t be able to spend holidays or big events with friends or family.
    • Thanksgiving isn’t even a thing is Spain !! 😦
  • Financial/emotional security.
    • Being so far away from family and friends, we can’t run to them when our emotional stability is at an all-time low. If I can’t find a job, I can’t go back to one of my high school employers to be able to pay the bills. Finding jobs is HARD in Spain.

tips to cope

  • Trust in Jesus.
    • This may seem simple, but is actually really hard to remember when lost in the weight of the world.
  • Pray. Pray. Pray.
    • Spending time talking to the Creator of the universe…there is nothing more powerful.
  • Remember why we said “YES” in the first place.
  • Research more about Madrid.
    • Finding cafes, landmarks, or other places we will likely visit when we get there. Getting ourselves excited!
  • Remember, this is such a great opportunity that we are so blessed to have.
  • Connect with someone that has previously moved to another country/culture.
    • Ask for some encouragement, share your thoughts. They could give some reassurance.

Change is hard. No matter who you are, I think that most everybody would agree that change is somewhat difficult. But even though it’s hard, you won’t ever be able to grow without it. Even though it can shake you to your core, make you break down mentally, emotionally, and even physically, it’s change that will help you become a better, more experienced individual. Through change and the support of Jesus Christ, we can change and grow physically, mentally, and emotionally.

LIFE UPDATE…*a lot has happened*

I know it’s been quite awhile since the last time I wrote here but dang life has been crazy! A few very major things have happened in my life recently, and although they’re exciting, I’m kinda freaking out !!! So here’s a short synopsis of the past several months in my life:

1. I graduated high school !!!

A new stage of life, how fun !!!! Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed high school a lot and I’m definitely going to miss spending 5 days of the week with my friends and teachers. I attended the same small private school for my entire life, which made saying goodbye a lot harder. Most of my 38 classmates I’ve known for many, many years and although I’ve known some for only a few years, they all are like family.

2. I have decided to take a gap year and earn my TESOL certification

I know that going to school and earning a degree is important, but taking some time off to make money, travel, get a new perspective on life, or whatever you need to do to pursue your life calling – that is okay too (and I hope other high school or college grads understand that too). I have decided that it is best for me to take a year off of school to work, get my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification, and get ready for the next life-changing stage of my life.

3.  I have decided to attend university in MADRID !! (and my family is going with me :D)

Around 2015, I decided that I wanted to study at a university somewhere abroad, and most likely in Europe. While on a trip with my dad to Germany, we visited a few universities that actually offered FREE tuition to foreigners !! I was super stoked to check them out and actually liked one of the universities a lot. However, the more I thought about that particular city and the criteria to be a student there, it didn’t seem like a great fit for me.

As I processed many opportunities and locations, I thought about my love for the Spanish language and European cultures, which led me to look further into universities in Spain! Eventually, I landed on St. Louis University.

St. Louis University’s Madrid Campus (SLU-Madrid) is an American-accredited school. The classes are taught in English, it’s located in Madrid, and students come in from around 60 other countries to study there !!! Honestly, the thing that really sold me on this particular place is their love and opportunities for traveling around Europe and building community between many cultures. After sending in my application, I got an acceptance email and letter, which immediately brought me to tears. After reading lots of articles written by SLU-Madrid alumni and current students about the campus and community, I was confident in my answer and decision to move to Spain.

THE REALLY COOL PART is that my parents were offered missionary positions in Europe !! With the position they were offered, they have the opportunity to also move to Madrid and work with many of our missionary friends located in other European countries !!! OBVIOUSLY this was a huge decision to make, but also a dream come true for our family.

As a whole, our family is pretty adventurous and struggles to say no to the Lord. That being said, when my family noticed the many, many details that God aligned for us to move to Spain together, we knew it was all in His hands.

I’m SO excited for the new journey but also so stinkin nervous to leave everyone and everything behind.

Since my younger sisters are originally from Costa Rica, my family knows a fair amount of Spanish. However, the dialect is different in Spain and we haven’t practiced our Spanish a whole lot in the past 4 years since they’ve been here.

Adjusting to a new culture and somewhat of a new language is going to be a rollercoaster, but I’m pretty excited and ready for it !!

4. Future blog posts

Since I’m only working 3 days a week right now, I am planning on creating blog posts on Wednesdays. I know that there will definitely be weeks I miss, so sorry in advance bout that. But I will try my best !!!

If ya wanna be notified when I put up a new blog, you can follow me here, or follow me on Instagram @aubrygrace_  where I’ll let you guys know when a new blog is up !!!  

A CHANGE OF HEART

This past summer, I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Guatemala. This wasn’t the first time, since my family had gone with me a couple times before, but it was the first time I was genuinely passionate about going. I had first heard about this trip being an opportunity for students and their parents from my church about a year ago. I knew that no matter what, I had to go.

Since it was a student/parent trip, my mom and I began raising funds for it. The closer we got to the trip, the more nervous I became due to the amount of money I still had to raise in the little amount of time until the trip. It honestly wasn’t until a few weeks before the trip that God provided us with all of the funds. It was amazing, actually. He put a desire in the hearts of family friends to donate just the right amount of money to cover our trips completely.

That’s the moment I knew amazing things were about to happen.

I can confidently say that our trip to Guatemala changed the rest of my life. Not only did I build relationships with some of the coolest, most genuine people I have ever met, but I got to experience God’s love and joy more than I have ever experienced it before.

Every night we would get together with the group that we served with to reflect on our day. Each night left me in tears, amazed at the love of God. I have never felt joy like I did that week.

One of the coolest things was the fact that my mom and I were at the same children’s home, Village of Hope, five and six years prior, before they even had children living there. The impact that they have had on the community and how much they have physically grown as a ministry since our first trip is amazing. There was never a doubt in my mind that God is present at Village of Hope, working through the hearts of each staff member, child, family, and friend involved.

This was also the week I felt God lay a passion on my heart for the first time. I always struggled finding my passions and knowing what to do with my life. I now know that I want to work in the missions field someday, helping His children who may not have a family. I want to live in other countries with foreign languages, and I want to share kindness and His faithfulness through my blog. A couple months ago I was still clueless and discouraged because I had no idea what I wanted in life. I asked him many, many times before to show me my passions and dreams, and I would get discouraged when he didn’t.

I guess through all of this I learned that sometimes God isn’t ready to reveal his plans just yet. I am human and I was impatient, wanting to know all the answers from the beginning. But it all comes down to putting faith in God. Having faith that he will lead you when HE’S ready, not you.

Our trip to Guatemala will always be special to me, being a reminder of joy and faithfulness. If you are ever given the opportunity to travel with a group of people (some of which you may not know) and share kindness and truth, I could NOT recommend it enough. Even if you’re terrified out of your mind, I promise you will not regret it.

If you’re interested in learning more about Village of Hope or potential missions trips to this beautiful place, please visit here.

SPREADING POSITIVITY

Hey wonderful humans !!! It’s been a bit !! I’m sorry that I’ve been pretty MIA lately. Ever since the start of school, life has been absolutely crazy (as it usually is).

For the first month of the school year we had a family friend stay with us from Spain. It was so fun introducing her to the American lifestyle and to all my friends at school ! Ever since then it’s just been a nonstop kinda thing between school, work, my sister’s volleyball games, etc. etc.

BUT I know that there’s no excuse for me to not be posting on here so… I’m sorry !! In all honesty, it’s so easy for me to get caught up in the routine and forget what I’m really doing here on this earth.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the negativity that surrounds me on a regular basis (you can see where I’ve talked about it before right here). Of course, I’m totally guilty of providing that negativity at times, but that doesn’t mean I like it. However, I know that I enjoy life 1000x more when I’m optimistic !! This is where I struggle.

Yes, I love being optimistic and finding the joys of life in every situation, but I also can be easily influenced by the negativity at times. SO to solve this problem, I set goals for myself. I promised myself that I’ll use this year, my senior year of high school, to be a positive example to those around me.

This means that I will do my absolute best to show kindness and promote happiness in all situations. I know that me being the human I am, I won’t get this right every time. I’m still gonna have my negative moments and times of self doubt, BUT if I catch myself, I’ll turn my mindset around.

That being said, if you see me being negative, whether it’s in math class (my friend Anna knows that that’s a major struggle for me🤦🏽‍♀️), at work, online, or any area of my life, PLEASE call me out on it !! Just say something like, “hey aubry, how bout ya shut up and be positive?!” cause that will definitely catch my attention !!

Also, I highly encourage you to make your own goals to better yourself and really work towards them. Maybe even get an accountability partner to help ya out when life gets tough! My sister, Kayla, is that person for me! Life is so much more enjoyable when you’re chasing your dreams and reaching your goals, I promise !!

STAY POSITIVE, MY FRIENDS 💛💛