Challenges Defined

We all face challenges. Can I start by saying that? I don’t care what you say, the person next to you definitely faces challenges too, no matter how seamless they make life look. Okay, glad we cleared the air there.

Challenges Defined | Moving Peaces

One of my challenges has been food. Some of you know about my story of sickness our first few years of marriage. The short of it? I found myself throwing up multiple nights a week with no clear explanation why. After months of doctors and specialists and prescriptions, things hadn’t improved. I changed diets and pressed for more tests until they finally removed my gallbladder. Things didn’t end after surgery as I still found myself quite sick, but on slightly fewer occasions. When I wasn’t throwing up, I felt like I might. I was told I had food allergies but had a long way to go before I found what foods I could actually eat and how to navigate restaurants and grocery stores. I have a long list of allergies to varying degrees, but at the top of the list are garlic and onions.

So that’s the story. It’s why I can’t eat sauces or dressings. Why I have to call ahead when we go out to eat or why I have to coordinate with the caterer directly for weddings and special occasions. It’s why my food inevitably looks different than yours when we share a meal together. It’s why I stopped caring about cooking or complex meals. It’s why I sometimes feel left out in social settings.

When I was in high school I remember seeing the challenges of someone else, which were visible and noticeable to everyone and wishing my challenge was something more easily identified. Now I can’t get through a meal without at least explaining part of the story, regardless of how much I try to skirt around it. For a little while, it felt like that was my story. It was taking over my life in so many ways as I fought through the sickness for answers and relief.

But that’s not the whole story, just an element. It’s something I still have to face on a regular basis. I still get sick (although far less often), and I still have to navigate through menus and ingredient listings. As soon as I can, I try to change the subject. I’m not my sickness or allergy or challenge.

It has shaped me and changed me. It has made me so grateful for the things I can eat (like chocolate) and more aware of the difficulties that one issue can cause in many other facets of life. But it does not define me.

So whatever your challenge is, realize what it truly amounts to. It might be huge, and I am not trying to minimize it necessarily. When this sickness first hit, it seemed like I would never go a week again without feeling sick (and specialists told me as much). What I’m saying is, your challenge might be huge but it doesn’t have to overtake you. You are so much more than the challenges you are facing.


31 Days: Finding Self | Moving Peaces

This post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.


Pick me, pick me!

Life feels a bit like 5th grade P.E. at the moment. Remember standing against the wall waiting to pick teams for dodge ball? The teacher would appoint two captains, and you waited (and silently screamed) to be picked for your team of choice. While Ashley might be your BFF of the week, John was your crush of the week and inevitably, better at dodge ball…so the choice was clear. That is, until they started calling off names.


Oh my! How am I supposed to choose now? Stephen and John are best friends, the cutest boys in the class AND they’re on opposing teams? Ohh, I’m not sure i want to be on the same team as Chase. Maybe I should be on Ashley’s team instead. Well, would I rather win or have more fun? Hmm.

LEONNA! Ugh. Sooo slow.
PAIGE! Dang, they picked her before me?

Suddenly the entire game was different. I’d stand there and fret over which was the better option until my name was called….as if my weighing out the options made any difference. Just like life.


What?? Same place, different job? Different place, same people? Mixing business with pleasure? School now or later? Same school, different program? The options keep changing, and I don’t even know what team to jump on! But let’s face it. Analyzing and over analyzing all of the various scenarios won’t make much of a difference. Ultimately, I don’t get to pick my team. I’m chosen for it.

Traveling with Candor

To sum up what traveling means to me is near impossible. It’s inspiring and wonderful and challenging and ridiculous and special and ordinary and vital all in one breath. Every time I go somewhere it makes me feel that much more alive. While it’s thrilling and sometimes adventurous, it also brings a negative side that’s just as much of a reminder of being alive.

The month I spent in China in college was the first traveling experience I remember that brought me to tears. I loved so many parts of my trip but the other half of the time I felt such a bitter loneliness and deep void that I couldn’t escape. Everything that was wrong with society and myself and my future was staring me in the face. I was trapped under this burden of angst and misery amongst the beauties and excitement of China. While I can’t even remember all that I was struggling with at the time, it shaped me. It certainly wasn’t the first thing I mentioned about my trip, if it was mentioned at all, but it was just as valuable of an experience.

The past few days we had the pleasure of spending time visiting with relatives and ringing in the new year in Music City. While it was wonderful to see everyone and experience our first snowfall this winter, it brought on some moments of pain. Facing insecurities and an unknown future isn’t exactly the kind of conversation you toss in between karaoke numbers. This wasn’t the trip that left us inspired by every opportunity or eager for more. It had touches of anxiety and longing instead. Not exactly the trip we planned, but perhaps the trip we needed. 

When you find a routine, you can sometimes shelf those fears and failures while you go on with regular daily life. You forget the past if you can and ignore the impending future. But as soon as you leave that routine and surrender yourself to a wide open sky and a long car ride through the mountains, there’s no telling what your inner thoughts will unravel and unveil.

While at times arduous and other times jovial, I was grateful for the time of travel. It forced growth and contemplation, insight and creativity—and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Travel brings out all the elements, whether you’re ready or not.