You never know what life is going to be like when you undergo major life changes.

Moving cities, selling your car to rely solely on public transportation, and taking on an entirely different job are all things that can be rather difficult, let alone all of them at once. However, it’s honestly been one of the smoothest transitions. My anxiety is at an all-time low and I can’t explain it.

Call it God’s will or a good mindset or whatever you want – I’m sure credit is due in a variety of areas. I am just grateful.

I feel like my writing is best when we’re going through a valley or have just come through a really tough season, but I’m choosing to write even when we’re in this place. The season where you don’t want to talk about it too much in fear of jinxing it! (I know, I’m ridiculous. But seriously.)

So for those of you who care to hear about our life right now (Oh hi grandma!) here’s why I’m just grateful

Learning to work from home has been wonderful. I never imagined E and I would sit at desks side-by-side for 8+ hours a day, but it’s a blast! I have to admit that being a newbie in the world of media and public relations means I’m constantly googling about press release etiquette and “what is B2B and B2C?” They never taught me these things as an elementary education major! Gaining this experience and expanding my knowledge in a field that’s vastly different than anything I’ve ever done before makes me appreciate education and humbles me at the same time.

The best thing about working from home is that I am able to wear whatever I want (PJ’s all day, yes please!) and I can easily cook healthy lunches for us almost every afternoon. The hardest thing about working from home is that some days I don’t leave the house, not even once. I find it all too tempting to wake up in my PJ’s, work all day in my PJ’s, and lay low the rest of the night catching up on Orange Is The New Black rather than getting myself decent enough to go out in public. 😉

My days are about to change, however. Soon I will be traveling for work and whenever I’m not traveling I’ll still have to get ready and get out because I’ve signed up to volunteer with a really cool program called 826CHI. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. When my new friend, an employee of The Chicago Tribune, told me about this program I wanted to jump on board immediately. My initial response to most things is, “Sign me up!!!” This time I didn’t react that way though. I thanked her for informing me of such a cool organization and decided that I would spend some time praying about it before diving in headfirst.

You see, I tend to be a YES girl. There’s nothing wrong with a YES girl except for the fact that after you give your YES to everyone and everything, you’re left feeling overwhelmed and can’t possibly give your best efforts to anyone or anything. Are you guilty of spreading yourself too thin, too?! One of the books that ingrained a new method of commitment into my life is The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.

After praying about it and feeling at peace, I decided to fill out the form to become a volunteer for 826CHI. I can’t wait to update you guys on how it goes. I’m just grateful to still have the opportunity to work with kids!

Since we’re on the subject of volunteering, I should mention that E and I haven’t wasted any time getting plugged into our new church, Soul City. Tuesday night, I met up with people from the church to help pack backpacks full of donated school supplies and Thursday night E and I both went to the school to help serve food to the families who were receiving these donated school supplies. It warmed my heart to be back inside of a school. My favorite part of the evening was when we gathered in a circle and prayed over the students, hallways, attitudes, and teachers. I’m just grateful to have found a church that loves well and prioritizes serving in the community.

Between the new community we’re finding here and the old community who’ve supported us tremendously, my heart is bursting with gratefulness. The minute I don’t feel worthy of this life, I’m reminded that nobody gets to determine anyone’s worth- not even their own.

Today I felt God gently tugging on my heart to open up my bible; to be filled with His word. I landed on a passage in Luke 12. One that talks about “to whom much is given, much is expected.” And it hit me – because God has given me time, resources, connections, gifts, an audience, – many good things – He’s expecting me to use them to help draw others nearer to Him. I am not supposed to just soak up these blessings and keep them to myself.

This is why I decided to stop waiting. You, on the other side of your phone or computer monitor, may not know this, but I wrote a book. Two actually. One is a memoir and the other is an eBook. They’re finished. They’ve been finished for a while now. But I’ve been waiting. Waiting for them to be picked up by the best publishing company. Waiting for the best book deal. Waiting to share words that God commanded me to open up about because “I don’t have the platform” – well, no more excuses!

I’m done waiting. I’m releasing the eBook on my own without a publishing company or any book deal. I’m going to get it into the hands of people who need encouragement because it’s doing no good sitting on my hard drive. I believe it could change someone’s life. I’m just grateful I’ve come to realize this now.

Life won’t remain calm and smooth sailing, this I know. But while we are on this mountain top, I will keep my eyes focused on Christ. I won’t seek Him only when I need Him. I need Him now, even when my only response to the question, “how are you?” is “I’m just grateful.”

Love, Manda

PS. My eBook “Letters Of Encouragement” will be released as soon as my techy friends help me secure the best way to get it out into the world. Most likely sometime early next week! 🙂

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