I was born to a family with eight girls and one boy. Not only was my family large, but my siblings and I were also homeschooled for my entire childhood on our family ranch in North Texas. Needless to say to most people we were quite the American anomaly…except in that rural community we weren’t.
Growing up my world consisted of my family, home schooling, our family ranch, and our many family friends who were largely from the rural Home-schooling community covering the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Conservative Christianity (in many different forms) and church were foundational parts of my life and family.
I moved out at the age of 17, to join a post high-school ministry internship with a church in Colorado Springs.
In the years since, I have endured heart break, the challenge of maneuvering social norms I never learned, burnout and betrayal within the church, abandonment of both me and my family from large portions of the community I grew up with after we supported my sister’s divorce, the tragic and agonizing pain of death arriving far too soon for people I love, and so much more…
Growing up as a Pastor’s daughter in the world of Christian home schooling meant that my world view started very small. I thought I had a huge faith built on a rock solid foundation of 18 years of ingrained belief and practice that I would go out into the world with and take it by storm. Questioning and doubting was for the outsiders. I was in. I was safe. I was strong.
Until I wasn’t anymore, and I quickly realized that my faith foundation was made of sand.
I would soon learn that life has its own way of sifting our sand castles to reveal treasures we never saw before.
My faith journey had only just begun.
It’s complicated. It’s messy.
I have been hurt. I hurt others.
Questions still haunt me. Answers evaded me.
Now instead of always looking for answers, I am learning to live with questions.
I am learning that faith and uncertainty can both be held in the same hands.
In 2008, I met the love of my life and married him just over 2 years later.
I am a military spouse, who has had to learn time and again to rebuild my life, my community, my friendships, and my career from scratch over and over in each new location.
In 2016, I became a mom to a beautiful son and now I am learning how to balance and juggle yet another role in my life. It is wonderful, exhausting, and scary. It is teaching me like never me before what it means to show up for life every day. It is helping me find a kinder and braver version of myself.
I was the only child in my family to be home schooled through my entire primary and secondary education years.
For the first seven years of my twenties my primary work was being a full time student.
Like many military spouses, I went to three different colleges over a period of four years in order to complete my bachelors degree in Political Science.
In 2013 I started a three year graduate program online with the University of Colorado, Denver School of Public Affairs to earn my Master’s in Public Administration.
Alongside my studies, I also volunteered numerous hours both on our base installation and off, in service to both my community and nonprofit organizations alike. My work has included three years of dedicated service and board leadership within our Air Force Officers’ Spouses’ Club, several years of Key Spouse service between my husband’s unit and the unit’s many families, an internship at the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, and in 2016 I completed a year long internship volunteering with two Air Force Base Family Centers that provide key social services to military members and their families. Most recently my passion for military spouses has led me back to being an active key spouse for my husband’s latest unit, and a colead in launching a chapter of In Gear Career — a national nonprofit focused on providing networking and professional resources to career-minded military spouses.
One of the key career challenges to being a military spouse, is the diverse resume experience one often builds due to frequent moves. My resume looks very familiar to most, in that it is filled with volunteer work and numerous part-time jobs, as I have learned to make the most of whatever location we find ourselves in.
In 2015, my final year of graduate school I submitted a thesis proposal, and was approved to research and publish a study on military spouse employment.
My own predicament has become my passion to help others.
My research entailed studying the role media coverage played over the past twenty years on the issue of military spouse employment. I looked at how media coverage helped raise awareness to common employment challenges military spouses have faced and continue to struggle with, as well as how it encouraged public policy development supporting military spouse employment in all levels of government.
For anyone interested in learning more about my research, you can view my published work below:
Through my graduate studies, I not only rediscovered my love for learning and research, but also a desire to build a career in public service alongside my husband and to continue my work in helping spouses. I currently find myself working full time and loving on my boys and community in every hour that I can.
The real stories of our lives go so easily untold. So many times the lump in my throat only grows as I realize yet again, when I am holding on tightly to yet another mask of perfection and control. For so long I lived with masks and let very few people see behind them. I have become exhausted living that kind of life. For me, living in constant fear and desperation to only present a picture perfect story is like treading water–I go absolutely nowhere and my joy evaporates with every new tiresome stroke.
Life has shaped my faith.
Life has shaken my faith.
Life is teaching me faith.
Where I stand:
My faith now is so different than what it was as a child. But my roots go deep, and even though I have pulled and twisted and grown so far from that original soil–I find myself grounded in some familiar, simple truths. I still love Jesus and want to build my life after his example of loving and serving anyone he met.
Today, I define myself less by a certain set of doctrines or the faith circles I run in. The Air Force life itself means you are constantly moving and meeting new people, so the opportunity to find a community to experience faith and life together with is unique, challenging, and beautiful in the friendships it produces.
Currently, my husband and I attend a Catholic parish near our base, and I am greatly enjoying the new perspectives and teachings on faith that I am receiving there. This faith community is teaching me anew to sift through my life, my heart, my relationships, and the scriptures for unseen treasure.
I am a feminist, who loves both women and men for the strength, dignity, leadership, and value they add to society, the workforce, and our homes.
I am a brand new mother, who believes it is important for me to learn how to lean in well to all the roles of my life–whether that be my role as a wife, a mother, in my career, in my hobbies, or any other.
I am a LGTB-Affirming Christian and you can learn more about my journey with this topic here.
I am a recent Catholic convert who is learning anew to love the wisdom found in community and the beauty of liturgical practices.
To learn more about my childhood story check out my first blog series called Seasons of Life.