Faith and Fear

Let's set the stage.

2 years ago, I put my loving parents on a plane in Phoenix, Arizona and drove away. Drove 3 hours up a friggin' mountain to a creaky, old house I managed to rent via Craigslist that I had just moved into. Alone, frightened, and kinda excited about what was about to happen. Hopeful that my husband of a few months would have the opportunity to join me with a great job. Terrified of what the next 2 years would hold for me.

Then, the hardest 6 months of my life occurred. I entered the world of graduate school in a state, town, and school where I had never met a soul. I cried nightly, missing the person I had just pledged to spend my life with and had endured a long-distance relationship with during my undergraduate career, missing my family whom I had grown very close to, missing my dear friends who were forever away, and missing the amazing professors I had known for 4 years. Missing a church family who could shelter me and distract me from the people I loved most, miles and miles away. Enduring professors I had never met, classes that seemed impossible, and grades that were worse than I had ever gotten in my entire life. I was shy, afraid to reach out to anyone and ask the simple question for help. Me, the goofy, outgoing person that wasn't afraid to ask anyone for anything, especially when it came to school. Who made friends easily, and was the person in the room who wasn't afraid to say hello to a stranger.

I didn't even know who I was anymore.

I laid in my bed, sobbing for something. Anything. Everything. Hope. Friendship. Love. Laughter. Courage. I realized that I was praying. Praying for deliverance of what and who I had become. Praying not to be alone anymore.

Then I realized I never had been alone. At my lowest point, I cried out to the only person who could hear. He had been there always, making sure I was surviving, making sure I had a roof over my head, gas in my car, the bus always making it to school, getting me through classes, making sure I put something on paper to turn in to my instructors at the end of the week. I was just too blinded by fear and shame to realize that Jesus Christ had never left. When I was crying out of loneliness, He chuckled and smiled down at me. He opened my eyes to reality; I was lost in my fear of what I was going through to see Him clearly.

I started praying in every moment. Praying to get through the classes I was neglecting, thinking I could do this on my own, when I never in my life done that before. Praying for my husband to answer the phone when I called, praying for my family to be thinking of me, praying that I would survive this semester.

Thankfully, God answered my prayers and my wonderful, dear father spent 3 weeks with me, after realizing that things weren't going spectacular in AZ for me. I thanked God daily that my dad was able to be here for me.

Thanksgiving came, and my dear, dear husband was able to visit and see Flagstaff. We went to McDonald's for thanksgiving, and I will never forget that meal we shared. He never lost faith that I would be able to succeed in this new endeavor, and his unwavering support is another credit to the amazing man I get to spend my life with!

I managed to get through the semester, and go home and spend 3 weeks at home. I treasured every moment, and relished the time I spent with the people I loved most. I had a change of heart. That turning point with Jesus made me realize I had to change, reach out, and find support at NAU.
He led me to some amazing people I am blessed to have known. He gave me all of the amazing classmates that didn't hesitate to help me when I asked a question, didn't understand a concept, and needed guidance on a homework problem. That I was too afraid that would judge me, ridicule me, laugh at my stupidity, if I approached them for help. He led me to a weekly bible study that helped me continue to foster my relationship with God. He helped me lead two classrooms of incredible students to know and enjoy mathematics as I did. (Well.... a few:) ) My grades improved drastically. I was participating in class, doing well on homework and exams. I became engrossed in learning more about teaching mathematics, and enjoying learning from my students, as well as helping them be successful.

I wasn't alone anymore.

And really, I had never been alone. I hadn't witnessed the greetings in the hallways. The questions from people in the office I shared about doing homework together. Asking me to go out to eat with them. Inviting me to movies, even just inviting me to have a conversation with them. My fear of rejection and judgement clouded my vision of the kind, helpful classmates and professors around me.

Psalm 121 7-8: The Lord will keep you from all harm
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

The Lord was always watching over me. Leading me through what has seemed like the most empty, sad days of my life. He led me to friendships I'll treasure for the rest of my life, to a relationship with my husband I treasure each and every day we have been apart, to the career I want to pursue as long as I am able as a math educator, to a faith I've never had before in Him. To a confidence in who I am.

This year, after my husband and I realizing that being together during this time wasn't in the books for us, I was able to live with a great friend I had made. I (sort of) knew my way around town (although I've still never been to the Lumberyard). I knew the classes I wanted to take, with great professors I was looking forward to get to know better. I have made some great new friends from the new GTA's that had joined the motley crew of 2nd-year GTAs. I actually answer questions in class. (Sometimes....) I'm not afraid to go to office hours of an intimidating professor and ask questions, and be okay that I may be going down the completely wrong path for a question. I'm not afraid to approach the intelligent people I am grateful to be in class with and ask for help. 

Although I realize I'm not quite done with this roller-coaster of a journey yet (roughly a few weeks until the finish line y'all), I wanted to share my story for those who have felt alone. Are feeling alone. Will be feeling alone in their future.

This was also meant to say thanks to those who deserve it. Thank you to:

My professors at NAU: Dr. Burch, Dr. Hagood, Dr. Ernst, Dr. Degraw, Dr. Swift, Dr. Falk, Dr. Beaudrie, and Dr. Neuberger

The 2nd year GTA's my first year at NAU: Zowie, Eric, Tiffany, Jose, Erin, Mickey, Amy, Andrew, Selina, Woody, Avi, David, Matt, Andy, Thomas

The current 1st year GTA's: Allie, Marlene, Tyler, Faustina, Mavis, Jake, Philip, Nellie, Bri, Scott, Julie, Krista, Zach, Sarah, Daniel

Those who have been with me since day 1: Patrick, Kevin, Kayla, Jesse, Taryn, Zack, Janessa, Samantha, Roger, Dane, Esther, Teresa, Bonnie, Justin, Matthew

To the last group, my classmates for these past 4 semesters, y'all will always hold a special place in my heart and in my memories. It has been a pleasure to know y'all, grow with y'all, and learn from each other. Thank you for putting up with me, getting to know me, and helping me with anything I needed. Thank you for allowing me to be who I am without fear of judgement or rejection. Thank you for the friendships I have gained with y'all. I wouldn't have made it through this program without any of you. 

To Samantha, Tiffany, Janessa, and Allie: Thank you four ladies for everything. I absolutely treasure how y'all have changed my life and the dear friendships we share. For the times spent venting about students, life, classes, relationships, the future (and sometimes doing homework ;)).  Thank you for opening your hearts to me and allowing me to be a part of your life. 

To my family: Thank you for your enduring support. For knowing when to send a surprise in the mail. For my mother putting up with a phone call every single day, lasting at least for an hour. For my father spending 3 weeks both semesters with me. For my sister's love and encouragement. Thank you for helping me through this process, crying with me when I cried, rejoicing in my successes, helping me realize I could do this.

To Aaron: Thank you for always being there. Always believing in me at my lowest points, and when I had no faith in myself. For allowing and encouraging me to go on this journey. For loving me miles and miles away. For being as okay as possible with 2 more years apart. For pushing me to do my best. For sending me good morning text messages every single day. For traveling to visit me, using vacation days. For having faith in me, this program, and this decision that this was the right plan for our future together. 

To those readers who have managed to read this entire novel, I urge you to cast away your fear. I urge you to reach for something you've been to afraid to go for. I urge you to have faith in yourself. I urge you to pray to God, for his help, for his love, and for his guidance. I urge you to learn from my mistakes, my fear, and my journey. 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Don't quote me on this but....

My husband is always right. ALWAYS right. Easy to admit actually. First, (hopefully he doesn't mind....) here's a picture of us on our wedding day:

So clearly he is just the most handsome thing ever. He looks exactly the same and I have gone through hair cuts, hair colors, weight gain, climate change so no tan, so I look nothing like that anymore. But that's not the point of this post. We got married a year and a half ago, and are looking forward to our 2nd anniversary in June. He amazes me each and every day. His love, his kindness, his unwavering support and confidence in who I am and our marriage blows my mind. This is leading to why he is always right...... In opposition, I am somewhat insecure in most aspects of my life. Every doubt I have in who I am and whatever circumstances are going on, Aaron always seems to have the faith that I don't in myself and in God to provide for us. I seriously can't believe it most of the time when Aaron tells me something is going to happen, and what do you know, in time it comes to fruition. This began even when we started dating, he knew right away that we were going to get married, while I took a smidgen more convincing. Whatever he sets his mind to, it just happens. He works hard for what he wants in life, and it amazes me to see what he can do. 

As I think back on our wedding day, and look through all the pictures, I remember all of the hopes that were in that chapel during the ceremony. Hope for the present, and hope for the future. Hope for Aaron and I's future, that it may be filled with faith, hope, and love. I remember all the love that was in that chapel, not only between Aaron and I, but everyone who so graciously chose to be there for us. I enjoyed looking through the pictures and remembering all that were there for the 2 of us, and how blessed we were and still are for those relationships honored between Aaron or myself and the community around us. I see the thoughtfulness of his mother in him, and the strength of his father, and even the humor from his brother in him. I see how my own family has rubbed off on him (sorry dear), with the curiousness of my own father shining in him, the kindness of my mom, and the friendship always given by my sister. 

So, my wonderful husband, you are always right. Right to marry me of course! ;) And now I am right to brag and show the world how fantastic you are. I love you!

Our most recent photo taken this year

Our first photo taken in 2010

My 2015 sewing year

FINALLY! A post about sewing :) This post is dedicated to everything I managed to create this year. I am excited to go through all of my starts, middles, and finishes made in 2015. Hopefully this won't be too short! (I'm not worried about long..... graduate school gets in the way of creativity!)

My dive into zippered pouch making... a                              A wedding gift for a beloved friend, Ruth
 pencil bag I love and use daily

Graduation present for my wonderful friend Tiffany. The first quilt I quilted by myself on my little Pfaff machine. It was a great experience!

Graduation quilt made for one of my closest friends, Cina

Pencil pouch and first endeavor of embroidery

Farm Girl Vintage potholder for my mother-in-law, Susan

Some FGV blocks :)

My first bedrunner and first free-motion quilting project. I love it!

First baby quilt made, just the top. It finally got quilted though and will be finished soon :)

FGV quilt for another best friend, Meagan, as a wedding present

Christmas tabletopper

First mini quilt! 

FGV Pillow.... Also for Meagan. 

Fun foundation paper-pieced block. 

First dive into paper piecing and first pillow made! I love it. So fall festive.

First endeavor into English paper-piecing. (Still yet to be appliqu├ęd down lol)

Halloween quilt using my favorite Spellbound fabrics

This was for a swap I did.... it was difficult to give away bc it turned out so precious, but worth it when my swap partner said she loved it! :)

Halloween hat wall hanging. This was a fun paper-piecing project! Took a while because of all the parts but now I am confident in all foundation paper piecing projects. :)

Fun mini quilt for my sister Jessica's birthday :)

Tom the Turkey thanksgiving block. Pieced on Thanksgiving actually!

Super cute and fun Christmas ornament made after finals were over!

Beginning of a 3 wise men paper piecing project. (still in the works)

My cutie patootie sister with the fun charm pack cherry quilt I pieced and Momma quilted. She loved it!

First dresden plate project, a pillow. It came out great!

Finally, one of my favorite projects, a paper pieced R2D2 wall hanging for Dad at christmas. He was pleasantly surprised and is going to hang it in his office at home!

I loved looking back on this year and remembering the circumstances of each project and many beloved gifts were given to the people I love the most. (Poor Aaron didn't warrant any home-made projects.... we'll have to rectify that this year of course! :) )

Thanks for looking back with me! Have a wonderful day!

Looking back at 2015

Well.... It's probably long past due in writing another blog. As you probably can tell, I've taken a bit of a hiatus from my already short stint as a blogger. Life just gets in the way. Well the reason for my hiatus was that I went back to Arizona to continue on in my Master's degree. God certainly has a much different schedule and tasks that He wants me to accomplish on His time, which almost never matches up with what I want or think that I need. Looking back over this year, it's strange to see all the changes that have happened. I finished my first year of graduate school in May, celebrated my 1st year anniversary with my dear husband, survived a summer working retail with great customers, accumulated more projects I aspire to make, lost a grandmother who in turn made it possible to come back for my 3rd semester in graduate school, truly enjoyed my 3rd semester of graduate school, gained confidence in myself and who I am as a mathematician, grew closer to my family, was able to witness 2 of my closest friends get married to truly wonderful men (and at one I gave a kick-ass Matron of Honor speech), make new friends, and sadly help see the end of an era as my parents get ready to move and sell the house I grew up in, celebrated birthdays, holidays, had homework parties in, it was the first place I went to after getting engaged, (and getting married because I left my passport there...). It is full of a lifetime of memories, good and bad. It's weird how sentimental you can become over something such as a home. But I know my parents and sister are looking forward to the next stages in their lives for downsizing and my mom getting the 2 sewing rooms she has always dreamed of. (I'm pretty jealous.) And as wonderful as this past year has been, there are many things I have to look forward to next year as well: (hopefully) finishing my master's degree, coming home to my amazing husband who has supported me and loved me unconditionally during my 2 years in Arizona, finding a teaching job, finishing all the 10000 projects I have accumulated (maybe not all... but some would be nice :) ), helping my parents with their new home, seeing my best friend Cina come home from missionary work overseas, and much more. These are the few things I have in mind for next year, and I look forward to seeing what else God wants to put on my plate. As I've especially learned during this year and a half of graduate school, He is truly the one thing I can lean on in all matters, because only He knows the outcomes and the path I am headed down. He has led me in all aspects of my life, to my husband, to my wonderful friends, to the school I am getting another degree from, and to who I am today. For those of you who know me well, you know how bumpy the road was, how doubtful I was (and still am at times) in myself and Him, how grateful I was when I saw His will being done. I also want to thank all of my family and friends for putting up with me this year, my anger and love, my ups and downs, and loving me throughout it all. I can't wait to see how next year turns out! (For those crafters, I will post soon with some pictures of my recent projects.)


Quick tidbit :)

Hey y'all! I apologize for getting everybody sooooo excited about my awesome blog and then taking a nice long break haha. I will do a long post tomorrow when I don't go into work early and have plenty of time to update y'all on my life. And my husband works so I need to do something to occupy my time while he is working. :) Most recently, I finished a bed runner for my Camp Loopy Project, and I quilted it myself! Well, to be more specific, I free-motion quilted it. Instead of normally just "stitching in the ditch", I, Michelle Burt, took a class my awesome husband got me for my birthday to learn how to do this cool stuff, and learned how to stitch super cute designs myself into the quilting. It was super fun and I met some sweet ladies in the process. Anyways, so I used my budding knowledge and used it on my CL project. I am attaching a few pics for everyone to enjoy and I will go into more details tomorrow... possibly Thursday :)


Camp Loopy Project Pics:

Just after I had finished the top. Minus some additional sashing I decided to put in there :)

All quilted and bound! 

Close up of one of the blocks so yall can kind of see the quilting I put in there.

My favorite flower :)

This is part of the back I pieced to use up my fabric for the project requirement. I am loving how it turned out!

Full pic of the back

Have an awesome night yall :)

God has the power to provide! (Hold on!)

So today was the first day of my home church's vacation bible school. It is amazing to see how the simple teachings are so powerful not only in the children attending's lives, but in the adults who are volunteering their time and talents. It really just hit me how today's lesson, the title of my blog today, is happening in my life right now!
1. Using my love of sewing to design 2 bags to sell to those in my area. I called them Woohoo Bags, bc I say "Woohoo" all the time. (And I'd definitely say "woohoo!" if I bought one of these bags... Just sayin ;))

I am just having so much fun creating these for a few friends who have been so kind enough to purchase some from me. :)

2. I hate money and freak out about it all the time. Seriously. It leaves me a ball of stress whenever I think about it. (Thankfully my dear hubby is so good with saving and not spending money that he always calms me down when I freak out.) BUT I recently got a call from the job I was going back to this summer with an amazing company and even more amazing coworkers. God totally provides, yall.

3. Just before I got home for the summer from AZ, my awesome husband moved into a new apartment, that has a ton more space, 2 bathrooms!!, and near shopping and restaurants and great friends. We are loving it!!!

4. As I am sitting drinking my peach Fresca, I realize how lucky I am to have a job and a husband who so greatly provides the food and drinks in the fridge and pantry and to have access to clean drinking water right from the tap. So thankful for these amenities we deem nominal, but many around the world are struggling to have every single day.

5. On saturday, I was reminded that God so truly provides amazing people in our lives to show us His love. My loving husband and I celebrated our very first wedding anniversary. Poor Aaron wasn't feeling super well with a sore throat and runny nose, but it was just wonderful to spend the day together and exchange gifts and remembrance of the day we spent one year ago with our most beloved friends and family. 

our yummy cake and beautiful cake topper (etsy has everything yall)

hardy har har....

one of my favorite pictures of me, ever!

5 of my dearest, most beloved friends

I absolutely adore this picture of my sweet sister and I

Momma and Daddy :)

Srsly. Love the ladies so much.

Omg I would've died this day with Marbear. AND this sweet lady is getting married herself!

Us and our amazing pianist, my own piano teacher of 6 years. I love her.

Our minister, Pastor Craig from my home church. He is the best!

Putting together the Unity Cross :)

Srsly. How CUTE is he?!

This picture cracks me up. :)

I felt so bad for the groomsmen. And I was slightly terrified for my life.

Some of my family and my's oldest friends. I love you Carroll family!

My favorite favorite favorite picture. It has been  my phone's background for a year and I can't even imagine changing it.

The two lucky wedding goers who caught the bouquet and garter! And it just so happens that Madeline got married herself May 15th! How cool is that :)
(Amazing pictures taken by Kim Daniels Photography yall. She is incredible.)

So saturday was a great day obviously. :)

6. God provided a true bonding craft for my mom, sister, and I. We all (the surprising one was my sister) have gotten super into sewing and quilting. My mom has been doing this since high school really, and I really got into it about a year ago, and then recently my sister has as well. This is truly a God moment because I totally love how we all have gotten closer because of it. I love receiving texts and phone calls with pictures of blocks and talks for hours about ideas, fabric, and what we are planning on doing next! It warms my heart, truly, to see this new facet in all of our's relationships blossom. I love my family so so much.

A few crafty things to end the blog:

Cool Threads and a simple Churn Dash block for my FGV Sampler :)

Corn and Tomatoes Block

Country Crossroads block!

One block of a bedrunner I am making :)

All put together!

Close up of another block :)

And y'all, keep praying for me. I am totally feeling them because obviously things have been looking up, but I could use them for a smidgen longer. :) I know God has the power to provide, because he has, and will keep on providing. :)


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