Succeed on Purpose

Part of just wants to start this post with another typical “It’s been a while,” but I think we all can see that clearly. In some sense, I kind of started out that way anyway. Oh well ūüôā

I just needed to write tonight.

This season is all consuming and I won’t really catch any long-term reprieve for a while. I work a job where I support others, so all day long I am meeting other’s needs whether big or small. Honestly, even though I can daydream about a job where I can read my homework all day long, I actually find it incredibly energizing to help people in my office who truly need the help. Not the mundane, boring stuff that anyone can do, but the stuff that I am particularly suited to help with. Those busy days when I am strategically solving problems, putting out small fires, using my writing skills, or lightening the load of one of my bosses are my favorite kinds of days… I wouldn’t want my days to be any other way…

I also come home to a little boy who looks to me to meet all of his needs. He brings me his shoes. He comes to me for snuggles and asks for his milk cup when he is getting tired. He now says “thank you” to me whenever I do anything for him and it’s incredible to me how much he looks to me for his physical, mental, social, and emotional needs. He is in that typical toddler stage where he LOVES his Mama and wants ME and I would not want it any other way…

Chad has learned how best to support me in this time and I could not do this season right now without him, but even he is his own person with his own needs and it’s a hard balance to find the time to be his wife, be his friend, be his support, and give him the time he needs to be himself when I rely on him¬†so much¬†right now. We’re being forced to communicate better, be more selfless towards one another, and look for the small ways to show we love each other in this season of very, very limited down time. We’re growing together and I wouldn’t want it any other way…

And then I am a student and my professors want so much from me right now because dammit I am in grad school and grad school is supposed to be demanding, so I just buckle up and do what I need to do. I am being challenged. I am learning things. I am navigating difficult waters, but “nothing worth having comes easy” and¬†I wouldn’t want it any other way…

And so here I am drowning in the chaos of my own life… by choice.

I fondly remember when I used to be able to take a great novel to the Starbucks patio on Barry road and read for hours on end with not nearly enough sun screen. I remember when Chad and I could just go catch a movie because we wanted to and that that didn’t require any planning other than showtimes and ticket pick up. I remember when weekends were spent with friends and long conversations with those friends about everything and nothing.

I know that this is a season. I won’t always be an admin. I won’t always have a toddler. I won’t always rely on Chad so much as I do now. I will one day have friends again and quality time and deep conversations.

Until then, I am just managing more stress than I let on and trying to remain positive even though that is difficult for me.

I am tired.
I am drained.
I am sleep deprived.
I am lonely.
I am angry.
I feel guilty.

I have so many needs that are not being met, but I am taking things one day at a time right now. This is a season of growth, and perseverance, and strength. I have never been so busy in my life, but I have gone through hard times and I know now just how much I am capable of.

I am not lucky to be where I am or have what I have. I am thankful to have been given what I have and I have worked hard to get here…

I was inspired recently by a story of a young girl who with dedication, commitment, and hard work achieved so much at a very young age and was recently named “the most accomplished performer of UNO’s Division I era.”The thing is, she came from a long line of accomplished siblings because their parents taught them that with hard work and commitment, you can achieve anything.

I want to teach that to Travis. I want to model that for him.
It might be hard, but it will be worth it…

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Joy Comes in the Morning

We just bought a crib and dresser for our son.

It has been a long time since I have written and so much has changed. My last post ironically was about my new tattoo and the meaning behind it to remind my heart to have courage in fearful times because once I am out of the darkness I will realize that with God holding me there was never anything be afraid of at all. What a beautiful thought, right?

Excerpt from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was in my last post:

‚ÄúIn a few moments the darkness turned into a greyness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been. They blinked their eyes and looked about them. The brightness of the ship herself astonished them: they had half expected to find that the darkness would cling to the white and the green and the gold in the form of some grime or scum. And then first one, and then another, began laughing.‚ÄĚ

And that is exactly how I feel right now…. as I feel this sweet baby boy doing flips in my belly.

We cannot see in the darkness. We cannot know for sure where we are going or what is going to happen. We fear the worst and try to hold onto hope with weak and shaking hands. It is only¬†once we have left the darkness and step into a new season of life and hope that we’re able to look back on the dark times and see every single breathtaking second that God was with us. Eventually the darkness dissipates and we can see more clearly.

Joy comes in the morning indeed.

There are a lot of songs on Christian radio right now that make me change the station because they don’t have a ton of depth or they’re just plain annoying. To be honest, most of the annoying songs are by Mandisa (which I know a lot of people like??), but there was a song on the radio a few days ago by her that captured my heart….. ¬†it said:

“When the waves are taking you under, hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger… stronger.
The pain ain’t gonna last forever and things can only get better
Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger”

I have heard this song before, but it really hit me this time. I have been held in the arms of my Savior while going through one of the hardest times in my life thus far and I can look back now and see how it made me stronger. I am a stronger person and I will be a stronger mom for having experienced the grief of infertility.

Hard times are inevitable and I will probably experience hard times again in my lifetime. Suffering does not discriminate and pain continually finds everyone…but hope and peace and deep, unshakable joy can only come from Christ. Everything else used to pacify pain and suffering is temporary and shallow.

The only way to get through¬†suffering and find purpose in it, is to experience your pain while leaning into the arms of the One who can wipe away every single tear…. a mere glimpse into the life to come.

– – –

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;¬†perseverance, character; and character, hope.¬†And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.¬†You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ….”
Romans 5:3-6
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One Hundred

So I don’t typically jump on the bandwagon of internet “hot topics,” but the recent death by suicide of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams and his depression hit a little too close to home for me and made it difficult for me to be okay with the barrage of negative and judgmental commentary on Facebook about¬†the choice he made. Let me be clear, I do think suicide is a choice. However, I understand and sympathize with the heavy feeling of deep darkness and hopelessness that accompanies depression and I could easily see how living with that depth of hopelessness for so long would make suicide seem like a good idea or the only escape, even if it’s not.

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When you’re depressed you don’t think rationally and you don’t think very far ahead. It is quite difficult to see past the hollowness you feel in each empty, unsatisfying moment of your day… of your life.¬†For me, the only way I escaped was with the support of dear friends and the constant gently nudging assurance of my Savior reminding me that He is holding me and that He is enough to satisfy. Robin Williams, for whatever reasons he had, felt he was out of options. He left a monumental amount of pain in the lives of those who loved him by choosing to end his own life, but I know that there is a God who loves and comforts. I pray for people to rise up around his friends and family to comfort them in their grief in this sudden season of loss.¬†I¬†grieve that Robin Williams didn’t seem to know the hope and comfort of God’s embrace. Without that, I would imagine that pulling yourself out of a clinical depression would be an insurmountable task.

A while back I read a book that changed my perspective on how to respond to disappointment, sorrow, and discouragement. The book “One Thousand Gifts” by Anne Voskamp states simply that life is full of countless blessings we often overlook and that it is next to impossible to remain sad or discouraged when you begin to recount to yourself all the blessings in your life. It is even better if you take the time to write them down. Blessings can take many forms. Any single thing from the comforting hug of a close friend to the way the sun seems to warm your skin from the inside out. Nothing is off limits if it’s something that brings you joy.

So I made a list.

I began my list back on 03/10/2013.

So far I have physically written down in my journal 230 things that I have been thankful for.¬†I hope to keep this going for a long time, but my goal is to get to 1,000 things. I wasn’t always consistent and had gaps of times between reflection and journaling. Sometimes I would repeat something I was thankful for that I had written down several months earlier, but I didn’t want to create any inhibiting rules. I simply wrote down the things I was thankful for – the things that brought me great joy and peace on each particular day.

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So in honor of my 100th WordPress blog post (Woohoo!!!), I am going to select and list out¬†for you 100 of those things exactly how I wrote them in my journal and the dates on which I wrote them down. Enjoy. ūüôā

3/10/2013:
1. My husband Chad
2. Memories
3. Green Ink Pens
4. Ice Water
5. Straws!
6. Our Temperpedic Bed
7. Candlelight
8. The first signs of Spring

3/16/2013
9. Comfy Leather Chairs
10. Hazelnut Mochas
11. Kimmie
12. Unlimited cell minutes
13. Cardigans
14. Vineyard church
15. Sleeping with the windows open
16. Netflix
17. Pumpkin, our circus kitty
18. Soft fuzzy yarn
19. Sense of smell
20. Stories

3/22/2013
21. Cool rain
22. People I can be myself with
23. Portland, OR
24. Outdoor patios
25. Tall trees
26. Brick courtyards
27. Pita
28. Slip on shoes
29. New friendships
30. Spontaneous compliments

3/24/2013
31. The breathing room of flying first class
32. Vodka cranberries
33. Laughter that replaces breathing
34. An assuring gentle touch
35. The company of like-minded people
36. Recognition for a job well done
37. The feeling of leaving the ground behind
38. Fog lifting off the water
39. Meeting Anne Fadiman

3/29/2013
40. Moments of reflection
41. Paid holidays
42. Pumpkin flavored things
43. Honest thoughts with God
44. Changing seasons
45. Building anticipation
46. Assurance that hard times have an expiration
47. Skin turning pink in the sun
48. Zeph. 3:17
49. The joy of blessing someone unexpectedly
50. Inside jokes
51. Ever-increasing comfort with another person
52. Finishing a great book

3/31/2013
53. Church family
54. Serving in Children’s Ministry

4/15/2013
55. Advancement of medical science
56. Kind nurses
57. Small needles
58. My good sense of direction/navigation

4/20/2013
59. Lazy Saturdays
60. Thick green grass
61. Banana bread with walnuts

4/26/2013
62. Gentle touches
63. Free fertility meds!!
64. Footstools
65. Time off on rainy days
66. Surprise phone calls
67. Plane tickets to loved ones

5/9/2013
68. Sunsets
69. Quiet places to just “be”
70. Just the right song lyrics

7/29/2013
71. Comfy colors like grey, plum, and navy
72. Jacket weather
73. New books to read
74. Warm fires

9/9/2013
75. Warm beds
76. Kitties snuggling at my feet
77. A good cry

10/3/2013
78. Melody Morgan
79. Matt Chandler podcasts
80. Pumpkin Spice Lattes

1/6/2014
81. That I am not homeless

2/3/2014
82. Thankful that my Granny is finally at rest

4/22/2014
83. That Pumpkin knows when I need kitty snuggles
84. That I got a really good hug from Deena today.
85. For friends like Jennifer who text just to check on me and make me feel very loved
86. That Kimmie prays with me on the phone and loves me 12 years later still…
87. For a husband who knows the perfect silly face to make me laugh when I need it the most…

5/2/2014
88. For new beginnings

6/25/2014
89. Feeling known
90. Feeling understood
91. Ocean breezes on Florida beaches
92. Aloe Vera gel/lotion
93. Tiny hands holding mine
94. Judah’s maniacal laughter
95. Late night movies with the Carters
96. Walks with Emily Donnelli
97. Direct flights
98. A really good back scratch
99. Chad missing me

8/2/2014
100. Seeing God stir something beautiful deep in Chad’s heart

 

Life-is-beautiful
If you made it this far and you’re still reading this, congrats! ūüėČ
The funny thing about recognizing and being thankful for all the big and little things in your life that God has blessed you with is that it makes it hard to complain, feel sorry for yourself, and it is even difficult to obsess over the things you don’t have. As many of you know, these past few years have been incredibly hard for me (with the past year and a half being the worst of them). I have had so much pain and so much longing. I have fixated on the beautiful blessings God has given nearly every single person around me and sobbed over the fact that I did not have those same things. So it is amazing to me to look back over my journal and see the progression of where God has brought me and the blessings he gave along the way. On bad days he gave me friends to hug and friends to pray with me on the phone. On good days he gave me sunshine and Pumpkin Spice lattes and great books. Every time in between He has blessed me in one way or another.

So if you ever begin to feel like life is hard, overwhelming, or just plain hopeless and you can’t see a proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” in sight…. begin to write things down.
One at a time.
Write down what you’re thankful for, even if it’s hard to think of something.
I promise that on your very worst days you have been blessed with something.

If you have a friend who is struggling with depression or anxiety, please PLEASE do not ask them to “cheer up” and “think of what they could be grateful for.” Instead, buy them a latte, give them a hug, invite them over for a movie…..

BE the blessing from God.
BE the reason they have to smile and the reason they’re thankful.

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Current Thoughts

It has once again been a while since I last wrote.
This time I cannot blame my blogging absence on the past 6 weeks of massive amounts of overtime at work.
I haven’t written because I haven’t really had that much to say that I haven’t already said so many times.

I think I got used to life changing so much. Whether it be the moves between cities after Chad and I got married or the changes occurring between each new school semester, life had an ebb and flow to it so that I got used to the fluctuations.

Now my life feels like a big run on sentence that needs a lot more commas and eventually needs to end so a new sentence can begin. Instead of the ebbs and flows of my previous life, my life is in a stagnant holding pattern. I feel like that cramped passenger on a huge plane full of sweaty bodies and humid air just waiting for the go ahead to take off, but instead you’ve been just sitting on the runway for over 45 minutes and no one has explained WHY.

I did take a few vacations and we even had some family come visit us, but these are brief respites from the norm. Not that I don’t love my life. I do! Being married to Chad is wonderful and our friends are absolutely the best! It is just that I only see my friends here and there throughout a given week and I only see Chad for a few hours each night and then weekends. The rest of the time I am here. At work. A job I am thankful for, but not the job I was made for. Not the job that challenges me. Not the job that allows me to feel fulfilled in the passions and gifting God has given me. For a job like that, I need to start and finish grad school. For grad school I need us to be more financially stable and I need to have an idea on when I will actually start grad school.

Forgive me for just rambling and complaining, but these are the thoughts and the feelings that course through me every single day. I need a change. I need to feel like the future holds more than my gray cubicle and paying bills. I need to feel like the best moments and the happiest times can occur outside of taking a vacation/sick day. This job is serving it’s purpose for now and I am finding the common graces of God in places unexpected as I search for ways to give back and find meaning.

But really.
For now.

I am waiting.

Waiting sucks.

ws4e9u

HA!! —–> ¬† ¬†drugs-alexoloughlin

Photo Challenge

Life passes by way too quickly these days.
I have been easily stressed and, therefore, forget to slow down and remember my blessings.

One way I will challenge life’s busyness is to do a Photo Challenge over the next month.
I am a bit late in getting started, so it will be less of a “February” challenge and more of an Early 2012 Photo Challenge.

Want to do this with me?
I’d love to see what pictures you create out of these topics! ūüôā

Let the everyday moment capturing begin!