Thinking Out Loud

First of all, Happy December! I always love the start of a new month. A clean slate, a blank page. And December is such a hope filled month for me. I am reminded of the King who came down to the darkness and the despair and the dirt to rescue me. I am reminded of my salvation, of my smallness, of my great worth to Him.

My last few posts have been a bit heavy, what with life kind of beating the hell out of me this year. As I thought about what I would write today, I knew I wanted it to be a bit lighter, but I also know I’m still working through some hard things. It’s so easy to feel isolated in the midst of grief or depression or anxiety. I am hoping and praying for some relief soon.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I feel a lack of a sense of purpose in my life. Most days are spent looking after Nora, never even leaving the apartment. It’s hard being the new kid in town, not knowing anyone. I miss my friends terribly, but am so grateful to know they are just a text away. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what I am to do. I have a book in my heart, somewhere in there. But is that where I’ll find purpose? I am continuing to grow in my yoga practice and still desire to become certified. But is that where I’ll find purpose? I’m a mom. And despite what I thought for years…that’s not where I’ve found purpose. At least not a completely fulfilling purpose. Is that okay to say? Is that awful to say? It’s true either way.

I know that on one hand, we make ourselves purposed. Each day we are presented with the decision to make or waste the day ahead. But on the other hand, I know there is more. I know it. I feel it. I carry it. I just haven’t the slightest clue what it could be! Mostly that’s just frustrating and worrisome. What will life look like in five years? Will I be free from this cloud of anxiety and depression? Will I be healthier? Will I know myself and God more? Will Shawn and I have grown closer or further apart? Where will we be living? Where will Nora be in school? Will we be out of debt? (God, I hope so.)

I hope with all my heart that my marriage is stronger, that I am healthier, that I know myself better, that I’m nearer to the Heart of God. I just feel so lost sometimes. This post isn’t really turning out to be quite as light as I’d intended…my bad. I’m mostly just thinking out loud here. I don’t really have anything wise or enlightened to share today. But it helps to get these thoughts out of my head and onto paper…or screen rather. Maybe some of you out there are feeling the same feels and this will help to ease some isolation on both our parts. I’m so ready not to feel this way anymore, you know? I know that life is hard and I’ll have rough seasons throughout my life. I guess I’m just ready to breathe again.

Anyways, here’s hoping your December is filled with light and love and wonderful things. Here’s hoping your hearts are filled with joy and hope. Here’s hoping.

Acknowledging the Pain

“Life is short.”

This is something we’ve all heard a thousand times. We hear it, we say it, we know it. But oftentimes it becomes easy to just lump it in with every other trite phrase that we sort of toss around whenever the moment seems appropriate.

I’m very grateful to have had company in town when I learned of my brother’s passing. One of my oldest friends, Callie, happened to be visiting me this week and she provided the support and distraction I so desperately needed.

But, she flew back this morning and now I’m back home with Shawn and Nora and the Cat and am looking forward to hopefully some semblance of normalcy as this week comes to an end.

I’ve done a lot of quiet, tearful, introspective thinking this week. I still have so much to sort through, and I grieve in a very specific way. I prefer to draw back, become still in my soul. I prefer to cry privately and deal with all of the Feelings on my own.

I don’t like to share my grief; it overwhelms me. I don’t like to dwell on the pain, sometimes to a fault because it never gets acknowledged. So, I guess that’s what I’m doing now. Acknowledging my pain.

People have continued to ask how I’m feeling.

Mostly, I feel very tired. Losing a dearly loved soul is like getting punched in the gut; you get the wind knocked out of you. It’s hard to really breathe for a while.

I feel sad, too. All of this is a little familiar because we went through it when we lost my mom. At the same time, it’s very different losing a parent and losing a sibling. I don’t necessarily feel as though my life might not go on (which is how I felt a lot after my mom passed), but like I told my sister this morning, “one of us” is gone now. (Us being the sibs.)

Truthfully, my brother and I didn’t have much of a relationship toward the end. We hadn’t spoken in a few months, not because of any bad blood, we just lost touch. Because of this, I don’t feel an immediate sense of loss, which feels strange. I almost feel guilty for it.

My brother carried a lot on his back for many, many years. He dealt with a lot of rejection, heartache and loneliness throughout his young life. He somehow always managed to keep on going. I will forever be inspired by his determination, by his love for his daughter and by his passionate spirit.

I loved my brother with my whole heart and I am extremely grieved at his passing. I had so desperately hoped that he would find a way out of the brokenness he was tangled in and be able to live. Really live.

“Life is short.”

As I’ve begun to sort through my thoughts and feelings that have swarmed my heart and piled up in my mind over the course of this week, I feel a sense of desperation. I am desperate to fill my days with my husband and daughter; with love and warmth and smiles and laughter. I am desperate to be nearer to the Heart of God. I am desperate to soak up every minute; to make memories; to bake cookies; to teach Nora how to love the world; to practice the yoga that I love so much; to never take my husband’s love for granted.

But I don’t feel these things because I now feel like “life is short”. I feel these things because I am so very tired and I have been given an opportunity to rest. To rest in Grace, to rest in Family, to rest in Friendships, to rest in Love, to rest in Him. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow closer to my other two siblings, Lizzy and Casey, and to my dad as well. I am grateful for the opportunity to heal. I am grateful for the opportunity to write. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to live.

But is God Good?

I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.

– Charles Spurgeon

I lost my brother this week. He passed in his sleep in Los Angeles on Monday. He would’ve been 26 next month.

My relationship with God has gone through sort of an upheaval over the last two or so years. It’s not that I ever stopped believing in Him, although I’ve had my share of “what the fuck?” moments. I (Shawn also) went through a season of what I like to refer to as a sort of cleansing fire. All of the ultra conservative, black and white, void of grace that had clung to us as we grew up in the church was melted off of our hearts and the ashes blown into oblivion. I questioned everything. Theology, Truth, Love, Justice…I wanted to know what was Right. I wanted to know what was Good. I wanted to be buried in the heart of God, if He was indeed these things.

Most days, especially since the birth of my beautiful daughter, I have next to nothing to give. I feel like a shell. I want to converse with Jesus, but can never seem to form any words outside of the occasional “help me, please”. I am weary from this cleansing season, but I know in the deepest parts of my being that I will be so incredibly grateful for it on the other side. I don’t pray fervently as I was taught to in church and school growing up. I don’t read my Bible every day or invest in scripture journals. What I do is make constantly sure that my heart is as open as it can possibly be to the Truth and to Love and to Good. Because those are the traits of the heart of God. Right?

I have learned so much about God during this season. I have learned about His Compassion, His Justice, His Mercy, His Greatness, His Redemption and His Truth.

When I shared the news of my brother’s death on social media, I received a bevy of texts, facebook messages, instagram comments, etc, from people in all walks of life. Some who walk closely with God, others who’ve decided to keep some distance. Some offered genuine condolences, some offered helping hands and prayers.

Death makes us all question so many things, doesn’t it? Why do these things happen? Why did I lose my mom six years ago? Why did I lose my brother two days ago? Why are people mean? Why is there so much pain still in this world? Why aren’t the orphans cared for and the water crisis solved? If God is Good, why is this all so bad?

I obviously don’t have these answers, none of us really do. But what I do know for certain, is that at the end of the shittiest fucking day in the middle of the shittiest fucking season, when I am empty and broken with nothing to offer, if nothing else, God is with me. And to me, that is so Good.

Life Starts Over

Happy Fall everyone!

IMG_7124Oh sure, I know the first day of fall was actually weeks ago, but the weather just got the memo and is finally starting to catch up! The air is cool and crisp, and the leaves are flying off the trees in a colorful frenzy. This is my time. This is my season. F. Scott Fitzgerald said that life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. Truer words have never been spoken.

Things got bad, you guys. Things got real bad. I found myself drowning in this pit of despair and depression and hopelessness. I hated myself, I hated my life. I didn’t want it anymore. I was sloughing Nora off onto Shawn each weekend and completely withdrawing myself. I was angry and moody and sad. Shawn and I were talking about separating. I seriously considered leaving my family and my life. I was so done. I was so exhausted. I was so ready to give it all up. And then suddenly, something changed.
treeI can’t say for sure, but I’m almost certain my little family was being fought for. Not by me! Heavens. Seriously, you could’ve stuck a fork in me. I think the Holy Spirit must’ve been awfully busy that nearly fateful night. Suddenly, I was listening to my husband. I quieted the darkness in my head and in my heart and I began to hear what he was actually saying. “I love you.” “Please trust me.” “Let me be strong for you.” “I don’t want you to go.”

I stopped barreling over his vulnerability with my justified frustration. (Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Having a baby is hard. Moving to a new place is hard.) Truly, I don’t know how it happened. It was like something took over my thoughts. Like a dementor, but the complete opposite. So okay, my Patronus charm showed up. Anyways, I’m beginning to ramble. Let me reign this in.

I saw my completely broken and vulnerable husband sitting across from me with the fate of my marriage and my family sitting in my shaking hands. I saw the pain in his eyes and I felt it in mine. And in that moment, a decision in my soul was made. A decision to be vulnerable again. A decision to be considerate, loving, and kind. We went to bed that night still weary from the hours of tears and talk and pounding headaches.

But the next morning, I woke up with something stirring in me that I nearly didn’t recognize. A sense of renewed hope. I felt the cool autumn air floating through our windows and the warm and enveloping love of the Almighty. My Saviour was rescuing me, my family, my marriage. He sent me the autumn breezes that heal my soul. He showed me unfailing love and unwavering forgiveness through Shawn. He reminded me through Nora of the joy that was to come and usher out the deep grief I’d been housing  for so long. 

After months and weeks of feeling like it was completely over, my life began again last Saturday morning. My friends stood up and offered encouragement and prayer. Our little family came together in adventure and romance and grace and peace. We went for drives and explored our beautiful new city. We watched movies and ate good food. We go on evening walks together.

I’ve made it a priority to take better care of myself mentally, spiritually and physically. I get up before the sun every day to exercise and breathe in the new day. I listen to Shawn when he talks with me and I consider his feelings and needs. I actually enjoy Nora and we have so much more fun together now. I’m still exhausted, yes, but it’s the good kind. You know the kind I mean; it’s almost exhilarating.

fallThings feel new and hopeful once again. God cares about us. Truly. He cares about even the smallest of things that carry so much weight and mean so much to us. This is why He uses the crisp Fall air to renew my heart. This is why He uses the colors of the leaves to restore my soul.

My life is starting all over again.

Today.

I tend to get really hung up on what I think the content of my writing should be, rather than the heart behind it. I don’t write for months at a time because I’m afraid you dear readers will get bored if I don’t have something fresh and exciting to share, or severely depressed if I’m going through a deeply troubling season and it’s all I can talk about for several weeks. This has really been bothering me, because I’ve gotten myself into a rut this way.

I’ve felt sad and anxious and lonely and purposeless for several weeks now. Part of that is simply due to this transition we’re going through with the move and whatnot. But part of it is because I let my passion fade. I let the fire die. I holed up on the couch with my shows and my tears and I hid away.

I told (blubbered to) Shawn just yesterday about all of these Feelings and how I felt lost and adrift. I also told him how I was struggling with not feeling like enough; as a mother, as a spouse, and as a Christian. That last part tasted so bitter coming out of my mouth because I do not believe at all that an hour of prayer each morning or reading chapter upon chapter of the Bible daily or studying a devotional makes you a “good Christian”. In fact, I’m personally not even a fan of the term Christian. But that’s another topic for another time. Back to my point: I’d let my passions fade, and that included my passion for Jesus.

As most of you know, Shawn and I have had our perspectives and worldview shifted in a major way over these past few years. We broke out of the conservative, rule cleaving, legalistic boxes we’d folded ourselves into and our eyes were open to the broken world around us. We became not only aware of the pain and suffering, but passionate about doing our part to heal and ease and make a difference in whatever ways we could. We want to help solve the water crisis, so we partner with charity:water. We want to be more socially and economically responsible, so we do our best to support local businesses and companies that put our money to good use. We are pursuing a life of less stuff and more people, so we began minimizing. We ultimately realized that what we simply needed was to abide in love.

But we also learned that not all of life is black and white, most of it resides in the gray areas. I desperately tried to reconcile what I was raised on with what I had come to learn and felt was true and good and holy. This brought up a whirlwind of questions and confusion and a desperate search for clarity. I found myself so overwhelmed that I got quiet and pulled back from Jesus. Not because I stopped believing, although there have been times when all I can say is what. the. fuck., but because fear and doubt began to consume my heart and soul and all I wanted was to hide away from it all. Enter the couch. (this really does all tie in together, promise)

One of the most wonderful things about Jesus is that He is constant. Through all of my confusion and tears and couch hiding, He loved me. He welcomed my Feelings. He stood firm, unwavering, and caught me each time I fell. This Love is what heals. This Love is what brings clarity. This Love is what reignites passion and dreams and hope.

I resolved that today would be the start of something new; a renewed sense of passion and purpose. Not because it’s Monday and not because it’s a new week, but simply because it’s today and because of Him, I can. So, I woke up early this morning and practiced yoga. Today I’m writing. Today I will seek inspiration from women that I admire. Today I will start reading a new book. Today I will be more present with my daughter. Today I will take care to put good food in my body. Today I will abide in Love.

A Quick Update

This post will be short and sweet since I’m still reeling from months of stress and weeks of nothing but waiting, helplessly.

As most of you know, about a month or so ago, I updated my facebook page saying “unless something changes in the next two weeks, our little tribe will be moving to Washington…” Well wouldn’t you know it, something changed. Because of course it did. I’ve never been more certain that God resides in the last minute. So anyway, in the midst of a summer of endless job searching, Shawn applied for a company in Provo, UT. They contacted him about four weeks ago, and over the course of three interviews and a two day stay in Provo to work with the team and get a feel for the company, Shawn has been offered a job with an amazing company, and we will be relocating to Utah this weekend!

I know it sounds quick, but it was a slow, painful wait these past four weeks. Timing is everything. Shawn and I are both very happy with the move and this new chapter ahead. (There’s a Chick Fil A in Provo, bless the Lord.)

So there’s the update! I hope to write some more once we’re there and settled.

P.S. I never did get that drastic haircut. Maybe someday.

So, I’m Writing a Book.

I was lamenting to a friend the other day about all of the Feelings I’ve been wading through as I begin this book writing journey. One of the biggest Feelings I’m experiencing is fear. I’m afraid of being misunderstood, of not being heard. I want to be able to share my stories and my truths without having to explain every single detail about why they are my truths, but I also want to be clear and organic with my words.

This dear friend suggested that maybe I simply be honest about these feelings with you, my trusty bloggy readers. You’ve given me permission a million times over to speak my truths and share my stories.

Here’s the thing, writing this book is hard. It’s emotionally taxing. It is forcing me to really scan and examine my heart for truth and love and the holy. It’s causing me to take several steps back, breathe deeply, and find the place in my soul where only beauty resides. I’m in the process, personally, of the practice of clearing my heart space of negative thinking, whether it be about another person, or about myself. This practice has even bled over into my writing as I try to sew together pieces of grief, of strength, of love, of trust, of fear, of doubt, of beauty, of God, in order to create something meaningful and true and holy.

I will tell you this; that this experience thus far has somehow encouraged my vulnerable spaces to open up even more, allowing so much more of the love and beauty and wonder of the Creator to fill my soul with the truest truths and the sweetest love.

Since you were all so kind and supportive when I first let social media in on my little book writing secret, I thought maybe I’d share a rough draft of my introduction page with you. Enjoy.

I’ve gone over and over in my head and my heart about what I want from this book. I’ve thought millions of thoughts about you, sweet reader, and what this book will do for your heart. I’ve also thought equally as much about what this book will do for me, in my heart.

I have edited, re-edited, critiqued, criticized, deleted, written, re-written, doubted, feared, worried about, cried over, and discussed this book. I’ve sat in the quiet moments and in the noisy ones, trying to soak up each bit of truth my heart can find.

I doubt my ability to convey each passion soaked word to you. I fear being misunderstood. I fear not being heard. I fear failure.

But when I think about what failure means to me in regards to this book; it would mean that as you read the last page and close this book, that you didn’t feel more loved, less alone, or more worthy.

We all have a story; each a unique, colorful, tailored story that could only possibly be told  by living out our individual unique and colorful lives. These essays are just bits and pieces of my story. My truest hope is that in reading these pieces of me, you will know how very much NOT alone you are. That you will find strength in the weak moments, joy in the sad ones, light in the dark ones. I so desperately want you to know how loved you are.

I have been on this planet a short twenty eight years, but in that time I’ve learned that life is really hard, but we can do hard things, and we can do them together. Love wins every battle, every time. Let’s warrior on together.