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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

My, my have I been M.I.A! Where does the time go? I started to write this post at the beginning January (you know, back when writing a post about a new year seemed a bit more relevant). But then life happened and blogging didn’t and here we are seven weeks later. It’s been on my mind ever since, though, so here we go.

I realized some time between the last week of December and the first week of January that I really only needed to make one resolution for the new year. I realized, with an astonishing amount of clarity, that if I would just do this one thing for the entire year, my life would see great improvement.

So resolve I did, that 2012 would be my year of letting go.

Letting go of fear.

Letting go of regret.

Letting go of perfectionism and judgmentalism and materialism (a lot of isms).

Letting go of the 20 pounds I was still carrying around from my pregnancy with Canyon.

Letting go of possessions, so many possessions (including our house, Lord willing!).

Letting go of the obsessive compulsive behaviors that take too much of my time and too much of my brain power and too much of my energy and really hold no value whatsoever.

Letting go of the cultural brainwashing I have allowed myself to fall victim to about beauty and convenience and what is truly valuable in this short life.

Letting go of hurt feelings and misunderstandings…and a grudge or two.

Letting go of impatience and anger and stinginess and pride.

Letting go of expectations.

Letting go of control.

For seven weeks I have been letting go, uttering that phrase to myself a dozen times a day or more. And you know what I am finding?

I am finding that the more I let go, the more room I have for grace in my life. Grace. And peace. And joy. And freedom.

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I am a dreamer. A dreamer and a thinker.

Sometimes I wonder why this is. Why, both fortunately and unfortunately, I feel incapable of shutting off my brain and spending more of my time outside of my head. (It gets so noisy in there. Stays so busy. Whew.) I think I have concluded that it is a combination of my temperament (melancholy) and my upbringing (thanks, Dad) but regardless of why, it is what it is and at least for the time being, it doesn’t seem to be changing.

A lot of the time this just means that there is never enough time to do all that I want to do and see all that I want to see. I awake most mornings, dreaming and scheming, my mile long to-do list following me around, my long term, life dreams knocking at my door.

I think I see life a little differently every day. Not because my surroundings or my circumstances are changing but because my brain rarely (if ever) shuts off and this causes a constant and continuous evaluation of life, of Truth, of the reality of my and our existence.

Exhausting? At times. A blessing? Often.

The blessings that come from this can be great. I rarely settle for average. I am often content (thank God) but very rarely complacent. I usually put a lot of thought into, and seek out a lot of counsel for the decisions that I make. My compassion towards and awareness of people is often better than doers.  (There are doers and there are thinkers and there are the rare few that manage to live right in the middle. I am married to a man who is mostly a doer but with usually just the right amount – though occasionally not quite enough – of thinker sprinkled in. Thank God for him! He so often displays a beautiful balance of the two.) My desire to help people live their best life, for their own peace and joyfulness sake and to the glory of God, burns passionately and at times inexplicably. And I am diligent and passionate about the direction that my own life, my own heart, my own spirit takes. Because of this, and by the grace of God, I have been able to walk down a road of many, many blessings.

But it causes dilemmas too, one being that I have difficulty staying focused long enough to begin a thought or a task and then follow it through all the way to the end. I have the best intentions, the best ideas, the most passion- but I have too many at once, too many to juggle, too little time and energy to devote to each one. And at times, because I do not have time to do them all, I do none. (or I start ten and spend so much time starting them that I run out of time and finish none of them) Not workable. Not beneficial to anyone.

It also causes me to sometimes hold myself to impossibly high standards, and those around me as well. The problem with this is that I forget to celebrate the milestones, the baby steps, the growth along the way and in this my heart becomes ungracious towards those (including myself) who keep missing the mark and then depressed about the state of my friends, my family, myself…or humanity in general. Not good. Not good at all.

And also, and perhaps worst of all, it occasionally causes a complete crash. (Like with a computer, when there is too much information being inputted to be processed, too many commands to try and follow that the computer just shuts down completely.) A crash causes a withdrawal from those around me, a dive into my mind and away from those that I love and all that I need to do. And it causes me to stay there, either until someone comes in and rescues me (this task often falls to my husband, he has become an expert at it), or until I become so desperate for air that I reach out and grab a float and make it back to shore, or until I remember that my God is always there for me, loving and listening and understanding, unchanging and unphased, waiting for me to return to Him, waiting for me to ask, once again, for His Spirit of patience, of wisdom, of peace, of compassion to fill my mind and my heart. His response is usually swift, His deliverance profound.

So here is my thought for today- There is only one of me, there are only twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week. Because of this reality, I must accept that I cannot do all that I wish I could do. (Not today at least, and maybe not until I figure out how to clone myself.) This means that my only option is to narrow my focus and simplify my choices.

But what does this look like? For today, this looks like stating my passions and my purpose, pouring myself into these things and allowing the rest to remain on my to-do list until I find the time, make the time or am given the time to get to them.

It also means clearing away the clutter- the cluttering thoughts and commitments and possessions. And eliminating the pointless, meaningless, fruitless things that this life and our culture are so quick to offer in such abundance.

And what, you might ask, are these passions? What is my purpose? What is worth my time?

Stay tuned as I work on figuring that out! 🙂

In the mean time…what are your passions? What is your purpose? What do you consider worthy of your time? Please leave me a comment! I want to hear your answers!

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I remember this night, July 17th, 2001- my heart was a mess of emotions, my head, a murkey lake, darkened by sadness and confusion and dread. It was a year filled with change and loss and unknowns. I remember sitting down, so desperate for relief, and hoping that if I could just get the words out of my head and onto a piece of paper, that maybe they would stay on that paper, and leave me the heck alone. And so I wrote my first (and only)  poem (of sorts).

—————

Shadows

As the shadows swallow my tears

The darkness echoes my cry

And I ache

Drowning in a sea of pain

My heart is exhausted

My bones are weary with sorrow

As the shadows swallow my tears

And the darkness echoes my cry

Is this the end?

Is this the beginning?

I am terrified of the answer

Time is a thief

And it is stealing all that I love

All that I love and all that I have known

Leaves fall

And with them my world

Falling, crashing down around me

I am helpless

Unable to stop the falling of the leaves

Where will they land?

Why must they fall?

I am broken and bitter

Tired and terrified

Angry and alone

Every moment is bittersweet

—————

I also remember (on this same night, after writing my poem, having more thoughts still) placing my hands on the keyboard of my computer and typing any word or phrase or sentence that entered my brain. No order. Not a lot of thought. Just writing and writing. Unloading some more of my sorrows onto my tear stained desk, the clackety clack of my fingers on the keyboard, a steady, soothing sound to my achy, tormented soul.

—————

Why

what

I miss them

I miss it

I don’t understand

I hurt

I cry

I weep

Who can stop the hands of time?

When will the pain subside?

Who needs these thoughts?

Will life ever settle down?

I am so tired

Tired of feeling

Tired of grieving

Tired of breathing

Tired of struggling

I am mad

Mad at time

I am unsettled

Who am I?

What is my purpose?

What is my path?

Why must I struggle?

Why must I grieve?

Why must I feel?

What happens next?

I breathe emotion

I am at war with the world

Unsettled

Never satisfied

It’s just a melancholy day

Lord deliver me

Lord deliver me

—————

And when I read these words tonight, having not read them in many years (perhaps even, since the night that I wrote them) all I could think was- Thank you God for Your love and Your grace and Your faithfulness. Thank you God for the ability You have given us to grow and change and be healed. Thank you God that even in our darkest moments, when our hearts hurt so much they feel as though they will break, there is always hope for tomorrow. Thank you God for the peace I am living in today.

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I hear the alarm. It is 5:45 a.m. I push snooze till 6:00 then lie in bed, mostly awake, and stare at the ceiling, debating if it is worth crawling out of my warm bed to put on the fourteen articles of clothing that it will take to keep me warm for my morning run.

As I lay there, I remember being awakened at 3:00 a.m and rolling over to check my phone, realizing then that the sound on my phone (and therefore my alarm) was off. I remember turning the sound on and thinking “I’m glad something woke me up or I would not have heard my alarm at 5:45 and probably would have slept too late to fit in a run before the hubby needed to leave for work.”

I decide then, as I remember my 3:00 a.m wake up call, and for a number of other reasons, that I should get up.

I roll out of bed, gather my mound of clothing, take it to the bathroom and turn on the heater. I put on my layers and wash my face, tie my laces and head upstairs to the kitchen. I eat a quick breakfast and down half a bottle of water. I finish layering, grab my Garmin and my music and slip out the back door and into the cold morning air. I walk to the end of my driveway, feeling the cold seep through the layers of fabric I am wearing, and begin a slow jog, knowing that in ten minutes my entire body will have warmed despite the 24 degree temperature.

I breathe long, slow, deep breaths, practicing the Hamsa mantra that I recently learned about and have been using and appreciating at various moments throughout my day. The cold air burns my throat and my lungs, I look forward to the moment when I have warmed enough to not feel this anymore. I am listening to Kings of Leon.

I run to the end of my street, turn right and begin a long, gradual uphill stretch that gets me good and toasty by the time I reach the end of it. I follow West Longdale to Wauford and take a left. This begins a long, gradual downhill stretch that I relax into, Hamsa-ing my way down, past my brother’s house and around a slight bend in the road.

It is as I am rounding this bend that I feel the first rays of sunshine; the first in (what at least feels like and might actually be) months. The rays warm my face and for a moment I close my eyes. I drink in the warmth and the light and it slowly, soothingly wraps itself around me, overwhelming me. I breathe it in and I am certain I can actually smell the sunlight.

In this moment of warmth and light and sunshine I find myself feeling a strong and somewhat inexplicable sense of…hope. And joy! Joy that after a long, cold, dark winter…spring will always come! And hope because even when the rain seems endless, the cold never-ending, and the darkness overwhelming…we will feel His light again.

And as this hope and this joy fill my heart and my head and my belly, I begin to feel the fog from the past month lifting and the Spirit of peace settling in around me.

My gratitude for this hope and joy and peace is so overwhelming that my eyes begin to fill with tears as my breathe quickens into shallow,  uncontrollable sobs.

I fight the urge to fall on my knees with my hands to the Heavens, realizing that I am still in the middle of my neighborhood, surrounded by houses with windows and neighbors getting into their cars.

Instead, feeling fully and completely aware of and touched by my Father and Creator, I calm my breathing and continue to run. And I marvel, that on a cold winter morning in the middle of February, I met my God on Wauford.

“Let the light of Your face shine upon us, O Lord.” Psalm 4:6

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As many of you know, I am a list maker. I make lists for everything. I like making lists. Making lists helps me put order into, what I feel is, an otherwise disorderly world.

I am also a journal keeper. I keep journals for everything. I like keeping journals. I have a prayer/spiritual journal, a journal about my son, a journal about my daughter, a journal to my husband, a food and exercise journal and a misc. journal (just in case there are any other thoughts that don’t fit into the previous categories. Hah! Is that even possible?)

So at Book Club on Saturday, when my friend pulled out a tall stack of journals and a pile of magazines, tape, scissors, and glue and told us that our art project for the day, if we chose to include ourselves, was to pick out a journal and decorate the cover with magazine clippings of our choosing, my first thought was, “What in the world am I gonna do with another journal?”

I loved the idea (one she got from the book we had just read, “Eat Pray Love”) and thought the decorating part sounded like fun, but I couldn’t think of a single thing to use it for (which meant I couldn’t think of how I wanted to decorate it either). So I sat for many minutes, watching  my friends create their journals and listening to their thoughts and ideas before having my own- the idea of keeping a  “Happiness Journal”.

Let me explain.

I believe the idea came to me because of what I have been struggling with off and on over the last month- just being happy. This has been a struggle of mine, off and on, my whole life (I believe because of my temperament, though that is another discussion for another time) but it has been particularly bad this past month. (Perhaps it is because of this dreary weather, perhaps because of a tragedy that occured in our family last month, perhaps because of hormones or my temperament or just my choices, I don’t know.) What I do know is that I don’t like it. I have been too blessed in this life to be struggling this much to have a peaceful and joyful spirit.

So this is my plan: to use my “Happiness Journal” for happy thoughts (things I am thankful for, excited about, looking forward to, etc.); and to include in it articles I find, quotes I hear, notes I receive, pictures I take and lists that I make of things that I love and enjoy and find beautiful, things that inspire me and encourage me, things that lighten my spirit, things that bring joy to my heart and peace to my soul. Things that remind me to be…happy.

I also want to make it a series, in hopes that you all will be blessed by my “Happiness Journal” as well. Let me know if you make your own! I would love to hear about it! 🙂

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Christmas Eve

Christmas to me is eggnog and gingerbread cookies. Its a month of Christmas music on 92.9 and 93.7. Its my four year old and my one year old’s exclamations as we wonder through the aisles in ToysRus and dream up a wish list for Santa. Its Home Alone and Elf and White Christmas and Christmas Vacation (to name a few). Its the hot chocolate, hot coffee, hot anything really that is so much enjoyed and appreciated during these cold, cold months. Its blankets and sweaters and the warmth of cranberries and cinnamon heating on the stove. Its the lights on our eaves that I admire any night that I pull in our driveway. And our Christmas tree in the front window, its lights that I turn on every afternoon as the sun goes down. Its the lights and decor on our friends’ houses and our neighbors’ houses.

Christmas to me is the Christmas CDs that I grew up listening to -Amy Grant, Roger Whitaker, Celine Dion and more- each one reminding me of the safety and simplicity of being a child in my parents’ home. Its the tradition of seeing the lights at Opryland and the anticipation that begins with the trees and decor that go up in every store, every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It is the comforting smell of holiday scented soaps and the soothing smell of a real Christmas tree.

Christmas to me is home, is family, is warmth. It is joy and excitement and anticipation.

And it is celebration. A celebration of the birth of a precious baby boy born in Bethlehem. A baby boy who’s birth changed everything. A baby boy who’s birth makes the joy, the excitement, the peace of the Christmas season possible for us all.

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