Renewed.

Let me first begin by saying when I originally started this blog, I didn’t intend for it to be such a downer. That’s what I see, by the way, when I look at what I’ve written thus far. This past year has been so frustrating and unexpected, and apparently I needed a place to get my thoughts outside of my head.

It’s strange to lose yourself. I feel like that is what has happened bit by bit the past year. Zane agrees. I don’t think there is a map that will lead me back to the different pieces, and I don’t think there are instructions on how to put it all back together. The worst part is I believe I am broken. Somehow, it is all my fault, according to the lying part of me. I must have done something to mess it all up so that I don’t “work.” And I hate myself.

No.

Here is the crossroad. 

Here is where I decide who I’m going to be in this next stage of the wait, of life.

It’s not my fault.

Actually, it was a funny epiphany because all this time I was trying not to blame God for my circumstances, when it was His fault this whole time. I don’t mean this in a cynical or angry way. It’s just the truth. I believe God is in control and that he has a plan, so it seems reasonable He can see further into my future, my purpose, and have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. His thoughts are not my thoughts and His plans are not my plans.

Does this mean the pain goes away? Of course not. But it does put me in the position to do the hard work of liking myself again, and celebrating who I am, rather than hating myself and blaming my body for something I can’t control. I feel like God loves me again, even though he never stopped. I don’t know… It seems like a simple thing, I suppose, but I needed the reminder. I needed to face this truth and how my distortion of it was causing so much unhealthiness in me. Knowing that I am loved and not broken has made a huge difference in just one day, can you imagine the person I’ll become if I believe that consistently?

A List of Ten.

Thankfulness is something I need to practice, especially on the hardest days. Here is a list of 10 that I’m thankful for:

  1. Zane. Was this one a no-brainer to everyone else as well? Ha. Zane is so solid. He works hard, he is sweet, gentle, and kind. He loves me because I’m me and not for anything I do or don’t do. He’s my greatest blessing outside of salvation.
  2. Pull-through parking spots. Yes, I went there. Haven’t you ever had a bad day, and then you find yourself a steal of a parking spot, only to discover that it is a pull-through spot and no additional effort is needed to get out? It’s the best feeling. I hope it happens for you today.
  3. Books. I love reading. Honestly, through this past year, reading a good book has been a sort of escape for me. Sometimes I can’t actually handle what is going on and how helpless I feel, so I read a book and my mind gets to relax.
  4. My pets. I have a dog and cat. They are weird.
  5. The little girl I watch. She’s wonderful and spirited and funny. She brings me a lot of joy, and it melts my heart everytime she says, “I love you, Lizzy.”
  6. Family. My parents are the best. They have been so good to ask questions, be encouraging and to listen when I need to process out loud about something. My sister is great. She wrote me a looooong letter this summer to encourage me and it makes me want to cry just thinking about it.
  7. Rainy days. I’m glad for days that justify my desire to stay inside and read.
  8. Walking. I’m learning how to go on walks for the sake of walking, even if there is no destination. It’s refreshing and healing in a way.
  9. Coffee. It’s what brings us together, people.
  10. Laughter. It really might be the best medicine. Even in sorrow there can be joy.

Hope.

I’ve been struggling with having hope lately. Last night, I felt the weight of unfulfilled desires and dreams, and I crumbled. I exploded in anger because I don’t know how to deal with helplessness and then I wept on the floor. However, this morning being a fresh start and a new day, I’m thinking about what hope means, and I’m finding that the heaviness might be coming from misplaced hope rather than just hope itself.

You see, I’m trying to give up my desire to control the conceiving a baby thing. Wanting to have a baby, not bad. Wanting to control the uncontrollable situation, not good. And honestly, when I feel out of control of something that matters to me so much, I get a little crazy. Every couple of days I remember to pray and submit this to my Father. I trust Him, but as I attempt to let go of this and hold it loosely in my hands, something will happen and I clench my fists again. Over and over I have to release my hold and continually offer it to the Lord.

It’s good to offer this to the Lord. He wants me to trust him with this great desire in my heart, especially since he controls the outcome. But that’s not what I’m supposed to hope in. I’m called to hope, believe, and trust in Jesus, not in what I want him to do for me. I think that’s why it’s so heavy. My focus has been on what He can do for me instead of in who he is. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

I read that verse this morning and knew that it was meant for me. It takes all the pressure off of me trying to hope. He is hope, and he cultivates it in us. It is not about my circumstances working out the way I want them to, but rather just trusting in Him and in Him alone. Someone I know said recently that our deep desires are evidences of our greater desire for Jesus. This desire I have to be a mother is good, but it only points out a deeper longing that can only be fully satisfied when I see Jesus someday. That’s why we look to hope in him. He is what we really want, and need, anyway. I needed to be reminded of that.

Just really quickly, if you know someone who has an ongoing struggle (physically, emotionally, spiritually…etc.), remember them, okay? Just because you forget, or because everything seems fine with that person, that doesn’t mean that they are actually fine. Every so often, just ask how things are going. Let them know that you are praying for them and that they aren’t forgotten, that their pain matters to you. It means so much. It feels like the burden is shared briefly, and enduring doesn’t seem as daunting when you aren’t alone.  

Not Normal

My friend recently gave me a book to read called Anything by Jennie Allen. I’m only a few chapters in, since it is one of those books where you take your time to think about each new idea. It’s good. Really good. The chapter I read this morning was about abandoning entitlement. I didn’t expect the conviction I’m feeling now when I went into reading this chapter.

For most of our marriage, I’ve told people and Zane that I’m okay with being average. I don’t need to go out and be well known for all these different accomplishments (though if I got an award for being the best nanny ever, I probably wouldn’t say no), or to be a “big shot” in any way. Living in a small town, doing the little things well and intentionally…that’s what I intended to do. Have kids, raise them to love Jesus, be a wife to Zane, help out at church, invest in teens and children and friends…

The author pointed out, as we continue to get closer to “normal” (house, kids, good schools, good church..), sometimes God gets pushed out of the picture. We learn to rely on the things instead of the giver of the things. Sometimes, the more we become like everyone else, we hold tightly to the things of this earth, the things that make us the same, and we aren’t willing to let go.

Then there was the paragraph about her friend who was trying to get pregnant for a long time (sound familiar?) and she was in a lot of emotional pain because of that. But in addition to the not getting pregnant part, she was also feeling alone because everyone around her was having babies and being parents and she felt left out. And when I read those words, I knew that is part of my sadness too. I feel left out. I feel like I’m not good enough because this desire I have hasn’t happened for us and everyone else seems to be cashing in. I feel alone, and I don’t like that.

I do feel entitled. I live like I deserve whatever I want and that’s not true. When I’m not grateful for the many gifts God has already bestowed upon me (like my hot husband), I get cranky and irritable and then nothing ever seems like it is enough. I’m also scared of being different and being left behind.

“Normal” isn’t bad, especially when you are living in it with surrender (as I’m learning), but when it is held to this idol-like standard, that’s when God gets squished out. I don’t want to squish God out of my life. Maybe the way my life has taken a different turn from what I expected was a good thing. Perhaps I’m learning to hold blessings loosely in my hands. Perhaps I need to truly say to God that I’ll follow him, even if it means never being normal or average. What if I’m supposed to be more?

I have a lot to think about. Thank goodness I’m on vacation and surrounded by mountains. I feel smaller, in a good way, and I think that’s a good place to be in.

To the cross

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

Until a few days ago, I’m not sure I ever acknowledged that verse 23 was actually the middle of a sentence. For my whole life, that verse was used in the salvation story to show that we are sinners and that we could never ever reach God on our own. What I’ve been taught is true, yes, but let me show you the rest of the sentence.

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24

I went back just a little further to give some context. The righteousness that God provided to all through Jesus knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are a sinner, then Jesus’ righteousness can be yours if you believe. And surprise! We are all sinners! This redemption is available to ALL, because we are all fallen short and in need of it.

There is so much hope packed into these verses. Justified freely, no difference, all who believe…Do you realize what it took for us to be justified? Being a sinner, though commonplace, is not something to take lightly. It is the darkest and dirtiest part of our hearts. It is the root of all the bad that we are seeing in the world right now. But it isn’t limited to the most evil of acts either. Even when a child chooses to disobey his mother, that is sin. It is the wrong we do, regardless of the degree. And sin is the opposite of God. He cannot abide sin in his presence because it is everything that he is not. He demands righteousness and pureness and holiness from those who desire to be with him. If not, there is punishment. Our God is just.

That’s where it gets tricky. Sin creates a debt and it must be paid. We deserve to be punished and experience God’s great wrath because of our sin. But God loves us and wanted us to be able to be with him, to be close to him. That’s why he sent his son to earth. Jesus, the wonderful God-man, came to earth as a baby, grew in wisdom and stature and lived life sinlessly. Only God could be truly perfect. Only man can pay the debt. You see why Jesus became a man.

I’m not sure why God loves us. He sent his son to pay the price for our sin, to experience the punishment and wrath that we deserved and he didn’t. That was the plan from the beginning, after all. And so, because Jesus died in our place, we can be free. We don’t have to live a life being a slave to sin. We don’t have to face this world alone. We have a greater purpose that goes beyond this life right now. We are more. We are alive. If we believe.

I know that I need Jesus. Sometimes I forget that. When I’m going through life with ease, I forget my need for a savior. I lose sight of the cross and it’s impact in my day to day life becomes less. This post is more a reminder for me than it is for you. My sin is ugly, but I have been justified freely and completely and I am His. The grace I receive everyday is a gift. I choose to be thankful. I choose to remember the cross today.

I’m not okay.

I thought I was okay, but it turns out, I’m not.

It’s so frustrating. I literally just said earlier this week, “Really, I’m in a good place.” And today I’m all over the place and confused and almost tearful but not quite. Somehow I managed to do some household chores and pick up the place. I’m thankful I finally started working on my story again, and just writing in general. But neither were easy to start. I feel like I have no drive, no passion, no direction. OR, I feel on fire and ready for everything. It’s exhausting to flip flop on a regular basis and I don’t know how to even myself out.

Maybe I need to be more disciplined. Or something. I don’t know. There aren’t any “easy” fixes, unfortunately. Exercising has finally become fairly routine for me, so that is something. I want to devote time for writing, reading, devotions, Dundee time, cooking good meals and so on. Time is something I feel so lacking in. I don’t want chunks of my life being claimed because I want to be able to be spontaneous and free. The original idea behind having fewer commitments was so that I can rest and be more sane. But maybe that isn’t quite what I need. I went crazy our first year of marriage because the things that were taking up the majority of my time were things that I didn’t like at all. The work I was doing wasn’t life giving and was so boring that I felt myself draining away.

I do feel a renewed sense of life being a nanny. I love getting to nurture and laugh and basically have a two-year old as my best friend. I’m thankful for working part-time, because I really would probably go crazy in most full-time positions. But now that I’m all filled up, I think I’m starting to get stir crazy. It makes me irritable and scattered. That’s why I think maybe I need a little more discipline in my life. Not everything at once, but maybe one more thing that I can start doing regularly to help utilize the spare time that I have at my disposal. Not because I need to be busy all the time, but because lack of doing stuff is less fulfilling than I expected. And because I’m a rebellious child at heart, it can’t be too scheduled of an event or I won’t do it. (I rolled my eyes at myself when I wrote that last sentence.)

So I’m looking for suggestions. Any good disciplines come to mind? Or a routine that might help me incorporate some of the things I want (listed two paragraphs before) to do? Please let me know. I’d love some insight.

“Stay-Cation”

Since I have the week off this week, I’ve been trying to think of things that I can do to enjoy my “stay-cation.” With the forecast being rainy/stormy for most of the week, it looks like I’ll be doing quite a few indoor things. Here are a few of my ideas so far:

  1. Read a million books. Okay, maybe not a million, but I’d be fine if I read 6 or 7.
  2. Write. I want to write blog posts, work on my story, and write a few reviews.
  3. Watch Shrek. Yep. I want to watch Shrek. For some reason I’ve been craving it.
  4. I’d like to hammock for a bit if I can, but of course, that depends on the weather.
  5. The normal exercises: run, swim, yoga…walking? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll teach Zane to swim.

That’s all I’ve got so far. Nothing big. It’s not that I don’t want to be busy, but the rest of this month is a little chaotic, so I’m kind of excited to chill this week. Next week my favorite baby is due to make his life debut, so there will be a bit of spontaneous travel next week to go meet him.

Oh, and happy birthday America. 🙂

 

To race.

I did a sprint triathlon today–a 1/4 mile swim, 14 mile bike, and a 3.5 mile run.

Leading up to this race, I went through all these different emotions. When I first signed up I was excited and ready to focus on something other than baby making. As the months progressed and training became rather dull, I started to think that maybe this was a really bad decision. There was also a week in there when I was dreading the race. I ended up being grumpy and irritable because I was afraid of it and didn’t want to do it. In addition to this, we didn’t stop trying to get pregnant, even though I had signed up for the race. I figured that if it happened, I would just not compete so I could protect my body. So not only was I bored of training, I was also hoping that we would conceive a baby and the training would then become a moot point.

Here’s the kicker: I’m glad I’m not pregnant.

Shocking, I know. We’ve hit a year of trying and I’m okay with it. Actually, someone just told me they were pregnant yesterday and I was only happy for them. Seriously. It weirded me out too.

Being a parent isn’t the only way I can glorify God. I did it today when I moved my body.  I was praising Him when I finally stopped freaking out about not being able to see in the water, and found peace and security each time I glimpsed the sky. And I was thankful when I could be confident in my body’s ability to propel me through the water and in a semi-straight line.  I was praising Him when I was on the bike and singing softly to myself and laughing at the dogs that were barking at the bikers. I was marveling at the fact that all these old people were passing me…men and women in their 60’s! How neat is that? On the run, I was glorifying Him because I decided I wasn’t too proud to walk when I needed too (let’s be real here: I definitely almost threw up while running, so that kind of forced me to walk during the race.) I was then encouraged by an older gentlemen to pick it up, finish well, and beat him because “I shouldn’t let an old man beat me.”

I wanted to have fun during this race and to be thankful. That was my prayer for today, and it totally happened. I’m blessed to be able to move. I’m blessed to have parents who run all over Winona to cheer for me. I’m blessed to have a husband who encourages me to get out of my comfort zone. I’m blessed to have friends who celebrate the good things with me. So I’m sitting here, fresh from a nap, super thankful and excited for the next one.

Random fun fact: I did throw up at the end.

Three Years.

Zane and I have been married for three years now. It seems unreal, somehow, that three years have already come and gone, but here we are. No longer are we in the “new love” phase, where the other can do no wrong and life is peachy. Our lives are not in constant change anymore, either. We’ve settled in as adults, and though still learning new things all the time, our life routine has been established and we do it.

Sometimes I miss the fanciful days of being newly married. Everything was exciting, changing, and new. Granted, it was also stressful because we never saw each other, but still, we were living together and that was pretty awesome. Then we bought a house, got a cat, lost a cat, got a dog, and got another cat. I’ve been at the same job for two years (the longest I’ve ever been at one occupation) and Zane is getting cozy at his job(s), where he is likely to be for a while.

I know routine is good. I know that consistency is good. But for someone like myself who thrives on change and new things… it can be overwhelming. So this week I’ve been fairly selfish in my thinking and expecting all these different things from life and from Zane. I’ve been expressing to him my feeling of being “stuck” and he has patiently listened to my monologues. I’ve been testy and anxious, completely wrapped up in my own little world, and he has loved me.

There was a huge storm last night. I don’t really like storms and unfortunately, I’m not the only one. Our dog is terrified of storms, and in his terror he becomes the most clingy and annoying creature ever. I couldn’t sleep. I was worried about the dog and also super annoyed. The storm was starting to freak me out and that probably didn’t help with the dog’s anxiety. Then Zane, my dear, selfless husband, dealt with it all. He tried to calm the dog down, he tried to help me fall asleep, he checked the radar multiple times to be able to assure me that we probably wouldn’t be hit by a tornado. He is at work right now, providing for our family (on very little sleep), which gives me the space and freedom to do things I enjoy, like writing and reading. I’m humbled by him. His love is steadfast and sure. Zane is sweet, thoughtful, gentle and full of grace.

I’m so blessed.

I’m sitting here overwhelmed by how special it is that I get to wake up next to him, a routine that I take for granted. And it makes me think of all the other wonderful, and regular things I’ve been taking for granted. Being married isn’t routine. It’s a gift. I love my husband. I love the life that we are building together. Outside of salvation, being married to Zane Gard is my greatest joy in life. Truly. I just needed the reminder and I’m ashamed of my selfishness in feeling bored with routine.

I don’t want “new” love. I want what we have. We have a love that is growing. It is changing, and shifting, and becoming more. And frankly, I think that is what love is supposed to do. It supposed to be constant and sure and steady, even when everything else in life is crazy. I mean, that’s what God’s love is to us, right? And praise the Lord for men like Zane…the ones who put up with crazy wives who are still learning themselves.

Today, the day after our anniversary, I’m celebrating. I’m celebrating the fact that I’m married to Zane. I’m so thankful.