New Year, Same Old Me

People people everywhere… not a soul in sight.

Caffeinated productivity

Caffeinated productivity

I’m sitting at the local Panera today, the melancholy strands of some forgotten classical composer matching my mood this morning. Last night’s fight with the hubby still stings in my heart as I try to drown my feelings in a cup of coffee.

It’s a brand new year, but I’m not writing resolutions, or setting goals like I did last year.  I had all kinds of plans to expand my business, learn new things, and get in shape…and look how that turned out.  I feel like I tried so hard, and everyone around me kept saying, “you can do it, mind over matter, push yourself!”  But that didn’t make the pain go away.  That didn’t give me the energy to do what I wanted to do.  So maybe it’s better to take each day as it comes…

As I sit here lost in my thoughts, other conversations filter through my conscious.

  • At my 2 ‘oclock, an older man describes his ministry/business to a younger man, perhaps in hopes of bringing him onto the team.  Listening to him describe the work-load, the mission trips, and “scalability” it brings me right back to my former life…and I miss it.  I wish I was sitting here waiting for a meeting of my own.
  • At my 11 o’clock, 2 women sit on the same side of the booth, people-watching and giggling, 2 friends sharing a little life before they go their separate ways.  As they stand to leave, I notice the thinner one is older…maybe they are mother and daughter…then I see she carries a cane, and her daughter/friend throws away their trash for her. Even with a limp, she has a better attitude than I do today.
  • At my 9 o’clock 2 more women sit across from each other, laptops open.  The one on the left is self assured, prattling away a mile a minute as she explains a computer system to the girl on the right, who bites her lip in concentration and stares harder at the screen – as if that will help her make sense of it all.

Then, in the middle of the room, a young woman takes a phone call.  She looks troubled, then grabs a napkin and writes with her purple pen:  Jan. 29, 10am, doctor B. What is she thinking?  Why does she look troubled?  Well, I know, because that young lady is me.

What did you write down today?  All of us had to plan something...

What did you write down today?

In that moment as I looked at the napkin, I was struck in awe of the vastness of the world, and the multitude of people within it, that all have responsibilities, family, a job, an agenda, maybe even a broken heart…and God knows them all.  That just astounds me!  I think one of the reasons that community and connection and conversation mean so much to me is that I see the Great Creator at work when I get a glimpse of someone’s life, and see a reflection of my own. I wish I could just plop myself down at the table and join in…and want to meet them all!

People are so much more alike than we are differentand yet at the same time each person out of billions is remarkable and unique.  Doesn’t that just boggle your mind?  Does it stop you in your tracks to think that at any given moment, there is someone like you in the world who is in the same situation…and someone else at the same time who may never experience what you’re going through, yet will still feel what you’re feeling?

Still smiling!  More coffee please...

Still smiling! More coffee please…

I don’t know what God or the Evil One have in store for me this year…but I pray that the Lord will use me for good.  I pray that whatever talents He has entrusted to me will not go to waste.  I pray that what I am learning about myself and the world will not be in vain.  I think there is a reason humans have the ability to communicate on such a specifically in-depth level. No other creature can do that!  It must be for a purpose right?  There must be a heavenly value in learning and understanding and appreciating what each of us brings to this world.  Perhaps my goal this year will be to figure that out.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

~Morgen

I’m So Much Better, But Not Yet Great

Christmas TreeHello there friends, Merry Christmas!  I love this season, all the music, decorations, bustle and bells.  But in the midst of all of that…many of us are still dealing with the same challenges, perhaps trying to move them to the back burner while we’re cooking up holiday surprises.  I would love to sit here and wax on about the joys of the season…and I promise I will in my next post!  However, today, this post is for those who are “in it with me”. Who know how hard the journey has been, and that it isn’t over yet.  Whether you are facing a challenge today yourself, or if you are just empathizing with me for my sake, thank you, sincerely, for sharing a moment with me here ❤

This morning, I had an appointment with my GP (general practitioner) doctor for 2 reasons. First, I need his authorization every time I need to see a specialist and I am due for a check in with the OBGYN for the large ovarian cyst that they found during my hospital stay.The second reason was for pain management – which is a nicer way to say I was about out of my pain meds and my gastro refuses to write a script, and keeps kicking me to the GP even though he knows the GP hates to dole out narcotics.

Now, a few things are wrong with this whole situation.  First of all, in the past, when I’ve been hospitalized with my Crohn’s, it’s always taken about 6 months to truly get back on my feet – working, exercise, stable emotionally, and off the pain meds.  We are at an even 5 months since I was released from the hospital, but only 3 weeks off the steroids, (by ditching those, I started eating normally, lost weight, less stress, no more bone damage…but lost energy, and have more pain, it can apparently takes months for the body to re-adjust).  I have started Cimzia, the biologic inject-able which will be a long term maitnence dosage, however that can take 3 months to fully kick in before we can asses if it’s even the right treatment for me.  We are 2 months in.

All of that to say, I’m back to some work and exercise, still not sleeping, and all of these things are made easier with a little oxy. Now, I know it’s addictive, I know people have issues with it, and the fact that I need it still is embarrassing at best, and frustrating at worst.  I have, in the past, always been able to wean myself off without any outside help, but it genuinely takes a long time for my body to rebuild it’s strength.  In this case, I have been sick, in pain, not sleeping, battling my Crohn’s and gut infection out of control for a solid year before I was admitted. That means a year of mal-nutrition, muscle depletion, and un-rest, (we won’t even go into the emotional issues and the over all effect of this on our new marriage), from which my body is trying to recover.

DoctorPillsMy gastroenterologist said that it was “annoying” to take a test every 2 years to get certified to dispense pain meds, so he has sent me to several doctors, and even suggested that I just go to the ER when I needed a refill.  The GP I found to work with is so understanding, and was willing to help me, but was upset at being put in that situation, and I don’t blame him!  Also, he is retiring in 2 weeks, so then what?  He ended up filling the scrips, suggesting an anti-depressant to help me sleep, and wished me luck.

I felt awful sitting there in his office.  I was clearly stuck in the middle of these doctors and the state regulation, and felt bad asking the doctor for anything!  In fact, the hubby still doesn’t like the fact that we’ve had to return to western medicine after trying to use purely natural and holistic methods for the last year. However, I had walked in feeling pretty good about the fact that I had been biking and exercising, and gotten myself down to 1/2 a pill a day vs. the 2 full doses a day I was on when I first went to see him.  But to him, he just saw a young woman who looked like she should be well, and didn’t believe I should have been on anything to begin with…and admits that he knows very little about my disease and nothing about the Cimzia I’m taking. He thinks I should get a new gastro, but it was hard enough to find this one who has a pretty good beside manner, and was willing to work at the level of treatment I needed.  There’s the rub my friends.  I wish I could have just one doctor taking care of me, who can see the whole picture, who understands some of the unique factors in my case and the way I’ve dealt with it over the years.  In fact, as I sat there listening to his frustration with silent tears running down my face, all I could think of was that if only he knew how bad it had been, how many doctors had thrown up thier hands and said they couldn’t help me, and how hard I had worked to get back to “good”, and how I wouldn’t be crying if I hadn’t had to drive my husband to work at 3:30 in the morning because the Army is crazy and neither of us got any sleep last night.

As I walked away from his office with 3 scripts in hand, I pondered how there was no way my husband was going to let me use an anti-depressant after what he’d seen his veteran friends go through.  I also thought about how low it feels to “need” something no one wants to give you, even if they agree you need it.  I thought about how I needed to be at my best to straighten out some work stuff today, and probably wouldn’t be because of the sleep deprivation.  At least I’d have some meds to make me more comfortable right?  Nope!  The pharmacy was “out of stock” and won’t be able to fill them for several days.  Sigh.

Here is the deal – the main reason I feel the need for all this medication is because society isn’t made to let us rest.  I can’t take more time to heal, life is moving on and I need to move on with it or get left behind!  I already feel like I’ve missed so much, even lost some friends, let people down, and been forgotten in my hibernation. I want to wake up!  I want it to be summer in my life again!

So what to do?  I don’t know.  The government has made insurance more messy, so we (doctors, nurses, patients), spend a lot of time making phone calls, filing papers, and making less than necessary appointments to meet requirements and at the end of the day, I’m not really any better off than I started. I just feel a little worse about my situation, and really want to move it to that back burner again.

IMG_20141227_175335To end on a positive note…as frustrating and embarrassing and upsetting as all this is…I don’t want to seem ungrateful – because I’m not!  Just yesterday as I rode my new bike in the sunshine I was counting my many blessings.  Any way you slice it, I am so much stronger than I was this time last year, physically, spiritually, and mentally. God has been so good, and stood by me though it all.  I may not understand Him all the time, but I see His hand in the little things…in the beauty of a blue sky, the loyalty of a little dog, the laughter two people share.  When I see these gifts I know it’s true,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

I’m so un-worthy, yet I am encouraged – may I complete those good works, and be a blessing to this world before I am called home.  May it be true for you as well.

Much love to you today dear friend, and thank you again for being “in it with me”.  ~ Morgen

1 Year Anniversary

At an Army event, a rare glimpse of Ed all dressed up.

At an Army event, a rare glimpse of Ed all dressed up.

It seems only fitting that since this blog was started in preparation for our wedding, that I would post something celebrating that particular day in history.  It was hard for me to write this post, I feel there were many directions I could go as I reflected on my first full year as a married woman.  So, I’m giving myself permission, (hopefully I have yours too!) to re-visit first-year-of-marriage themes in the future, and will talk more specifically about our anniversary in this post.  So here we go….

Working on your marriage starts by working on you. If there is one thing I have learned in this first year of marriage, it is that being partnered with someone brings out your very best or your very worst qualities on any given day. I have also learned that the more I focus on what I need from my spouse, the less happy I am. Instead I am learning to find my contentment and my happiness in my relationship with God and myself. Then anything I get from my spouse is a bonus!

Especially on our anniversary I had to really wrestle with the

I love you!

I love you!

expectation of getting something from my spouse. We as a society have made a gift giving occasion out of just about anything. Now if you like to give gifts, or you like to get gifts there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Gift giving is a tried-and-true way of showing affection. However it is not the only way to show affection and the lack of gift giving or dinner reservations should not reflect on the health and wellness of a relationship. This was very hard for me to accept at first because I spend too much time on Facebook, seeing all the status updates from my friends who would receive roses, a card and dinner at the nearest steakhouse for any and all special occasions. Through much conversation I have learned how my spouse feels he is able to show love to me, and in his mind it looks very different than the typical Kay Jewelry commercial.

So I had to decide if I was going to be okay with that, or make myself miserable by comparing our relationship and my spouse’s love-overtures to every other 20-something married couple in our non-denominational Christian-ease hipster society. So in honor of my spouse, who does love me devotedly, here are some ways he shows me his love all the time not just on special occasions, (he does these of his own volition btw!):

  •  Paying the bills
  •  Doing the dishes
  •  Putting my health first
  •  Working me out at the gym
  •  Serenading me
  •  Dancing with me
  •  Laughing when I spend too much money
  •  Complementing me profusely when I roll out of bed in the mornings
  •  Keeping himself informed, in-shape, and spiritually growing

How did we actually spend our anniversary?  Well, my maid of honor was in town, so my bride-groom took us to the gun-range to teach us how to shoot.  (He loved teaching us, and apparently I’m a pretty good shot.)  Then, the MOH took us to lunch before heading to the airport.  Good food, lots of laughs, and reflections on life made for a lovely time.  Finally alone, my hubby and I spent some time kanoodling, cleaning, and wrapped up the day with a trip to the movies.  Dracula Untold is not really romantic, but prompted interesting discussion about love, sacrifice, good, and evil.  All in all, a pretty good day for Team RZ – I felt connected to my husband, gained fresh insight and understanding, and learned something new with him.  Isn’t that what marriage is all about?

Happy hubby, happy life!

Happy wedding day!

Getting back to my previous point about working on the self, some days it is a struggle to find my peace and happiness and contentment apart from the person that I have to do life with, however I also know that I can be demanding, selfish, prideful, needy, achievement-oriented, and by turns over emotional, or not in touch with my emotions at all.  That’s why I feel that prayer and meditation, (journaling for me), is even MORE essential when it comes to marriage vs all the other things we spend time stressing about.  After all, your marriage is the commitment that affects you each and every day, and will be with you until the day you die.  It can be, and should be, the most life-altering decision you make.  What is more worthy of your time and consideration?  After all, by calling on the Big Guy’s help, and working through your baggage SO THAT your marriage becomes healthier…you are really doing yourself a favor.

We are big fans of affirmations. We really appreciate when the other takes notice of something that we’ve done or something great about us in general. We try and make it a practice to affirm each other each night before we say prayers and go to bed. Some nights it is easier to come up with something than others but the practice of doing so forces us to look for the best in each other even if it’s been a hard day.

The #1 thing that I’ve learned about marriage is that every day is a choice. You may fall in love but deciding to stay there is made up of little choices each and every day. I can either choose to withdraw when I’m upset and pout, or I can lean into our relationship. I can try to understand the other point of view, I can opt to compromise. Obviously I don’t do it right 90 percent of the time, but with a lot of grace, forgiveness, and God’s help we’ve made it this far, and are looking forward to the rest of Forever.

At the Gym: I Missed…

“A treadmill is a treadmill…it’s the people who make the work-out.”

 130563-425x282-running-shoes-on-treadmill

Captain’s log:  Week 6, Day 4

Location – Ovideio Florida.

Co-ordinates: Local YMCA, complete with farmers market and prayer breakfasts intact.

Week 6 of post-hospital workouts.  Last month, I it was an effort to jog a few feet during my “hike” on the treadmill.  It was only about 30 seconds, but got the heart pumping!  I’m glad I have no pride left and am totally ok with working out like an 80 year old.  Hey, some of those grandparents have me beat, and good for them!

While I was cruising along…a favorite song came on my headphones, and I felt a rush…memories came flooding back to me, and I realized something.  In my dark moments of being sick, I start to believe that I’m lazy, or that I don’t have the will to do more.  And that’s just not true.  I love to be active – in every way – mentally, physically, socially, spiritually.  Sometimes, my disease gets in the way for awhile, but that doesn’t change who I am on the inside.  Regardless of what your body allows, you know what your heart is trying to do, and that’s what truly counts. So in honor of me…and you…and all the other achievers-at-heart out there, here are some things I’m grateful for at the gym, and regarding working out in general.

  • Muscle + music memory equals grand visions of past of runs.  I can picture the trees, the turns in the path, who I was running with, sometimes what was on my mind.  I remember how strong I was, the work it took to get to that point, and know I’m capable of more than I give myself credit for.
  • I can neither confirm nor deny...

    I can neither confirm nor deny…

    Results? I can’t be the only one who didn’t get the memo that you don’t experience crazy body change after 5 days of working out and 1 cheat day on your diet was I?  Oh, you thought you’d be back to fighting form too?  Yeah, apparently this is a several week process.

  • I love that the old man on the treadmill next to me and I are both laughing out loud uproariously at our own private jokes coming through our headphones as we tried to trot along.
  • That feeling of euphoria as the endorphins finally kick in over the pain of an early morning workout.
  • Some of the songs take me all the way back to college and make me think about how I’ve been taken care of and redeemed so many times over over the years.  The fact that God has brought me back to this place at all, is a miracle.
  • I am truly truly blessed to be able to move and stretch and not feel pain.  Staying thankful is a part of good work-out.
  • How amazing that this morning 40 minutes of walking made me as excited as finishing my marathon 4 years ago. An old friend just yesterday posted the picture of us running together at mile 17… what a sweet reminder and what a way for God to use the random people we meet.
  • My dear hubby was so excited to see me this morning, and ready for our work-out. As an army guy, staying in shape is a favorite aspect of the job, and he is a great teacher. He’s so confident and secure in himself, in a way that just makes you feel comfortable doing anything around him.  I was in a little bit of a dark place when I woke up, and that was just what I needed –  his excitement to see me like we’ve been separated for a week was precious!

So until the next work-out…may you stay grateful, hopeful, and moving to the beat of that old song in your head!

~Morgen

4 Minutes of Focus

Anything worthwhile…worthy, worth doing…takes a little focus. It takes a little effort, and a little decision.

social-media-multi-tasking

I am so in the habit of flying into my thoughts for the day, or a task, and then when it’s not going well, I often just keep barreling through ‘multi-tasking at whim’ when we could vastly IMPROVE what we’re trying to do with just a little focus. For me, it was my favorite soothing music, (literally like one 4-min song), and some improvised breathing/yoga stretches to try and relax my sore back and ham-strings that provided something “worthy” to my day.

In my soreness this morning, even after pain meds, I had tried to just get my hubby to take care of it all for me – make the tea, put food in the oven, etc…but by 7am recruits were blowing up his phone, so I sighed and prayed and forced myself out of bed. Morning chores were rough, and it was Ed who admonished me to stop and stretch out for a minute  as I hobbled from dogs to stove.

If you're movin' you're groovin' honey! Just let it flow...

If you’re movin’ you’re groovin’ honey! Just let it flow…

Just those 4 minutes – I focused on breathing fully, leaning into my stiffness, and enjoying the music, and just shifting whatever whatever I wanted!  Sorry more evolved friends,  “True Yoga” intimidates me. By the time Pandora had switched to the next song I was ready to shmimmy up and with a little shake and feel a smile warm my face as blood flowed and tingled down my spine.  I’m cured!  Kind of, for now.  Just then the kitchen timer alerted me to a hot breakfast waiting – beautiful.

Worth it!  Just a little focus, effort, and decision…now I can relax with my breakfast and hopefully remember this lesson tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday friends!

~Morgen

Grandmother Wore Green…and other things

Before we begin dear friends – I apologize for the over-use of pictures, it is for memories sake after all!  Don’t give up on your browser. .And secondly, you can cry if you need to.  I did, and I won’t apologize for it!  If there is anything built up in your life that makes you angry or heart-sore as you read, just let it out.  Please.  Ok, now read on and I am sorry about the length! 

Me,  Cousin Aaron, Cousin Chelsey, Brother AJ, and Grandmother Reynolds

Me, Cousin Aaron, Cousin Chelsey, Brother AJ, and Grandmother Reynolds

I think  nothing makes Heaven seem as sweet or as real as imagining it for someone we love.  Although I do think about the shortness of life quite a bit, I have not spent much time imagining it for myself 0ther than that it will be better than here.   I also think that Heaven is not about how fast we get there, or what route we take, but about who we bring along the way. Well dear friends, today my family will lay to rest a matriarch – in the truest sense of the word – knowing that she is already resting in Heaven as I write, and has brought many with her along the way.

I am here in Florida, and cannot be with my family today as they share together my grandmother’s memories in Iowa, so I take to the page to reflect on the amazing legacy of a grandparent – perhaps the grandest title one can achieve for many reasons.

 

Not quite...but the sentiment is right.

Not quite…but the sentiment is right.

Grandparents seem to be able to love their gand-kids generation (not all legacy’s are left by blood) with a special kind of un-presuming love that refelcts Jesus in a tangible way.  Parents have to take their kids a little more personally, because of course they are trying to live up to their parents before them.   Your kids are a direct reflection back on you all the time -and that mixes a little pressure into the love sometimes!

See?  Worth it!

See? Worth it!

But Grandparents don’t have anyone looking over their shoulders,

so they just get to love.  They love reliving those first-times as little ones discover the world, the can really imagine what the future holds having seen their own kids gone on before.  And for this reason, I wish that we Grandkids would take our roles a little more seriously.  We DO reflect our grandparents, we ARE their legacy if we allow ourselves to be.   Now I was ridiculously blessed to have two very loving sets of grandparents growing up, my paternal grandfather is still with us and well Praise the Lord. However, it is only now as I’ve gotten older, as life is slowing me down, that I can truly appreciate what our grandparents can leave to us, and I know there are many of you who have been brought up by grandparents and had the ability to see that early on.

Here are a few things about my Grandmother Reynolds, my Dad’s mom, that I would like to remember, hope that I may learn from, and have already inherited:

  1. Wanda Tindale Reynolds

    Wanda Tindale Reynolds

    She started a Library.  Yes she sure did, back in her small town in Oklahoma when my dad was boy.  They didn’t have one, so she went door to door, wrangled up ladies and books, and started a lending library that she later ran for years.  Eventually when they all moved east, she took her skills to the public libary in Dubuque and had a long history of instilling reading and the dewy-decimal system in children.   I have many books as gifts from her, all inscribed with love.

  2. She was a barrel racer!  Now I ride, and love horses, but I have never torn down a row of barrels on a sliding stallion going 40 – that’s like sky-diving without the tandem.  Aside from the equestrian affinity we obviously share, Grandmother wasn’t afraid to do things.  So many people just think, and never do, and Wanda Reynolds was someone who had the get-up-and-go to make things happen.  May that always inspire me.
  3. Happy bachlorette Grandma!

    Happy bachlorette Grandma!

    She was a devoted wife – who wore green!  I only recently discovered this when I went to visit her in the nursing home during my bachlorette weekend in Galena. My MOH and I swung by to bring her a little tiara and some pie, and I asked about her wedding and marriage to Grand-dad who passed 26 years ago. He had been in the army, (so was mine!), they were married by close friend, (so was I!), and wait for it…she wore green!  No white dress, those were the war-times honey and they were just so excited to get married and had a nice big cake and reception at their friends home, and she wore a green skirt-suit.

    Maybe white for you other guys, but it was a pronounced peacock for me!

    Maybe white for you other guys, but it was a pronounced peacock for me!

    I hadn’t known this when I chose my own dress, and the thought that we shared even that small connection through time will long stay on my heart as a badge of honor.

  4. Wedding party, and friends beyond!

    Wedding party, and friends beyond!

    She was independent, yet selfless, and made family matter.  What?  Women can do all that?  She moved around the country with her husband’s work as a pastor, army, gaurd, never invoking a move for her own sake.  Yet she always found a job, or volunteered in their community, and made trips to see family by herself after my grandfather died of battle with cancer.  I loved when she would drive out to stay with us Easter weekends, dressed like the Queen of England in her Sunday suit, and help us find Easter eggs, make ham and pecan pies, and remembering all my parents friends at their local church.   She also drove out for dance-recitals, birthdays, and all those times I went to the hospital as a kid, she took turns with my parents they could divide time with my brother and me.

  5. Easter-day fine!

    Easter-day fine!

    She was a spiritual mentor to me.  You may assume that since her husband was a pastor, she had no choice, but I always found her faith to be her own. Her life left a little trail of bread-crumbs that seemed to always lead back to a loving God who was worth knowing.  Grandma made it “ok,”, and even “cool” to ask about God.  She gave me my first Bible, and was so supportive of my decision to be baptized when I was 8.  Later, she stood by me with pearl-bracelet in hand as I was confirmed in the church.  To she and I, these weren’t just religious ceremonies.  These were commitments I was making to the God who had saved me, and who she showed me sustained her.

  6. James and Wanda Reynolds on their Wedding Day

    James and Wanda Reynolds on their Wedding Day

    She met it with a smile.  My grandmother was so good at being gracious and plucky regardless of the situation.  She could jump right in with any conversation, and she often took my rudeness in stride and just kept right after me to behave myself. (I was a little impatient and willful as a child – can you believe it?)  What has made us feel like we are a better person when we get crass or turn the rough edge to someone who may run us the wrong way? That wasn’t Jesus’ way.  Grandmother had the strength and courage to keep on being her best self, and trust that others would learn to do the same.  I’m trying to do better.

Look Grandma, it's for you!

Look Grandma, it’s for you!

Finally, I’ll just share that this last season of getting married and moving so far away has been so much harder than I ever imagined.  I’ve been sick so much of that time, and have struggled to stay in touch.  Wanda had been in the nursing home for the last few years – finally giving up her little apartment and bright red car she loved so much, (again, where do I get my independence from?), and about a month ago, my parents let me know she was transferring to hospice.  I couldn’t bare the thought of not saying goodbye, of making sure that she knew I really missed all those weekends I was working and couldn’t come visit, that I remembered all she had done for me.  So be the grace of friends, husband, and the Lord, I was able to make a trip to see her and the rest of our family over mother’s day.  It was wonderful to be all together after I’d missed all the holidays, but the most precious moment was on Sunday afternoon, just one good friend and I stayed behind with a little card, and I tried to share with her as best I could what she meant to me.  It’s never enough, and there  just is never the words, and I didn’t want to make her feel like this was really, “IT”, just because I didn’t know when I’d make it back…but I think she understood.  I think she got what I was trying to say, and that I was far away yet holding her so close.

This pecan pie is soo good!

This pecan pie is soo good!

The last time I spoke with my Grandmother, was the night before she passed.  I was able to call her from my own hospital bed, and pray with her for just a few moments…and it was both heartbreaking and blessing at the same time.  Later that night, as I lay in my own pain and prayed for her, I thought, she’s past all this.  She get’s to go home, she’s done.  She has lived a full life loving those around her for the sake of her Savior, and she has done it alone for many years.  Now, she gets to rest.  She gets to be taken care of, she is at Home with her husband, and I imagine them smiling together under the watch-care of the One who redeemed them there.  And yes, Heaven is a sweet place to imagine when already filled with those we love.

Until we meet again, Grandmother, I will try to do you proud.

Your loving legacy,  Morgen

 

Living legacies, Cousin Chelsy, Me, and Sis-in-Law Megan.  All married within the last year, ready to start a new generation...

Living legacies, Cousin Chelsey, Me, and Sis-in-Law Megan. All married within the last year, ready to start a new generation…

 

 

A Vulnerable Marriage

dark_flowers_by_sivanchen-d349lqlDoesn’t that sound scary?  The idea of a marriage being vulnerable?  It’s such negative word most of the time. I was taught it was never good to be “vulnerable”. In the business world, you never want to be “vulnerable” to your competition. As a single guy, you never want to be “vulnerable” to a girl who might hurt you. As a practical individual, you never want to be financially vulnerable to “losing it all.” Yes, it’s scary to be vulnerable, to be left open to hurt and pain because someone knows “where to stick it to you.”  However, God created us that way, so it must be for a reason.  Is it possible that this great weakness become our great strength?

I’ve been meditating on this word, “vulnerable” lately because I’ve been doing a personal inventory of myself. Over the last 2 years, my goal has been to actually change my life from the inside out. In order to do that, I can’t keep responding to situations the way I did 5 years ago, or even 2 years ago. If I truly have faith that Jesus knew how to live, then I have to trust Him to help me live His way and not my way. That means, I need to do things that are hard, that I didn’t want to do when I was 22. Well my friends, I’m about to be really honest with you, and it’s going to be really hard, but I feel like God’s been showing me how being vulnerable can be a good thing.  So you can stop right here, or bare with me, it’s about to get real!  Dun dun dun…

Most of you know I have Crohn’s disease, some of you know it’s pretty severe, (20 years, 4 surgeries, countless hospital visits) a few of you know it hasn’t really been under control since I ran a marathon in 2010. (Ha, that was a brilliant idea! With no special training or coaching or taking my condition into consideration…smart.)  It turns out my work-aholic, insomniac, more coffee please, I must be independent life-style wasn’t helping get things back under control, so it has been a slow spiral, and since December…it’s been pretty bad. Why do I share all this now? Because now I’m married.  It’s not just me and my mess any more, it’s my husband’s burden too.  Now he has gladly taken it on and says that he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. In our short time together he’s probably done more research on my condition than I have in my life-time. (That doesn’t actually say much, I was never big on spending time on my disease, but its still pretty awesome he’s that committed right?)

wedding rings smallWe are still newly-weds, married less than a year, and you’d expect that first year to be all about decorating the love-nest, cutsie date-nites with other couples, and lots of sex. And it should be!  But that is not what God had in store for me and Ed. In fact, God has taken us so far past those expectations that I’ve completely let them go – and yes, that took many tears and much journalism. In our house, there are no cute pajamas, I don’t cook dinner, my make-up hasn’t been touched in months…(yes Mom, I’m still your daughter!)  Instead, I spend most days in bed with my lap-top, still trying to do a little work, anything to feel like a productive member of society. By God’s Grace, some days I am! But I feel gross, I’m in pain, and I can’t do much to help.  My man takes it like the soldier he is, works all day, then comes home to a sick wife and a messy house.  It breaks my heart…and that is almost worse than the pain.  I want so badly to be the partner and the help I think he deserves, to live our life the way we planned, but God has a different plan.  He has used this pain, my so extremely physical, Ed’s mental and both of us so emotional, to tear down every wall and facade a human can devise. , There is just no room for anything not honest in our marriage. There is no room to not try and know and understand and to forgive and to listen to each other. 

Now, one would think that just managing the sickness would be enough to deal with, but Ed and I are both such strong (stubborn) leader-types that are constantly strategizing, dreaming, reading, planning, and recruiting, that we still have to battle through our conflicting ideas and ideologies sometimes.  We still fervently pray God would use us for something greater than ourselves – even as I feel like this sickness is the most selfish thing in the world. But as we hope and pray and wait, this is what God’s done – He’s made our marriage vulnerable. 

stitched-heart-tattoo-sketchThe other day, I’d just had a really bad bought of the pain, and Ed had literally walked in the door from work to find me sobbing, and so exhausted, I could do nothing as he took me in his arms by cry against his shoulder repeating, “I’m sorry, I”m so sorry Babe!  I’m sorry…”.  He shushed me with, “Baby, don’t you ever apologize to me, you’re fine, it’s ok,” and as he held me and we prayed I realized this – every time your heart is torn,, and lays openly wounded, there is an opportunity to bond with the person your turn to in your healing.  As Ed and I turn to each other with our hearts bleeding every honest thought of who we are, I think God is stitching those wounds…and our hearts…more closely together as one.  Sigh.  Isn’t that a crazy and terrifying and beautiful image?  After all of this, how could our marriage, our relationship, our purpose for living, not be forged together?  

It is a pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but if something like this does come your way, pray that God would let you be vulnerable, and then that He would heal you with his surgeons hands. At this moment, I’m not in pain, I’m able to rest, and to be truly grateful for 8 months of a vulnerable marriage.

~ Morgen

Leading Ladies

Boys are over-seas?  Don't worry, I got this...

Boys are over-seas? Don’t worry, I got this…

 I’d like to start this post by all getting on the same page at the heart of the issue.  Being a lady, and being a leader, is hard stuff.  Can we all agree on this point?  Choosing to take leadership responsibilities, regardless of gender, is a difficult road fraught with challenge, loneliness, and turmoil.  Successful leaders spend time in self-reflection, strategic planning, and courageous execution.  Now if you’re a woman, there seems to be an added layer of complexity…and here I believe is why.

I truly believe that woman were created to be Adored by all men.

Princess Kate pretty much has the Leading Lady role down.  And she worked 8 years for this promotion.

Princess Kate pretty much has the Leading Lady role down. And she worked 8 years for this promotion.

Protected as mothers and keepers of the house. Bringers of Beauty – be that our own appearance when we enter a room, or when we decorate it, or by our persona.  We tend to be relationally astute – and make great hosts – because we take time to acquire the grace and manners to make others feel special, cared for, and welcome.   This is one reason why most often social calenders fall to us, (I sometimes fear if were up to husbands that we would never see our friends), we are fantastic organizers, and excel in the strategy of relationships.

01356~I-m-Happy-Posters

This is where “Desperate Housewives” gets its start…

All of these traits are wonderful qualities that enhance our society, and give our men-folk reason to dote on us.  Unfortunately, several TV shows in the 50’s managed to paint a picture of a woman doing all these things without an opinion or a purpose, and now it’s been demonized for the next generation.

But wait!  Is it possible?  Can we be educated, successful leaders in the world, AND good wives?  I say, YES!

 

My way, or no way!

My way, or no way!

But what if we get married, and we feel like someone else is making way too many of the decisions?  What if we’ve been so used to being “top-dog” in our former life, that we find it very hard to let someone else hold the leash…even if they do it with love?

 

 

"My Lord, what..." "It's cool Bro, I'm just here to serve."

“My Lord! What…”
“It’s cool Bro, I’m just here to serve.”

What has softened my heart is the realization that when Jesus made me, he made me to be like him – a Servant Leader.  (pause, yes, read that again).  Think about the work-place environment.  If you are managing people, and expect them to be successful, you need to be serving them.  You inspire them with pep-talks, you make sure they have resources, you fight their battles with the dreaded “higher-ups”, you fill out their paper work…why?  All so that they can do their jobs more effectively.  Oh, and usually, the managers just get blamed for being busy and making more money, and taking an occasional day off.  Sound familiar?

 

I feel my job as a wife is to be a “servant-leader” to my husband.  Not the angry boss who throws dishes when we screws up, (wait, that never happens…), but the #1 team-mate who creates an environment for him to thrive.

 

Woman with a Plan

Woman with a Plan

For example… I have learned that the “honey-do” list gets tackled much more quickly when The Man has had a good night’s sleep, and a full stomach after work.  Therefore, I “serve him” by helping him relax and hit the sack early, or by whipping up a quick dinner or snack whenever he walks in the door.  Now really, (shhhh, don’t tell!), I’m not just serving him like a servant, I’m leading him to be at his best, SO THAT our family can be at it’s best. (i.e., that back door will get fixed.)*

Are you picking up what I’m throwing down here friends?  Leading isn’t actually about giving orders and having them followed.  It’s about creating the environment for greatness, and praying it into fruition.  So whether you are a single dame, married woman, or mom-extraordinaire, you ARE a leader in your life.  Let’s start acting like it, and with a little strategic planning, we can lead our horses to water…AND make them drink!

*Caveat – since I’ve been ill so much lately, my hubby does take on a lot more of the domestic tasks.  Division of labor is key, that’s why you’re partners, so keep communicating about what works best for you both!

7 Months In

WDay Ed Kissing Mo Cheeck

Wedding day bliss-kiss

Hello dear friends!

Yesterday marked 7 months of marriage for Edward and I…wow, is that all?  I still look at him sometimes and have to let it really sink in, “yeah, I’m married to that handsome guy!”   (Especially when he sleeps, he’s so calm when he sleeps!) But by now, it feels pretty normal.  The blessing and the challenge of these first months together has been that God has totally removed our ability to be independent from each other.  I think there are couples that have very in-grained careers, habits, personalities, and belongings, and post-wedding-day it is easy for them to slide back into those grooves, and it may feel not much has changed.

Well, no ruts allowed here!   By virtue of being in a new location together, and

Wonder where that goes?

Wonder where that goes?

my illness dominating our lives, we have been forced very quickly to battle through the worst of our demons together, and find new ways to live out who we are.  At first, this was quite scary.  Instead of sweet dates every week, there was lots of doctor appointments, online research, and creating of concoctions to try and tame my Crohn’s.  However, I think we are past the worst, and coming into more of a rythum. We found a doctor we like, the new house is perfect, and we’ve found almost everything we need in the area.  The best part is that we’ve had to figure it out between the 2 of us. What we like, what we need, what we do, as a married couple.  Not much has carried over from previous existence, and that is getting easier as time goes by.

We don’t shock each other as much anymore, and that is a good thing.  In fact, I’ve started ending some sentences with, “so that’s the deal, and baby don’t you even…” and then predict exactly what he was about to do.  He acts bothered, but is secretly pleased, “Babe, how did you know?  Get out of my head!”  Smugly I reply, “I can’t Baby, I married you.”   It’s one thing to know a person’s heart, their morals and character…it’s another to learn their habits, reactions, and hang-ups.  Some folks date for 5 years so that by the time they get married there are no surprises, (if there are, that was some good acting all that time!), but I wouldn’t trade the way we jumped in for anything.

Button-pushing can be a sport in our house, but we’ve learned to work with it.  For example:  I’ll say something annoying, Ed will clench his fist, look side-to-side, then pretend he just woke up like a crazy man.  “What, what just happened?  I, I must have blacked out!”.  Then I say, “Oh honey, is your PTSD acting up again?”   Which he really hates, and then there is either head-shaking or tickling depending on the day.

We look at each day’s challenges as building for the future.  Even now, we are learning how we shall grow old together. I may have a head start age-wise, but Ed wins on the grey hairs.  He tries to claim they’re from me…awww!

Good Friday

Not in the budget...

Not in the budget…

You know that feeling you get when someone buys you a present you just could never afford yourself?  Like, your friend buys you a brand new Coach purse from this Spring collection that you’ve drooled over in the department store?  (Gentlemen, pretend it’s a power drill.)  On the one hand, you’re almost embarrassed to carry it because you know you could never have bought that, it seems almost like you’re “posing” as someone better or richer than you are by waltzing through the coffee line with that bag on your arm.  However, if you don’t wear it, the friend who bought it for you would be so sad, she would think you didn’t like it, that she’s got you all wrong, or even maybe that you don’t value her friendship!  Eeek, no one wants that.

What if, instead of continuing to think of it as the “one you could never afford”, you saw that purse as a representation of what a kind friend you have?  And that you are a person who is worthy of love enough that she would think to get that for you?  Could you then enjoy that dashing leather masterpiece with all the confidence and fun with which it was intended?

This is how I feel about what Jesus did for me sometimes.  On this day, many years ago, at the young age of 33, He willingly

The all-access pass to your Creator

The all-access pass to your Creator

allowed himself to be tortured, and mocked, and crucified…so that I could wear a badge of innocence in God’s eyes.  He didn’t try to haggle down the price of my life, or wait for a sale, He took the worst society could throw at Him, and never threw it back.  Just thinking about it makes me feel like I have to come groveling on my knees anytime I ask God for something, because I know I didn’t pay for that badge that makes me worthy in His sight.  But is that what Jesus would want?  Maybe not.  When I really think about it, nothing but love could have helped Him do what He did.  He got absolutely nothing out of it for Himself.  So this gift that He gave me in love, like a birthday gift from a best friend, I believe, is meant to be worn with confidence and joy.  I need to learn to bring that attitude to everything I face in life.  Jesus did not redeem me to my Creator so that I would cower in shame at the price for the rest of my life, He did it so that I could be free of shame for the rest of my life!

Feel the joy!  Coffee sold separately.

Feel the joy!

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but what better concept to ponder on today of all days?  I hope and pray that you’re letting God in, wherever you are today.  That you are claiming victory over the challenges and the emotions they bring in this life.  That you are looking forward to the assurance that it is never to late to celebrate what Easter is all about.  “He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed.”

Matthew 21:28 – It’s never too late, He still wants you:

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”  “The first,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectorsand the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.