An Overdue Update for TeamRZ!

Dear friends,

IMAG4280So much has happened since we last spoke, I don’t even know where to begin. First, let me say this – Ed and I are doing great! Ok, now for the nitty gritty.

question-mark-mapSince about the spring of 2015, Ed knew that he was ready to leave the military, and pursue a civilian career.  We talked and prayed a lot as a couple about this, and both felt God pulling us to something new…yet what that new thing would be, we had no idea!  We were excited for the future, and tried to be open to any and all possibilities – would God call us back north to Chicago?  Near our old family and friends?  Maybe Texas – Ed had several job options out that way, and it would be wonderful to spend time with my dear relatives in Austin.  Maybe Equidor, or Chili…I mean, everything was on the table at one point or another.  My secret hope was that we would stay in the warm weather as I am now thoroughly spoiled by the Florida.  Or someplace with water.  I love the water.  From our home by Orlando, it was about 50 minutes to any beach on the East Coast, and I went as often as I could!

Well, after all this consideration, prayer, and sudo-planning…Ed landed a job…in Florida!  He actually had several possibilities, but the best full-time offer came from a Christian news outlet just a little further south…in a beach town!  It’s that amazing?  Even from Chicago, I prayed for a warmer home, I built my business around a sailing theme, I dreamed of life on the water…and here we are.  From out new home, it is 15 minutes to Ed’s office, 15 minutes to the one and only Panera, (it’s a small town, only 2 Starbucks big), and 10 minutes drive down the road and over the bridge to the Atlantic!  Ha, can you believe it?

IMAG4354Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses.  I mean, it’s Florida, so many days it is, but there is plenty of rain – literally and figuratively.  When Ed got the offer, we had to finalize paper work with the army for his separation, (he served 2 full tours, 8 years total, so it wasn’t retirement, just finishing with honor), we had to find a house to rent that would take our dogs, we had to get out of our current lease, (only a month left, but still), and all of this as soon as possible because they were ready for him to start immediately.  Well, I looked for houses, but as this is a snow-bird town, and the grannies had all flown south for the winter already, options were slim – only about 3 homes that fit our criteria from week to week, so there was some stress trying to make trips to see something, fill out paper work, and still wait on his military paperwork.  God is good, and I believe His timing and plan is perfect, so I will say that I had a lot of inner peace in my heart about this whole move – I still do.  However, there was a LOT of external stress when Ed told me the day before Thanksgiving that all the papers came through from the army, our housing application was approved, and were were moving that weekend.  WHAT!?!  Why are husbands so crazy??

IMG_6377So, I cried.  What else is a girl supposed to do?  Then I called moving companies, friends, and favors in before the holiday to see who could come help us over the weekend.  Thursday, we spent a beautiful relaxing day with friends, and gave thanks.  Then, Friday, we woke up, and began Oporation Move-Out with zeal!  I had some help to pack all day Friday and Saturday, the movers came Sunday, and I drove back to close up and clean the old house on Monday.  Then, that was that.  Our new life, post military had begun.IMAG3927

By the way, my health held up through all of the moving process, but by Christmas, I was toast.  The last few weeks have been up and down, I think my body and brain are still trying to adjust to everything that has changed.  New place, new schedules, different food, (I miss our local organic stores!  The selection is not as good here.), and still organizing boxes.  Also, the new place might be beach-friendly, but is almost half the size of our last place.  Soooo, still trying to figure out where to put stuff, if there is anything to get rid of, and where to store everything else.

IMAG4287When I feel ready to complain through, I just step outside, and feel the wind whipping across the grass from the ocean only a mile away…and yup, life is good.

 

Too Much Gratitude for One Little Post

Hello my dear friends!

It has been too long since I posted an update here…and while I have been writing quite a bit, nothing has made it through a final edit.  How does that go…perfection is the enemy of productivity?  Yeah, you can quote me on that.

Feeling the love

Feeling the love

Here is the deal – today, (Tuesday, March 10th), has been a roller coaster of emotions, but at the moment, I am so over-flowing with gratitude, I had to seize the moment and share it with you.

As some of you may know, I was back in the hospital over Valentine’s Day for an infection that lasted about a week.  Since then, I am back to the crazy ride that is weening myself off steroids, pain meds, and asking myself the question,how can I be content with where I am in my life, yet be pursuing the future and all God may have in store?”  As someone who tends to over-do-it in whatever I may be doing, (exercise, decorating, cooking, working etc.), I have moments of energy and clarity where I rush forward, only to trip over my own tired self and have to slow it back down.

Perfect example – yesterday I was feeling great!  Hubby and I had a spring-cleaning marathon, and the house looks amazing – by our standards at least.  Yet, by the end of the night, I was sore, and getting emotional as my meds wore down and my body and mind started to give out.  Ed patiently rubbed my back and tucked me in, and I awoke this morning feeling refreshed.  I contentedly took my time today, rested, relaxed, proud of my full day yesterday, and enjoying a slow pace. Then, it happened.  Duh duh duhn…

Facebook evil demonI read it on Facebook!  Yet another one of my super-awesome friends achieved something super cool and everyone was super impressed and I was reminded what it was like to have a full-time job, 3 volunteer roles, and be constantly praised for my contributions!!  Uh oh, the nasty demons of Comparison, along with Pride and Guilt just completed the perfect crime – they robbed me of my Joy.

Now I’m not playing victim here, it was my fault, I gave into the temptation to let myself get jealous and down on myself.  I’ve actually been reading and seeing many blogs and posts on the topic of “choosing joy”, or “God’s joy”.  But what does that mean?  If you’re not feeling the joy, how do you choose it?  This has always been an almost impossible task for me.  I don’t know how to just switch my brain into the “joyful” position.  So, as the info-mercial says, “There’s gotta be a better way!”, and I think I’m figuring it out.

Palm-filtered rays

Palm-filtered rays

Late in the afternoon, I finally managed to drag myself out to the park – a feat I had been trying to accomplish since after breakfast.  I put Pandora on my headphones, first Adele, then Rihanna, and marched out into the sunshine.   I was struck not even a block in by the way the sunlight filtered through the palm fronds of my neighbors garden, so I stopped to take a picture.  Aligning the frame, waiting for just the perfect sparkle of light, my adrenaline leapt and I smiled to no one.

As I continued, I had a choice between winding through a ritzy neighborhood with lots of flowers and trees, (my usual choice), or turning right towards the smaller homes with the open rec fields.  The open land sported soccer nets, a basketball court, small baseball diamond, and swing sets.  As long as there wasn’t a pick-up game going on, I could march, hike, and do push-ups out in the sun to my heart,s content!  That was the better option, so I headed right.

Just the anticipation of a good sweat heightens my endorphins!

Just the anticipation of a good sweat heightens my endorphins!

I spent an hour in the sun, breathing the fresh, humid, air, hiking over the rough edges of the terrain, stopping to do jumping jacks and push ups on the court.  My playlist picked my favorite tunes and the beats kept me pushing myself until I finally felt the change in my body from tense to relaxed to exhilarated to exhausted, and as I found myself slowing, I took one last lap towards home.  I stretched my gait along the side-walk and smelled the heat rising from the pavement.  I felt the hot breeze rustle past me and rattle the palms beyond.  A car cruised by, kids called to each other in the distance, and tears began to blur the blue/green scene before me.  This was my joy.  My time, alone with God, in His beautifully created world, full of people with their own roller-coaster lives, just like me.  The mere fact that I could leave the house to experience this, almost overwhelmed my poor little heart.  I let a tear fall and didn’t care who was looking – I didn’t even put on my shades to hide it!

My gym today

My gym today

It had been almost a year – from December to August that I was too sick, in too much pain, in too much fear of what my body would do from moment to moment to venture far from my bed room….and here I was, strutting and jumping, and sashaying around the great-outdoors like an elf at Christmas.   Truly, it is a miracle, it is amazing, it is a gift!  And you know what?  That is the hardest part.

Take a break

Take a break

You see, when other people are getting promoted, publishing books, having kids, or starting a business…I think, wow, they are doing something!  In my story, for right now, I’m not doing anything…but God is doing something.   I have the most fantastic life, and the freedom to enjoy a season of healing…but this season is not about me, it’s not about my accomplishments, it’s about what God is doing in me, and around me…and maybe – hopefully – even a little bit through me.  So there!  That’s my joy. Seizing these opportunities, not letting myself feel guilty about enjoying them, not comparing myself to what anyone else is doing.  The Joy is thankfully accepting the Gift.

I was in a meeting once that was made up mostly of marathon runners, (yes, do you see why I have a complex?  I’ve only run one! But that’s another post,), and there was a debate between running the race to win, or for you best time, because it is a RACE after all, and everyone should be trying to do there best.  Verses the mentality of taking the time to talk to those around you, help those who may be hurting, or making a friend along the way.

We never came to a conclusion as to which was right, or which God would have us do…but here is what I think today.

Is this for you?

Is this for you?

The book of Hebrews says, “run as if to win the prize!”, but Ephesians says, “we are God’s masterpiece, created to do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  So the answer is, both!  Run with abandon towards your prize…but know that your prize is different from anyone else’s. Your prize could be won by sacrificing your own victory to help someone else, or it could be by setting a high bar for others to aspire to!  Whatever God’s treasure is for you, it is yours to win. No one can take it from you, but if you start chasing someone else’s, you’re going to miss out on the crown God has placed at the finish just for you!

I'll take this one please...

I’ll take this one please…

So today, with deep conviction, and so much gratitude I cannot even venture to express it here…I choose to run my own race, to chase my own prize, and to cheer you on to yours, every day that God gives me.

I’m so thankful for you friends, and am constantly inspired by the lives you live.  May you take your joy today – you deserve it!

Post-hospital radiance? Haircut and sunbathing will do wonders.

Post-hospital. Haircut and sunbathing will do wonders.

~ Morgen

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.

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

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.

 

My 2 Cents on Meditation

Feel your inner lotus...or something.

Feel your inner lotus…or something.

Well if you know me, you know I don’t meditate.  I hate Silence.   Sitting in Silence is even worse!  My best prayer times are with music, or writing out my prayers in a journal.  However, Ed enjoys meditation and yoga.  He appreciates silence on his runs and walks.

We’ve been discussing meditation lately, I have always had reservations about it’s usage in Eastern and New Age religions.  I’ve seen meditation lead to communing with not-so-good spirits, and god-complexes in individuals.  However, I’m open minded to the idea applied to Christian practices.  There is a verse in the Bible I don’t pay enough attention to, it says,

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~ Phillippians 4:8-9

Things that are lovely and good...

Things that are lovely and good…

Doesn’t that sound nice?  To spend time thinking about things like that, and allowing God to bring us peace?  Well, I have never made much time or spent much energy exploring this idea, and whenever Ed brought up meditation or yoga (which I have tried and failed at many times), I always pushed it off with a, “yeah, we can talk about that”.  Meaning, let’s talk about it later, and not do anything about it.

All of that changed today.  I was leaving the house to meet up with a friend whom I value very much.  I had not slept well due to Crohn’s issues, and felt tense all morning as I poured over emails and caught up on Facebook.  As I got into the car I thought, this tea-date is really important to me.  I really want God to use it.  So I started thinking about that as I drove.  How could God use this time to His purpose and goodness?  How has He used other conversations with friends to His Glory?  I reflected on the impact good friends have had in my life over the years, and then one particular thought stood out.  God has blessed me with the companionship of extraordinary people my entire life.

Ed is getting ready to leave for 7 weeks of training…that may turn into 5 months.

Oh Chi-Town...

Oh Chi-Town…

 Several people said to me, “well, why don’t you come back to Chicago for awhile?  See your family and friends here?”  I see their point, however, Chicago no longer feels like home.  Isn’t that crazy?  It always will be to some extent – it’s my home-town and made me who I am. But right now, Orlando has my heart. That surprised me as I thought about it!  It’s only been 4 months since I left, but there are dedicated, kind, loving people who have embraced Ed and I as their own.  As people found out he was leaving, they’ve reached out with all kinds of offers and invitations to keep me healthy, safe, and cared about while my husband is away.

So as I pulled up to Starbucks and waved to my friend through the window, I thanked God for how carefully He has orchestrated the relationships in my life.  I was reminded that He DOES have a purpose for things that we can’t even imagine…until we have that one conversation and it all makes sense.   That 10 minutes of meditation in the car put me in a completely different mindset to meet with this dear woman, and share life, and let God do what only He can do.  And sure enough – He did.  It was the most revealing, tender, and encouraging conversation we’ve had yet in our new friendship, and I now see the purpose of letting our minds dwell.

Taking the Leap

It's scary to jump off that step and not have firm ground underneath..will he catch me?

It’s scary to jump off that step and not have firm ground underneath..will he catch me?

There is something specific about resting in the arms of the person who has vowed to spend the rest of their life with you.  It is so comforting, it leaves the mind free of fears, and open to dream.  What is it about marriage that makes us so united, how is it different than really super committed dating?  I think it’s the leap.

When you get married, you don’t get to watch the movie of your life together play out in front of you and then decide, “yes, I’d like to have that. ”  We can never know what life holds in store for us alone, and even less so once joined with a partner who brings their own qualities, ideas and dreams into the equation.  Yet for those who are willing, the actual act of saying those vows is taking a leap of faith together, into a new life that is unknown…. The unknown is always scary, but like skydiving, going to war, or getting through college, there are adventurers in life that bond 2 people just because they got though it together.

I think the leap of marriage is in itself a bonding experience that helps you to face the scary unknowns.  When life gets tough, or throws you a curve, the hope is that you will be strong enough to look back to your wedding day and say, “we took that leap together, we are floating through thin air with each other, together we can find firm ground again.”

What about kids?  To have, adopt, what if we can't...

What about kids? To have, adopt, what if we can’t…

There will be other leaps throughout life that continue to bond you if you let them…but they can also tear you apart.  It is our choices in these situations, our ability to put the others needs first while still expressing our own, to be slow to anger and quick to forgive, that determines whether you will be glued tighter on the other side. Leaping into having kids together – another act of faith.  Taking a jump to move to a new place that your spouse feels better about than you do.  Re-arranging your career to make room for your partner, your family.  What about that leap into a crazy vacation that seems totally impractical but is probably exactly what you both need?

Yes, experiences are what unite people, and marriage is the first of many leaps of faith that can build a life un-imagined.  Here’s to love, and here’s to leaping.

If Only Skin Showed the Heart

Gettin' a lil brown sugar...

“Beauty is only skin deep, but Love is as fathomless as the sea”

I was listening to a comedian today talking about “inter-racial couples”, how he didn’t love it when people referred to him (black), and his wife (Japanese) with that term.  To him, she was just “her, my wife, and beautiful.”  He went on to cite some other stereo-typical things people say when a couple has different racial backgrounds.  Here’s what’s hysterical…I’ve heard them all referring to us! They aren’t even all bad things, for instance, he mentioned how strangers will say, “you’ll have such beautiful babies!”  Now, I love hearing that – and people do say that often which is so kind!  However, I always think of it as just because my hubby is so good looking, and I have such awesome hair, that is just has to be true.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be willing to even consider pregnancy. I digress…

Love feels the same in every color...

Love feels the same in every color…

This post is about how I’ve found Race to be proof that Beauty is Skin Deep.  Now, I’m not an anthropologist, I grew up in a “privileged culture”, so don’t attack me with all the other implication of race, I know.  But dating and marrying a partner darker than me has taught me: until we know someone, we see race, once we know them, we see soul.  And maybe what we see on the outside isn’t what the world would typically deem “beautiful”, but my theory is that anyone can look “beautiful” by the worlds standards with a little worldly help – make up, hair product, clothes, lighting, etc.  Every reality make-over show has taught us that.  But do those people change on the inside during that process?  Enough so that they carry a new attitude or world-view into the rest of their life?  We can hope so.

Let’s talk about Love.  Love covers a multitude of sins doesn’t it?  Once you’ve fallen in love with someone, it’s hard to see their faults.  Even on the bad days, you leave the house, start to miss them, remember how great they’ve made your life, and before you know it, you’re calling to tell them all those things!  Now, sometimes, as you get to know someone, you find they are hard to love.  That’s legit, sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well, or you are working at cross-purposes in the world, I submit to you that if you kept getting to know someone, you’d like them more and more, because you would be able to walk a mile in their shoes.  The movie “Ender’s Game” sums it up really well,

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”
― Orson Scott CardEnder’s Game

What power there is in understanding….and courage in loving anyway.  In choosing not to focus on detrimental flaws, but on encouraging a individual’s strengths and making space for them in our lives.  Sigh.  Love is truly so enduring, and beauty is really so fleeting.  I will give you just a quick summation of how I see this in my marriage:   When I first started dating my hubby, a friends mother saw his picture on Facebook and asked me about the “nice African American man” I was seeing.  (Ed has not a drop of African, or Mexican which is another common mistake).  Another reminder of our difference came when a friend innocently asked about a gift for his sister, “I’ve never met her, so I don’t know what color to get…is she as dark as he is?”  I laughed so hard because I just always thought of him as having a nice tan, and when people ask him his background, his says “British” – he was born there and still carries duel citizenship.  Because we’ve both lived and traveled in Europe, I think of us as “citizens of the world”, rather than a “bi-racial couple”, and that means something to us.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight...

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…

What brought all of this home when I heard the comedian today was this discussion with my Love the other night.  I said, “hey honey, let’s go visit this community and just check it out!”  He replied, “Babe, I don’t think we’d be welcome there.”  I laughed, not on the same page, “haha, yes, we are a little bit loud and crazy from them”, and he smiled and my mis-understanding, “no my love, I mean because of me, I don’t think they are used to people like me”, I still didn’t get it.  Because he’s so passionate?  Patriotic?  A solider?  Finally the light went on, “oh…because you’re darker than me?”  He nodded, still smiling, “it’s ok baby love, we can still go if you want to.”  I mean woah!  I am so quick to forget that he feels like he stands out, because even in the military there were fine lines of light and dark in certain rooms.  In my eyes, he is Edward, my love, my husband, a man of faith and integrity, the most kind and compassionate person I know.  How quickly that skin-deep beauty fades in the eyes of love. ❤

P.S.  If you’re still curious:  Ed’s mother’s family is from Guyana, his father’s family are from Poland.  So he’s a little bit Indian…but I’m also part Native American, so we’re both super ethnic.