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

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.

 

Finding Florida

Hello faithful friends!  I see that it has been way too long since I updated, I’m sorry!  My Crohn’s was not treating me kindly the last few weeks, and a dear friend took me for a much needed retreat into sunshine and quiet.  I’ve missed your feedback in my life, so I’ll briefly share some of what is going on.  Specifically, how grateful I am that we landed where we did – and only God knew how perfect it would be.

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This month I had planned for my husband to be gone at training – however, a minor injury kept him here for the time being.  Bonus – I don’t have to miss him yet!  However, I had planned an ultra busy Girl-A-Thon to keep my mind off his absence, so now he’s here in the midst of it!  First, our dear friend Michelle came down to stay for the month and help me manage the house and animals.  It’s been cool to show her our organic market, juicing, and starting garden.  I think she’s still in a bit of shock at our health-focused life-style, but that’s ok.

Next, my MOH4LIFE, (maid of honor, Lorri), came down to wisk me away to a nearby resort so that I could lay in the sun and get some R&R.  We’ve found in the past that whenever my disease gets bad, a few days of complete rest, stress free, with lots of sunshine make a huge difference.  So we hit the pool, took naps, and braved the “lazy river” for a week.  The most excitement we had was seeing a real live Alligator!  Trust me, as a new Floridian, that was a mile-stone for me.  We  got so close! And then a passing golfer offered to get even closer and took a great picture.  I feel much better – but still have a ways to go…

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Finally, we’ll finish the month with my new sister-in-law, Rachele, spending her Spring Break with us.  She’s a senior at the Air Force Academy now, so I warned her our lives are not conducive to an MTV-style vacay.  She assured me she’s looking for the rest and peace we hope she’ll find here in our little oasis.  Sigh, I feel so incredibly fortunate that we landed here.  Since we were married in November, we’ve had at least 1 Chicago visitor a month – sometimes their work brings them, sometimes it’s just for fun, but we’re always glad to see friendly faces and share life while we can!

I think back to this time one year ago….Ed was leaving Europe for good to come to the states, and we’d found out he was going to be stationed here.  When he originally put in his request, we were only a few months into dating, but he asked me to list the top 3 cities where’d I’d like to visit my boyfriend.  We put Chicago, then places in Florida and Texas, (I have other family there.)  When he got the email with his final destination, he was disappointed, and I had mixed emotions.  I’ve always loved Florida  and savored the excuse to visit…but we really had to talk about continuing to make the long-distance work.  That was a hard conversation, I felt laid bare as I humbly asked for his thoughts on the future, bracing myself for the possibility that the reality of dating a girl so far away would lose it’s appeal next to the tanned and toned bodies readily available in his new home.  He never wavered – and I was relieved.  As it turned out, I only flew south once before moving down here – most of our visits were him coming here, (I had to work weekends so it was harder for me to get away), ironic right?

Yet, now that we are here, we’ve met so many people who have made us feel welcome.  The first hair-cut I ever got, my stylist has Crohn’s that she’s healing naturally.  My massage therapist practices homeopathy and grows all her own organic food. Our church teaches taking care of the soul, and the body in natural God-given ways.  How could we ever have known that these individuals were waiting for us?  It’s true what they say, home is where the heart is, and ours is certainly happy right here.