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

Not My Best Speghetti

Feelin' fit - 2 weeks ago

Feelin’ fit – 2 weeks ago

Dear friends, 

I would like to thank all of you reading this for sticking with me on this journey.  I know it hasn’t always been easy, there have been several posts that raised an eyebrow, or illicited concerned emails…and I just can’t believe how much you care!  Thank you for your prayers, your patience, and your compassion.  Ed and I are so thankful for this community that shares life with us.  I always welcome your feedback, your own stories, and your questions.  We all learn to do life better together after all!

Here is what I learned today: (see, isn’t this nice?  I’m jumping right to the moral)  Today I was reminded that sometimes, not my best is better – than not me at all.  I’ll elaborate….

For those who follow me on Facebook, you know that 2 weeks ago I was hit with some kind of food poisoning or 24-hour bug that give my Crohn’s a nice little upset, and it hasn’t settled down since.  Right before that hit, I was doing great! Biking, hiking, back to a work-schedule…I felt like ME!  Praise the Lord.  Well, yesterday, I was so fed up and frustrated to be back in the “sick place” that I sobbed to God to “get the devil out of me”, and then tried drinking less, eating more, and changed up my supplements.  It seems to be helping, and today I feel a little bit better.

IMG_20150130_105526

Personal Best for Morning Afro

My husband – who likes to pretend that I’m always healthier than I look – had delegated me the task of making a post-work-out snack for his future soldiers today.  He said the snack should be spaghetti, and that I should make it for 10.  Ok, well, I said I would do my best thinking, even if I wasn’t feeling great, that wouldn’t be too hard.  Spaghetti is hard to screw up right?  I put out the meat to thaw in the morning, then did some work, ate lunch, and cautiously began the process.  Would my stomach hold out?  In general, for me, the hard part about cooking when I’ve been ill is just standing on my feet in one spot like that.  Even walking is easier because then you’ve got some momentum to keep you going.

As I boiled the water my husband called.  “Hi honey, hows it going…are you getting started?  Great!  Yeah, it’s going to be about 18 kids.”  WHAT!  I do not have a commercial kitchen with giant stock pot. And there wasn’t enough meat thawed!  Well, I had no choice but to “Be all that I could Be”, and put another pot on the stove.  3 pots, 4 pasta boxes, 3 marinara jars, and several pounds of turkey later, I looked at the finished product.  My dear sweet husband – who seems to think that food magically transforms with the help of the kitchen fairies – had bought the “angel hair” pasta rather than the spaghetti noodles, and even with olive oil and ice it was sticking together.  The marinara didn’t quite cover it as thoroughly as I would like, and the meat seemed sparse – although it tasted good.  The whole thing looked like a clumpy-mushy mess – if I had a casserole dish big enough and a little more sauce and cheese, I could have prettied it up, but it was time and the best I could do was give them one last stir and throw them in the oven to heat back up before Ed came to get them.

Sunsets always bring me to center

Sunsets always bring me to center

After he picked up the pots, I felt the desperate need to be out of that stuffy house and into the fresh air.  I hit the bathroom one last time, suited up, and climbed aboard my lovely new bike.  I might regret it later, but some exercise was needed for my mental sanity.  I was so angry thinking that the kids would probably pick at it, (I’d seen them turn down my organic cooking before), and my pride welled up at the thought that they would all assume “Sergeant Szall’s wife can’t even cook spaghetti”.  I had told Ed not to mention where it was from, just let them eat or reject it on it’s own merits.  However, I’m sure he told them he was “running home” to pick up the food.  Grrrr.  If only it wasn’t angle hair, if only I was feeling better, or my house was clean enough to ask another wife over to help, or if only I didn’t let myself get volunteered for stuff like this!  These kids were starting to cost us a lot of time and money as the months ad up, and I don’t even get to spend any time with them, so there isn’t even the benefit of the relationship in it for me.  It is purely out of Christian/wifely duty that I do this.

All these thoughts churned in my head as I turned the corner and rode towards the sinking sun.  I looked above me and took a deep breath, smelling the leaves and smoke from a grill.  With Pandora on my head phones I began to relax, and I couldn’t help it, I decided to pedal over to the park on say hi.  I’m just too social not to – and I was having a good hair day.

He usually trains them here, not in our neighborhood

He usually trains them here, not in our neighborhood

I swung into the park, and there was my husband, holding court with a group of youngsters sitting in the grass, half of them gnawing our organic green apples, the others scraping bowls.  I looked, and sure enough, on the ground were two empty pots and a pile of marinara-stained bowls.  I smiled to myself as Ed carried on talking with them. I thought about how important food is to community.  We talk about it in leadership all the time.  If you want people to listen to each other, to learn and share ideas, give them food.  The bible talks about feeding the hungry often.  Didn’t Jesus feed the 5000 so they would hang out with each other and listen to him preach?  Couldn’t I feed 18 hungry youngsters?

The most famous verse about food rose to my mind, “Jesus took some bread, and gave thanks for it, and broke it apart for them saying, this is like my body, I’m going to be broken, so you don’t have to. Please accept it, and eat…and whenever you come together to break bread, do so in remembrance of me.”  Huh.  My Savior gave up a lot for me, all he’s asking me to do is cook some spaghetti.  In the end, I didn’t think it was my best, but if I hadn’t tried, they would have gone hungry.  And you know they’d be cranky if they didn’t eat!

Sometimes, it's just what they need. And you know people get cranky if they don't eat!

Sometimes, it’s just what they need.

So I actually think, my friends, although some people may be quick to judge and some may not understand where we’re coming from, giving ANY of ourselves, is truly better than giving none at all. Therefore, ladies and gents, the next time you are given an opportunity, I will hope and pray that you will give whatever you can give.  After all, in the hands of Jesus, it may feed many.

Much love ~ 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

Those Precious Little Things

I’ve been occasionally posting on Facebook with comments that begin, “You know you’re married when…moment #___”, and then sharing some funny yet totally typical and relate-able moment I’ve experienced with my hubby.  So now I share with you…

Image

The Soldier and his Dove

 

“You know you’re married when…moment #164:”  I catch my hubby snacking on bean dip after eating the dinner I cooked and brought out to him, while dinner round 2 simmered on the stove right in front of him!  The Bottomless Pit said nothing but quietly folded up the bag of chips and while trying to smile charmingly.

Have you had sweet moments like that?  Where your spouse does something that is just so totally them, you can’t even be upset because you’re cherishing your closeness to them in that moment?  I’ve been reflecting this week on some of those special moments, and so grateful for them.  We aren’t always in a state of mind to appreciate these things.  Often, we can be under so much stress that we just get upset at the change in plans or interruption of life, rather than appreciating that special person we GET TO stand beside in those challenges.  For example…

don't STOP believingAbout a week ago, we were the victims of attempted credit card fraud.  Our bank tends to be over-zealous about these things and has been freezing our cards any time we make an online purchase over $50, (so annoying!), but this time their cry of “wolf” had legs.  My darling man called me and asked kindly – not accusingly – “Babe, did you go shopping at American Eagle yesterday?  And spend about $300 dollars?”  I was puzzled, “Noooo,” I replied slowly, what had I done yesterday?  It certainly wasn’t clothes shopping – that’s a pretty rare thing for me these days.  Plus, I would never spend that kind of money without talking to him first, we simply don’t do that.  So the fact that he was calmly asking me if my habits had suddenly changed was quite gracious on his part.  He went on to explain that the store had alerted him that someone had tried to make the online purchase using our info and something had flagged their system.  When I assured him again that I had not gone on a bender, he told me he’d “take care of it”.

Aren’t those 4 of the most beautiful words in a marriage?  “I’ll take care of it”, reads like, “Don’t worry about it my love, I care enough about you that I will completely take this off your hands, and your mind.”  As I hung up the phone, I thought about how blessed I am for several reasons.  #1.  My dear one did not call angry or assuming anything #2. Even though he brings in the majority of our finances, he never begrudges me something I truly want  #3. In general, he does not stress about money whether it’s going out or coming in. He is able to budget and take care of bills without it becoming a stressful monster that eats into our precious time together.  Which brings me back to that moment.  He called me back an hour later to explain that someone had indeed tried to go on a bender with our credit card – the Apple store was also on the list, yikes! – but none of the charges had cleared and we were ok, new cards in the mail, etc.  See?  Really, nothing to worry about.

I was listening to this great country song on the radio – my hubby likes to sing the 2 lines that he knows when he’s puttering around

Future looks Bright

Future looks Bright

the house.  It goes, “It started with a good night kiss, my lips your lips…” and that’s all he knows, hee hee!  However, here is the thought it provoked.  In my early 20’s, it seemed all my friends and I could talk about after a date was, “Where is this going?  What’s next?  Where will it end?”  We were ever hoping that the next good night kiss would be the last man we kissed.  We knew how the story started…but which story would become our fairy tale?  And in that moment of reflection I realized that I’ve found my fairy tale…I’m living it daily.  I shared my thoughts with my man, and how grateful I was to know how our dating story ended.  And then that dear man reminded me, “Baby, this is just the beginning.”  ❤

Maybe Today is Enough

ImageI may or may not have had one of those emotional break-downs last night that left my poor hubby scrambling to use every positive affirmation in his vocabulary to assure me that life was fantastic and would indeed “go on”.  You always feel worse don’t you?  When the innocent bystander get’s sucked into your personal expectations about life?  It’s really not fair, and we don’t want it to happen, but there it is, and all you can do is muddle through the mud and clean your boots on the other side.

It doesn’t really matter what triggers these moments, we all have expectations of ourselves, of what we are meant to do with our lives, of what our lives “should” look like to the outside observer.  Here’s the kicker – the outside observer is the LAST thing we should be concerned about.  We should in fact be looking to the INside observer.  God looks at our heart.  Did we try to do the right thing?  Did we have honest intentions?  Did we hope and plan for the best?  Then our heart is good.  And even when it’s not, when a blemish or stain mares our well-meaning attempts at life, God has the stain-remover at the ready – and it works every time.

ImageSo after prayer and reflection this morning, here is where I landed, and maybe you can sit here with me:  

Maybe what I’m doing today is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  Maybe leaving a little un-planned time in the schedule is exactly what God has planned.  Maybe the time I have to think, to connect with others, to be in God presence, is replenishing me to be ready at a moments notice for…anything God wants!  Maybe the work I have in front of me is exactly what I’m meant to be working, rather than chasing to down that next project or the un-gettable client.  Maybe my husband did marry me for the person I am, the size I am, the passions I have – hoping with all HIS heart that I WONT change.  Now…Wouldn’t that be something?

Psalm: 144:1-2

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.  (2) He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my  deliverer, my shield, in who I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

Be strong and very courageous

Be strong and very courageous

This verse stopped me in my tracks.  Even while God prepares us for battle, He is our loving refuge.  We are not meant to be powerful on our own, but behind the shield and on the rock of someone much more powerful than us.  It brings me so much peace to think that as I face the small daily fights, whether I feel like I’m winning or losing in the moment, He is steadily loving me, bringing sweet moments of joy along the way, and preparing me for what is to come.  That goes for all of us. So grateful!!