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

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Their Love Story Started Ours…

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I have so much love and respect for AJ and Megan, their love story is so special.

I’ve always known that when my little brother chose someone, that would be it.  He has always been able to focus on a goal and just etch away until he reaches it.  When I met Megan for the first time, she completely made sense to me – intelligent, confident, poised, and adventurous.  Who wouldn’t want to marry her?  Of course, there are all the practicalities of life and it was several years of dating, finishing degrees, and long-distance phone calls before they were able to begin a new life together.  Who would have guessed that taking the next step in their love story would be the event that started ours?

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Even the photographer knew…and posed us in our first pic together.

 In an odd way…it completely makes sense.  AJ is my brother and even though we are very different, in some ways we compliment each other well.  I am the louder, creative, silly, and enthusiastic version of his stalwart determination. Megan can be very like my dear brother, more reserved, thinking deep thoughts she isn’t quick to share, and focused on her goals.  So of course Megan would have an extroverted, gregarious friend like Ed to balance that out.  So Megan and AJ were building this relationship with Ed over the years…and over the years AJ was stuck with me…and finally when AJ and Megan got married and asked these two extroverts to be in their wedding…sparks flew!

That is wedding party chock-full of personality!

That is a wedding party chock-full of personality!

One would think that with these two loving relationships in full bloom… I couldn’t ask for more.  But I will.  I have always wanted to be a part of a big, loud, boisterous family.  Well, NONE of us come from one of those!  So it is my hearts desire that with: AJ and Megan, Ed and I, our cousin Chelsey and her hubby who just got married over the summer, and even Ed’s sister who is in a serious relationship about to graduate… that in the next few years our families will be blessed by the pitter-patter of little feet.  In 5 years maybe we will have gatherings where the kids table is bigger than the adult table….  In 10 years maybe Christmas will be that big crazy party filled with games, music, smiles, hugs and laughter that lasts for days.  Ah…that we might be so blessed.  It is a lot to hope for, but our God is a big God.  Anything is possible.

Fighting to Get Close

Awwwwe

Awwwwe

I know you all assume that Edward and I are the most loving romantic couple, and in our sweet pre-wedding bliss, always speak to each other in the most patient, kind, and care-giving way.  Hahaha…nope.   We are both type A, first-born, leadership-oriented individuals who get pretty passionate about what we think.  This will occasionally cause heated debates where neither of us is in any hurry to give ground, or worse yet, concede to the other.

Those of you who know us well will also attest to the fact that we can be very analytic, so I have taken an analytic approach to our tussles, and discovered something interesting.  We are fighting to get close.  It’s so simply profound that I can’t believe I was never able to put words to it before.   What I mean is what may start as a difference of opinion can escalate into a passion-filled argument because underneath the words we say out-loud is the heart-cry “I want you to understand me.  I want you to know me and still accept me. I want to feel more connected and in-sync with

Angry, yawning, or both?

Do you hear me?

you.”

Does that resonate with anyone else?  I see it so clearly now in our arguments.  I feel most hurt when I feel Ed is speaking or acting without knowing me.  I want him to have paid such close attention to our conversations that he will automatically know how I’ll respond.  If I were to hazard a guess, Ed loses patience when he feels we’re not working as a team, and when I can’t respect or anticipate what he is wanting for our relationship in that moment.

Bottom line:  We humans are designed to love each other.  Fighting to get close is just part of how we love!  I truly believe that now.  So if all couples, friends, family members fight, what’s the game changer?  That you stay to finish the fight.  Don’t just walk away, or emotionally shut down.  It’s harder to stay in the battle, to keep re-explaining, to patiently listen, to concede a point or two…but when you stay in the

At the military ball...loving our time together

At the military ball…loving our time together

battle, you will ultimately win the war.  And winning in the Love war means a a lasting victory that is sweet to the soul.

A Year for Love

What is...

What is…

It was just over 1 year ago, sometime last spring, when I started desperately praying to God to show me what “love” was.  I felt like every love I had encountered came with conditions, wanted me to change, or didn’t actually find joy in me as a person.  I feel like our generation has no concept of how the verb “love” plays itself out once the noun “love” is claimed to be possessed.

 “Love you!”  “I’m totally in love with your shoes”, and “Dude, you brought wings?  I love you!”  have somehow diluted the concept and I was completely and unashamedly searching for what LOVE should actually look like.   How could I, as a friend, daughter, pastor, and maybe one day wife or mother, ever show love to others if I didn’t understand it myself?

Well, God has been answering that prayer…and I mean Answering! 540920_575454823370_1655214684_n I never in my wildest dreams imagined that God would choose to show me an example of His deep love for me, by sending Edward into my life.  I was just expecting some type of text-book definition to appear in my mind and then I could explain that to people.  But here are some things about True Love, Christ-like love, that I have learned this year.

  1. Love is a choice
  2. Love is an overwhelming and undeniable 
  3. Love sees the very best in you, even when your actions don’t show it
  4. Love hurts
  5. Love heals
  6. Love sees the future with hope and a smile
  7. Love forgives easily
  8. Love challenges what feels wrong
  9. Love fights for what is right
  10. Love tells you who you are on the inside
  11. Love brings out your best
  12. Love shows you your worst
  13. Love makes you choose the high-ground to keep it
  14. Love takes delight in every little detail of you

I’m so blessed and fortunate that I get to live this experience with Edward Rishi Szall.  I know he must be hand picked because no one else could be this tailor made for me.  We gush, we challenge, we affirm, we debate, we cry (or I do),  and we marvel at all that this life has to offer.  He reminds me of who I want to be.  Praise the Lord.