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

4 Minutes of Focus

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

social-media-multi-tasking

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Tuesday friends!

~Morgen

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

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love my Husband

Image

Hey friends and followers!  Team RZ is “celebrating” it’s 2nd Valentine’s as a couple, and 1st as newlyweds.  We all know relationships – especially marriages – are tough.  But today, regardless of what our spouses do or don’t do, I choose to celebrate by remembering the best things.  I choose to convey my love the best way I know how…via blog!  So maybe some of you can relate, but set the complaints aside for a moment, and remember your beau is made in a Heavenly image…and join in the count-down with me.

10.  Reason why I love my husband – He saved a man from a burning car last summer.  To be honest, I totally forgot about this, (wait, don’t gasp, I have a horrible memory!), and he never brings it up.  But he had his review the other day, and it came up because he was in uniform when it happened.  He was driving home, saw the car in trouble, broke the the window, climbed in, and pulled the guy to safety.  Then he administered first aid and waited until the pediatrics came.  I don’t love the fact that my hubby did this crazy scary thing… I love that it’s in his nature to just help people.  He is never too busy, or cool, or sure someone else will, he just stops and does what needs to be done.  I’ve learned a lot from watching him.

9.  Reason why I love my husband – He is a life-long learner.  One of the first ways we bonded was sharing articles while he was in Germany, then reading and sharing our thoughts with each other.  He always wants to learn something new – he listens to podcasts as he bikes to work, reads books while waiting on people, prints articles he finds online, and sometimes calls me just to tell me about something interesting he learned in class that day.  I get exhausted from just a smidgen of that information – but he just hungrily eats it up, and passes it along to anyone who will listen.

8.  Reason 8 why I love my husband – he goes after what he wants.  That’s why we are together – he made up his mind that he wanted me, and we made it work from different continents, time zones, beliefs, and careers.  I find very few men that are willing to make sacrifices for relationships anymore…and he was so dedicated from the start!  As he often tells me, “you never stood a chance!”  It’s not just me by any means – when he wants to accomplish something, once it’s decided, he just does it.  Marathons, promotions, special forces, school, our home…now the trick is, he has to decide.  It doesn’t work if I just ask him to do something.  Oh wait, only good things!

7.  Reason why I love my husband – He keeps me focused on God.  It’s true, sometimes I’m a bit self-centered, or get distracted from what we were put on earth to do.  He keeps me on track, sometimes without even realizing it.  Sometimes, he’ll directly say to me, “baby, we need to pray!”, sometimes, I see something in him that reminds me he was fearfully and wonderfully made, sometimes, I get upset and don’t understand, and end up on my knees seeking wisdom from the Father.  One way or another, this man has stretched my faith more than I ever thought possible.

Image

6.  Reason why I love my husband – He’s hott.  Sorry ya’ll, that’s just the simple truth.  He’s a good looking man, and when he comes home at the end of the day, I think, “Wow, he’s yummy!  And he chose me!!”  And that’s all I’ll say here…  

5.  Reason why I love my husband – He supports me.  Sometimes, to a fault.  Whether it’s a business idea, a friendship, and goal, a dream, he always supports me.  He put it in the vows he wrote to me, and reminds me often that we are a team.  If it’s important to me, he’s going to help me get there.

4.  Reason why I love my husband – He’s a warrior.  He fights evil, seen or unseen every day.  We talk a lot about spiritual warfare in our house, we believe that just as God is so good and full of love, that there is an Enemy full of evil and pain.  So whatever form that evil takes, my love is ready to do battle.  On a more personal note, I worry sometimes that he will never truly feel peace.  He has been a solider for 6 years, most of his adult life.  He’s seen enough action to know that the bad guys are real, and too close for comfort sometimes. I pray often that our home would be a place where he can rest – even just for a moment before heading back into the fray.

3.  Reason why I love my husband He’s so silly!!!  Sometimes we just get the giggles and can’t stop.  I’ve never laughed so easily WITH someone.  You know how a lot of times, the laughter between people is at one person’s expense?  Or one person thinks it’s funnier than all the rest?  Not with him, when I start laughing, he’s right there with me.  And when he’s causing my laughter, I can’t stop!  We sing in the car, tickle each other, and make goofy noises and voices.  I think, (well, this is the German in me), that being silly with someone is more vulnerable than just about anything else.  It’s a form of intimacy just like the deep emotions, and physical touch.  I love his smile, and love when we laugh together.

2.  Reason why I love my husband – He is going to make a great dad.  I have not always been on the “I need a kid” band wagon – many of you know this.  However, when I see my hubby in action every day, I think, this man DESERVES to have kids.  He should have a little mini version of him that he can teach and love and train up in the world.  I see how tender he is with other peoples kids, or our dogs, I hear how deeply convicted he is about right and wrong, about caring for others, and I think, dear God, may we have children JUST SO THAT he can be their father.  Lord knows, if I’m their mother, they’ll need all the help they can get.

1.  And, the #1 Reason why I love my husband is.…because I choose to.  I figured out long before I ever met this guy that Love is a choice.  How so?  Because it’s an action.  The feelings ebb and flow with our sleep patterns and the other person’s behavior, but our actions don’t need to.  So when I first told him I loved him, I meant it.  I had fallen, and decided to stay.  Regardless of what the future held, I decided I was going to love him like Jesus as best I could – even if that meant us not being together.  But it was in God’s plan for us to be together…so on Nov. 2, I stood up in front of family and friends, and promised God that I would love this man for the rest of my life.  And so, I do.