But If Not, He is Still Good

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So there’s a lot happening right now.
It’s a grab bag of happy and not-so-happy things.

I’ve been dealing with edema on one side of my leg for nearly a month. The crazy thing is this could point to really crazy things like kidney/heart issues or a blood clot. Or it could be nothing. I’m taking it seriously and spent last week and today getting some tests done to rule out things like deep vein thrombosis.

Friday afternoon, I somewhat grudgingly coughed up a couple hundred dollars to get an ultrasound done of my leg. I couldn’t see the screen or understand what the beeps and sounds meant as the medical staff moved their wand all around my leg. In that moment I felt a bit helpless and scared. I closed my eyes and prayed and tried to acknowledge to God I knew he was in control and if there was something there (like a blood clot) that it was His will for me and I’d accept that. More like I prayed that several times until my mind and heart were at the same place.

Today I woke up extra early to get a blood panel drawn to help rule other things out. I was there an hour before work started. Did I get done in time to clock in at start time? Nope. One hour and a half. That’s how long it took to get my blood drawn. And with a baby needle.

But I emailed HR from the waiting room and told them my situation and they said do not worry. Just like when a simple doctor visit last week turned into needing more time off for imaging. They have been so understanding. God is helping me in the details.

My brother is still suffering from his brain injury.
My newborn nephew is still needing to gain weight to get back to his birth weight.
My SIL is dealing with healing from birth, a newborn, and a husband with a brain injury.
And who knows what my health issue is.

One of my old church acquaintance’s husband is dealing with cancer right now. He went to the doctor to discuss migraines and found out it was much more than a migraine and is now in treatment for cancer. They have a friend who made bracelets to help raise some money and remind people to pray for him and the family. On it is stamped, “But if not He is still good.” It is not a direct phrase from scripture but is a coined rephrasing from a passage in Daniel.

Last night I picked up that bracelet I bought and meditated on the words and also prayed for them. Do I believe those words? I’m learning to. I’m learning to say despite circumstances, I can see He is still good. That His plans may not make sense to me. But I can trust and acknowledge His goodness even in hard times. Even in the if nots.

You’re already so loved.

Part of my goals for today is spread this beautiful message by Sarah Bessey.

Please do take a moment to read it. Please take a moment to process the words. Please take a moment to consider how loved you are no matter your circumstances.

Unsolicited Comments : Mark It as Spam

We’ve all gotten comments and opinions we never asked for or invited. Things like:

“Oh, you started working again? I guess your husband’s income isn’t cutting it.”

“Your body may not be ideal but at least you’ve got a beautiful face.”

“It must be exhausting having a downs child.”

“You’re so skinny. I wish I could eat anything and not gain weight.”

“I can’t believe you still use the microwave. It causes cancer.”

Think of these messages of ignorance and stupidity as flagged messages in your inbox and send them to the spam folder.

Do we open messages in our spam folder? No, because based on the subject line, we know the content may be harmful or that the message is meaningless to us.

In that same line of thinking, I’ve been relating it to the unsolicited comments I’ve received in real life. It sucks that sometimes these comments are said by people close to us, but the fact is their comment doesn’t do any good. Before letting a hurtful comment fester – giving time to internalize their words, and opening myself up to their message, I simply sort it to spam. The real life version of “unsubscribe” is to respectfully tell them that topic is off limits, what they said was rude, or brush it off by changing the subject.

Don’t open their loaded email. Don’t let their words ruin your day or get you down. Treat spam as spam: delete. Keep your inbox for what makes you feel good and builds you as a person. Don’t let messages that don’t fit that filter ruin the good stuff.

As a rule of thumb, I also sort gossip to junk mail. Bye bye, BS.

 

Dad and Daughter Time

I feel like growing up, my family kind of divided stuff. I went on outings with my mom, and my brother did stuff with my dad. I was homeschooled by him for a majority of my primary education so it’s not like he wasn’t around or we weren’t close. In fact, he was the relaxed parent and so Nate and I loved spending time with Dad (and sometimes conning him into our shenanigans.) But it seems like once college hit I just kind of let our relationship coast. My brother spent a lot of time with Dad and I figured it was just like when were were growing up.

Now that Dad’s been retired for over a decade, his mannerisms are very routine and sometimes scarily robotic. Like, I could guess that this morning he had a cup of cereal mixed with a single serve container of yogurt and drank coffee black with sweetener. And that by now, he’s probably been to the weather channel to see what kind of conditions our loved ones and friends in other states are being subjected to. I can tell you that around 5pm-6pm the TV is vouched for because it’s time for him to watch the local news. I can tell you that after dinner he hunches over the computer with a pair of headphones watching an episode or two of Netflix. And sometimes, that robotic also includes his interaction or lack thereof with family members. He does his own thing almost like no one else is around. It really bothered me when I moved out. I expected my family to pay some dang attention to me when I was over and made the time to be present, but usually my mom was chatting on the phone or busy cooking and my dad would say hi and go back to his regularly scheduled program.  I know he isn’t aware of this, but for years, I just decided it wasn’t worth it to change anything. Until a few years ago when I realized time is precious. And this year, when my uncle who is only months older passed away.

I feel like this is an area I fail a lot. Sometimes I am cruel to my dad. I hate to say that but it’s true. I don’t know if I feel mentally superior or entitled or that he doesn’t understand me…but it’s not good. Just this past week, in a rush to work, I told him it was worthless for him to wake up and make coffee 15 minutes before I run to work because 70% of the time I’m already about to run out of the door and he’s in my way. What the hell. That was not okay. But it came out. And this week after I made that poor comment, he has slept in and there is no coffee made and no one to share breakfast with. He has poor hearing and sometimes replies yes or uh-huh without letting me know he didn’t hear me. Sometimes he doesn’t hear right and that causes issues too. So yeah, I am sometimes short fused and repeat things until I’m yelling.

Despite some short comings this week, I willed to spend more intentional time with him because my mom was out of town. I proposed a dad and daughter date. We went out to dinner on Wednesday and I felt like what I was able to say was just small talk and felt awkward. But I could tell like all loving parents he was so happy to have me instigate a dad and daughter date. I asked him if he wanted to grab dinner and watch something in theaters. I let him pick the restaurant and movie. By the time I opened the door that afternoon he was ready to go and reminded me several times of the time in anticipation to start our night out. Even though we only small talked it was still nice and he enjoyed both the dinner and the movie we went to see.

Yesterday we also had dinner together and watched it while his 6pm news segment was on. Plates in hand in the living room, watching channel 5 news. We didn’t say much but he enjoyed the food and complimented it several times and was smiling.

I think I’ve learned two things this week. Maybe three. First of all, this intentional relationship thing is harder than I thought and I kind of stink at it. But, two, my dad enjoyed it and saw that I was trying. I think I need to accept that I’m a complex thinker and a very different and sensitive personality type and my dad is not. He’s a very simple, enjoy life and the small things kind of guy. He’s practical and on the range of emotional empathy scores very average while I over analyze everything. If I can remember this and not try to expect too many social cues and responses I think it’ll help me. My mom is more like me, more complex, very sensitive to others reactions and emotions, and reacts more to compliments and general comments. I’ve spent a lot of time appreciating that and not enough time appreciating the benefits of my dad’s personality and personhood. It’s that personality that still got excited for a dad and daughter date the day after his daughter complained about his small act of love of getting up earlier than he likes to make coffee for both of us. The personality who said nothing in response though he has the right to as I ran out the door. The one who selflessly tried several times to let me pick the dinner spot and movie because he wanted me to enjoy it. The one who smiled ear to ear as I walked in after work on Wednesday knowing he’d be spending the whole afternoon with me. ❤

Vitality Corner

I’ve done a few big projects to make my room a sanctuary and here’s a project I’d like to complete next: a vitality corner of encouraging quotes and pictures and many plants.

plant-leaves

I would call it a vitality shrine but some would take offense to that because of the religious connotations people assume with the word ‘shrine.’ It’s not religious in an idolatrous way, but it is reflective and meditative.

I want to use green plants as a reminder of all the things I want to be: 

– I want to bloom as I prepare myself emotionally, financially, and physically for mid-life. 

– I want to reach new heights.

– I want to seek the light even if I must bend and outstretch in one direction towards it. 

– I want to nourish my body with good healthy food and kindness so that my radiant outside reflects a well fed and cared inside. 

– I want to be growing in Christ. I feel tingling in my roots and hope to know and experience even more foundational truths about my God and our relationship. I need to be reminded that what I soak up in my roots helps me react to the world around me and feeds me substance.

– I want to prune and throw away the bad parts so that I can focus on what’s important and not feel inhibited. 

– I want to remember as I’m tending them that people who love me are tending me and to love them back fiercely with that devotion. 

– Like photosynthesis, I want to use good energy to fuel me and have that process produce beneficial things for my environment. 

– My assortment of plants may all look different and need different types of tending and soil environments for best performance, but they all work together to be beautiful although they are diverse. Similarly, I want to see my strengths and weaknesses more bigger picture and know that what I have works together to do even more good collectively.  I want to remember not to judge someone for not having similar outlooks, interests, faith, or personalities, but find ways to admire them and encourage our growth and relationships.

– Like potted plants, I want to accept help when I can’t get what I need from my limited resources. Plants need fertilizer, and I need other people’s wisdom, encouragement, and experiences to help feed me. I may need coaching, programs, and therapy to help me reach my potential at different times in my life and shouldn’t be afraid of needing these resources.

I think just a few years ago I would have thought this notion was silly, but perhaps that is a sign I’ve grown. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Does Anyone Have it All Together?

You’ve heard it before: “They seem to have it all together.”

That person looks like they are the model citizen – someone to aim to be like in most if not all ways. They’re rational, inspirational, well-rounded, innovative, and just seem to have everything going in their favor. From what we can see, through our rose colored glasses, their life is envious. We examine our own lives and beat ourselves over where we think we fall short in terms of personal or societal expectations.

Does anyone have it all together?

The high school sweethearts are finally married and have a love story that would compel Nicholas Sparks to turn it into a novel. They never expected their small combined income would cause them to move thousands of miles away from where they grew up and desperately miss all their family and friends. And still, they are scraping by.

The successful businessman is at every charity, well loved, and the social media pictures of his lavish vacations with his family cause much envy. Little do they know his 80+ hour work weeks leave him worn and give little time to make memories with loved ones. He treats them all to summer vacation splendors to reconnect and thank them for understanding. Sometimes he wishes he could trade the success for time, but knows he is able to provide a future and financial legacy if he just stays the course.

The budding millionaire has three innovative patents that have enabled her to “get rich quick”.  Growing up with little, her head is spinning when thinking about investments and managing her expanding wealth. Friends and relatives she never figured would leech are pressuring her for loans and pricey gifts and dinners. She is making waves and ready to date after spending years developing her products. But now, she isn’t sure if the suitors are wanting to get to know her or more about the patents or figures.

The county’s brightest student is off to an Ivy League – but his ultimate goal is to be a minister. His family and teachers desperately want to see those smarts equal a high profile job. He wants to do what is on his heart and is passionate about his dreams.

The grace and beauty of her small town is as lovely inside as she is outside. She has looks, smarts, and heart, and is complimented all the time on all three. Even though she is praised often, some jealous individuals try to make life difficult for her just because of her beauty. They are downright rude and constantly looking for flaws to make her seem less perfect. For all the good they have to say, they jab her with remarks about nearing the end of fertility, wasting her looks not thinking about making progeny, and scratching their heads about why with all that she has going for her she can’t “get a man.” They don’t understand the personal standards she has committed to and why she is cautious. She can’t tell them about all the times men have tried to pursue her only to be a notch in their belt or for less than savory intentions, about how she has to be extra careful because her beauty sometimes means unwanted predicaments. They would think she was full of herself to say such things.

No one has it all together. For all the steps we take forward, we encounter new obstacles. Our timelines are unique. There isn’t an ideal for everyone. Our milestones are ours to make, and were never meant to be compared. Just because someone’s struggles seem smaller doesn’t mean it doesn’t takes less out of them. When we pretend others have it all together, we only take the joy out of our lives by pining for something we only see through a lens.

I can choose to look around and feel like I’ve fallen short, or I can choose to look at my own path and see how far I’ve come.

My victories are no less victorious. My struggles are no less real. My journey is mine to take. I’m not going to assume that I, or others, will ever have it all together. Life is happy, sad, joyful, messy, hard, rewarding, sweet, and stressful. Life is not multiple choice, it’s essays. I was never meant to try to glance at others #2 graphite lead filled bubbles and try to copy. I was meant to write my heart out and try my personal best. Just like school days, you finish the last sentence and turn it and sigh deeply. It was hard, but you did what you could with what you knew and the resources you were given. And that’s the same for everyone.

“It’s your body.”

I’m a people pleaser by nature and I also like getting feedback from people I trust and that know my fashion sense. The trouble with online shopping is imagining something on myself while looking at a picture of a size 12 modeling the dress – which fits her beautifully at a size 12 but may not work for my size 20 body type. Sure, I know what I look like in a mirror, but I may not notice that well how a fabric settles on me, or you know, deceive myself by unconsciously sucking it in while I try it on.

While I would never dress FOR my boyfriend [an in, exclusively to please him, or have him control what I wear], I do like asking his opinion especially for things I might wear on a date night with him. Other times, I’ll send him super ridiculous pictures of piercings, haircuts, or fashion statements, just in jest.

More often than not, his reply, first and foremost, is “It’s your body” or “That’s your choice.”

I shouldn’t be surprised by it, but I am every time. That’s the right answer, after all, even if it seems like an easy way out. It’s the best thing he could tell me. Sometimes he follows it up with a comment but sometimes he just stops there.

The only thing he really feels strongly about is my long hair. I get in moods where I want to chop it all off and when I mention a style change he says the same things above, then gently adds, “But I truly love your hair long.” or “Please don’t go too short?”

He doesn’t really identify or put labels on himself unless they are ‘Huge Wrestling Fan’ or ‘Los Angeles Kings Hockey Fan’ so I don’t think he makes it a big deal, but I see it.

I see the whisper of feminism there. Without it being formally mentioned. 

I am so appreciative of his support and love and that he wisely reminds me my decisions are mine. I try my best to likewise consider ways to lift him up and not put gender stereotypical pressures of being “manly” on him. He is a man. He is therefore, manly. He is a larger body type too, and I am working on complimenting his confidence with gifts of well-fitting apparel and appreciating his dress. He’s not a big shopper but I hope that the next time he asks for advice I can readily say as he does, “It’s your body”; “That’s your choice.”

Heavier Than Ever. Literally.

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This has been a rough end of the year. I’ve had many good things come out of it and can’t say there hasn’t been happy times, but overall? Rough.

Moving.
New Commitments.
Depression and Anxiety.

I can’t use these things as excuses, but I can say they’ve played a part.

I have a big confession.

I’m the heaviest weight I’ve ever been my whole life. And I’ve given into emotional eating the last few months.

I’ve got to change. And not half-heartedly. This is an all time high for weight and emotionally an all time self-esteem low.

I got invited to a 10 week challenge and I can’t even do it. I can’t take a picture of my weight where it is. Even if it’s only that person knowing where I started.

I need to sit down with my household and let them know I can’t keep going on like this. I need their encouragement and accountability.  I need to schedule time to make food on the weekends and during the week. I need to define a workout schedule too.  And I need to be true to my desires and ACT on exercise and eating right rather than just acknowledging it.

First Ideal Goal: 28 pounds by my birthday in February.

That gives me 7 weeks. That means 4 pounds a week. Probably not ideal for long term loss as the aim should be 2ish pounds a week and I lose slow anyway. But I know I have some holiday and carb weight that should drop fairly easily (about 10 pounds) and will figure a tapering after that.

I don’t want to seem like a hypocrite. I don’t want to share health advice and seem like I’m doing great when I’m not. But I do know better and need to follow what I know is good for me.

Milestones and Ages

Last week my painting instructor congratulated me on my birthday and added how I am “smart” and have accomplished quite a bit. She also mentioned that it was smart to hold off on being married and starting a family. She expressed how she loved that time of her life and would never feel bad for having her children early, but how she had been quick to marry her first husband.

I could tell by how she said it that she meant well, and so I politely said thank you. But I also made sure to tell her that I feel we hit milestones at different times, and shouldn’t feel like age is one of the biggest factors for life experiences and quality of life.

What I didn’t tell her is that I have never been the gal that boys made eyes at, or who pined for a relationship and plastered teen heartthrobs on my wall. I didn’t have a high school sweetheart, and I managed to get through college without a proposal. That opportunity for me to marry “young” never existed! And if it did, who’s to say I wouldn’t have changed the course of my life if I felt it was right?

I’m in a lovely relationship but while we have discussed future plans from time to time, marriage is not in our near future. My younger brother though, is months away from walking down the aisle. Should I feel jealous? Should I envy that he beat me to that milestone? Of course not!

We make our own milestones, and in our own time. That’s what makes them most memorable. If I compare my life to someone else’s I rob the joys of my personal plans and pursuits. Milestones are not mandatory objectives, they are moments we get to cherish as we go through life. 🙂

-Laura

Room for Improvement

Back when Borders Book Stores (RIP 😥 ) were around I couldn’t understand why the self help and improvement area stretched so far. What kind of people need business help and personal improvement and are so desperate they need to buy other people’s advice?

Well, tack on a decade of maturity and some humble pie and that person now includes me! I WANT to consider others’ advice, and I WANT to better myself. I recently started reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book “The Best Yes” because one of my resolutions this year is to be more purposeful with my time and commitments.

Book review coming soon!

Have you delved into the world of self-improvement books? I’d love recommendations.