now is the winter of our discontent

It has been a long winter.

I feel selfish saying that, because others have surely had winters longer and more difficult than mine. Mine has been a winter of first-world problems. Two rounds of the stomach flu went through our family. Kids have had the usual colds. And I’ve been sick with non-stop congestion of some sort since late January. (Hello, third round of antibiotics.) But we are all here, we are all alive, and in the grand scheme of things I have no complaints.

And yet…

I feel weary. Bone-weary. Tired of the rat race. I love all the things I do, and yet I wish I could just be still for awhile. I wish I felt like I had time to do something fun with my girls. I wish there was space for a dance or music class or something more than the hurry from daycare-to-dinner-to-bed. Saturday and Sunday are for exhaustion and recovery, with no energy for adventures.

Granted, it all looks worse when I’m sick. Round 3 of meds made me so sick to my stomach this morning that I ended up staying home from school. I’m in a low spot of depression and anxiety. Today is not a good day to make decisions.

And yet…

Are my feelings and thoughts only valid when I’m strong? Do I only make good choices when I’m operating outside of anxiety mode? Or does the weakness help me see what’s really important?

Image result for shauna niequist quotes

Image result for shauna niequist quotes

 

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my sister told me to write this post.

The funk.

Y’all with me?

Nothing is “wrong”, per se, but things just feel… off. Like at any moment I might teeter over the edge and be swallowed up in a canyon of anxiety or depression. Which is why, earlier this afternoon, I found myself asking my best friends – my sisters – what to do to try to get out of the dreaded FUNK before it was too late.

Image result for anxiety stay away meme

And so here we are.

My first thought was to go somewhere, like a coffee establishment, to write. While there are many Starbucks (Starbucksen? Starbucksi?) close by, the closest are all of the “Starbucks in the grocery store” variety. My options: Meijer, Family Fare, and Target. All fine stores, but let’s be real here.

Image result for mom target meme

So the Target-bucks it was.

However…

I had to stop at home to get my Chromebook. Which meant I had to let Duke out. Which meant I saw the disastrous state of my kitchen and the half-finished load of laundry in my room.

And so here I am, sitting in a somewhat cleaner kitchen, with a shot of decaf from our espresso maker, waiting to hear the “ding dong ding dong” of the washer when the cycle is complete. And then it’s off to daycare pickup, and then on to mommy time for the rest of the night. Or at least until the girls are in bed.

Did I get myself away from the edge? I hope so.

the unbearable heaviness of being

I wrote this quite awhile ago, but never posted it. It’s still true, so here it is.

Sometimes there is just too much.

Too much pain, suffering, sadness. Too much that is unfair. Too much that hits too close to home. Too much fear.

Why are things the way they are?

Oh, sure, I know the Sunday school answers. But those aren’t cutting it today.

I am a jumbled mess of sorrow and anxiety. Why are these things happening to these people? And what’s to say I won’t be next? Whether it’s me or someone close to me, it’s become painfully clear that no one is safe from the horrors of life.

Somewhere inside me is the knowledge that God is still in control, a seed of faith buried underneath a mountain of doubt.

I alternate between a fiery desire to live fully every moment I’m given and a crippling sense of futility that makes me want to pull the covers over my head and give up on it all.

I gave in, and admitted that God was God.

-C. S. Lewis

 

detroit 

I wrote this last summer, but apparently never posted it. So here it is…

Aaron and I have given up on giving each other birthday gifts because a) we don’t need more stuff and b) we stink at actually going out and buying gifts. So we’ve decided that in lieu of gifts, each year we will head to Detroit for a Tigers game and an overnight stay.

Detroit, of course, is a city that needs no introduction. Anyone – anyone who doesn’t know the city, that is – will likely tell you that it’s an awful place. If you’ve been there, you know how wrong that assessment is.

We started our day at St. John’s Episcopal Church, with the sole purpose of enjoying the organ playing of Dr. Lewis, my college organ teacher. (Shout out to all my Hope peeps who survived Theory II and Senior Seminar with Uncle Huw. Here’s hoping your homework doesn’t have a fanged smiley face on it.) Figuring out a new church can be difficult when it’s within your own denomination, so asking a couple of lifelong protestants to be Episcopal for the day was a little intimidating. But we were greeted warmly, shown the best place to sit to see the organ, and if anyone was offended by our cluelessness, they certainly didn’t show it.

After the service, Dr. Lewis told us about the history of the church and introduced us to several people. And, honest to goodness, the altar guild (I hope I have that right) gifted us the day’s flowers. (Here they are!)


I got my pat on the ego for the day when Dr. Lewis introduced me as his student and explained to others how I had won Hope’s concerto competition on multiple instruments. (There is no affirmation quite like the positive words of a teacher you respect.) After some continued fellowship at the church coffee hour, we were on our way.

After the game (a pathetic loss), we headed to La Lanterna for dinner. We ended up having an extended conversation with the couple seated next to us – a pair probably about our parents’ age. She is a retired kindergarten teacher; he worked in the auto industry and then in higher education. (Side note for Hope folks: they live across the street from Paul Schaap – as in the science building. !!!) They finished their meal first; as they stood to leave, they shared heartfelt words of thanks for our work as teachers. We ordered dessert, and then prepared to pay the bill. It felt like a Facebook cliche when the bill arrived and it was only for the cost of dessert, because – as we found out from our waiter – our table neighbors had paid for our meal.

Detroit. It’s an amazing place.

sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon.

We meet again.

You always fill me with unspeakable dread. This week more so than usual.

A big event at school that feels scary – I’m afraid of failure, of embarrassment.

And politics… Oh, politics. The state government is trying to pass so many awful pieces of legislation that time prohibits my naming them all.

Last week I was angry. Upset. Fired up. But that was when there was only one issue to fight for. Now there are

SO.

MANY.

If I called my legislators for each issue individually, I would not have time to go to work. And, well, that’s not an option, particularly given the aforementioned anxiety about school.

I love Jess’s description of the end of the semester. I know the point she’s talking about – where you abandon everything and cling to the shimmering Christmas tree, the promise of joyful time with family, and the hope of a fresh start in the new year. Another week, and I’ll be there, too.

At least, I hope so.

It is hard to have hope for the new year in our current political state. It seems that the country has collectively lost its mind, and our state is doing no better. I’m sure I’m driving all of Facebook crazy, in particular any political conservatives. (Who haven’t unfriended me yet…. Ha.) But how can I stay silent in the face of what’s happening? I want to run out right now and yell, to anyone who will listen, “WHAT. IS. WRONG. WITH. THE. WORLD?!?!”

There is a beautiful dusting of snow falling. It brings back memories of childhood Christmases, candlelight services at RRC, everything tinged with the special fuzzy camera lens (a la South Pacific) of nostalgia. It is trying to trick my brain into believing that everything is fine, that I can sit back, relax, trust…

But I can’t.

I just can’t.

The snow is only an illusion. These are not the shimmery flakes of beautiful memories. These are the cold, hard ice crystals of Narnia’s Wicked Witch.

Our world is frozen by our own hatred and ignorance.

We need Aslan.

I need Aslan.

courage2

free write – 18 minutes

Where to begin….

Do you ever second-guess your entire life? Please tell me I’m not the only one. Some days everything seems like a great idea – fantastic – couldn’t be better – and some days everything seems all wrong – a big mistake – what the $(#*& am I doing?

I ended up here more or less by accident. I chose my major because I didn’t like doing homework for my other classes. I interviewed for one job. And here I am. Yes, this is an oversimplification, and there have been many decisions made along the way, and yes God has a purpose, blah blah blah… But sometimes I wonder if it would be easier – better? – if I had felt some CALLING, some magical something that pulled and tugged and told me THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.

I remember struggling with this idea in college, mostly because I always felt that eventually I’d have to focus on one instrument. (Lo and behold, here I am still playing all three and then some.) The older I get, the more I try to understand the necessity of being CALLED to whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time, even if it isn’t mystical or magical.

(Side note: Maybe if we all chose our majors/careers/whatever by pulling swords from various stones? Just a thought.)

When I feel anxious or inadequate or hurt or afraid, my brain tells me that I’d be better off if I was doing something different. If I had a different job, or if I didn’t work at all. The urge is so powerful, so overwhelming at times, that it’s hard to separate a true need – a true CALLING – for change from the voice of my anxiety, whispering that things would be better, I’d feel less anxious, IF ONLY I would do X…

Ah, anxiety. My old friend. The name of this demon should be LEGION, for they are many.

  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of not being good enough.
  • Worry about what others think.
  • Worry about the “right” thing to do.
  • Fear of looking stupid.
  • Fear of being made fun of.
  • Fear of not being liked.
  • Worry about the future.
  • Worry about the past.
  • Worry about the present.
  • Worry about pretty much everything.

You get the idea.

For the longest time, I had no idea that anxiety – ANXIETY – was a thing. A thing that could be treated with counseling and medication. Anxiety’s tendrils reach throughout my family tree, and so I just assumed this was how everyone lived their life.

Anxiety doesn’t rule me.

Usually.

Days like today, returning to work after time off, looking at what comes ahead… Anxiety is a much more difficult foe.

(Right now it is telling me to stop typing, because this really isn’t very good writing, and I know I’m capable of better. The grammar police are going to get me. All my English teachers would be horrified at the atrocious form, structure, and syntax of this pile of word vomit.)

So now what? I really don’t know. I thought this was going somewhere when I started, but I think I’ve talked myself in a circle, and I only have a minute left before my self-imposed end time.

I guess I trust that even in the uncertainty, God can use me for something. He’s got a history of using broken people to do great things.

Good luck this week, Sisters. I love you!

You guys. I did the thing.

Dear Sisters,

People used to ask me if I was a runner. Apparently because all tall, slim people must run? I don’t know. Anyway, I am definitely not a runner. I hate running. What do I like? I like to bike, although I do it very seldom and for very short distances. I like to rollerblade, but my ‘blades haven’t seen the light of day in several years. (The level of dust covering the skate bag is rather impressive.) And, as we already discussed, I am learning to love my new mom-bod. But… I also know that I need to be more active somehow, as my current exercise regimen is…um…I don’t have one. And although I don’t mind weighing 10-15 lbs more than I used to, I would like to improve my soggy mid-section. It’s not just an appearance thing; two pregnancies have done a number on the muscles in that whole region, and I’d like to get them back working again. I have also struggled for a long time with maintaining good posture, and I’ve also got major muscle tension in my neck and back.

Enter: The MuTu System. A 12-week program led by a cheerful British lady that’s supposed to be just the ticket for folks like me. Today was Day 1. Will I make it all the way through all 12 weeks?? Here’s hoping.

Gotta go… Duty calls.  (Mama’s coming, Nataboo!)

Sara