things (people) i love thursday! (april 25, 2013)

This week is our last week at our church so I’ve done a lot of crying. I don’t really have any other words to say about this week (it really has kind of sucked) so this TILT will be kind of short. But also kind of personal.

embaptism_1

PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE ME SMILE AT SOME POINT BUT WILL LIKELY ALSO MAKE ME CRY THIS WEEK:

  • Dan.
  • Dax.
  • Eric.
  • Emily.
  • Shana.
  • Levi.
  • Lori.
  • Savannah.
  • Beka.
  • Ashley.
  • Evan.
  • Suzanne.
  • Libby.
  • Rori.
  • Sydney.
  • Sarah(s).
  • Zack(s).
  • Sammie.
  • Kelby.
  • Kyle.
  • Liz.
  • Hannah.
  • Karen.
  • Mary.
  • Lindsey.
  • Hookers.
  • Caleb.
  • Nora.
  • All the students/leaders in E3SM.
  • All the kids in E3Kids.
  • Everyone else at E3.

And I have to stop because I’m crying in my cubicle. See you all Sunday. One last time.

exile, nineveh, and the promised land.

Dan and I both have been offered jobs somewhere. And we have accepted them. In a couple weeks, we are leaving Tallahassee. I’m sorry for the vagueness but my compulsion to blog is way too strong to ignore, despite still being in that weird limbo state of Am I allowed to say anything? Do all the right people know yet? Is it okay for me to put this on the Internet without offending someone or, worse, getting someone fired? 

Since I don’t know the answers to all of those questions yet, I’ll be brief about the details for now. But what I will say is this:

  • Where we are going is somewhere neither of us ever dreamed we’d go. It’s also not central Florida like we’d originally planned.
  • The jobs we have taken are not jobs we could have secured ourselves. They are jobs that, without getting too spiritual on you, were definitely divinely gifted to us.
  • The place we’re going starts with the same letter as Nineveh which makes me LOL because I’m still 100% Jonah. (Side note: this place, however, is NOTHING LIKE NINEVEH. I REPEAT. NOTHING. At least, not as far as I could tell when we visited. There may be big fish, though, within an uncomfortable proximity.)

Yesterday at church — a community in which I’ve served, grown, and transformed over the past nine years — I sat, surrounded by a handful of my friends, and listened as my pastor (and dear, dear friend) gave a simultaneously hope-filled and despairing message on what it means to be in exile. That is, what it means to have everything you know about life completely change in an instant. 

In just a couple weeks, that’s us. Everything we know about life is going to change in an instant. (Or, rather, in one long day of driving and unpacking.)

As Eric spoke, the walls started closing in on me. My chest tightened with unrelenting grief and, before he even hit his first point, the tears were flowing. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a mom now so I’m biologically wired to uncontrollably sob at anything, or if it’s because the reality that we are moving away was just too heavy, or if it was because hearing Eric’s voice in that building reminded me that soon I won’t be able to hear his voice in that building, or if it was because I’m Jonah, or if it was a combination of it all. But once the first tear fell, I couldn’t stop the rest of them from following. I just sat in that chair and cried for the better (worse?) part of an hour, mourning the loss of everything I know and trembling at the impending gain of exile.

But this “exile” isn’t bad. Dan and I wouldn’t have accepted these jobs if it were. It’s a HUGE blessing. I’ve no doubt that the manna will spring up in abundance while we are in this “wilderness”. But it is wilderness none the less. It is an unfamiliar place, devoid of the support network I’ve built up over the past decade.

And I am in mourning. Bad. 

The thing about exile, though, is that (again — sorry about the spiritual stuff) when you read the bible, both the Israelites and Jesus experienced exile before blessings. The first thing Jesus did after getting baptized was peace out for 40 days and listen to Satan say terrible things to him. And don’t get me started on the row the Israelites have hoed. Oy. I feel like the biggest toolbox for even trying to draw a connection to what they’ve been through.

All that to say, I bet if you could Google Maps it, or ask Siri how to get there, you’d find that you’ve got to go through the wilderness to get to the promised land.

So, bring it on, exile. And Nineveh. We’ve got work to do. (Also, bring it on Kleenex. You’ve got your work cut out for you.)

loss and gain.

It’s been hard to blog because my heart is on a roller coaster this week. One that I don’t think comes with safety harnesses. I’m alive in the euphoric highs of road trips with my little family and the prospect of new opportunities but, at the same time, a little bit too close to the plunging lows of death, destruction, and hatred.

This is one of those weeks I question my choice to bring a little boy into this world. 

I think he can sense it, too. The past few days he’s been exceptionally clingy to me. Last night, for the first time in a long time, his cries from his crib could only be quelled by me holding him close. It was one of those nights he sprang out of slumber with shrieks of fear or sadness or pain or something, and would basically fall back into lifeless dreams only once he was lifted into my arms and against my chest.

The first time I got him out, I just held him and looked at him. I could only hear the sweet sounds of his sleepy breaths and the fast drumbeats of my heart against my ribs, and I thought to myself, How am I going to protect him from the pain of loss — like that of the Boston marathon explosion, or that of losing the closeness of a family-like community because of relocating for a job, or that of being rejected by another person or organization — if I can’t hold him this close all the time?

Many of my dear friends are also experiencing their own losses — rejections from PhD programs, breakups, miscarriages, divorces, deaths of loved ones — and the pain is a heavy burden for all of us to bear sometimes. And I’m definitely feeling that this week, the reality of pain and loss, as well as the overwhelming desire to protect my little boy from ever experiencing it.

One thing that a lot of people have been doing in order to find comfort in the sadness this week is echoing a quote by Mister Rogers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

I’ve been trying to focus on this in a more abstract view. Finding the good in the evil. The joy in the sadness. The healing in the pain. And when I look into my little boy’s sweet eyes, I just have to cling to this. Because later, when he comes to me in pain, wishing something wasn’t a certain way, I have tell him something that I need to learn to believe myself. That is, only in hurting can we really learn to heal. Only in darkness do we feel the need to search for the light.

Only when we lose something do we have room in our lives to gain something. And, right now, when everything hurts and doesn’t make sense, that’s all I really know for sure.

three things i learned from counseling.

I just left my last counseling appointment.

Mind you, this is only my last counseling appointment in this season of life with this particular counselor. My counseling journey isn’t over, by any means. But for now, as of 5PM today, this chapter of my journey has come to a close.

So. What did I glean from the past few months of counseling? A couple things. Let me share them with you! Sharing is caring, after all… especially when mental health is at stake.

1. I am not broken.

I’ve written about this before, but it deserves a second mention because it is so important. A lot of people associate counseling or therapy with the notion that you are in need of “fixing”. Sometimes, I guess that could be the case. But for me, it isn’t. And hasn’t been. I am not broken. I just need help processing things in a constructive and objective way.

2. I’m pretty well adjusted even though, by all accounts, I shouldn’t be.

According to my counselor, my upbringing should have yielded me a permanent residence within an insane asylum with my very own padded room and straight-jacket wardrobe. However, in the words of Dr. Maki, I’m “really put together”. Holla at your healthy boo.

3. Being open and honest about what struggles I have has been a huge asset.

I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again — no one, including you, benefits from you hiding your hurts. Opening up about the things I’ve dealt with, to not only counselors but also mentors and friends, has been more effective in my growth and health than anything else. And yes, that includes medicinal treatment.

So. I’ll say it again. If you are considering counseling but are afraid of any stigmas attached, take it from me: do it. See a counselor. Invite an unbiased professional into your life to help walk you through what you’re going through. See how it changes you for the better!

Have you ever gone to see a counselor? How did it work out for you?

i am jonah.

If you’re like me and you grew up reading and listening to stories in the bible, you’re probably aware of the story of Jonah. And by “aware of” I mean you know that it vaguely involves a dude named Jonah and some giant fish-whale-thing that eats him for a couple days then spits him out and God is praised or whatever.

On the surface of this short, four-chapter book in the bible, that is essentially what happens. But there is so much more to the story than that.

In a bible study I’m doing with a couple friends, we recently read it in its entirety, our Sunday-school understandings notwithstanding.

For all of you who grew up understanding Jonah like I did, and for all of you who have no idea who/what Jonah is, Here’s the New Lindsay Translation of the book of Jonah in the bible:

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, a place that’s filled with all sorts of debauchery and horror, to tell the people there something like, “Hey! You! Stop being jerks because God is real and it’s, like, annoying!” But Jonah’s all, “No, God, not me, I don’t want to do that. That sounds scary. I’m going to run away instead.” So he goes and jumps on this boat with a bunch of people and is all, “SAYONARA SUCKAAAA” but God’s all, “Not so fast, Jonah, I’m God and I can still see you.” So God causes a huge storm to happen, and the people on the boat are like, “Dude, who pissed off their god and made this happen?” So Jonah’s like, “Oops, my bad, that was me, y’all. Just throw me overboard and the storm will stop.” So they do. And it does. So the people immediately begin to praise God. But after Jonah gets tossed overboard a huge fish is like, “NOM” and swallows Jonah. Jonah hangs out in there, not exactly knowing what God’s plan is or what he wants, but he prays and praises God anyway. Finally, God gets the fish to upchuck Jonah and so Jonah’s like, “FIIIINE GOD OKAY I’ll go to Nineveh.” So he does. And he tells the people that they should, like, rethink their life choices and stuff. And they actually hear him and listen. And they mourn. And they repent. And God forgives them and saves them. But then Jonah pouts because he doesn’t believe the people of Nineveh deserve forgiveness. But God gently tells Jonah that he knows those people and loves them and that he wants to keep them. 

After reading this story, it became clear that Jonah is actually a big brat. Also, I realized that I am Jonah. 

jonah

In recent months, my husband and I have done a lot of praying and talking about our current financial situation and the care our baby boy gets as a result. It’s lackluster, to say the least, and something had to change. Finally, after a lot of prayer and consideration, we both agreed that what was best for our family (our son, in particular, and his future siblings) is for us to move to central Florida to be closer to my family.

And I am sad about this. Very heartbroken.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and am so excited to be closer to them. But I have created a life here in the last nine years that is going to be so hard to leave behind. (My TILT list from last week probably makes more sense now.)

But here’s the crazy part — our lease is up April 30th. Neither of us have jobs lined up. If we don’t get jobs in central Florida by the time our lease is up, we’ll just move in with my mom until something materializes.

Yep. That’s right. We quit our jobs in an economy that is, um, less than stable. And we have a little mouth to feed. Everything about this just screams, “WHY IN THE F-WORD WOULD YOU DO THIS?”

I don’t know. It’s just what people with faith do, I guess.

And here’s how I’m Jonah. Without getting too spiritual, I know God is calling us to go. That is undeniable. But I don’t want to. I’d much rather scoop my husband and baby up and run away to find the nearest boat out of this place and hope God doesn’t see.

After coming to the realization that I am Jonah and, therefore, a big brat, I spent a couple days moping about it. I was mad at myself for doubting God and for throwing random tantrums whenever my husband tried to get me to have logistical conversations about our upcoming upheaval. (“I DON’T KNOW IF WE SHOULD SELL ONE OF OUR CARS TO HAVE MONEY TO MOVE OKAY WHERE’S THE BOOZE I JUST CAN’T DO THIS SOB SOB SOB.”)

Not my finest hour for sure.

But now, as the news of our departure is public, I am starting to look for the redemption in my story. Just like Jonah was redeemed.

Even though Jonah ran away, the sailors on that boat came to know God as a result. And even though Jonah went to Nineveh unwillingly, he still helped to save a nation of people.

There is a lot of hurt in this move, for sure. Hurt for us because we’re leaving, and hurt for the ones who we are leaving. But there will be light and redemption, too. Even if we don’t see it now.

I’m excited to look back on this in a few months and be able to point to all the ways we were blessed by this. I anxiously await the clarity that will come once this big-ass bandaid is finally ripped off.

But until then, sorry if I smell a little weird. I’m currently sitting in the belly of a giant fish. I don’t know when I’ll be spit out or where I’ll land. But I know that, during this time, I will praise. I will pray. I will trust.

Here’s your chance to throw all your central Florida connections at me.

things i love thursday! (february 7, 2013)

My life is great. My friends are awesome. My family is baller. Ergo, my week ruled.

hufflepopple

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • Hours-long text conversations that are comprised entirely of Clueless quotes.
  • Also, text message conversations solely written in ERMAHGERD speak.
  • ERMAHGERD TERXT MERSERGERS.
  • Spontaneous lunch dates.
  • Morning cuddles.
  • Watching my baby boy laugh.
  • Spending the day emailing girlfriends back and forth all about Harry Potter.
  • New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Parenthood marathons.
  • Bath time!
  • Not having to do the chores for a whole month! (Sorry babe!)
  • #Hufflepopple
  • Celebrating birthdays.
  • Chili. Lots and lots of chili.
  • Eating a grilled cheese sandwich. Nevermind the absolute HELL we had to go through with Dax after that but. Seriously. Grilled cheese. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? #longlost
  • Chocolate.
  • Dax’s pediatrician.
  • Geeking out over new music.
  • Finding out that Dax is ticklish!
  • Popsicles!
  • Coffee.
  • No but seriously. Coffee.
  • Coffee in my reusable Starbucks cup. Discount, YA HEARD?
  • Trying figure out Vine. (Follow me? I only have two followers because I’m a n00b.)
  • Mangoes.
  • THIS <— Being a writer, as told by The Oatmeal.
  • I PUT ON PANTS YESTERDAY.

What do YOU love this week? Be grateful — it’s easy, I promise. Life can suck sometimes but at the same time, it is so forgiving with each new sunrise.

things i love thursday! (january 31, 2013)

Happy Thursday, friends! It’s the last day of the first month of 2013. We are 1/12 done with this year already. Wrap your brain around THAT mess. Anyhooooo…

Look! He’s so cute!

dax_bath_collage

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • The #overcomethelie Twitter party last night. We had so many participants spreading the truth about self-love. It was amazing! We ended the night trending at #4. Incredible.
  • Lionhart. I’ve been doing volunteer work for this organization for a while now and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about the things happening there. It’s amazing. Check it out here and spread the courage around!
  • Amazing and encouraging lunch meetings with friends and mentors.
  • Talking music, art, and the like.
  • Expanding my culinary expertise by way of pureeing my son’s baby food myself. (See also: humility.)
  • Watching good friends play live music.
  • Dax’s new “go-to” face. Not sure why he’s really into chewing on his bottom lip right now but it’s tres adorbs.
  • Reading lots and lots of books.
  • Tickle fights and laughter with my husband.
  • “Sesame Street” on Netflix. (YEAH I KNOW American Pediatrics Association, no screen time until Dax is two but can’t we please make an exception for Elmo?!)
  • Also football? I mean the SUPER BOWL is this weekend, you guys…
  • Emails from good friends with the phrase “TMI” in the subject line.
  • New babies! ACK!
  • Pretending to be a stay-at-home mom.
  • Ministry over coffee — both from me and TO me.
  • Nerding out over fonts.
  • My best friend.
  • My family.
  • My town.

What do YOU love this week?