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The Diamond Anniversary.

I’ve had a long-standing case of writers block for quite a while now. Every time I sit down with the intent to put my feelings into words, I find myself sitting with my hands hovering over the keyboard. I write a few words and then I erase them all, over and over again.  I imagine that I look a bit like Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, although it always bothered me that he didn’t simply hold down the backspace key rather than clicking it a hundred times. I’m sure it’s cinematic license, but it always drives me crazy.

I’ve been meaning to get back into this, but it’s hard. I find I appreciate keeping my thoughts to myself more with every pressing day. However, I can’t get my family off of my mind so here I am, theoretically putting my pen to paper, in order to sort out my thoughts.

On March 14, 1958, my grandparents were married. They were just shy of their 18th and 19th birthdays. They went to a justice of the peace in a town that didn’t require a blood test so they could marry quickly and she could go with him to a job the next day. I can’t put into words what these two people mean to me. Individually, they are both the type of people a person just wishes they could be. You’ve got a world traveller, someone strong and steady with a twinkle in his eye and a joke at the ready, and then you have a fireball, who approaches life with a uncontainable zeal no matter whether it is work or play. Both are the hardest working people I know, and both will give anyone the shirt off their back.

This past weekend, we celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. It really brought me joy to be able to give them a celebration for their marriage, to create a bit of a wedding reception that they’ve never had before. I loved looking through photos of their life and it made me wish that I could have been there every step of the way. If I had every day with them, it would never be enough. They’ve been my teachers, my champions, my friends. 

This weekend made me reflect a lot on how important they’ve been in my life, and now that I’m facing the idea that we are in the twilight years, I’ve had a hard time reconciling to the fact that they will not, indeed, live forever. They’ve been my earthly rock. In the midst of all the decorating and prepping, grandpa wasn’t feeling well. We tried to get him to go to the emergency room both Friday and Saturday, but he didn’t want to interfere with our plans. He refused to sully a moment that we were creating, even though our priority is always him and grandma.

Lo and behold, when he went to the doctor this morning, he was immediately admitted to the hospital. I’m glad he’s in good care, and I know that there’s nothing we can do but wait so we can get testing done to determine exactly what’s happening, but it’s killing me to be so far away and to not be able to be sitting there.

I don’t want to give a bunch of details, but if you are the praying type, say a prayer for him. Pray that the doctors can pinpoint what’s wrong and that he will get full healing. I’m not sure writing this post did anything to release my emotions and fears, but perhaps it’s a start. I hope it is.

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I’ve been thinking a lot of late about things that bring me joy, or at least used to bring me joy. I’ve realized that I haven’t done those things in a long time. I used to read a lot. I loved to write. I loved a well-turned phrase. I used to sing. I used to paint, craft, and sew. I read my bible more. I journaled. I enjoyed how I felt after I exercised. I love to cook and create new recipes.

Why have I walked away from so many of these things? It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, or that I don’t do any of them anymore, but the amount and frequency of them have diminished considerably over the years. I’m struggling in areas that I used to breeze through, and I know it’s because I haven’t exercised those muscles, both mentally and physically. Part of this has been the fact that I’m back to square one in my child-rearing. Having an infant shuts those things down in many ways, and that’s okay. It’s life’s way of protecting that baby until he/she is old enough to exercise some independence. I know that parts of me will be back in the next several months. I also know, though, that I’ve allowed parts of me to die off. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know so many amazing people over the last few years, but instead of allowing my own gifts to have their own place, I’ve felt like I didn’t have any space at the table. Writing? Oh no, I have friends who are “real” writers. Art? I just “doodle.” Singing? There are so many women who do that as well, why should I sing out loud? There are “real” singers out there. Reading? There are women who read like they are breathing. They are editors and authors. Even my biblical education seems trite and small. I’m a good homemaker, but there are women who have been doing this longer and I feel like I can’t offer what I can do when they are in the same space.

Part of this stems from my own lack of confidence. This is something I think I’ll always struggle with. But another part of this is a result of social media and pressure to take on every mantle that comes along. I’m always hearing about goals and words and causes that are so wonderful, and there’s nothing wrong with them. The problem is, however, that I allow it to make me feel less than. Sometimes, I just want to live the life I have been given. I can’t live my life feeling big feelings every single day. It’s not the way I was built.

This year, I’m giving up social media for Lent. Facebook, twitter, and instagram. I spend so much time watching the lives of others during any free time I have from parenting. Instead, I want to read books. Real books. And I don’t want to have to put it on Goodreads so everyone else knows I’m reading. I want to write and not feel the pressure to share my blog posts in order to gain views. I want to do art and not feel like I have to put it on instagram so people know I did something creative that day.

I don’t think there’s a single thing wrong with people who love these things. Heck, I have loved these things! When I told my husband what I was planning to do, he laughed and scoffed because he knows how much time I spend connecting online. I also know that, for me, it has reached an unhealthy level, and I want to spend more time in real life with people. I want to spend time in real life having coffee with my new friend Jess. I want to go for walks in the sun. I want to spend more time in the library.

I hope to be able to write more in here during this time, although it will be funny because I won’t be sharing it on my social media channels, but I’m looking forward to writing for myself and not for an intended audience.

I just want to find me again. Does anyone relate?

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It’s okay.

I think its safe to say that we live in a time of immediacy. Immediate gratification, immediate results, even immediate prayers. We pray for a person to be healed and we can lose hope (or interest) if things don’t happen within weeks. Years? Even harder. If we want to lose weight, we tend to choose the fastest option. We like our food fast, our internet faster, and our lives much the same way.

There are some areas of my life where I prefer to savor and slow down, but I’m guilty of desiring immediate results in the areas of my life that need work. I will tell any new mom in the world, whether it is her first or her fifth, to let a year go by before you put pressure on yourself. It takes 9 months physically to get that baby here, and studies have shown that it takes an entire year or more (That’s just one article!) before a woman is totally healed from birth. I don’t believe it’s any different for a fostering or adoptive mom, and from what I know of the families who have taken on that ministry, it’s often much, much longer than a year.

I feel like there is this immense pressure for us as humans to prove to everyone around us how okay we are. We can say things are hard, but delving into the details of our personal struggles often proves to be too intense for most people. We can pray for healing, and once the person passes the worst of the battle, it becomes too much work for most people to continue along the healing journey with them. One of my friends recently got very, very sick, and we prayed for weeks for her. While she is still in the process of healing physically, her battle is so much greater than she lets on. She often is quiet about her struggle because she feels like everyone expects her to be okay already. But it’s okay to not be okay. I’m saying this because I’ve been guilty of forgetting the daily struggle she faces because I forget that healing doesn’t follow a linear path.

I forget that the same is true for myself. I confessed a few weeks ago about my struggle with postpartum depression, and because I was feeling so much better at the time, I keep assuming I should have my act together. The truth is so far from that. Ironically enough, the days that someone asks me if things are okay, things are most often feeling pretty good at the moment. When the days are tough, I feel like I can’t say anything because it’s been 15 weeks and I’m supposed to have my act together. Shouldn’t I have my routine down by now? Shouldn’t I be able to keep a house clean, meal plan, grocery shop, stay on top of the laundry, make doctor appointments, call the tax office, pay the bills on time, and get kids where they need to be every day? Also, shouldn’t I be wanting to be more womanly and focus on romance? I need to lose the weight, both baby-initiated and not. I should stop drinking Cokes, stop eating out, plan meals that everyone likes and is easy to prepare when the baby is grouchy. I also need to find time to shop for new clothes for all three kids and also myself, since the old clothes don’t fit anymore. I’m supposed to be exchanging one breastfeeding session with a bottle session so I can give the baby a bottle and get out of the house, so I need to find time to pump every day. The baby needs tummy time every day. I need to read to the kids, practice Dean Bean’s speech, and practice spelling words with Bluebelle. I need to work out. The list goes on.

There are days, even weeks, that I yell and I feel the guilt overwhelm me. There is no family nearby who can drop in, so help comes in the form of me gathering the courage and asking and making plans for someone to make the drive. Even then, sometimes that blows up in my face and becomes a disaster.

I’ve digressed a little, but the point is this: I feel pressure to be okay, but sometimes I’m not okay, and I’m trying to remember that it’s okay to not be okay. 

I need to stop looking at the moms who look like they have it all together and stop panicking because I feel like they’re doing it right and I’m not. Lest you think that somehow I am one of those moms, let me assure you that I am most definitely not.

It’s time to gather up two of the kids to pick up one, so I will end this post here. Some days are good, some days are bad, and some days it’s all I can do to keep everyone alive. But that’s okay. 

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