Usually when something ends you want to tie it all together with a nice big bow and make it look pretty. But let's face the facts; life doesn't always work that way. Sometimes the bow doesn't get added for months or even years. Sometimes we never find our bow and realize that many packages are tied together with simple string. For me, it's now time to tie this package of hope and the year 2012 together. Only 22 days late.
While writing this blog, on many days I thought that it was kind of a breeze. No huge storms like before. And yet, I struggled inwardly much more. It wasn't about finding God in our situation, it was about finding God within me. It was about finding hope within me. Something I had clutched to so often in My Year of Faith. Hope is a funny thing. You can hold on to it so tightly and believe in it so much, and yet one little downpour and suddenly your hope is floating away. You question God and you question everything. I think holding on to hope and never letting go is a sign of maturity.
This blog taught me to lean on hope. It taught me that hope is knowing that God is good and that He will deliver in due time. Hope is a way of life, an attitude. Hope is your spirit. Hope is believing that it all has a purpose. Hope keeps us alive.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." - Hebrews 6:19
Somewhere around Day 300 I lost myself. My anchor rose up and my ship tossed about the sea with no direction. I felt empty. After about 37 days more of that, I lost all of the words within me. And I just stopped blogging. I stopped writing. I stopped caring. I think I stopped hoping. The funny thing about that is now I can look back and see all of the good starting to happen at that time. I was just too lost to notice. Mark got a new job, a job that we had been praying for. A job that felt like the final gold crown on My Year of Faith. A job that was the building blocks for changes to come. A job that was straight from God himself. And I was finding myself surrounded by all of these wonderful people. Despite my silence, I would literally say to myself every day how lucky I was to have so many people in my life that God has blessed me with. Old friends, new friends, church friends, friends from blogging, friends from Brody's school, etc. While I felt depleted, I could recognize that God had surrounded me with so much goodness. I am still literally blown away by the people in all corners of my life. I feel like they are my reward for My Year of Faith. Lots of lovely people (yes you) who teach me how to be a better person. And yet even with lovely people around, I was still wordless. Still hopeless that things could some day get better. I reached out to God and begged Him for change. For a chance to get ahead and to not feel so stuck financially. Right around that time I wrote this:
I have had an unsettledness in my heart for a few months now. A feeling like we're not where we should be and maybe where we live isn't the right place for our family.... But no answers have come and the feeling still looms...Maybe if I remind myself how lucky I am every single morning, through the thick and the thin, and on the hard days and the good days, that unsettling feeling will go away. I can just give it all over to God to direct us where He wants us to go and be happy with where He placed us for right now.
And for many nights after this post, I kept praying for God to put us where we should be. To help us build a new foundation in some way. A foundation where we would not be living penny to penny, and paycheck to paycheck. And I meant it. I stopped looking for a place to go and I prayed for His plan.
And then it happened, just a few days before the end of the year. Out of the blue and through a dear friend, an opportunity presented itself. The opportunity would be living in a new city, in a bigger home (our two bedroom rental was getting smaller and smaller by the day), for a great price, and with a chance to become more financially solvent as a family. A chance to lift some financial burdens. I knew that this plan was God's plan because despite everything I was leaving behind, not one part of me said no. And so as a family, we decide to move a little bit away to start a new adventure.
And so that is how this package ties together. Maybe not as perfectly and as neatly as I had imagined. But, it ends with God answering my prayer for a new beginning of His choosing. It ends with my realization of what hope really is:
Hope is knowing that God is working in your life at all times. Hope is moving forward, even when you feel silenced. Hope is trusting God, even when you feel abandoned because He never leaves you. Hope is the awareness that all things take time, and in that time you need to be patient. Hope is the blessings of love and friendship, and the simple promises of life that you can see in others. And hope is using the knowledge that God gives you to navigate your life in all seasons by holding on and answering Him.
So, while this ending seems anti-climatic because I have not written in so many days, it's the end of a year of internal struggles. A year I surrendered it all to Him. A year where I grew despite my battles. A year where I learned to have big faith. And a year where God tied my story together himself, with a beautiful bow, and an adventure ahead of me.
I've been stuck. Something has extinguished a fire inside of me, but I haven't quite figured out what it is. I am completely blocked, no drive to write on any of my blogs. And it's not that I don't have anything to say, it's that my heart has stopped it all. I assume most people would call this writer's block, but I know that it's something different. I've lost my love for running, baking, cooking, and creating. I want my spark back.
I've been thinking about what I have struggled with most this year, and I think that it's trying to deal with not knowing what God's plans are for me. Dealing with the outcome of the last four years, and seeing what happens when the dust has settled. I had a career and then I had a blog about a crazy time in our life. It seems that in the midst of life, I always had a big purpose that was just for me. And then this year hit and the world doesn't seem to need me as much. I feel lost and unsure of what I should be doing, and I know that my being wants some kind of big purpose. So me-centered, right? Let's face it; I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that right now my job is just to be a mom and a wife. To drive the kids to school, pick them up, feed them, take care of them, and be my husband's rock and confidant. That's it. Why can't I be happy with that? It's because it goes against everything I have always believed about myself. That I am special and that God has big things for me. It goes against my personality and my drive for success. And you know what, I think that God knows exactly what He is doing with me. He is breaking me soulfully. He is teaching me that it's not all about me. That I am His servant just like everyone else, and I am not special. That I need to find my way in this world based on being who I am at this exact moment, no matter how big or little the events in my life are. That I need to build myself on the foundation of what He created me on and become intimate with that woman.
Over the last year that has been a lot of relational turmoil in my life. Lots of ugly things said and actions taken that have hurt. I didn't know how to deal with it. And I can't say that I do now, but I can say that I have changed. It's been very hard and extremely trying, but somewhere in the midst of everything I have emerged a little differently. I know that my spark was lost somewhere in there from pure exhaustion, but I also know that is part of the building process and I need to find myself again somewhere in the confusion. I can't do that without God's help, and I don't think I have asked for it enough.
It's no coincidence that what I need more than anything is hope. To have confidence in what I cannot see. To believe and to know that this is the right journey. Maybe not for something huge, but for the rest of my life. A life where I will be content in whatever God sends my way. A life where I will look back and see a strong, courageous, faithful, and hopeful woman that stood on the foundation that was built over her life, and who did as much good with everything given to her as possible.
Today is Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for. I am immensely blessed and forever grateful for my extremely beautiful life.
This Thanksgiving I feel compelled to thank God for all of the areas I am struggling. Because let me tell you, I am struggling right now. I feel like my light was snuffed out a while back and my passion and my drive went with it. I just don't feel like me. And yet, even in the areas I am struggling I need to be more grateful than ever.
Lord, I am grateful for my sanity. While I am feeling challenged with life's circumstances, I am so lucky that you have given me the patience and the stamina to see it through. Even on the worst days. I am thankful for my busy life. How lucky am I to be able to fill it up with this and that? I am thankful for the moments with my children, in the car, and to their schools. Through the tantrums and the crying I give thanks. For those tears are proof of life and love. God, thank you for our finances. It may not feel like enough, but my cup runneth over, and you have protected us and shown yourself through our financial hardships. I trust you, God, and in relation to the world, we are wealthy beyond means. Thank you for every penny in our possession; each one is truly a gift. Lord, thank you for relationships, the good and the bad. Trials with others help us grow, gain wisdom, and shape who we are. Lord, I am so grateful to have people in my life and to not be alone. I am thankful for the ability to love and to walk away. Some are not afforded the gift of either. And lastly Lord, thank you for hope and for peace. While sometimes it may feel like they pass us by and we cannot quite reach them, You have given us the ability to have them in our life forever. I am so grateful that I can praise your holiness.
Happy Thanksgiving to you. Wishing all of my readers so much love and joy, through your trials and pain as well as in your happiness.
I may be overwhelmed, but as of today I am waking up and thanking God for everything. The hard, the exhausting, and the craziness. I am thanking Him for what He is doing in our lives. Who cares how long my days are and how much has to be done. I get to do it all. He has given me the opportunity to have children and take care of them. How blessed am I that I wake up in a warm house with food on the table. I also have a car to take my children to the schools of my choice. I have a healthy body to hug them with and a voice of my own to express my feelings. I am quantitatively blessed. Life may seem out of whack right now, but every single moment is a blessing, even if tears are involved. A million people in a million ways would trade their life with mine.
I don't want to forget that.
I have had an unsettledness in my heart for a few months now. A feeling like we're not where we should be and maybe where we live isn't the right place for our family. I have thought of other options, looked into other areas, and wondered where a more fulfilling life could take place. A better balance of what my heart thinks is important for a family to grow. But no answers have come and the feeling still looms. This morning I wonder if what is missing is my ability to be thankful for everything I have. And the ability of my mind to sort through all of the fog of what the ideals are for the type of place we reside in. It's a rat race no matter how hard you try to stay centered. We live in a very wealthy and somewhat fake place. But this is all I have ever known and I love the people here who have become the center of my life. Maybe if I remind myself how lucky I am every single morning, through the thick and the thin, and on the hard days and the good days, that unsettling feeling will go away. I can just give it all over to God to direct us where He wants us to go and be happy with where He placed us for right now. Because that is what I am trying to do.... be happy for exactly what God has given me today.
My sweet baby boy is going through something difficult right now. It's breaking my heart but also challenging me to my fullest. Literally and emotionally. This week I was reminded that while I know that everything has a season and that this too shall pass, that as a mother I need to take it to God. I need to pray over my sweet boy. I need to thank God for every bit and piece of him, even on the worst day. That God can see me through this and that He created me to be that sweet boy's mommy so that I can protect him, challenge him, and get him through the crazy turmoil he is in. Just as I have my seasons and my times of change, so do children. God is working in them.
And so today I am dedicated to fervently praying over my sweet boy "M" and asking God to please help heal him. To help fix whatever is broken. To help give me the wisdom and the strength to make the right decisions to guide him. I am asking God for help. I am praying for my little guy.
As parents we often take everything on instead of turning to God and asking for His guidance. We carry the burden of trying to fix it all ourselves. We feel helpless and alone. We feel overwhelmed. But we have a Heavenly Father to lean on for times such as these and He hears all of our prayers for our children. He can help us through.
Today I am encompassing hope. In the midst of change, trials, and moments of frustration - I find peace. While I may feel sad at one moment, I still have an undoubted peace that stays with me at all times. I have a steadfast assurance that everything will be okay and that a bad day or days is just a small period of time. There is no act, trial, disturbance, or difficulty that I cannot get through because God is there. He is there no matter what happens, often weeping with those He loves. Often holding us up and whispering in our ears when we don't feel strong. And always working to try and bring good into all circumstances.
Today I am thankful for God's love and his trials in my life. I am thankful for hope because it shines the spotlight on all the possibilities for the future. I am thankful that I never have to feel completely alone.