Trying (to Find Peace)

I’ve been tired for a while.

The past year has felt like saying “I’m trying” on repeat. And that’s exactly what I have been doing – still trying to curb my rising stress levels, still trying to go wherever God leads me, still trying to make progress in my life, still trying to improve myself so I can be better for those around me, still trying to find a healthy balance between being constantly focused on what lies ahead and living for what is right now.

Still, I’m trying.

One of my biggest fears, for example, is the potential need for my dream of being an author to be altered. The older I get, the more that seems to become a reality. When I was younger I’d sit quietly at lunch listening intently to other kids tell stories and prattle on about their daily adventures, and later while they ran around on the playground getting their energy out, I was alone regaining mine – writing down their stories and making them my own – playing fantasy games like they did, just a bit more quietly. Writing has always felt both like home and an adventure, and in more recent years, it makes me feel close to God. It’s the one thing that I don’t feel the need to be the very best at, because it just feels good to do it; but in doing so, I also improve. So, with this intense passion for writing I have developed from the moment I could string sentences together comes an intense dread for compromise. For settling. For giving it up because life may one day get too much in the way. Yes I will always be a writer, but I may not get the opportunity to write in the way I always hoped I could, and that saddens me. Even though I’m aware God has a plan regardless of what happens (as long as I keep putting in the necessary effort and listening to His guidance) what will be will be and I will make it through, the idea still keeps me awake some nights. I’m human; I falter, but I’m improving. I’m trying.

There’s so much to stress out about; to make me want to hide from the world and hope it stops nagging me. But I have a Music Appreciation test tomorrow and pages of notes still yet to take, I have a job to go to in the morning, a book to finish writing at some point, and laundry to fold. So much laundry. The world isn’t going to ever stop nagging me to do a thousand things at once and pulling me in every possible direction. It won’t stop giving you or I reasons to feel inadequate or scared or stressed or, more likely, some annoying combination of all of those and more. The world will throw problems at you left and right. Some bigger than others, of course, but it’s the daily stressors that sneak up on you – building up until you feel like you’re going to burst. (Luke 21:34)

But God’s just looking at you, probably stroking his beard, tapping his foot, whistling as He waits; wondering when you’ll finally realize you’re going to be fine. He’s got this. Even if you have no idea what’s going on, thank goodness He always does. (John 14:27)

Believe me, I have to remind myself of this about ten times a day and I still have my moments where I question it entirely. A million questions starting with “…but,” pop in my head daily, and yet I’m still okay. I’ve made it this far and every situation I didn’t think I would get through, I did. “Just calm down and stop overthinking” is a phrase I use mentally about everyday. The only way that phrase has any weight, the only way it ever works, is when I combine it with prayer – when I direct it to God. Life just seems easier to handle when I pray everyday, and that’s no coincidence. The only time I truly feel at ease is when I prayer journal, which I’ve been getting back to doing at least once a day. You can’t expect anything from God if you don’t ask, you can’t expect answers if you don’t listen, and you can’t expect change if you can’t handle honesty. “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” (Max Lucado)

So my point is that life is stressful and uncertain and there is a lot to worry about, but you don’t have to let that hinder you. You don’t have to be held back by fear of the unknown, because God knows what lies ahead. Talk to Him about it and then build some true faith. What will happen will happen and you can choose to make the best of it by talking to God and being open to what He has to say.

I’m going to wrap this up with a story about a woman I visited in a nursing home today, because she inspired this entire post:

One of my closest friends and I decided we wanted to start scrapbooking, which she ended up mentioning to her grandmother. A week later, we were on our way to visit her so she could lend us some of her supplies. I tagged along, unsure of what to expect and wondering why someone I’ve never met would be kind enough to lend me things that are precious to her. But we get there and I’m greeted by an older woman with a kind smile and upbeat attitude, and I instantly feel at ease around her. She giddily shows us around the building while leading us to the small apartment-style room she and her husband share. When she opens her door, it isn’t the size of the space that I notice right away, but the fact that she made it feel warm and inviting. I didn’t notice the hospital curtain until the end of my visit, because all I initially saw was an inviting couch, photos of family members on most of the walls, and an overflowing crafting table. She talked endlessly about family and friends, but what struck me the most was the fact that she was open about her hesitation with living there. She did not want to move to this place. She’d given up her car, her home, and her friends to live in an assisted living home in which she can’t even cook for herself and her husband. It took her a long time to adjust to the environment. Though she hadn’t pointed it out herself, it was obvious that she was in the best shape, both physically and mentally, out of probably anyone else in the facility. She didn’t feel like she belonged there. She was depressed for a while, and still goes through some “weepy days” as she put it, but she said all this with a smile because she was learning to make the best of it. She put her crafting abilities to use and holds weekly card-making classes, she charges a couple dollars for her pre-made cards (as she pulled out a hundred cards she had made to show us what she can do), and she is lobbying to hold a craft fair so all the ladies in this community can have the opportunity to sell what they make as well. Her crafting classes have gone so well that she has gone from using her own supplies to the staff saying “buy what you need and we will reimburse you.” She proudly told us, “I found my niche,” and she went on to tell us that she believes she was put there to be a caretaker of sorts. To be a ray of sunshine to these people. She took her less-than-ideal situation, made it a God opportunity, and through it she found an overwhelming sense of peace.

She gave me hope that I hadn’t realized I needed until today.

She ended our visit with a piece of advice: “I’ve seen the top of a mountain, and the while the mountain itself is just rock and ice, the view is amazing – like nothing you’ve ever seen before. But it is in the valleys that the wildflowers and grass grow. Both are equally important.” (James 1:2-4)

 

 

 

 

 

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Thankful.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

As a cool breeze turns into cold air and golden leaves fall from their branches (or so I assume, considering I live in South Florida), Thanksgiving is the last real day of fall.

Of course not officially, but the day after Thanksgiving is the standard Christmas tree shopping day. It’s when we brave the Black Friday insanity and attempt to buy as many Christmas gifts as possible. It’s when we start blasting Michael Bublé’s festive hits, when we take down the fall wreath on our front door and replace it with string lights in the trees and an inflatable Santa on the lawn, when we replace all normal clothing for sweaters with light-up reindeer and elves on them, when we forget about the existence of apple cider and move on to hot cocoa.

Thanksgiving is really the last hurrah for those of us who can’t get enough of fall and it becomes socially acceptable for the rest of the world to jump head-first into their collectively insane Christmas mode. Though I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to this season (maybe I just didn’t drink enough Pumpkin Spice Lattes) I am waiting with bated breath for some colder weather to kick in so I can break out my beloved penguin sweater and actually remember what it feels like to shiver for a reason other than accidentally putting the AC on too high.

I love Thanksgiving, despite it’s obvious historical flaws, because it reminds everyone to take a step back and remember what you have instead of what you lack. It says, “shut up, be grateful, and eat a meal with the people you love.” We need that reminder every once in awhile. Actually we could probably use it every day, but that might be asking for too much.

I have compiled a list of some things in my life that I am appreciative of right now, which I hope will inspire you to do the same. You, me, and the rest of the blogging community should take a second to consider what we love about our lives. Think of this moment as all of us sitting together at a giant dinner table. There are dishes upon dishes of delicious steaming food lying front of you, you’re drooling, but I’m the mom of the group who makes everyone wait so we can “go around the table saying what we’re thankful for.” It’ll be fun.


 

Reasons why I’m joyful:

  • My family is close and I like that I like spending time with them. Also, my mom is my best friend. We have a pretty solid Rory/Lorelai thing going for us.
  • I stumbled upon a signed copy of John Green’s newest book in Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago and I’m still not over it. There was a lot of squealing. I nearly knocked over a whole display with all my jumping.
  • In fact, I’m just grateful for Barnes and Noble, for all bookstores, for libraries, for books in general.
  • For the first time in my life I have a healthy social life, which sounds kind of sad, but I’m really happy that everything turned out the way it did because I appreciate my friends in a way I never could if making friends had always been an easy feat for me. I am happy that I don’t put myself into a box labeled “quiet” anymore, and as a result I have been able to discover that I am a lot more outspoken than I ever realized, which lead to realizing a whole lot more about myself like how independent I am and that I am capable of making my goals a reality.
  • My sister is making broccoli and cheese casserole for tonight, which is pretty much what I look forward to all year long. When the plumbing in our house stopped working and my mom said that we weren’t going to be able to cook this year, my sister and brother-in-law swept in like knights in shining armor to make us all dinner. If you’ve ever had broccoli and cheese casserole, you know how much of a blessing my sister is for saving the day.
  • My cat meows really loudly for me whenever I leave her. I mean the poor thing full-on panics, but hey I have a cat that is super attached to me and actually cares about my existence. Not many cat owners can say that. Also sometimes she likes to throw her arms around me like she’s giving me a hug. She is responsible for turning me into the crazy cat lady I am now.
  • I live by the beach, which is my perpetual happy place. I live near a lot of nature preserves and gardens and I am in constant amazement at how beautiful the place I have been lucky enough to grow up in is. I want to explore the rest of the world of course, but I can’t imagine a better place to call home, and I don’t really want to.
  • There is practically an endless supply of music to be discovered and nothing beats finding a song or a band that makes you really feel something. I discovered this band the other night called Hollow Coves and I listened to their song Coastline on repeat until I fell asleep. It made me cry a couple times because I instantly felt so connected to the song that I wanted to curl up and live in it forever. I love that people can create beautiful things that make us feel so strongly, whether that be in art or music or writing or whatever it is that they thought to make. Humans are pretty cool. We’re capable of some wonderful things.
  • Disney World exists. That’s really all I need to say about that. 
  • I mentioned this a couple posts back, but the creator of the entire freaking universe and everything in it is always readily available to have a conversation with you. He thinks about you. He came up with the idea of you and thought that the world needed one of you in it. I can barely wrap my head around it, but it’s amazing.

 


Of course there are countless more reasons to be grateful, but we don’t have all day. There’s turkey to eat and a parade to watch and people we love waiting to spend time with us, but these are a few things that make me happy. There’s always something to be appreciative of, despite whatever difficult situation you may possibly be in at the moment. There is beauty in life, in the everyday routine, in everything He has made.



What are some things you’re thankful for right now? It can be anything from “I’m currently drinking coffee out of my favorite mug” to “I finally paid off my car.” If it brings you joy, it’s important.