Happy Birthday

You would have turned 60 today and I would have been trying to convince you that you’re not old. You would have loved the rain today. You’d wear your big coat and your pretty teal scarf. We’d go to Marie Calendar’s for dinner and we’d both order the soup and salad bar and perhaps some hot tea. We’d eat at least two of those little white bowls of potato cheese soup after finishing our mountains of lettuce and vegetables. We’d have chocolate cake that I’d make from boxed cake mix and it would be decorated poorly, but you’d love it anyway.

I’m not sure where I’d be if you were still here. I’m not sure who I’d be. You shaped and changed me in life and I changed when you died.

I’m not sure how different things would be and I don’t think I should dwell on it. What I do know is that you are still loved, still missed, still remembered. I’ll never get over you.

Happy birthday, Mom. I hope it’s a good one.

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Counting My Blessings

I couldn’t sleep a couple nights ago and it started to rain and I was enjoying the sound. And since Thanksgiving was fast approaching and the sound of the rain always makes me want to write, I decided to jot a few things down in a list of things I’m thankful for this year. Just thought I’d share that list with you here as my Thanksgiving Day post:

What am I thankful for?

The rain outside my window.

The feeling I get when I start writing.
The fact that no matter how much I mess up, the Lord still saves me and blesses me beyond belief.
Being a student again.
Being with a man who is the smartest, kindest, most interesting man I know who makes me feel valued and smart and so so loved and points me to the truth when my head is filled with lies. And for how well we fit together.
My family and how it grows and re-shapes over time in such wonderful ways.
People in all their sameness and differentness and complexity.
Books and words and knowledge.
Communication and how it fixes so many things.
The ability to talk.
The ability to walk.
Being loved by so many people, even ones who hardly know me.
Sad stories and how much we can learn from them.
The ability to listen.
The ability to feel emotion.
The wonderful woman who was my mother and the wonderful women who can never replace her but sure make it easier to keep going.
My father and what a wonderful man he is and what a good friend he has become to me and how much he has always loved me.
My stepmom and how she complements my dad so well and how supportive and loving and empathetic she is.
The fact that there are so many amazing people in my life and so many I still haven’t met.
A God who knows me intimately and is committed to my sanctification.

The pain that makes us stronger.

Having so many blessings that when I try to count them, I barely scratch the surface.

Home is Where I Think it Is

Home is not a place. Home is a feeling.

I’ve heard the phrase, “home is where the heart is” all my life, but I didn’t really internalize it until I went through a series of changes that forced me to adjust to new normals and new places of living, over and over again. I always thought of home as just the place where my stuff was, where I slept, where I showered. Home was just the place I left from and returned to more often than anywhere else. When that physical place of home became more and more inconsistent, I had to revisit and reconstruct my idea of what ‘home’ really means.

It’s weird to hear other students living on campus talking about “going home for the weekend.” It throws me off because this is home for me. This is where I live right now; this is the only place I live right now. There is no ‘home’ for me to go back to over the weekend or over winter break. There is no bedroom with my furniture set up, waiting for my return. If I’m not staying here, I am a guest in someone else’s home. I can see that my life is made up of frequent adjustments to my ever-changing normal. My ever-changing sense of home. And I’ve gotten good at it. Adjusting. Making a place feel like home instantly because I need it to be home for me. Holding loosely to things and to my station, knowing it can be easily lost or changed at any moment. I never thought my life would be like this and I certainly never imagined I’d like it so much.

The more unstable my physical place of residence is, the more I see that home is something I can take with me. Something I must take with me – must create for myself – if I want to stay sane. Home is wherever I choose for it to be. Home is that feeling of belonging, that comfort and security of knowing where you are and not ever needing to ask or answer the question of why you are there. That feeling of home can be in a number of physical spaces. When I visit those little places I used to go with my mom, I’m home. When I’m having dinner at my Dad and Stepmom’s house, enjoying the sounds of my wonderfully woven-together family, I’m home. When I am curled up next to my boyfriend, watching documentaries or silly comedies, I’m home. When I’m outside and the sky is covered in clouds, but the birds are still chirping, I’m home. When I’m sitting in my dorm room, in this most temporary of living spaces, remembering how far I’ve come, how far the Lord has taken me, I’m home. Home is everywhere and nowhere. Home is where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. Home is where I think it is.

I don’t know what this is…

I keep thinking about things I should write about but, by the time I actually sit down and try to write them, I don’t really care enough to write anything worth reading. When I abandon those thoughts altogether and try to just write something else entirely, I feel that nearly-crippling fear of the blank page and that impatiently blinking vertical line. I’m having one of those terrible moments in which my mind is swarmed with thoughts like, “this is it. I’m done. I have written all I will ever write,” and, “I was never really a writer to begin with. I should really just stop this nonsense and focus on things I can actually do…” and so on and so forth. I know that these thoughts aren’t necessarily true and I know that they will eventually pass but I still have no idea what on earth I’m even doing with my fingers on these keys. I’ve been reading too many different things and I don’t know where my voice is at the moment. I’m feeling very pretentious right now, or rather, I’m judging myself to be pretentious. Or I’m imagining other people to be judging me as pretentious. Is there a difference, really?

Anyway, I have a little note on my phone with a few abandoned ideas that I’ll probably get around to caring about and writing about within the next couple of months, but it’s just not going to happen for this month’s post. I just needed to fulfill my personal goal of at least one post per month so I can feel a little less…terrible. Or whatever.

Okay, I shouldn’t let this post go on much longer.
I’m thinking about the people who will probably read this and I feel a little sorry for them – for you. But not sorry enough to delete this post or refrain from posting links to it on my various social media pages 😉 I’m just going to type away and create some drivel and you’ll probably waste a bit of your time letting your eyes fall on every word until you’ve – blessedly – reached the end. You may now breathe a sigh of relief, because here it is. The end.

So…My Brother Got Married…

This post is a little late… I was going to post about my brother getting married like… maybe a day or two after the wedding… the wedding was January 31st so….

I’ve been trying to figure out just what I wanted to say and I’ve been having a bit of trouble. It’s weird but it’s not. It’s different but it’s comfortable. And then there are all these other things… well… See I already spent a considerable amount of time writing about how I feel about my brother and his bride, etc. because I had the privilege of giving a toast at the wedding. Let me tell you, getting up in front of all those people and crying like a baby while trying to read what I’d written was not easy. People later told me that it was good that I cried. I cried because I meant it. I cried because I felt it. I cried because I love my brother.

Anyway, I pretty much said everything I wanted to say in my toast, so that’s what the rest of this post is going to be. My toast.

It’s really difficult for me to say with words just what my brother means to me. God has blessed me tremendously by giving Daniel to me as a brother. He has been with me through the most difficult times of my life as well as some of the most fun times. While we certainly don’t get along 100% of the time, we have a uniquely close relationship that I treasure immensely. From the little things like our dumb, repetitive jokes or silly noises and dances, to the more meaningful things like telling me the truth when I need to hear it, even when he knows I might not receive it well, or hugging me when I’m crying even if he doesn’t know why, I will always treasure our bond and the kind of friend that he is to me.

Watching the Lord pull Daniel up from darkness and into the light of salvation has been one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. I remember praying for him for so long and feeling so hopeless, but the Lord saved him when I least expected it, and I had the privilege of watching it unfold first-hand. Then, to watch him grow and mature so quickly afterward was such a great testimony of God’s power and faithfulness. When I really think about it and look back to who he once was and who God has changed him into, I am often brought to tears. It is truly amazing and I am so thankful for God’s work in his life.

I am also thankful for how Daniel has taught me and cared for me over the years. Even in my more difficult and unyielding times, he has stuck with me continued to speak truth to me. Because of this, I am confident that Daniel will make a good husband – he is faithful and he never gives up, no matter how difficult things get.

My friendship with Bekah has been an interesting one. It took quite a bit of time for us to get close and I believe we are still working on that. I think she will agree that the Lord has placed us in each other’s lives to teach us a lot about understanding others and about loving those who are very different from ourselves. I mean honestly, what better way to learn about those things than to be placed in such close proximity to our polar opposites? I have learned a lot from Bekah and greatly appreciate the times when she has shared hard truths with me as well as the times when we can just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. I know that we still have a lot to learn about each other and I look forward to times of bonding in the future.

My brother is a very unique person and I never imagined he would find someone who has so much in common with him – but here she is. God orchestrated this so well, as He always does. Daniel and Bekah are certainly well-matched.

Daniel, If mom were here today, she would be so happy to see the man that you are becoming and she would be crying her eyes out and talking about how her baby has grown up so fast. I know that she would be so happy for you and she would be eager to welcome Bekah into our family as her daughter.

May the Lord give the two of you strength and continue to equip you with faithfulness and diligence and every other tool that you will need in order to create a marriage that glorifies Him and paints an accurate picture of Christ and His church.

I love you both.

Let’s raise our glasses to Daniel and Bekah!

 

Beautiful Wedding <3
Beautiful Wedding ❤
My brother and Me
My brother and Me
My New Sister-in-law and Me
My New Sister-in-law and Me
After my Toast... couldn't keep it together :P
After my Toast… couldn’t keep it together 😛

In a weird, good place

Sometimes I just stare at the ceiling or the wall and think about my dead mom and other people’s dead moms and I don’t feel particularly upset. I find myself feeling grateful. I find myself feeling somehow awestruck and I’m not even really sure what I mean by that.

Grieving State of Being

Missing someone who has died is a weird phenomenon. Not only is it different for everyone while also kind of being the same, but it’s different each moment, each month, each year. There is progress but there isn’t. It improves but it doesn’t. There have been some years when holidays or my mom’s birthday or the anniversary of her death were easy and I didn’t cry and it didn’t hurt that much. And there are some times, like this past holiday season and like today, when it hurts just about as bad is it did the day she died. It’s true that it has gotten easier as time has passed, I think… but when I have such hard days I wonder if I’ve made any progress at all in terms of feeling better or coping or getting through the grieving process…whatever that means. I’m starting to wonder whether grieving is actually a process or if it’s just a state of being that comes and goes or gets stronger and weaker. It’s never going to be over as long as I am still on this earth. I am stronger than I was before except for when I’m not. And sometimes it makes sense. It makes sense that this past Christmas was harder because it was also the first Christmas after my grandpa (my mom’s dad) passed away and it was the first Christmas that I didn’t spend with the people I usually spend the holidays with. It makes sense that today (her birthday) is harder than last January 5th because my brother is getting married at the end of the month and she won’t be there to see it. And this year is going to bring about big changes in my life and the knowledge that she is going to miss it all hurts like the week I went back to school after she had just passed away and I knew she would miss my high school graduation the following month. But there are other times when it comes out of nowhere. I think I’m fine and I’m not feeling particularly sad and then it just hits me. And there’s nothing observable that seems to have caused it, it just is. It’s just there. It just hurts.

Anyway, I’m not really sure how to wrap this up because my thoughts don’t really feel conclusive or tidy to me, so I will end with this:

If you are grieving over someone, whether they died years ago or just yesterday or anytime in between, your feelings are valid. I have had many times where I beat myself up about grieving thinking I should be better now, I should be stronger. I have so much to be thankful for, I shouldn’t be sad. But I am. And it’s okay. It’s human. It’s love. It’s okay to remember and it’s okay to talk about it and cry in front of other people even if they don’t know what to do with you. I often feel the desire to share and be vulnerable about these things but I’m always afraid of seeming like I’m begging for pity and I think I need to apologize… but opening up and being vulnerable is so worth the risk of being seen in an unfavorable light. It connects us. It gives people the opening to be vulnerable right alongside us. Getting those feelings that feel so personal out there feels so good especially when you find people who can relate. So feel that grief if you are feeling it. And talk about it if you want to talk about it. And if you can’t find someone who will listen, I’m right here.

Happy birthday to my mother who was my closest friend and confidant. I learned so much from her and am so thankful to have had her for nearly 18 years. Remembering her warmth and love today.
Happy birthday to my mother who was my closest friend and confidant. I learned so much from her and am so thankful to have had her for nearly 18 years. Remembering her warmth and love today.