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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Another year older, and maybe even a little wiser, though I have ended the year with more questions than answers. I turned 24 on Christmas Day this year, and I am still shocked at everwhere I have been and everything I have done in those 24 years. It will never cease to amaze me what can all be squeezed into just one year—memories and new understandings fitting in day-to-day life like packing peanuts. Last December I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I moved back home in the beginning of March, went to the San Juan Islands in April, became single in May, went to Dallas, Texas in August for a Mary Kay Convention for the second time, took a road trip to Alabama where I saw friends I made in Italy that I hadn’t seen in two years, and flew to Wyoming for the first time in October to visit my best friend. I even wrote a new song on my guitar about a friend comforting another friend in pain. Recently, my favorite thing has been receiving a VHS player for my birthday. I have three boxes of VHS tapes in my bedroom closet that I was finally able to take down from its dusty shelf. So I spent a lot of the weekend watching old Christmas movies like Annie and Anabelle’s Wish, as well as rediscovering how many Disney movies I have on VHS. If they were unbreakable, I would have been tossing them all in the air to let them fall around me like some would do with money.

I ran my first 5k this year and made a lot of new friends that have become a big part of my life. I have felt the pain of missing loved friends more deeply this year than I have in a long time and discovered that a broken heart truly feels like your insides are cracking in every nook and cranny. I cried a lot more this year than I have in previous years. But that didn’t make it a bad year. I drank too much coffee, spent endless hours listening to music, and slept in too late too often. But I made it through another year with my loan payments up to date and no broken bones or sickness. I’d say I’m doing just fine.

This year has taught me that every single one of us could be better communicators. Especially when it comes to listening. In the midst of wanting to jump in and give our opinion in a conversation, we forget that listening is a significant part of communication. Why should anyone listen to us if we don’t take the time to listen to them? Are we really so prideful that we think what we have to say is more important than what they have to say? You don’t have to agree with the person, but that doesn’t mean you won’t learn or rediscover something. My goal for next year is to also have more conversations that are important. That sounds a little arrogant, but it’s not meant to be. I simply mean that we have too many conversations that are surface-level because that’s what’s comfortable. But there is so much to discuss and discover when we take the extra step to talk about deeper things than the weather. Getting to those topics can be tricky sometimes, so it takes some practice.

I could also use a little more practice when it comes to bravery. For the past two years, I’ve wanted to take my guitar to the nursing home sometime in the week before Christmas and sing Christmas songs to the elderly who may not get many guests if any at all, and maybe even stick around to listen to stories of those willing to talk with me. But I have been afraid to go alone because I have stage freight. I am insecure about my guitar playing abilities since I make mistakes while playing in front of people even though I don’t make mistakes when I’m by myself. But I also have a soft voice, and I don’t know how many would even be able to hear me. I also don’t talk to many people I don’t know. It’s always been hard for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger, even when I want to.

I’m filled to the brim of my glass with love today that I don’t know how to give it out any faster. I’ve been telling a lot of my friends and family the past couple days how much I treasure them, and I find myself in tears most of the time while writing to them. I think that’s partially because of the fact that my monthly gift arrived this morning. But the other half is truly because I feel blessed beyond words. I don’t know what this year would have looked like without them. There are so many hugs yet to give, so many experiences yet to occur, so many people to meet and stories to hear that part of me feels like I’m wasting time sitting here writing this. However, I’m only human, and there are days my glass is tipped over, kind of like how I’d like to flip over the tables of customers that test my patience. But thankfully those days are limited. Emotions for me tend to be overwhelming because they hit me like a train, and sometimes there’s not much I can do to hold them back. I found myself crying quite a bit at work this year, no matter what I told myself to calm down. But I will take those days if it means I can love people more deeply as well.

Only God knows what will become of me by next December. But I’m excited to see where I’m led.

 

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It doesn’t bother me that I’m going to die someday. But I’m already tearful at the thought of having to be at the funerals of people I love before I come to my own. But great loss can only come from great love. And great love is worth every tear.

Sometimes I’m afraid to love because to love someone means to give in to a vulnerability that gives them the option of hurting me, whether that means leaving me or dying. But as terrifying as vulnerability is, we can’t be fully happy or even fully ourselves without it. Walls come down one way or another, we just get the option of taking them down ourselves or having them crash around us in ashes.

Be wise with whom you open yourself to, but make sure there is at least someone in your life you can be vulnerable with. It will eventually lead to loss, but you will have great loss anyway if you never give yourself the chance to experience great love. A life without love is empty.

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Everyone is a book on a shelf. 

But you’re not just a book. You’re a specific book on a specific shelf in a specific part of the library. 

I’m a waitress, and there are a few ladies who have worked at my restaurant for over twenty years. I have a tendency to get annoyed of the job by the end of the week. Sometimes I worry that I’m going to be stuck there for the rest of my life. But then I feel guilty for thinking that that would be a bad thing. At least I have a job. I have money to buy groceries every week and a new shirt every once and a while. But I tend to think of my job as something towards the bottom of the food chain. But when I take a step back, it’s not. A waitress is needed as much as anything else.

Notice how when the snow clings to trees, only a certain amount of snowflakes can catch the branches and hang on. The rest fall to the ground. Imagine those snowflakes as people. Only a certain number accomplish their dreams and stick to the branches on different levels. The rest fall to the bottom and get lost in the hills of snow. They find jobs as waitresses, janitors, bus drivers, cashiers. . .

Sometimes we tend to think of those bottom jobs as the lowly jobs. “Why would you want to do that for the rest of your life?” But just because I won’t be a lawyer, doctor, or scientist, doesn’t mean I can’t contribute something. Maybe I won’t end up being the writer I hope to be. Maybe the most I’ll accomplish is win a short story contest after losing twenty others. Besides, without that bottom snow, what would we use for snowball fights? For snowmen? What would we use to snowboard on? To snowmobile on?

Everyone is needed in this walk of life. You may not own the restaurant, but people are needed to serve the food. Without janitors, everything would dust and mold. Without bus drivers, those who don’t have a car wouldn’t be able to get around. 

I am in the middle of reading 1 Corinthians, and I came to chapter 12:12-31 that has a heading called “On Body, Many Parts.” I will quote a few of these lines so you can get the gist:

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body…But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty…so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other…”

So don’t misunderstand me. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to climb the ladder. Work your butt off to get somewhere if you can. Find your gifts, and use them. If you are doing what you can to put food on the table for yourself or your family, then you are doing great. We don’t all need to be waitresses, but we can’t all be doctors either. If you kick yourself every time you fail, you focus on the struggles instead of allowing on the strengths to encourage you. You are needed in whatever you do.

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It is when we are alone that we are at our most honest. There may be things we can never admit to someone else, but the things we do, the things we think—we cannot hide them from ourselves.

I had a rough day. For a while, I have felt like a taxi-cab to some of my friends, a pawn for people’s use whenever they need something because I’m the girl that never learned to say no. But today I admitted to myself that I feel as if there are few people who actually treasure me as a friend.

How do you show people you love them? How do your friends, sister, cousin know you love them? Do you just tell them? Or do you give them hugs, buy them something that reminds you of them, write them a note telling them to have a good day…You do things for them, right? I try to show my Mom I love her by cleaning up the house for her. Now, I feel like my family just expects it from me, as if it doesn’t mean much anymore since I never get a thank you, even if I spent hours cleaning. Do they realize I’m doing it for them? I give my friends rides everywhere, send them random reminders that I was thinking of them and that I love them. I reminisce the fun times we have together and I send them things I know will make them laugh.

I want to mean something to someone. But I’ve come to feel that there are few people that I feel like I actually matter to them. I come running when they need something, because I want to be helpful. I want to be a good friend. But I can also say no and still be a good friend. I have learned that I have no boundaries with the people in my life, and it has turned me into a pushover. Being a pushover is one of most frustrating things in the world, yet I let people push me into doing things for them without asking for anything in return. Because asking for gas money is greedy, right? Asking for them to come see my after I’ve driven to see them so many times is impolite, right?

But I want to see them, so I go. I want to see them, so I pay. But when they don’t return the favor, I feel like it’s a one-sided relationship. They will hangout if I go there. They will hang out if I drive us. They want to see me, but they work these days, so I have to switch my hours so I can go see them.

It’s important to be nice. It’s important to love. There are things we can do for each other to bring happiness to the opposite person. But I feel like I am at the point where no one does anything for me anymore. This may seem greedy, maybe it is, but if anything is to change, I need to be honest with myself about how I really feel instead of slapping on excuses that my heart doesn’t fully feel. In Acts 20:35, it mentions that Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to recieve.” Maybe one day I will be better at doing this fully, but I believe we also need to look out for ourselves. Luke 6:38 also says, “Give and it will be given to you..” Maybe I’m not looking close enough at what I’m being given. However, I’m not going to do anyone any good or be a truly good friend if I’m secretly grumbling to myself about how I feel like I’m being used.

I get it from my dad. Neither of us can say no, and we always end up doing the things that no one else wants to do. “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” Maybe. But I think there comes a point where some of us end up always doing everything and it puts us in a shallow mood. Instead of asking for gas money, maybe I should just say I can’t give them a ride this time. By not changing anything, nothing will change. Letting your irritations fester inside without letting others know how you feel can turn your heart bitter.

What was the last thing you did for someone? When was the last time someone has done something for you? Remember: Relationships are a two way street. Don’t let your heart become greedy, but don’t let it become bitter either.

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I love being held.

When one hears this, they probably assume being held in the arms of another person. Don’t get me wrong, that is one of the best kinds of being held, but that’s not all I’m talking about.

Being held is being wrapped in a blanket. Wearing a comfy sweatshirt. Walking with the wind. Sitting in the sun or by the warmth of a fireplace. Snuggling into the corner of a couch, a beanbag chair, a recliner, a lawn chair. Curling up under the covers before going to bed. The bars that pull over you before a roller coaster takes off. It’s the hammock in the backyard that you fall asleep in while reading a book. I can be wrapped up in the story of a book and feel held as much as if I were in a blanket.

Being held by a person doesn’t mean just a boyfriend or husband either. It’s the linked arm of your best friend as you walk to class. It’s a hug from your sister, mother, grandpa, cousin. It’s being picked up off the ground when you least expect it, or maybe when you do expect it. It’s a kiss from a dog as it jumps to give you a hug.

To be held. To be wrapped up in something that makes you feel safe, warm, secure, loved.

Today I wrap myself in scripture. Promises still mean something to me, even though people these days don’t hold true to them like they used to. Now documentation and signatures are involved. Trust is fading because we don’t give people a reason to trust us. But above anything or anyone else, I feel safe and loved in scripture. Things will be taken from me, things will break. People will leave me, and people will let me down.

It is finally getting through to my head that I need help. We live in a world that tells us to strive for self-sufficiency, but it will always end in exhaustion. God purposefully left a space inside us that only belongs to Him, but He is only allowed access to that space when we give Him permission. I think it’s interesting that the Creator wants permission. Do you make a doll, and then ask the doll if you can play with it? No, you just play with it.

There is nothing stopping God from doing whatever He wants with us, except that He does not desire to control us. If I had a daughter, I could tell her to do whatever I want, and she would do it. She may not be happy about it, but she would have to do it. But real love does not come from being controlled. You would be making robots that are taught to say, “I love you” instead of raising someone who tells you s/he loves you just because s/he means it and s/he wants you to know.

God can say “I love you,” and I can choose not to respond. But I do because I can’t help but wrap myself in everything I know about Him. He is the only one that truly makes me feel safe.

Natalie Grant sings: “The promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.” I hope it’ll one day bring as much comfort to you as it does to me.

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“Often we cleave to things because they possess heavy negative charges. Pain has strong arms.” –Patricia Hampl

Painful memories can be as aggressive as the wind.

I was best friends with a girl from Kindergarten till sixth grade. She was slowly pulling away like silly putty in the fifth grade, but I didn’t realize it till years later. One day after school on the bus, she handed me a note. A few words still stick clearly in my mind like gum on the bottom of a desk: “I don’t think we should be friends anymore.”

Though I have watched my sister lose many friends over big fights, I had never lost a friend straight out of the toaster like that, and haven’t since. 

Through Jr. High she built up a reputation as one of the cool kids, and by High School she was one of the most popular girls in the class, listed in the yearbook as “Most likely to become a gold digger” along with others of the sort. As I had watched her de-pants others in the hall and become a Witch with a capital “B,” I decided I didn’t need a friend who’s wardrobe took on a whole new meaning of  the word “easy.” Still, that note bothers me to this day.

I believe that our hardest critic is ourselves. Maybe that’s why we cling to pain. We usually settle for what we think we deserve, when in reality we probably deserve higher than we give ourselves credit for. But then we are hurt by those we glued to ourselves—maybe they get up and leave or die—and we cling to the pain because it is the only reminder we have left of them. Friends and family help us spew out excuses of “new beginnings” like a rip in a water hose, but once we are alone we admit the truth to ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong.

So if we can’t have love, we settle for pain. Feeling something is better than feeling nothing, because at least if we are in pain, we can punch a wall, we can soak our pillows, we can buckle over and wait for the cat claws in our stomachs to subside. Even if it is a little thing, we feel something.

Eventually everyone we care about and love will be gone. However, we know that we have to eventually expect that kind of loss. But the kind of pain that we don’t see coming, that can sometimes be the pain with the strongest arms. 

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I could write so much cheesy, lovey-dovey stuff that chicks would adore. As writers, we really can make the perfect man; or at least our version of him. But I think we also have to be careful of this, for though those stories may sell to the chick flick lovers, they aren’t real. And when girls start reading that stuff a lot, they start looking for someone just like that, and there isn’t someone just like that. They will start comparing their husbands or boyfriends and sometimes get angry or irritated when their loved ones aren’t like that. And that’s not the guy’s fault.

But then I started looking at it this way too: aren’t we also sometimes portraying ourselves as something we’re not? Maybe with the people you just met, or the people you are trying to make friends with. Are we not also telling lies like those books?

“Everyone is an actor. Just most of us don’t get paid.” Walking through a store I can see that. I catch a lot of Mom’s who are embarrassed by kids that start crying or yelling, and I see them look up with a fake smile, and then throw their heads down towards the kids, grab them by the arm, and utter tense discipline. We like people to think our families are all well-behaved and put together, and almost no family is. We all have our querks, yet we seem to find them socially unacceptable and try to hide them as if they don’t exist.

 

But why not frame them? If you are a ball of energy, skip down the sidewalk. Simply smile and wave at the people that decide to stare. A person’s querks are what makes them different from the rest. Maybe it’s your smarts, your fashion sense, your witty remarks or your outgoing personality. There is no need to look around to see who may be watching you, because those people simply don’t have the guts to be different. We see pictures or videos of people doing funny, weird stuff…yet we never have the guts to be ourselves.

Frame your querks. You are an awesome person, and you shouldn’t keep that awesomeness buttoned under your normality vest all the time. 

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