My New Year Wish

For you my friend, this is what I wish for this New Year.

I wish that you find value in yourself.  There is nothing in the world that you can control except yourself.  You are worth something tenfold what you believe in this moment.  You are on this earth for a reason and that reason is to be you, stay true to who you are and remember you have a purpose.

I wish that you think of the kind of words you use.  Whether they are everyday simple words or large fancy ones I don’t care.  What I care is that you find yourself using your words to uplift, encourage, and support not just your family and friends but strangers.  Most of all, I wish you learn to use those good positive words to yourself.

I wish you understand that this year as any year that has come and gone will come with difficulties.  Typically, these difficulties don’t appear with a forewarning like a nice e-mail telling you your world will turn upside down.  Take these things in stride, things will lift up eventually and though that’s hard to understand during the thick of a shit storm know that it is true.  You are strong and can weather these storms, I believe in you.

I wish that you reach out more to those you love.  Give your sister an extra hug before you leave.  Call your aunt and check in.  Text your best friend a stupid meme.  Tell people that they mean something to you, even if you already tell them, tell them again.  Life is short and the unpredictable happens.

I wish that you slow down and enjoy something simple.  There are always a million and one things to do on any given day but slow down a little this is the only life you’re given so why don’t you enjoy it a little?

Most of all, I wish this New Year brings you and your family good health, positivity, and laughter.

 

Today, Not Tomorrow

I’ve been worried about a lot of things this semester.

Historic Flood #1 made me worry about my friends and their families who lost everything and were displaced.  Historic Flood #2 two weeks later had me absolutely worried sick about the future because it was my family’s home and neighborhood that had been hit.  I was restless and worried about the cost of equipment to get five feet of water out of our basement, the massive dumpster we had to bring in and where to find the manpower to help me clear out a basement full of memories and lost family items.

Of course, school was still going on and I constantly worried if I had prepared enough for class.  Did I read thoroughly enough? Did I study the right sections for the test?  Did I really understand factoring?  Did I forget a paper, or an assignment?

Then I worried myself into stomach pains when my dad ended up in the hospital for three days.  I missed more school as I dropped everything to make sure things were handled back home.    When I did get back to school I worried more about everything that I had missed and still had to make up.  School stops for no one, there is always something that needs to be completed and turned in, exams to prepare and take, presentations to give – it never ceases.

These were just the big things I worried about.  I’m not talking about the everyday little worries that creep into my mind.

Worry and anxiety seems to fill our lives easily, or at least mine personally.  I don’t know, you the reader may not have a similar problem, for you I am happy for you.

I’ve spent some time in scripture this semester, something that I have found to be greatly comforting.  Even more comforting are two scriptures from Matthew and 1 Peter.

Let’s start with Matthew, shall we?

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

I remember when I read this verse for the first time I had basically glanced over it without actually reading it.  It’s that thing you do when you think you’re reading but you’re not actually taking in the meaning of the text.  I sometimes do this without meaning to, hence why I always worry if I have read thoroughly enough for my history classes.  I made myself go back and reread it.  Twice.  On the second time it was like a teacher had broken it down step by step math style and it clicked. It clicked!

“So don’t worry about tomorrow,

because tomorrow will have its own worries.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Why am I worried about tomorrow?  Today is not tomorrow.  If today were tomorrow, it would be tomorrow.  Today is the now, right here where I am submerged.  Even if I wished it was tomorrow I couldn’t make it true because I have no control over time.  So focus on the today worries, there are plenty of them.

I got so caught up in the “oh-no-this-thing-is-due-on-Friday-and-this-is-due-Wednesday-but-when-is-this-thing-due? Wait-i-need-to-complete-this-too-before-Friday” I was starting to make myself sick.  Red flags were raised in my mind, I did not want to become this stressed to make myself sick and stay sick.  Something needed to change and this was it.  I’m not saying I totally skipped assignments and classes and other obligations, absolutely not.  I learned to refocus myself on the things I needed to complete today and what I could do today instead of living in the future.

This helped quite a bit with my worrying when it came down to school related things.  I was still anxious.  I wouldn’t sleep if rain was in the forecast, scared that Historic Flood #3 was going to occur and more damage would be done to my childhood home.  I would be beside myself when I heard thunder and it started to rain.  I even cried.

This is when 1 Peter comes in.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

I believe that I’m lead to the scriptures I need to hear by God when I need them.  This was one of those moments when I realized “this is handpicked for me, for right now” and I’ve hung on to it since.

The Lord is my number one confidant, the one I turn to in desperate times, the one who carries it all.  He cares for me because I am a child of God.

I couldn’t control the weather, if I could, believe me Kansas would be a bit cooler during the summer.  I couldn’t control the weather, I couldn’t control the actions of other people, I couldn’t control anything but myself.  So I stopped worrying about it.  Let me rephrase that: I stopped focusing all of my energy on those things.  I still worried, but I lifted those worries and those anxious feelings to the Lord.  Eventually I felt the tension ease and I could breathe again.

Am I still going to worry? Yes. I am human and that’s how we work.  The difference now is I have learned this season how to cast my worries and anxiety to the Lord and focus on the things before me today.  I hope that whatever storms continue and appear in the coming seasons that I am able to stay rooted in this way.

The Holidays

 

 

Christmas is happening and there’s no way to stop it.

Life is continuing on and no matter how hard I try to pull the emergency brake it won’t stop just for me.  I came to this realization the other night as my school friend Darci and I drove around town searching out houses with Christmas lights and displays.  Since the beginning of November I’ve been hell bent on trying to put more time between me and the holidays as if more time will help me prepare myself for the difficult moments.

If only a person could add more time to a day…am I right? What would you do? Give yourself more time to clean? Go to the bank? Go see a movie?

I won’t get into a philosophical rant here on time, but it is important to what I’ve learned this week.

I know the first ____fill in the blank________ without my mom is going to be hard.  The holidays thus far have been proof of that.

I have been fighting against Christmas.

Why?

I’ve been thinking about the days mom and I would sit on the couch and read for hours at a time.  I think about the evening sharing of coffee as we watch tv after dinner.  I think, and laugh, at the colorful and mostly inappropriate commentary mom provided when we went out to do errands on Saturday mornings.

I can still smell the bacon she fried for breakfast on the weekends.  Wright’s bacon because anything else was too thin and didn’t have enough flavor. I can still remember the taste of her favorite breakfast casserole she made often though I haven’t had it since January before she got really sick.

I remember how happy she got when she found all four Lethal Weapons were playing on one particular day.  Or anything that had Patrick Swayze or Tom Sellec in it.  I’ve never watched Magnum PI all the way through, but I know she loved Tom in those short shorts.  Since I’m on the topic of movies, I can’t neglect to mention how she would roll her eyes when one of us would tell her the Green Mile or Forrest Gump was on.  Though they are classics, dad had burned all of us out on those in particular and it turned into a long standing joke.

My mom worked a lot.  5:30 in the morning (or earlier if she woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep) to 3 in the afternoon every weekday, later on some days and then sometimes going in on the weekend.  She worked a lot and worked hard.  The days she did have off were special, or at least now I look at them as special.  Around Christmas she would take a few extra days off and this is when a lot of my favorite lazy days spent with mom came from.

Rolling it all together I know that these things won’t be the same this Christmas or any in the future.  In a season about joy and happiness it’s a hard thing to swallow and to accept.

Here’s the big lesson though: what good does it do for me if I drag my feet and pull on that emergency brake?  For one, I’d be wallowing in self-pity and that doesn’t look good on anyone.  I would also be allowing myself to make this season into a negative time and I don’t want that.  I don’t want to set the tone for the Christmas season without my mom to be carried out in future years as a negative time because that goes against all the memories.

Accepting the holidays are a thing that’s going to happen is saying “Okay, this is going to happen and parts are really going to fucking suck” and to keep my head up.  It’s all about finding a new normal, and that normal probably isn’t going to come for a long time.  If I continued on fighting Christmas and the holidays to come I’m only hurting myself and keeping myself from finding a new normal and finding a way to be happy.

I fought against Thanskgiving.  Like really hard.  If Thanksgiving was a person, I went into hand to hand combat with them.  And I lost.

I dreaded Thanksgiving so much.  I can’t even begin to explain to you how much.

I was uncertain and treaded lightly.  I for the most part locked my emotions and feelings away for the first few days of my school break.  It wasn’t until I had dinner with my friend Courtney that I allowed myself to feel and accept all the emotions.

It is okay to feel lost.

It is okay to cry.

It is okay to allow myself to be happy.

It is okay.

I surrounded myself at Thanksgiving with my friends Jackie and Ryan and their two kids.  They brightened my day from the time I woke up and filled my days with laughs and smiles.  I went to bed happy every night.  I slept the best those five nights than I have in over a year.

So Thanksgiving happened, and I survived.

Christmas is close.  I’m ready.