Don’t Do It.

What are you thinking on?

What are you thinking on?

Have you ever gone through trials, and thought if only you had someone else’s life?

Don’t do it.

It’s easy enough see the good things in another person’s life…. But remember, you can’t see all the bad. You can’t see the heartache. You can’t see the trials. You can’t see the broken relationships. You can’t see the disease. You can’t see the addictions. You can’t see what’s lacking. You can’t see the stress. You can’t see the tears. You can’t see the pain inflicted. You can’t see the pain received. You may see some. But not all.

The other night a friend compared it to “the Facebook picture”. On Facebook many people have happy pictures, and comment about the amazing things going on in their lives. But most people don’t share everything. Our friend said someone she knows has a profile that makes it look like they have the perfect life:  A loving spouse, children, fun and exciting trips and activities. But if you could see behind the scenes, you would see the anxiety, depression, tears, and strained and broken relationships.

Everyone has trials. The trials we bear may cause us, or those we love, to suffer so much. But so far, we have survived. Is it possible that if we did experience someone else’s life…. experienced someone else’s trials…. we would not be able to stand up under what they’re going through? Would we not survive? People may try to weigh the severity of trials in different ways, but we are all different people. What one person may be able to handle, another would crumble under.

Trials would be truly devastating if nothing good could come from them. But I believe in a God who loves us, and takes the worst of times and uses it toward good. Even if you don’t believe in God, good can come out of trials. We can learn appreciation for things or others. Relationships can be healed or made stronger. Connections may develop or opportunities presented. We can become better people:  more patient, kind, loving, understanding, forgiving, smarter, empathetic, etc.

I’m not saying trials are easy, or that we should be thrilled to have them. Seeing people suffer, I just don’t want them to lose out on what can come from trials. Wishing for another person’s life can easily distract us from the good that comes in our own. There is always something to hold on to.

Purposeful, Intentional, Productive

Okay, wow.

I did it! I reached over 50,000 words in the month of November. For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, it’s NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Winner 2012-180x180

The month was a crazy one:  Moving everything we own one weekend, working on a church project every night another week, and of course, the Thanksgiving holiday with family. On top of having a full-time job. I spent the last week getting up at 5:00 a.m. to catch up on my word count. And strangely enough, it turned me into a morning person. Which I now love!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to write about this last Thursday–I was sick for an entire week. Which brings me closer to the point of this post…

After training for and running a marathon (see Here We Go Again… and Good vs. Crappy Runs and My First Marathon:  The Wonderful in the Horrible), after trudging through NaNoWriMo (see NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!!!!!), and after a week of being sick, I decided to take an evening “off” from everything by watching TV and surfing the net. Of course, I did a few productive things like eat supper, play with the dog, and put laundry away/organize my closet (it’s still a little crazy after moving). I expected to feel relaxed.

Nope.

I felt like the evening was a complete waste. And I was frustrated because I had no idea why. Well….. Having spent every spare minute in the last six months working productively and intentionally toward huge goals, I have reprogrammed myself. Just like a person can “become” a morning person (see Michael Hyatt‘s post, How to Become a Morning Person), a person can become other things. I am becoming purposeful, intentional, and productive.

So now I’m struggling with conflicting feelings about the “new me”. I’m excited because being purposeful, intentional, and productive will propel me toward my future goals, life dreams, and crossing things off my bucket list. But I’m also a little saddened because I wonder if I will never feel relaxed again. But my husband reminded me, relaxation could just be redefined.

All in all, even if I have lost the ability to feel relaxed doing “nothing”, I am beyond excited at the future accomplishments and realization of dreams before me!

What is your Passion?

The last several months I have filled my “spare” time with things I love:  running, learning about leadership, working on nonfiction, spending time with family, friends, and my fur-babies. But something was missing.

I knew it was missing. But just like anything else…the longer I went without, the more I thought I was okay without it. I’m a relatively healthy person:  I exercise regularly, I eat healthier than the average American, I have a wonderful marriage, I’ve managed to get enough sleep. Still, I have repeatedly found myself feeling despondent.

This week my husband told me he knew why I struggled. He said it was because I no longer pursued my passion:  writing fiction. He went on about my imagination, stuff I’ve already written, how I put stories together. He inspired me, just enough, to start working on fiction again. And guess what! I LOVE it! I’ve worked on fiction a few nights this week and I can’t wait to do more!

Lesson learned:  No matter how many things you’re involved in, that you love, you must continue pursuing your passion to be truly happy.

I believe God designed us to have specific passions. And it is through those passions that he can accomplish his greatest work through us!

Writing by Sunset

A few stepping stones in the direction of our dreams

Are things finally stabilizing?

These past seven and a half months have been a whirlwind of uncertainty for us. We had ideas of the dreams we wanted to pursue. We thought we were working toward those dreams…by my husband quitting his job to pursue art and composing, by my working at a business where I had opportunity to learn so much, by living in a low-cost community, by my beginning this blog…

But our dreams seemed on the verge of evaporating when I quit my job at the end of 2011. We felt like we were floating in empty space. Nothing to grab hold of. Fortunately we had family willing to help us back on our feet again, by providing places to live and emotional support.

Things are so different now… Both my husband and I have great jobs! My husband has a job he never in his life thought he would have, but he is loving it. The job has regular hours, enabling my husband to have evenings and weekends free to pursue his passions. Our jobs put us in a better position to attack debt. Living in an apartment frees up our time from most maintenance projects.

The awesome thing:  the situation we were in before, we tried forcing our dreams into reality. Now, even though we struggled with the thought of losing our dreams, we are in a better position than ever! It is amazing how God makes things fall into place so perfectly.

Now, let’s go attack those dreams!

Pursuing Dreams Together

Have you ever thought you were losing your dream, only to find things turned for the better?

Blessed.

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday we picked up the keys to our new home!!

It is an apartment; not a house. But that doesn’t make it any less special. Family members have lovingly provided a roof over our heads the past seven months; now we have our own place!

Getting an apartment, as opposed to a house, was slightly influenced by attending FPU. We want to be smart with our money. Even though we have enough money to get into the apartment, we don’t have enough yet to rent a U-Haul for all our stuff that is currently in storage. So, we’re going to temporarily make do. And fortunately for us, the couple that led our FPU small group is loaning us a set of pots and pans, and a few dishes. Otherwise, we have a couple camping chairs. And we’ll be sleeping on sleeping bags. I guess it’s a good thing we enjoy camping. And this has an upside–air conditioning and no bugs!

God’s Covenant

The most awesome part about yesterday…

When we stepped outside our apartment, there was a gigantic double rainbow right overhead. It reminded us of God’s promises:  God loves us, and will be with us. A rainbow is one of the only natural phenomenon mentioned in the Bible, that God used specifically to signify a covenant, and intended as a reminder in the future that he always keeps his promises.

We felt so blessed.

When Everything Falls Into Place

Don’t you just love that feeling?

That feeling of everything seeming to fit together just perfectly….

We left what we had with nothing ahead of us (Changes in the New Year). After a month of job hunting, I found a job…that I’m still so thankful for (Got Job?)! As far as a place to live….we kept looking, and looking, and looking….(He Will Lead Us Home.)… Until now!!

Now we are signed up to move into an apartment in August. I’m so excited! It’s perfect. It’s within our price range, but nicer than others we looked at. There are a number of walking/running/biking trails, which will be perfect for my marathon training (Here We Go Again…) And they will accept our pets. And….

Some even awesomer news… My husband got a job with a great company, and starts in July!

I’m shaking my head at myself right now. We used to live in a rental house and our landlady decided to sell. At the time I had been so worried…what are we going to do, where are we going to live, etc. Then, at just the right moment, God provided a home. (Financial Obstacles) I declared I would never worry again–ha!

I was less worried this time around, but the worry was still there. I am sure this will not be the last time God gives me an opportunity to strengthen my faith!

Psalm 119:105

A Weekend to Remember

My husband and I attended Weekend to Remember. And it was one of the best weekends we have ever experienced together!

We drove straight there from my work and checked into the hotel. After a quick bite at Panera Bread, we walked into the hotel’s large ballroom to find a couple seats. Right away the speakers were entertaining, informative, and engaging. We had a full schedule from Friday at 7:00 pm until after 12:30 Sunday (schedule).

Saturday evening was “Date Night”. Each couple was on their own. My husband and I chose to go to The Cheesecake Factory. We ordered the Avocado Eggrolls for our appetizer, my husband ordered the Steak Diane and Herb Crusted Salmon, I ordered the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes as a meal, and we topped it all off by splitting the Mango Key Lime Cheesecake. Mmmmmmmm. Then we went to the movie theater. We chose to watch The Hunger Games, even though neither of us had read the book(s). Good movie.

My favorite part of the weekend, though, was the project assigned Saturday morning.

The instructions were to answer a number of questions about our spouse, along the lines of:  what attracted us to them in the beginning, what we learned to appreciate about them during marriage, how they have helped us grow, etc. Then, we took those answers and formed them into a love letter to our spouse, including committing to our spouse through God’s integrity and unconditional love. In writing my letter to my husband, I started crying when I wrote the words, “You have helped me come to a point of knowing I am a child of God, I belong to God, and I will spend eternity with God. You helped to bring me value–something I have never had before.” And then I continued crying when I read my husband’s love letter to me. A line I’d like to share:  “I am committing to God and you, to trust God more in our differences and weaknesses AND to demonstrate unconditional love through Christ.” Powerful stuff.

And the speakers ended the weekend with another powerful memory:  They had everyone stand. And those who wanted to, faced each other. We said our marriage vows. There were definitely tears. The meaning behind those words had become so much more significant, now that we had experienced some of the joys and trials a married couple can face.

After, we purchased a couple books: For Women Only and For Men Only. Both by Shaunti Feldhahn, with her husband joining her on “For Men Only”.

It was a weekend we will never forget. It was a weekend we wish never ended. It was a weekend to remember!

Weekend to Remember