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

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Rest.

How many times do we desire rest? How often do we rest? How many people take time and prioritize rest?

I know that’s something I struggle with.

I always have something I could be doing….marathon training, writing my blog, working on my two book ideas, learning how to use different programs I want to implement in my projects, doing the research behind ideas I have for church, networking, reading about leadership and small business, budgeting financial goals, and the list could go on. Don’t forget playing with my two fur-babies and maintaining a spectacular marriage!

My husband occasionally has to put his hands on my shoulders and say, stop. (And that’s one of the ways we balance each other out just perfectly!)

I used to fight the idea of rest. I would get all frustrated at myself, that I wasn’t able to cram over a hundred “to do” things in one day. It would stress me out!

Now, I am much more open to the idea. But more likely than not, I’ll just forget I need to stop and take the time.

Rest enables us to be more productive during other hours in the day. Rest lowers stress levels. Rest is good for our minds, bodies, souls, and relationships.

That’s one of the reasons I don’t listen to music most of the time while running, even during that 15 miler I did the other day. Silence, other than cars passing and the occasional animal, helps my brain to relax. I also use it as an opportunity to talk with God.

The other day my husband was bemoaning the fact that it felt like our weeknights were nonexistent, and weekends……what are weekends again? So tonight, I insisted on preparing supper so he could have some time to just sit and read. Rest is important.

I have learned the hard way a couple times. My body took on flu symptoms and literally forced me to crash. It was not the flu. I don’t want to ever experience that again. And I hope you never will.

So…..How ’bout you go rest.

Anniversary Surprise!

Our six year anniversary held a sweet, wonderful surprise…

My steering wheel decided it didn’t like turning anymore, and instead of our planned celebratory evening, the evening was spent getting the car checked over.

Bleh.

The guy at the shop said it was probably the steering fluid. I asked if it could be electrical, since I heard a number of clicks and saw lights flashing before the steering went out. So he said he would check the battery. (That’s not what I meant by electrical)

He could find nothing wrong, so sent me off.

I went home and my husband took it for a drive. He discovered a few additional things not working:  the power windows would only go up and down in park; not drive or reverse, the radio = no sound, shifting sometimes refused to happen (it’s not good doing 25 at 4,000 rpm).

The next day my husband took it to a shop where one of the workers did not want to look at it because they thought it was possessed.

The third day, the problem was finally figured out. And fortunately it was only one thing that needed replaced:  the computer.

When you only have one vehicle, zero extra money, and you’re supposed to be celebrating your marriage…. It can be a little stressful.

Fortunately, I have the most wonderful husband in the world! Besides hugs and prayers, he made time for us to celebrate the day after our anniversary. He took me out for a picnic at a gorgeous park. It was perfect!

The Picnic

Can Stress and Communication Co-exist?

I am stressed. Not as much now as I was earlier in the week.

In The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams, I mention a few situations that were stressful. And in Got Job? I mentioned part of the stressful process I went through in looking for a job. After God showed up at just the right moment in each of those instances, I declared I would never be worried about anything again! How naive!

Faith is a good thing. And I should have it. But I was being naive about my humanness. I am prone to worry.

A Little Foggy Ahead?

And when I’m stressed, I need more communication to keep the stress level down. My husband and I learned that the hard way earlier this week. My stress level was increasing….where are we going to live? when are we going to make enough money to live on? (I wouldn’t be so stressed if this just affected us, but we’re depending on his mom’s good graces for our current housing.) My husband isn’t working a regular 9-5 job and I only had a partial idea of how he was using his time throughout the day. So the stress skewed my interpretation of his work.

We had a miscommunication. I had a melt-down. We came back together and came up with our best solution:  He would time-track his work in a little book. That way I could see what was going on–have a little security blanket. Much better than not communicating about it and better than me peppering him with twenty questions….or more.

It’s funny. When I’m stressed I withdrawal. But when I’m stressed I need more communication. What a contradiction!

Any tips from you about the best way to communicate during stressful times, or to deal with stress?

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

Most People Never Get There

I receive quotes from Runner’s World via e-mail every day. And the other day I received one that made me think, I have to share this on my blog!

“Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”   —Dean Karnazes

Think about it.

Most people want to take the “easy” road in life. They want to do what makes them feel comfortable. When things don’t go their way, they shout that it’s not fair. BUT at the same time those people usually seem miserable, at the very least not satisfied with life. They have no real joy.

Lester

Where does real joy come from? A favorite TV show? Fast food? Shopping? Relaxing? Puppies? Kittens?

Or is it something deeper? Discovery? Accomplishment? Giving? Learning? Loving?

I believe it is something deeper still:  a relationship with God.

I could go on and on about why I believe true joy can only be found with God, but to tie back to Karno’s quote….with God we gain confidence in accomplishing the impossible. The demands, resistance, struggle, and suffering become surmountable, even worthwhile.

The sentence that pops out to me is, “But struggling and suffering…were the essence of a life worth living.”

Have you heard the idea that if there are no conflicts in a marriage, the couple is not in love? The more one invests in a marriage the greater the chance of conflict, because people are making themselves vulnerable. At the same time, the more one invests in a marriage the greater that marriage will become.

The same goes for life. The more one invests in life, the greater the chance of struggle and suffering. At the same time, the greater one’s life will be.

Are you denying yourself an extraordinary trip?

Our Marriage….Rocky?

When I came home for lunch the other day, my husband shared a rumor that is going around about us. Apparently the reason my husband quit his job was because we are getting a divorce. News flash for the both of us! (To read the real “why” visit my first post The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams) At first I was upset…this person clearly does not know us and has too much time on their hands—they need a hobby. Now, I just laugh. Because it could not be further from the truth!

I have written about people’s reactions to our seemingly “extreme” way of following our dreams, see Initial Reactions….from friends, family, acquaintances…and strangers and touched on people not understanding, in general, why someone would pursue out-of-the-ordinary dreams, see Dedication, Discipline, & A Little Loopy. But I have not yet explained how our decisions have affected our marriage.

My husband was a band instructor and general music teacher, for eight years. He enjoyed teaching, interacting with students, and loved sharing his passion for the arts with others. But a teacher has to stay on top of many other, different things too.

In college, my husband chose music education as his degree because teaching was a “real” job—a person can’t earn money as a freelancing artist. At least that was the impression he had.

Being able to take advantage of the freedom to pursue his original passions, my husband is a happier man. He feels less pressure not having to maintain a high-stress job to provide for his family. He has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue his dreams.

At the same time I am pursuing my dreams.

On the Solid Rock: Jesus Christ

I am at a job where I need to be both logical and creative, where I need to meet deadlines and challenges head-on, and where I am not staring at the wall for half the day. I have found wonderful people to share my writing goals with, who hold me accountable. I am exploring the world of creating amazing things out of the seemingly nonexistent.

We are more where we want to be in life, right now, than we have ever been before. We are both happier now than we have ever been before. And our marriage is better than ever. The reason those things are true, is because we are following the plan that God has for our lives.

If our marriage can be considered “rocky” it would be because it’s built on the Solid Rock—Jesus Christ.