For God Knows the Plans He Has – a Birth Story

“Unfortunately, after reviewing your blood work, blood pressure and ultrasound, I recommend that we induce labor right away. Please be at the hospital by Noon… I am working labor and delivery today, so I’ll be here when you arrive”

I do not cry in public very often. I certainly have never broken down into the kind of loud, ugly sobs you normally see on TV in the middle of a clinic hallway – but I did that day. This wasn’t my plan and I wasn’t ready. I always have a plan. I live and die by my plan. In that moment I felt so out of control I completely lost my mind.

My husband was standing next to me, unable to hear what the doctor was telling me on the phone. I can only imagine what he was thinking until I managed to sob out that we needed to go home and get our “go-bag” and head to the hospital.

You see, we were both dressed for work. It was a Friday, my last day of work before maternity leave. The night before, I had gone in for my 38 week appointment – routine, no worries. Except my blood pressure was high. And I don’t have high blood pressure. And then my belly measurement was off. I was only measuring 36 weeks. In my mind I was wondering how accurate a  98 cent yellow measuring tape can really be.

So they sent me down for lab work and fetal monitoring and they also told me to come in for an ultrasound in the morning – just to check the baby’s growth. I remembering texting my husband, so annoyed, because I was planning to go to the gym and now I would miss the 4:30 pm class. I was already in my gym clothes. He raced over to meet me, despite my protests that there was no reason for that. He also insisted on coming to the ultrasound with me in the morning even though it would make him late for work. God bless him.

I wouldn’t call myself an optimist, but I didn’t feel alarm at any of these “issues”. I had experienced practically a textbook pregnancy. Stellar blood pressure, no sickness, ultrasounds had all been great. I worked out the entire time. Sure, I had consumed a few pastries (see: so many pastries), but I hadn’t had a drop of caffeine or soft cheese or anything else that was a risk. We were in the home stretch and nothing could go wrong now.

We had the ultrasound with a technician – of course they can never tell you anything, but she showed us our baby, moving around like a champ. See? Everything was fine. After, I was searching for a blood pressure machine when my phone rang. It was my OBGYN, which was crazy because I had just stepped out of the ultrasound room five minutes ago. Obviously this is the call to say nothing is wrong and she’ll see me in two weeks if I haven’t gone into labor.

“Unfortunately, after reviewing your blood work, blood pressure and ultrasound, I recommend that we induce labor right away. Please be at the hospital by Noon… I am working labor and delivery today, so I’ll be here when you arrive”

48 hours after my routine 38 week appointment, I was holding a 6 lb 14 oz ball of baby. The details of labor don’t matter, though they were the beginning of what turned out to be the worst 96 hours of our lives. Unfortunately, I had rapidly developed preeclampsia in the final week of my pregnancy. My blood pressure skyrocketed during labor and the doctors had to intervene. After delivery, they immediately had to start me on a course of medication that would render me nearly unconscious for 30 + hours.  Four hours after our son was born, he started laboring to breathe, badly. As I slipped in and out of consciousness, they rushed him to the NICU, my husband trailing behind. His lungs were full and he couldn’t breathe. Maybe it was just birth fluid, but maybe it was sepsis and he could die. They wouldn’t know for several days.

My husband earned his stripes in combat that night. Completely alone as the doctor told him our son might die. He couldn’t lean on me – I couldn’t hold him up. I couldn’t even understand what was happening. He cried out to God as he paced the parking lot. My parents, unknowing of the circumstances, were crying out to God on our behalf as well. I believe God healed my son that night – because we asked and because it was not in His plan for him to die.

By the next morning, not 12 hours after they told us he could die, he was completely better. He was a healthy shade of pink, he was breathing on his own and eating. They kept him a few days as a precaution, but released him later that week.

When we finally made it home, I found myself reflecting back on our journey to parenting and how in each phase it seemed as though God was looking the other way.

For years we tried to conceive and month after month came up empty. When we finally did conceive, through IVF, it was just a month before two of my best friends also conceived. What a fun journey the three of us had being pregnant together. We all had boys and our sons will grow up together. Looking back, the timing was perfect for our personal lives as well. Our jobs, finances – everything lined up.

Being induced unexpectedly was not my plan – but I realized that going in to the hospital that day was actually less stressful than if I had gone into labor at home. We didn’t have to wonder, didn’t have to rush, had time to pack and make arrangements for our dog – have one last meal and time to talk.

I never thought I would be grateful to have a child in the NICU. There is nothing positive about having a sick child. Except when, as a mother, you are so incapacitated that you cannot care for your child and having 24 hour care is the most comforting feeling in the world. Knowing Landon was safe, fed and cared for around the clock was what got me through those dark hours. While I have no doubt my husband could’ve made it work, it happened exactly as it needed to happen so that I could heal.

The other NICU blessing in disguise was the opportunity for Derek to step into parenthood without me. It is easy as mothers to take on the full responsibility of our newborns. I couldn’t, I didn’t have that choice. Derek received a crash course in diaper changing, bottle feeding, holding, burping from the experts and I’m grateful.

As a result of my infertility, the preeclampsia, the magnesium sulfate treatment and not being with my son the first several days, I had a very low milk supply. He was on a partial formula diet from the very beginning. While I never felt like less than, I underestimated how important that formula was to the first several months of motherhood for me. You see, we are doers. We like to go, do, see and get out. Formula gave me freedom and not just freedom of body – it freed my mind from what could’ve been a very dark time.

In two days we will celebrate my son’s first birthday. Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite verse, always has been. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” God’s plans are not always our plans. I would’ve never chose this journey for myself. I would never choose it for someone else. But God knows how to show Himself and He showed Himself time and time again. I may not understand His plans, but I will never doubt them.

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To my son


It is still unbelievable to utter those words and I haven’t even met you yet. You won’t believe what we had to do to get to this point. Don’t worry, your dad will tell you all about it and never let you forget how much money we spent on you before you were even born – actually, before you were even conceived!

I don’t think I can fully express to you the hope I have for your life and the hope you bring to my life. You represent our future, our legacy and my hope is that you rise to the occasion and fulfill the plans and purpose that God has had for you since before I even realized I needed you in my life.

You come from a strong stock of men. Men who are confident in who they are and what they stand for. Men who are leaders in their own ways. I pray that you take a little piece of each of them as you grow up.

Son, I hope you become like your daddy. A man strong of character and justice, deep love and loyalty. He is responsible. A provider. A leader. He is trustworthy and kind and never ceases to amaze me with his quiet generosity. I pray that some day you will find someone to love as extravagantly as your father loves me – and in turn, be passionately loved back.

Son, I hope you take after your grandpa Johnny (aka, Poppy). A man of deep and abiding faith and fearlessness. A man who loves his wife, children and grandchildren passionately and without limits. A man who will sacrifice self for others. A teacher of deep wisdom and ability. A doer and a finisher.

Son, I hope you are fearless like your grandpa Jerry. A man who was willing to sacrifice everything for his country and go into battle. A patriotic man, a proud man.

Son, I hope you are like your uncle Joedy. A man who understands and exemplifies the true meaning of sacrificing everything for his family. A man who is as selfless as can be – willing to take care of anyone who asks, and even those who do not. A man who places specific emphasis on other people’s comfort. A friendly man, a hard-working man.

Son, I hope you are like your cousin Justus. Even at a young age he stood out as a leader, as a strong boy of character and it has proven to be true as he has grown up. He is respectful. He understands the value of hard work and isn’t afraid to work for what he wants. A smart man, an independent man.

Son, I do not tell you about the amazing men in your heritage to pressure you, rather I want you to know what you are capable of. I want to you know the resources you have available to you.  I believe that you can be and do whatever you want to. The options are limitless, but I pray this: that whatever you do, whoever you become, that you work your hardest, give your everything, never regret the decisions you make and are proud of yourself.

I’ve told you about the strong men in your family, but you also will be surrounded by strong, independent women who will teach you the softer side of life and that stereotypes are only that, and are meant to be broken.

I am your momma son. My entire life I never wanted to be defined by that title, rather complement it with the fact that I was smart, fearless and successful. I have spent my career trying to be the best at whatever I am doing and not just collect a paycheck. Sometimes I make stupid choices because I overvalue my strength and capabilities. I pray that one thing you learn from me as you grow up is that you want a capable woman. Don’t ever be put off by a women’s strength. Rather, assess how she wields her strength and if she uses it to bring others up, rather than tear them down.

Your grandma Jeannie (Grandnanna) is the most compassionate woman I have ever known. Her reserves for pouring herself into people are endless. Her joy overflows from her laugh, her smile and her quiet servitude like a fresh mountain spring. She thrives when she is surrounded by her family, loving and serving them in ways they each need.

Your grandma Sandy may be small, but she is mighty. She raised your daddy through very difficult circumstances, never settling for getting by, but making sacrifice after sacrifice so that she could build a good life for them, and model what hard work gets you. She instilled in him the value of responsibility, caution and ownership. She would not let him settle, rather she pushed him and supported him as he made his own path.

Your aunt Kendra is the nurturer. She thrives on being a wife and a mother, on loving and supporting her husband and children in all things. She gives of herself time and time again so that others can know joy. She is the party planner, the hostess and the crafty queen of our family. She is teaching me much about raising children in the world we live in today.

Your cousins Selah and Cadence will be your greatest allies. I sense that you can do no wrong in their eyes.  They will each teach you different aspects of life. Selah – the smart perfectionist and Cadence – the quietly humorous darkhorse.  They will show you how to relentlessly pursue what you want from life. Just ask them about how Maddy the dog joined their family.

These women are just a few of the reasons why I want you to grow up with the utmost respect for the opposite sex. Think of them and how you want them to be treated. I will not let you become a boy who doesn’t respect women. Look to your daddy son, he understands and can teach you what you need to know. He is both gentle and fierce in his regard for women. He will not stand around while they are mistreated and I expect the same of you.

Son, this is your family. It is small, but it is strong – filled with amazing men and women that will be on your team and love you and encourage you when you are down. A family that will celebrate with you when you are joyous and pray with you and for you when trouble arises.  Don’t ever wonder if these people love you. Don’t ever let feelings and emotions come between you and these people – these are your most important assets in life.

Son, I pray that if you have a sibling someday, that eventually you will become best friends. That you will rely on each other, respect each other and be each other’s biggest fan. You will be the older brother and that is a serious job. It is your job to protect and defend and teach them the way.

Son, I pray that we will always be close, that we will always reach out to each other in times of joy, times of need and just to say hello sometimes. Your dad and I both have close relationships with our parents and I cannot stress what an important part of our lives that is.

Son, most of all I want you to know how much we love you. You have already buried deep in my heart, impressed upon my mind. You are our hope and our future and we cannot wait to meet you.


The learning in leaving

Today was my last day at my current job and I’m moving on to a new place. Again. I say it like that because sometimes that is how it feels. “You are changing jobs AGAIN?!” “Didn’t you just get a new job?”

I did. I have only been at my current job for 14 months and I am leaving. The job before that was 18 months, the two jobs before that, about two years each, give or take a few months. My first full-time gig out of college was a full three years — my longest professional tenure cut short by way of a budget cut lay-off (best thing to ever happen to me).

While I am a millennial and this is “what the kids are doing these days”, I do not take these changes lightly. While every move I have made has been strategic and for very specific reasons, it is hard to start over. It is hard to roll over 401ks, enter two W-2s in my tax return, go without insurance for three months and leave behind coworkers and clients and a reputation and start over. I have to learn new tasks, new skills, new people, new personalities and catch up on procedures and clients and members and the learning curve can be steep. I’ve had to learn what I didn’t know (see: I don’t know everything, I can’t control everything).

I don’t enjoy the perception that I cannot hold a job. The fact is, I can. The job didn’t hold me. I could’ve stayed and I probably would’ve been ok, but things would be different. I wouldn’t have the relationships I have now, the skills I have now, the opportunities I have now. While I have pulled up personal roots by leaving these jobs, my career roots are deeper, more pronounced in the exceedingly small garden that is “media and communications” in Sacramento.

I have been molded by these jobs. By leaving these jobs for a new opportunity, it has made me the person I am. I am a person who always wants to do more, to do better. I cannot stay complacent in my career, I have too much of my identity wrapped up in being and doing the best that I can. That doesn’t mean that I will jump ship for just anything. I have chosen my moves carefully, wisely. I do not make these decisions based on emotions. While these changes are to promote happiness and job satisfaction, they are also based on very real and tangible needs. More money, a closer commute, a job that utilizes my skills and education. While a short tenure may suggest a haphazard attitude towards my career, it’s actually been quite the opposite.

I leave and move on because I care too much about my career to stay. Every situation has been different. A different set of circumstances, a different direction, a different reason – but they all lead to the fact that I want more. Too many people stay in their job – unhappy, unused and uninspired – because leaving is hard. It’s scary.

I have invested too much time in my career to sit and be unhappy, unused and uninspired. I am worth more than that. I owe it to myself and my family to reach higher. I do not regret a single change I have made. Every job has taught me new skills and methods of doing the job I love to do and I am grateful. I have learned how to manage (and how to not manage), how to be a team member, how to survive through difficult circumstances, how to fail, how to succeed and how to support my team. I have walked away with relationships that continue to grow, people I consider friends, allies and a valuable part of my life. I have seen employees that were under me go on to thrive and succeed in ways I never could’ve predicted and I am so proud. Proud to have played a small part in their career, their success.

I have seen some other things too. I have seen nasty people succeed. I’ve seen nasty people crash and burn. But I have learned that being nasty doesn’t pay off, successful or not. I have seen the same outcome with people who are lazy, liars, schemers. People who use other people and then toss them aside. Some win, some lose, but that is not who I am. I want to be remembered by my coworkers as someone who championed for them, who worked alongside them and listened to them and was for them. Maybe I could’ve been farther along in my career if I had stepped on everyone else to get there, but I don’t want that kind of success.

I have realized through this all that I am strong, I am capable and I am worth reaching higher until I grasp the limb I am supposed to be on. I have much to learn and I have much to give.

Some people are leavers, some are pursuers and some are stayers. My husband is a stayer. He is faithful, loyal and passionate about his job and his firm. Through the good and bad he is committed to his job, his team and I am so proud of him. I would not characterize myself as a leaver. I am a pursuer of dreams. But I know this – it doesn’t matter if you are a stayer, a leaver or a pursuer. What matters is that you live life passionately, love passionately and achieve passionately. Go or stay wherever you can do that. Do not settle because it is easier. It isn’t easier to do nothing. Finding your place may be difficult, but it is worth it.

Be passionate, but be responsible. Don’t burn bridges. You will need to walk over it again, I promise. Remember that part of your charge as a human and as an adult is making this world a better place. You have to be whole before you can give of yourself to others. Whole doesn’t mean you have the most money or the best job or the best anything. Whole means that you are taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. Sometimes staying whole means waiting to make changes until the time is right. Hesitate and you may miss your shot, rush ahead and you may miss your shot.  Wait, watch and seek counsel from those you trust. Be open and be cautious.

I refuse to be paralyzed by fear of the unknown. The unknown is a scary place, but it is also exciting. I am anxious in anticipation for this next step. I’m itching to grow, to expand my knowledge and my life. I am ready to live passionately.


Friendship: A blessing and a curse

I have a lot of amazing friends. So many, in fact, I cannot keep up with everyone all the time. That’s not to brag, it is simply a fact of my life. I’ve lived in the same city for 33 + years. I went to school, went to church, worked every job here. You are bound to pick up a few great peeps along the way, while holding onto the long-term special ones. One of my biggest regrets is not having the time or bandwidth to know everything about everyone in real time. I want to know about their family, their health, their babies, trying to have babies, relationships, work, hobbies, fears, dreams and and and.

Life is busy, both mine and theirs and I wish I could be present in both my life and everyone else’s life, but I can’t. Frankly, I can barely keep up with the changes in my own life. Instead, I have to settle for the occasional girls night, text update, extended phone call or Facebook stalking research. It isn’t enough, but it will have to do.

It makes the times I do get to catch up, all that more special. Jammies and wine girl’s nights pouring over high school photos or playing Cards Against Humanity, hour-long phone calls with a long-distance friend, Sunday morning brunch with a new group of friends, happy hour with my co-workers, couch time catch up with my bestie, family dinner. These are the times that build and maintain lifelong friendships. God willing, in 50-60 years, we can be sharing stories about each other after we pass.

Other times, friendships drain me. Knowing is a blessing and a curse. While knowing brings celebration and joy, it also brings sorrow and worry. I worry about these people. I am a fixer by nature and when I can’t fix, I fixate. I hate feeling helpless. I want to shield my friends from life’s gale force winds — from the harsh realities that we face every day. Sometimes those winds are close to home, family members who hurt us, friends who betray us. Sometimes they are intangibles like a bad health diagnosis or a work problem.

There are times when the combined force of problems and hurts and feelings from all the people overtake me and I cannot continue. I cannot bear the brunt of just one more negative piece of news. And I withdrawal. I cut myself off because I need a moment to recharge my battery.

And then there are times when I am the empty one and my shoulders are so stooped with the burden of my own life and those same friends come along side me and hold me up, fill me up. They see that I am in need and they come to my aid.

It is the give and take of friendships that make them such a deep blessing and life-giving. Friendships that are one-sided – only one person gives and only one person takes – are not friendships at all, they are toxic. The older I get the more I choose to distance myself from those that only take and never give. I have given myself permission to back away. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it isn’t. And that is the curse.

What kind of friend are you?


You aren’t welcome here 2015

How do you start writing about hard things? I guess you just start writing. There are days where my written creativity is so stifled by the events of life that I can’t imagine writing anything worth reading. But then I realize I like writing about life and if my life is hard right now, then I need to write about my life being hard.

While I do not sum up my life in calendar years, I can unequivocally say that 2015 has been the most difficult, shocking and trying year of my 33 year old life. Any given one thing can be taken with a grain of salt, but when I look back on it in sum total, I feel it again – the crushing weight of the stress, the emotions and the pain.

My husband works a very demanding, high stress job and this year, I have found myself in the same situation. I’d have to say that this job has been an uphill battle, every day, every hour for me and that is a very new experience. While I don’t shy away from a challenge, I underestimated how that dynamic would bleed into my personal life, my thoughts and my emotions. Even now, I find myself mentally consumed with how things can change, how they can get better. What do I need to do, to learn, to fake to master this? Whose butt do I have to kiss?? It’s exhausting, always feeling a step behind.

Early in the year, my maternal grandpa, (both my maternal grandparents recently moved in with my parents, with my paternal grandma who already lived there) was diagnosed with bladder cancer and slow kidney failure. My parents, who had been caretaking for my dad’s mom for 20+ years were now caretaking for three 85+ year olds. They are saints, let me assure you. Every day is a struggle, an emergency and a “is today going to be the day we lose one of them?” day. I have been trying to make an effort to be there more. Not only to soak up these last days with them, but to hopefully provide some support to my parents.

My husband and I have been trying to have babies for a few years. Before that, there were many many years of “when we have kids” and “we can’t wait to have kids, when we are ready”. Of course those feelings come with the assumption that when we are ready, it will happen. Well I am here to tell you that is wrong. Wanting does not equal having. Because we had not been able to conceive naturally, we made the expensive and bold decision to seek fertility treatment. Or, as I prefer to call it, IN-fertility treatment.

We were just about to dive into the world of doctors’ appointments, pills, needles and ultrasounds when my husband started getting really sick. He wasn’t sleeping, rapidly losing weight, extremely fatigued and excessively thirsty. After he dropped 20 pounds in six weeks without trying, we finally sought help. What followed was, while manageable, never-the-less life changing. After a battery of tests, he was eventually handed down a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, which had formally only been a juvenile onset disease. It was not because of lifestyle or poor health, rather a virus that destroyed his insulin producing cells.

How, at 32 years old do you adapt to taking three shots a day, testing blood sugar levels multiple times a day and curbing your standard eating habits? All while rapidly climbing the corporate ladder in a very demanding job that has no time for lunch and testing and shots?

Still reeling from this life-altering diagnosis, we still decided to press forward with fertility treatment. We are not getting any younger after all. I went through six months of low level treatment without success. In what was supposed to be my fifth month of treatment, they found a cyst on my ovary and we had to suspend treatment for fear it would grow and burst. Well, in standard Murphey’s Law fashion, it burst anyway. Talk about the worst pain I have ever felt. However, that pain did not touch the myriad of emotions I felt each month when I realized treatment had failed. Every month felt like a year. Another year I was chasing a dream that was just out of my reach.

After the unsuccessful first level of six-month treatment, we decided to press forward with more aggressive, more expensive treatment. More doctors appointments, nightly shots in my belly. Intense abdominal pain for hours at a time. I assume my emotions were probably widely out of control as well, but I was so adept at suppressing my feelings, I am not sure I even noticed. Again, more failed treatments and $1200 down the hole. {We did like to make jokes about “needle parties” each night in our house…that’s a diabetes/fertility treatment joke}

In October, my uncle passed away from brain cancer. He was the first close relative I had lost as an adult and it was very difficult for my family. Later that month we learned of a sudden and unexpected death of a friend, again, the first friend I had lost as an adult (or really, ever). The week of his memorial service, a very close family friend went into the hospital, in a last stand against the cancer eating her body. Every day appeared to be her last and we prepared to say goodbye. She was still holding on when my grandmother had a stroke, landing her in the same hospital I had been visiting every day and that still housed our family friend, still holding on. That weekend my uncle’s family, still grieving their loss, rushed up to visit my grandma. I spent two days walking between hospital floors, visiting both patients. Our family friend passed away on Sunday, my grandma passed on Monday. While I was comforted that both were no longer in pain and confined to a hospital bed, the void they left seem insurmountable.

Later that week our family traveled to celebrate the life of my uncle, and also my grandma. At this point I felt like I had been crying for a full month, with no end in sight. I was relieved that it was now Thanksgiving, a few days of R&R in the mountains with my husband and his family to escape reality. Unfortunately, on Thanksgiving I woke up to the reality that yet another round of fertility treatment was unsuccessful. I lost it. I laid in bed and silently wept. I wept for the loss and the pain and the stress and the expense and the feeling of complete failure.

After pulling myself together to face the family for Thanksgiving, I quietly pulled my husband aside and told him I needed a month off. I didn’t think my body could physically continue to handle the loss and the emotion and still function in a life that had already presented us with so much loss in the last few weeks. So we took a month off from treatment. I was so relieved to pull one thing off my plate, yet slapped by guilt for considering trying to have a child a burden.

This month, we had my grandma’s memorial service, found out our dog needs a second, very expensive leg surgery (she just had one last Christmas) and found out I am allergic to dairy (as a vegetarian, this is really depressing news). In January we will attend the celebration of life for our family friend, who was my mother-in-law’s best friend. I am hoping and praying that is the last service I attend for a long time. Instead, I want to replace the loss with new life. Babies and marriages and birthday parties. I want to focus on how to get my body in alignment with my spirit.

As I write this, I am preparing to start another round of fertility treatment and figuring out how to survive without cottage cheese and sour cream. I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, but I refuse. There are worse things and I remind myself when I start to think “Why me?” — why not me? I have a strong body and a loving husband and supportive family and friends and faith in a God who loves me so I am better equipped to handle these problems than anyone.

I want to wrap this up in a positive way, to defuse the depressing march of sadness and loss and death and emotions, but that is not where I am right now. I am still feeling those feelings. Knowing my husband is faced with a lifelong disease scares me. The thought of more fertility shots and appointments and expense makes me want to scream. The constant struggle of what to eat and how it makes me feel and what a burden it is to eat anywhere but my own kitchen makes me feel helpless. Knowing my grandpa may not live another six months makes me very sad. Those are not feelings I am used to and I am still trying to cope with them. I am trusting God’s plan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have questions. That doesn’t mean I am not crying out every day asking “What’s next? When does it get better?”

**{Update: The day I wrote this, I found out my insurance no longer covers ANY of my fertility treatment cost. Is it 2016 yet??}


I only see the now, but God can see the when

I’m not writing enough. That is something I am very certain about. It is funny how I can draft up stories and posts and scenarios in my mind while I am going about my day, yet when I have a few minutes to sit and write, I don’t. At the end of every day, when faced with a choice of going to the gym, showering, making dinner and vegging out or doing all those things and then pecking out my thoughts while simultaneously trying to pay attention to the Kings game (So that when Derek asks me if I saw that play, I can say yes and talk about it intelligently), the former always wins. Perhaps it is because life is heavy sometimes and writing about light topics seems like a waste, or fake somehow.

I know that this year has been a learning year for me. Learning how to choose sanity. I don’t get overwhelmed very easily, nor do I feel a lot of anxiety in life, even when it is called for, but there have been many overwhelming moments for me this year, some decisions to be made in my own life, some feeling the feels for what is happening in the lives of those around me and feeling helpless (Let the record show, feeling helpless is one of my top fears in life) and some are choosing to accept what I do not understand.

There have been moments of overwhelming anger and resentment, overwhelming feelings of sadness. I have also have overwhelming feelings of joy, success and accomplishment. I feel silly saying those feelings are overwhelming, but have you ever experienced a pure moment of success and felt lightheaded (I bet you have…)

Through this year, I felt as if I am learning some things about myself. Some things are new, some are just a confirmation of what I already knew. Some things are a deliberate change in my mindset (see my previous comment about sanity)

I learned that friendship can be hard and still be good. I have always been of the mindset that if you have to work too hard at friendship, clearly something isn’t right. Well that is a bunch of crap. It makes me appreciate easy friendships all the more, but there are some friendships that are worth fighting for, even when it saps your time, energy and emotions. I know it doesn’t sound appealing, but trust me, it is imperative that you do not walk away from people just because it gets hard.

I learned that making a professional change for myself, despite giving up the convenience of yoga pants, a flexible schedule and messy hair (ok, my hair is still messy) is worth the price of admission into the daily grind of my dreams. Remember that lightheaded feeling I mentioned when faced with a moment of pure success. I am feeling that elation nearly every day, in different ways. That is worth all the tailored pants, high heels and packed lunches in the world.

I learned that I do not have to be all things to all people. I do not have to say ‘yes’ to everything, always volunteer to help and I don’t have to host, buy or make for every party, family get-together or girls night. This one is still a work in progress for me. because I LOVE my people. I love the group of friends I have, the family God gave me; those I see often and those I only think about often. 95 percent of the time getting together is worth the cleaning, shopping, wine consumption (totally worth it) and late nights. These are the people that make up my life and I love them. But I need to remember that sometimes it is ok to let someone else do the planning, organizing, hosting, shopping, spending etc etc etc.

I learned that being there for people is never a waste of time. I have always felt this way, but this year seemed to be a particularly heavy year on people needing love, support and a listening ear. It is emotionally draining and at times I take it too deep, but I don’t regret a second of the hours spent letting people know I love them. The gratification I feel from investing in the lives of others is deep, really deep. Deeper than the sacrifice.

I learned that God has his own plans and sometimes that is a really hard pill to swallow. It seems like so often they do not line up with the plans I have or the plans the people I love have. I get angry when I see people sink so much time and energy into their future and time and time again the result is not what they want. But I remind myself that I can only see the now. God can see the when and I have to trust that the when is better than the now. That is still a work in progress too.

I learned that not feeling ready for something is no excuse not to go for it anyway. There are very few instances in life when an opportunity presents itself just to slap you in the face and remind you that you can’t handle it. Instead, trust that it is part of God’s when and forget that in the now it seems insurmountable. This is how I think of faith. In faith, stepping out into the hard, the unknown; because whatever is on the other side is going to be worth it. 

In 2015 I am pushing towards the when. Meanwhile, admiring and appreciating all the things that God has given me now and remembering that long ago, these things were the when.

Cheers to health, happiness and learning in 2015.

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Hope has long been my favorite word. I believe that hope is essential to life, to the soul and to my faith. Hope springs eternal from my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11. I look back upon the storyboard of my life and I know that hope has always been a theme of mine.

So much so, I am choosing to forever imprint it on my body this week. After Thursday I will officially be “one of those people” that you know that has a tattoo. It is a pretty big step for me. One I have thought long and hard about. A decision I have wavered about for years. It will be my first and possibly my last, though I do hear it is addicting.

The business of permanently etching something on your forever skin is not to be taken lightly. I always wonder if 10 years down the road people are like, “What was I thinking?”

I am scared, there is no doubt. I think the pain will suck, but I believe I can handle it. I’m scared that it won’t turn out exactly like I have pictured in my mind and I’ll be stuck with it. I’m scared that I’ll fall in love with it and want more.

What I am not scared about is the content of my artwork. Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise from God that has been, is and forever will be and hope is what I cling to from that promise. That will never change and I welcome the daily reminder of that promise and its place in my life. I am wrapping these precious words in cherry blossoms because not only do I think they are beautiful, but they represent the constant blossoming of hope in my life. 

I will not be posting a photo of the tattoo after I get it. It is not about that. Maybe one day you’ll see it, maybe you won’t. This step is between me and my God. I know people have a lot of opinions about people with tattoos, what they mean and what it means for their lifestyle. If you want to judge me for this decision, that is your problem. 

While you’re doing that, I’ll be over here, clinging to hope.