A few nights ago, dear Danielle and I set out to find some sunken treasure in the ocean. Okay, not really, but we did play an awesome escape room in a box game where we found treasure while solving a bunch of riddles. We found a pretty cheap game, made some pasta at home (you always need a good meal before clue solving), and put on a ten-hour ocean life video on the TV. We had an absolute blast, something we have tried to do on a consistent basis in our marriage. Fun is important to life, we all need to have fun. Sometimes though, we tend to let other things get in the way. When we do that we miss out on having fun, and having fun produces true joy; it’s time for you to create space for joy.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Loneliness is a terrible feeling. We are now in the thick of this quarantine era of life, it’s a forced time of being alone. Dear Danielle and I have noticed how the days slip away and you have to create structure or time just melts. Hopefully you’ve found a rhythm, a way to make sure your mind stays active rather than become a zombie. This is a hard time for everyone. Whether you’re introverted or extraverted, we need connection, and when you can’t actively step outside of your home, the isolation turns to loneliness. Loneliness can be a dangerous place, it often leads to depression and a deep yet unknown sadness. I want to talk about this time, you may be grieving the way you used to live your life, but in this moment, know that you’re not alone.
Corn mazes are a blast to do in the fall season. Back in North Carolina, there was a place that every year, would make a massive maze in some silly picture with corn. It’s fun, but also strange. Dear Danielle and I did one a couple years back; it was a cold rainy day, so it was perfect for a spooky maze all to ourselves. The goal was simple, go in, find the stamp stations, and get out. Easy! Well, not really. Since it was a rainy day, there was a ton of fog and lots and lots or mud. We started out strong, but halfway into it, started running into mud puddles and were getting turned around. We only needed one more stamp, but we started losing it just a little. Not with each other, but with this labyrinth that we couldn’t seem to find one little area. As we are both completionists, we had to get that last stamp, no cheating for us! I started to lose hope, but Danielle reminded me, in a pep talk that would rival any Disney Channel original movie, that we could do it, we hit all the other areas, we are not letting one stamp stop us!
We are officially in a new year. It’s a great time; we all are thinking about the past and now thinking about what we want the future to be. I know for my dear Danielle and I, we have been looking at what we want this year. Habits we want to begin, things we need to cut out, vision casting for the future. I love looking to the future, but often, I get caught up in the future and end up missing right now. There have been many moments where I want to do something, but ended up getting held back because I was not “experienced” enough. So, I strived in the past to get to the next level, do whatever it takes to gain influence. Now, for me, this never meant being a bully to get ahead, but it did mean I would get so focused on who I needed to impress and which boxes to check to move up. I was trying to speed through a game, without taking time to have fun.
What I’ve been learning is that I need to stop rushing into what’s next and enjoy where I am. I need to be present.
I think everyone has significant moments in their life. Moments that have shaped us and made us who we are, and often, these are not too happy of memories. It’s such a tragedy that our lives encounter terrible heartache, yet it’s how we grow and mature. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and while most of the time we are focused on family and delicious foods, I think it’s important during this time to look back at the moments that have shaped us. What you’ll find, and it’s something that I myself have found, is that these key moments, good and bad, have shaped us into a stronger person than we once were. I titled this post the way I did because I think living a life full of thanks, allows us to have deep joy and love well.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Being yourself is one of the hardest things. We are surrounded by people who either try to tell us how we should be or idolize the way someone else lives. We start to live in the stereotypes of every high school movie from the eighties, and then get lost in all the titles and expectations of these labels. The thing is, labels and stereotypes don’t work in real life. We live in the view of who we should be, and we then lose who we are. We can’t live trying to fit in. We have all been designed in unique ways- no one person is like someone else. Similarities, yes, but an exact copy, no. The reason I’m talking about this and the reason I think the concept of being you is so important, is because life is filled with unknowns. Our identity helps us weather this adventure.
I was inspired by an Instagram post by So Worth Loving today. There was a picture that said, “no rain, no flowers.” Isn’t that just a beautiful thought? There are times where we just spin our wheels, and feel as if we are getting nowhere. We get tired, we grow weary, and we just simply feel worthless. It’s those rainy days where you just don’t want to keep going. The truth is, and this is the truly beautiful sentiment, without rain, we never get to see the flowers bloom. When it comes to our lives, there are hard days. Maybe you’re physically exhausted or mentally drained, but some days are just difficult. In these moments, don’t lose sight of the finish line. Don’t let the worries or feelings of inadequacy prevent you from stepping into your potential. Without the rain, or the storms, there are no flowers.
This past week was the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World, and it was a glorious day. Though, it started quite early, I needed to be there at three in the morning. That meant, in order for me not to be stressed, I had to be up at one. Of course, the excitement kept me from sleeping, and then once I was finally asleep, it was time again to get moving. In a groggy state I grabbed my phone from the charger. Now, if you have to go to bed at six-ish the previous night, you don’t turn down the brightness. As I looked at my phone, in a dark room, my phone lit up like the sun and burned my eyes till they were on fire.
It was rough.
Now, I may be exaggerating, but it’s amazing how such a small light can light up and entire room (and possibly blind you).
Have you ever done something you wish you could take back? Made a comment, did a thing, chose one option over another? It’s a pretty crummy feeling, what’s worse is that most of the time, we could have changed the consequence by our original choice. I love working in children’s ministry, and one of the main points we talk about is that we need to make the wise choice. But, how exactly do we make the “wise choice?” Sure, some options are easier to see, like, if I need to be up at 5, I probably shouldn’t get to bed at midnight if I want to be alert the next day. Pretty straight forward, but what about the other choices in our lives. Relationships, jobs, living situations, what we spend our time doing; the list goes on and on. It would be easy to say, just do what the bible says, and wash my hands with this question, but the reality is, the bible doesn’t say anything about if you should move or if you should pursue a relationship. Or does it?
I love jumping into the pool. There are different kinds of people, those who gradually ease their way in, those who test the water before deciding to go in or not, and then there’s me, diving in like a hooligan. My thought process is, if it’s cold, might as well get used to it quick and have fun while doing it than nothing. I hate long buildups. Danielle and I recently went on a roller coaster, it spun you all around, was really tall, and very very fast. My dearest Danielle loves adrenaline, and I enjoy roller coasters, the thing is, the waiting kills me. The lines always crawl and, in my head, I build it up to be worse than I know it is. What if I die? No one has ever died before, but what if I’m the sucker who kicks the bucket this time? What if my glasses fly off? I know physics literally says that they will stay on my head because of the force, but what if I defy physics? I have the best time when I just jump into it, and not allow room to worry.
My favorite quote from the great theologian and philosopher, Lemony Snicket, is, “Do the scary thing first, and get scared later.”
I think we need to live like this in all things, especially as we step into our calling.