Tag Archives: Gratitude

The Year of Dessert First

All my friends have been posting photos of their year from Facebook. I’ve always been more of a words person, so here is my year in words.

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I didn’t write much this year. I started out 2014 unemployed and depressed, scared that I may never want to write again. While at first this terrified me, I found God whispering something new to me, in the midst of my own silence.

Live My love story.

I started this blog a few years back specifically to “Write My Love Story,” to share the story of God’s audacious love in my life. I didn’t know how to experience God apart from writing. Writing is prayer. Writing is life. For me, at least.

But I’d lost writing. And, consequently, it felt like I lost God.

In this year of silence. Of words not typed out on pages or scribbled across receipts. I lost my writing, but I found I didn’t lose me.

I don’t have to write for my life to be real. For my prayers to be real. I don’t have to write at all to be a person. To be loved. To have worth.

The life can just be mine. The thoughts just mine.

If I had to pick a title for my year, I would call it “The Year of Dessert First.” Not that I skipped all the healthy things or the hard work, but it’s been a year of grace, where first accepting the dessert, the gifts, the grace, leads to health and wholeness, recovery. 

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I could list all of my accomplishments of 2014: starting a graduate program in Linguistics, teaching a university level course, securing myself a boyfriend. But those are just the outside trappings. I stand back almost bewildered that this is my life now. I did nothing to deserve this. To earn this. And that’s the beauty of it.

When I look back on my year, the moments I cherish most, the feats I’m most proud of have nothing to do with a college acceptance letter or my relationship status.

I’m proud that I persevered. That I continued with counseling even when it seemed nothing was improving. That I started a grad program even though I had no idea if I would have enough energy to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone do homework or attend classes. I’m proud that I had the privilege to invest in the lives of Alzheimer’s patients as a caregiver in a last ditch employment attempt. I’m proud that I traveled to Israel and Palestine and let everyday peacemakers teach me something about grace. I’m proud of the moments I let my friends in, let them cry with me, sit with me, mourn with me and hope with me.

With my boyfriend, I’m not boastful in my relationship status, but deeply moved by what he’s taught me about grace and self-acceptance. I’m thankful for every moment he makes me feel that I am enough. Just as I am.

I feel resurrected.

This woman of words is at a loss to express the healing that’s taken place. The peace I know.

That phrase from the song, In Christ Alone, seems to say it best:

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

            when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

There’s a contentment within me that I never imagined possible. Not because I worked my ass off for self-love and self-acceptance as I have in the past. In fact, I didn’t try at all. And I think that’s the best medicine a recovering perfectionist can encounter. And I don’t mean this as a formula. Not a how-to-get-over-depression-and-love-yourself DIY manual. But as my story of God’s undeniable grace in my life this year.

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grace from the disgrace

beauty from the ashes.

stillness to dancing.

And so I enter 2015, happily dancing and enjoying dessert.

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Guatemalan Goodness

I’ve been pretty sad lately, paralyzed with missing the life I left behind to move to a foreign country, stewing in a sense of what I’ve lost, instead of soaking in the good, the gifts.

But today I choose to see the good, to bite off the tasty fruit of this life, this fruit, this place He has given me. To rejoice in what is, not pine after what isn’t.  I will choose to, as Jason Todd recently wrote in an article for Relevant Magazine, “taste daily, deeply and constantly of the goodness of God.”

My new blogger friend, Elizabeth at Taking Shape Slowly, very eloquently wrote about this challenge to finding Home wherever we are,

“The challenge is to make ourselves at home, to live the life that is, rather than the one we had always dreamed. Praying over tender roots still unsure that they were meant to live in soil, unaware that the burlap was just the transition.”

I want to let these roots of goodness grow. I will not plant bad days. I will plant hope and gratitude and grace for myself in this transition, this oh-why-is-it-taking-so-long-to-feel-at-home transition.

Today I offer up a smorgasbord of the goodness of God in my life here in Guatemala, my life now, the life that is not exactly the life I dreamed, but is the life I have before me.

The goodness of God is..

  • a run to a cross on a hill, sweat shining, heart pounding, lungs and legs and life alive.
  • a warm breeze, a volcano view, and a green picnic table turned outside office

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  • being walked home after a night of salsa dancing, delivered safely to my doorstep,  no moves made, no disrespect, just a friend looking after a friend
  • friends and family who put up with my snotty, crying homesick skype calls
  • promises to flank me if I’m seen getting too friendly with a creepy guy, or a very cute, non-creepy guy that I still shouldn’t be getting so friendly with. . .
  • learning new salsa moves
  • being challenged to give a blog training workshop in Spanish to my Guatemalan and Salvadoran coworkers–and enjoying it!
  • being trusted to polish people’s words, to tell their story on their behalf
  • freshly folded laundry and a laundry lady who knows me by name
  • a purring cat curled in my lap
  • stringing together syllables of Guatemalan slang
  • spontaneous cafecitos with friends I just happen to see in the park

Cafecito

  • the anticipation of sharing this place and this life with my family when they visit in just three days!

What are you grateful for today? Where do you see the goodness of God?

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Five Minute Friday: After

Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

For a few months now, I’ve the pleasure of participating in Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday blogging challenge. Every Friday, a group of eclectic bloggers turn off our inner critics and perfectionists and just write for five minutes straight. Zero editing. Just a stream of consciousness free for all. And then we all link up and encourage each other. To learn more about Five Minute Friday and how you can participate click here.

This Friday’s topic is AFTER.

***

Go. 

I thought that after I moved, it would all make sense. The burnout, the
restlessness, the ache in my heart to live in a foreign country that never went away.

Then, after I got settled, I would be happy.
After I made more friends, I would feel home.
After I set a schedule, I’d feel peace.
After I started a new job, I’ve feel engaged and connected and alive.

But it wasn’t so.

It’s not that I’m not happy, it’s just that I’m still waiting for the AFTER.

After I get in shape, I’ll be happy with my body.

After I go to Spanish school, I’ll be fluent and confident and no-longer-shy.

After I write, I’ll feel accomplished.

After I pray, I’ll be at peace.

But the AFTER never comes.

The waiting-for-something-better becomes a trap. A prison. A recipe for discontent.

Because life isn’t in the AFTER. God isn’t in the AFTER.

Life is HERE, right now. God is HERE, right now.

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In the flowers on my table. In the words I tap-tap-type.

That’s the idea of GRATITUDE. The awakening of joy in the current moment.

So I surrender my clinging to the AFTER. This unfreedom of waiting. The discontent of a life disjointed into BEFORE and AFTER.

I forget the BEFORE and AFTER. I open my eyes to the HERE.

 

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