Just this morning, I wrote a blog post about enjoying joy. About appreciating the joy that is to be found around us in our lives. A few hours later I was sitting on the floor of my laundry room overwhelmed to the point of tears. Not tears of joy. These were tears of a momma who was teetering on the edge of hopelessness. Mommin’ ain’t easy. Somedays it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
So there I sat in the floor of my laundry room, surrounded by mountains of clothes (six people create a lot of dirty laundry) feeling like a big fat fraud. Where was my joy now? Didn’t I just post about how joyful life is and how all you have to do is look and find the joy? Now, to be totally transparent, I wasn’t crying about how much laundry I had to do. No, this was not about that. I will not share the details of what caused my meltdown – not because I am trying to hide my “ugly” – but out of respect for the privacy of others involved in the situation. And the situation is not really the point anyway.
The point is about joy. There are some moments where I am not naturally, organically overwhelmed with life’s joy. But that does not mean that it is not present. What it truly means is that I have lost my sight of it, while choosing to focus on the yucky stuff. My perspective shifted from being thankful for all of the good stuff, to wallowing in the muck that threatens to steal my joy. But here’s the thing….I am not at all saying that life should be rosy and rainbows every single day. I know that fact all too well. I think what I am trying to say (I’m discovering it as I type) is that even though life feels like a mess sometimes, and we as humans can feel way too caught up in the chaos, we don’t have to unpack and stay there. We can shift our perspective and choose to be happy in our circumstances. No, we don’t “fake it” and just act like everything is okay so that our friends and neighbors don’t judge us. No, we don’t bury our heads in the sand and not deal with the hard stuff because we want to dance around the house like a Disney princess. We face things, we learn to cope with things, we grow from things – all while we focus our eyes on the good stuff that we can hold on to.
I guess what all of my rambling here really means is that when you find yourself sitting on your laundry room floor crying and feeling like you just might drown – its okay. You are not alone! Just don’t camp out there too long because you might miss out on the goodness that there is out there for you!
Yesterday morning I began planning my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower. (I tried out the new stories feature on here and shared that tidbit). My son, Zach and Katie will be married in September of this year. Zach is my oldest and my only son. He has always been a momma’s boy…but now he’s about to outgrow that title and become a husband. A husband to an amazing woman. When he was little I began praying for the woman who would become his wife. I have prayed for this young lady for many, many years. God answered in a BIG way and brought Katie into our world.
As I went through my day yesterday, the plans for the shower were on my mind. Katie has a very keen sense of style, and I want to give her a beautiful shower that matches her style. So all day, I was thinking about ways to create this perfect party. More than once – okay at least a dozen times – I was overwhelmed with emotion and began crying. I would find a picture that inspired the flowers, and then I would cry. I would think about sharing this time with Katie and all of our family, and then I would cry. I envisioned all of the smiles and laughs and pictures of that day, and I would cry.
Initially I was confused about these emotions that were bubbling under the surface. Were they sadness from the feelings of “losing” my son? Were they happy tears at the thought of having this special family time to celebrate Katie as a new member of our family? Did these tears come from a place of worry and anxiety about planning the perfect party for my son’s bride? I thought deeply about these emotions (its just what I do), and sorted them out in my head and in my heart. I think that may some of those tears were from each of the things I had thought, but the overwhelming and overpowering emotion I was feeling was pure JOY.
Joy was what was bubbling up from my head and my heart. There is no other word for what I am feeling as we prepare for my son’s wedding. Joy for the joining not only of two people but of two families! Joy at the thought of my daddy being the one who will perform the ceremony for his grandson and bride. And here’s the thing, joy feels good.
I am sure that as the day approaches for the shower and the ceremony, there will be some times of stress and maybe even some not so joyful emotions. I know that worry and anxiety may set in, but none of that will steal the joy of this very special time for our family!
One of my favorite things about spring is the return of so many birds to my back patio. I love hearing their joyful chirping early in the morning. I filling the bird feeder and then sitting and watching them come feast. They are like familiar friends who faithfully visit each year. This picture is from last spring, right after I had filled the feeder for the first time in the season. The simple pleasure of watching my feathered friends return each spring feels normal in a world that is anything but normal right now. As I enjoy my spring break at home this year, I am focusing on the small, simple things that bring my heart joy. Filling the feeder and waiting for my friends is one of those things. I’m encouraging each of you to slow down – even for just a moment today – and find joy in the day. Much love!
Recently I have grown to love crafting. I love creating things to decorate our home and to gift to friends. A few months ago I discovered that there are A LOT of crafting groups on Facebook. These are placed to share tips and tricks and exchange ideas. There are thousands of people who contribute to these groups, and I have been inspired by so many projects in these groups. My favorite thing about these groups is when crafters share a finished project that they are so very proud of. But, what I have noticed in several of those shares is that the crafter starts their post with “please be kind.” This makes me sad. Yes, it is scary to share a creation with such a big group of people, but it’s obvious that the crafter is proud of what they made – or they wouldn’t be sharing it in the first place! But they feel that they have to ASK people to be kind. And it got me thinking about the world in general. Since when should we have to ask people to be kind?!? Remember when courtesy was common? Remember when manners were the norm? I grew up in a family where please and thank you were the expectation for any request. What happened to people just naturally being kind to one another?
This may seem like a silly rant to some, but it has really troubled me. It is hard enough to exist in this troubled world as it is…shouldn’t we all be kind without having to be asked!? We all need to stop and think hard about our words and actions toward each other. Your kind word to a neighbor or coworker might just make a difference in their day. A kind gesture toward a stranger may have a ripple effect that we will never see. Can we just make kind the norm? Maybe I’m a dreamer or just a sap but I truly believe that kindness can change the world. Please be kind.
Tonight I am going to dinner and then to a Women’s Conference at a local church with some ladies from my church. I have only met a couple of these ladies out of the group that is going. I have been at my home church for almost 5 years and I have not met a lot of people (that’s all on me!), so I am excited to get plugged in and make some new, like-minded friends. I am excited, but I am also nervous and my anxiety is taking over. Since we are meeting for dinner before the conference I will be going straight from school. This morning I was in the closet trying to figure out what to wear and it truly was like a typical “I have nothing to wear” scene from a movie. Outfits flying everywhere. My train of frustration gaining momentum by the second. The all too familiar battle cry “I have NO clothes” ringing through the house. But why? Of course, I want to look good, and feel good about myself – those are completely normal things. But as I sit here sipping my coffee trying to regain my composure and prep for an ALL DAY FUN DAY with twenty 9 and 10 year olds, I know that there is more to it. We as women are way too hard on ourselves to look a certain way. And it’s because we are so conditioned by the fact that we will be judged by each other. Sadly, we often make it into a competition. Just being real. We want to look as good as everyone around us – and by “as good” I mean better. We want other women to “approve” of us. We want to be “good enough.” (I’m saying we – but I guess I should say I).
Here’s the thing…I am attending a Bible conference with a group of amazing Christian women. I am certain that this group of women is full of love and grace and will be all welcoming to every single woman there. I truly do believe that. I’m sad that society has jaded me into worrying so much about my outer appearance, when I really have a whole lot of work to do on the inside.
Ladies, let’s stop competing and start building each other up. Let’s celebrate each other’s gifts and beauty rather than silently judging them against our own. Let’s look in the mirror and see ourselves as daughters of the ONE true King – made in His image. Let’s raise our daughters to understand that each flower blooms in its own perfect way and that they are all beautiful.
I am thankful for the opportunity to meet new friends tonight. And I am thankful that through the simple struggle of trying to find something to wear, God stopped me in my tracks to remind me of this lesson this morning.
Being on quarantine for the second time in two months has been a little rough on my mood and mental state. However, I have been able to find joy in having more time to read and write and cook! I also made time to go ahead and decorate the house for Spring and Easter. I am not a professional by any means, but I love sprucing up the house for various holidays and seasons. Fresh decorations along with today’s abundant sunshine has been good for my soul.
Recently I have shared a lot of writing I did more than a decade ago when I returned to college. I share it partly because I love the memories of the process of completing that portfolio. For me it meant so many different things. It boosted my confidence in myself as a writer, while also being cathartic. The other reason that I find myself sharing these pieces recently is that many days when I sit down to write, I feel like I have nothing to say. Writing is one thing that brings me so much joy, but lately I feel empty when thinking about what to write. It feels very frustrating. I think these ruts that I find myself in at times are natural to some extent. but I think there are also other underlying causes for them. I doubt myself. I doubt that anyone else on the planet would even be interested in what I have to say. I compare my ramblings to “real” writers and become filled with apprehension. And then I get down on myself for falling into the comparison trap at all.
Teddy Roosevelt is credited with saying that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’m pretty sure that he spoke these words specifically for me. When I compare my writing, my blog, my followers, my likes…I lose my joy. I lose the happiness that writing brings me on a daily basis. I have to stop thinking about what people may think about my words, and get back to just sharing my thoughts. It really is all about the process. I find joy in taking one thought and choosing words to express all of it. Will I produce my “best” writing every single day? Not at all likely. But will writing every single day bring me joy? Help me hone my craft? Make me feel whole? Those things are very highly likely.
So I will continue to share things that I have written in the past, because I do enjoy my strolls down memory lane. But I will also find joy in the process of creating new pieces to share and be proud of. And I will be grateful for the process, the ups and downs, the mountains and the valleys. Because I am a writer!