our life as an ocean


“when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. 
and when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” 

our family is in a lingering season where we are being showered with goodness.  i am not telling you this to boast or to somehow make you feel as though we always have it together.  i say this with sincere and honest gratitude because our lives aren’t always as such.  life is really messy sometimes.  it can hurt.  let’s just be clear about that.  however, what i am discovering through my own circumstances is that life moves like the ocean tide, ebbing and flowing in a constant rhythm.  some seasons for learning, discovering, settling in, and others for dealing with the hard stuff.  the length of those seasons is always unclear for we are not in charge of that clock.

andrew and i have recently moved past a bout of hard stuff in our lives.  we doing our best to fully appreciate how easily everything is flowing for us right now with hopes to make it last as long as possible because just like every other family in the world we too have our slumps and sorrows.  please know this, that everyone who chooses to document their lives also chooses with what lens they want you to perceive theirs.  it is as simple as that.  and while we all view other mothers and families and see endless triumph upon triumph in their lives, lagging in the shadows or in seasons of their past is hurt, rejection, and sadness.  because as human beings we are nowhere near perfect.  we are always striving and that is okay.

there indeed are days and sometimes weeks that are altogether foggy and frustrating for my husband and i; we navigated the rough and unpredictable waters of selling our last home and buying this one.  without getting into specifics, it was in those times i leaned rather heavily on god and prayed and reflected and hoped and cried and ate a lot of ice cream sundaes.  we felt lost and alone and exhausted.  it wasn’t a time that i felt like sharing with the world.  instead, i felt like retreating and hunkering down until the storm would pass, although each day felt like a year and the words “in god’s time” made me shutter because i wanted my life to operate on my own time and not his.  and then, just as i knew he would deep down and because everyone else was telling me, god sent out the sunshine for our family and has had it cast upon us for some time now.  so i am not boasting here but rather celebrating and sharing a story with you because i think it is good to do so.  joy breads joy and the more we reflect on the goodness in our lives i feel more of it can be cultivated.  there is just so much sadness and tragedy and ugly comparison out there, so why not fill our reflecting with positives and share it?

so a story.  i did a woman’s bible study awhile back and there was one evening in particular that i found myself sitting around a table full of very candid and kind women sharing what it was in their life they needed help with.  specifics they need us other woman to pray for.  various things in need of fixing, if you will.

i remember sinking back in that hard metal chair in the church basement thinking literally nothing and feeling really guilty about it.  my mind was void of all thought except one rising emotion: guilt.  one woman spoke up and told us she needed prayers after a miscarriage and another for a fight she was having with a coworker and another to help with the loss of her father in law.  i took to paper and wrote down their prayers all the while trying to come up with something negative in my life to have them consider for prayer.  it came to my turn and i regrettably turned a small, insignificant issue into something big to feel included by them.  i don’t even remember what it was i said.  in that moment, at that precise time on a snowy tuesday evening, there was just nothing bad going on in my life.  ironically, shame welled up inside me because i did not want to seem smug or have these woman think “oh, well she must have it all together” because that is far from the case.  gosh, in looking back, i should have had them pray for my guilty conscience!

i walked away from that meeting searching for something, anything, that needed fixing.  i actively sought out and nitpicked negativity in my life and reflected on it for some time in the car before heading home.  i remember thinking, was it wrong that i had nothing for them to pray for?  it seems so silly in retrospect but i can honestly say i felt ridiculous sitting among these soulful, sharing woman with nothing to contribute.  little did i know that i would be needing support and prayers a few weeks later when we would be entering into the situation of putting our house on the market and trying to buy a new one and the toils and stress that go along with moving with little bitty babies.  if we had had that same conversation in that church basement a just a few weeks later i am certain i would have been crying to these woman asking them to help me, to give me comfort,  to guide me, and to remind me that god is going to help our family get through this difficult time.

when going through this closing of our home i looked back on the time i spent shaming myself during that evening of woman’s group for not having something in my life that was going awry.  i remember siting in my in-laws spare bedroom one day without a home to call my own thinking about what an utter waste of energy i had expended in that season of goodness when my life was without worry.

that time of despair taught me something: when things are good and when they are flowing in the right direction celebrate it.  i promised myself that i will use that energy to give and help others, to wake up and soak in the day, to relish in all the goodness surrounding me.  to give thanks to god and lean on him in those moments too.

to put a bow around this thought, i am learning that it is important to really recognize and savor the  moments in life that are good and beautiful.  i feel there are far too many times that we do our reflecting when things are not so sunny and when we could use help in mending our sorrows.  as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, i am doing my best to keep this in perspective.

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