I may seem to have a thick skin (or, maybe I just think I portray a thick skin) but I’m sensitive. When I was a kid, I was always called a cry baby. Continue reading
I’ve alluded to it but I’ll just come out and say it. I quit. This is my last week of teaching. This is my last week of enlightening (or, rather, attempting to enlighten) my high school kids. This is my last week of obsessing over the perfect lesson plans, worrying about how I can reach that one particular student, fretting over keeping up with things like putting grades in the electronic grade book or the always awkward parent/teacher conferences or even the pleasure of joking around with my kids all day. I’m finished.
I’m grateful that I’m not jaded. I LOVE my job. Like a lot. And I probably love my kids more than a teacher should. But, the thing is that I’m a mommy now. (I have become more comfortable with saying that I am a mommy rather than I’ll be a mommy.) For me, teaching and parenting come from the same place in my heart. There is no way that I’ll be able to teach the way I feel I need to teach and parent the way I feel I need to parent when I’m trying to stretch myself in both directions giving 100 percent in both places. I. can’t. do. it. I know I can’t.
This was not an easy decision. I cried about it a lot. I cried because I felt that I wasted my time attaining my dream: a college degree. I cried because I never wanted this to be my life. I cried because if I could have planned out every single thing that I would do/ accomplish/ experience in my life, quitting was not in my scope of vision. Becoming a wife was not in my scope of vision. Becoming a mother was not in my scope of vision. Becoming a stay at home mother was most definitely not in my scope of vision. I had other plans for my life.
““My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”” – Isaiah 55:8-9
The timing is perfect. October. The month of pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING! The changing of the seasons in nature as well as in my life. Fall. In literature, this season can symbolize the changing from youth to “a more mature part of life that is full of wisdom and knowledge…” But it is also, “the harvest season[.] When the spoils of the year’s labor are gathered and plenty becomes visible for all eyes to see before much of it is put away in preparation for the leaner months.” Leaner months of getting to know BB. Getting to know myself as a parent. Leaner months of watching Wes in his role as daddy. It’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s my life. I cannot believe that this is my life.
One day, when I was hanging out with Dee, we had a little talk about the transition. I explained how I was feeling. (I love how openly I can talk with her. She really does know me very, very well. Isn’t it amazing how God can make your best friends out of siblings?). Anyway, I was talking and she said something to the effect of why I am surprised that my life is taking these drastic turns. She said it’s because this is how other people’s lives go. Not my life. This is the story book. I’m living a dream and I’m not used to the things in my life turning out like they do in those feel-good movies. In my life (and in my little sister’s life) there always seems to be that unexpected plot twist (except it’s not unexpected for us because it always happens…or, at least, it used to happen).
So… off I go to live my almost too-good-to-be-true life with my more than perfect husband and my new baby (due in three weeks). It will be one heck of a ride. Am I scared? Heck yes. Am I certain that this is what I’m supposed to do? With all of my heart and soul. Do I think it will be easy? Not even. But, I’m sure I’ll write about it because that’s what I do. I’m actually really looking forward to this transition. Phase two.
But what I’m not looking forward to is telling my students that I will not be back. I will have to tell them the answer to the question that they have been asking me since they found out that I am pregnant. I will have to tell them, “I love you but I quit.”
It took me a long time to figure out the issue. It took me even longer to realize that I wasn’t crazy. It took a lot of reading and talking to people. I talked to my husband, my mom, my sisters, my friends. There was no escape. I felt as though there wasn’t any escape. I didn’t know what was wrong. I didn’t know how to fix it. I just knew that something needed to be different.
“Beauty is so strange. I can see it in so many others but not in myself.” Journal entry 3.10.2012
“I spent the night at [one of my friends’] house. Man, did we have a counseling session. I found out that I have a low self-esteem (that’s certainly something that needs to be worked on) and that I have a lot of built up anger (oh really???). So, every day, I have to find one good thing about myself.” Journal entry 1.2.1999
“I feel like such a loser. I suck.” Journal entry 3.13.1999
“I realized that I need to have other people’s approval before I do anything.” Journal entry 10.9.2000
“I’m in a bad mood today. I don’t have the energy to do anything except eat and sleep.” Journal entry 11.27.2000
“Depression is a state of mind; the result of which is the changes in the regular patterns of life. It changes your sleeping pattern, happiness, work ethic. It causes procrastination, loneliness, unhappiness, anger, tension. Too many things that ruin too many people and too many families. ” Journal entry 12.5.2000
“I feel so miserable. I just start crying for no reason.” Journal entry 9.15.2001
I think I may have always used writing as an outlet to sift through the craziness in my head. Even before I knew it was a thing. Kelly Needham wrote a blog posting a few weeks back about the benefits of journaling. She uses hers for lists and notes and all sorts of stuff. I use mine only to sort out feelings.
I felt alone a lot of the time. As though I had no allies in the world. And, today, while looking through my old journals, I noticed a trend: it went from Eeyore status to quoting scriptures and back to Eeyore stuff and back to Jesus. I have always leaned on writing and Jesus to get me through the darkness. But there were times that I felt that even God was distant. I thought He was angry with me because I wasn’t praying, or as I wrote one day,
Last week, actually, the past few weeks I have been struggling to read the Word and pray. Journal entry 11.13.2000
The thing is that the high points are super high and the low points are terribly low. When I would talk to people about the low lows, they would insinuate that I was being dramatic or that I needed to spend more time with Jesus. If I would spend more time with Jesus then I would be able to fill the darkness with His light. But, here’s the thing, when a person is feeling low and they finally gather up the courage to talk about something, having people tell them that they’re “down” because Jesus is annoyed with them for not reading their bible daily probably isn’t the way to go about it. What may have helped would be if those same people had done some sort of study about the d word and given me some scriptures to help combat it. Some scriptures like these:
“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me. The LORD rewarded me for doing right; He restored me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. (2 Samuel 22:17-22 NLT)
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time. (Psalms 34:18-19 NLT)
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
I’m not saying that people are to blame for my battle with darkness but I am saying that a little compassion goes a long way.
I cried tonight. I cried for all the innocent girls who have sex with their boyfriends. I cried for all the parents who have to deal with the disappointment and the reality that kids don’t always learn from their parents’ mistakes. I cried for lost dreams and goals. I cried for struggle and pain. I cried for sadness. I cried for all the people in the world who judge unwed teenaged parents. I cried for God’s grace. I cried for the loss of self-esteem, for the thoughts of failure. I cried for those who do indeed lose their dreams. I cried for those still trying to achieve them. I cried for being judgmental. I cried for God’s patience. I cried. Journal entry 11.5.2000
My journal entries always followed the same pattern. When I got married though I began writing less and less. I think I was leaning more on my husband and Jesus than on writing. But after I married I also finally decided to get professional help. Or more like pharmaceutical help to cope with the darkness. Was I crazy? Was I being dramatic? Was this a spiritual longing that was showing up as something else?
Wes didn’t like my choice. He didn’t want me to take the medication. He believed that there was a better way. That there had to be a better way to combat it than medication. I wanted to believe him and agree with him but since I had been dealing with the darkness for as long as I could remember, I accepted it as a part of my personality that he would have to learn to live with (and I did NOT make it easy for him).
So…what’s the point? The point is that we all have issues that we are overcoming. The point is that none of us are exempt from difficult things. The point is that while I no longer take anti-depressants, I do have to exercise and eat real food and write and and not keep my feelings bottled up to be able to deal with the darkness…depression. But it does sometimes still try to overwhelm me. Sometimes, depression wins; sometimes, I win. It’s less prevalent now that I’m used to it. But, it’s always, always there…waiting to consume. The difference between the Sam in 2014 and the Sam in my old journal entries is that I’m more aware now. I know the “feelings.” I know the sadness. I know the hopelessness. I’m also more experienced with dealing with depression and I’ve found ways to cope. And, most importantly, I’m not ashamed.
**If you or someone you know is battling depression, leave a comment and I’ll be honored to pray with you and support you. You are NOT alone. No matter how alone you feel.**
I pretty much quit doing the photo challenge…actually, I totally quit the photo challenge… but that’s okay. I was on vacation. Quite possibly the last one I’ll have for a while. While on vacation, I was surprised with my first ever baby shower (and- might I say- the best baby shower I’ve ever had). I went to a friend’s house expecting to kick some booty in Phase 10 (my FAVORITE card game) and we did end up playing but I walked in on a surprise that had been in the works for months. I can be such an air head sometimes because the simplest things seem to get past me (it’s not that way in my classroom, though, thank the Lord).
I walked in the door and was surprised to be greeted by my friends who were yelling surprise and throwing pink and blue balloons. I just thought to myself, “Man, I guess this is the way that they greet people they haven’t seen for a while.” And then someone pointed to the sign that read: The Beard’s Baby Shower and it all started to come together. Why Trinity called me late one night inquiring about my favorite color. Why Wes randomly asked what my favorite flavor of cake is (even though he already knew). Why everyone at my friend’s house (where Wes and I always stay) left so early for the party even though we were all still there. Why Wes asked me if I thought it was acceptable to lie to each other if the lies happened to be for a big surprise. Why, a few months ago, when Wes said something (I don’t remember what it was) and then he told me not to worry about it but there was gonna be something that I’d really like (last time he told me this statement, my sister bought me an authentic women’s Larry Fitzgerald jersey for Christmas!).
I could not believe that my daughters, my friends, Wes would go through the trouble to covertly plan a party. A party for me! Afterwards, I just kept thinking (and I keep thinking) that it was just too much. It was all too much. I felt so loved and so, so, so liked. I am grateful that my friends notice me. They see who I am and they like me. That’s kind of a big deal.
It’s like little things that add up to make something big. I know I seem to be waffling back and forth as to whether or not I want to live in California. I mean, it has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember but the reason that I’m wavering is because I don’t know if it’s God’s will. Sounds crazy, right? I read quote the other day,
“We would never imagine that getting our heart’s deepest desires might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us” (Timothy Keller, 6.30.2014. Twitter.com).
Not saying that moving to CA will be the worst thing to ever happen to me but I do know that moving to CA without God’s stamp of approval will make a seemingly good thing turn out to be just that: seemingly good. I don’t want that. I want to go where God says to go. And I want to be content in the stage of waiting.
The contentment portion is what gets tricky. It’s like I’m always waiting for the next thing. “I can’t wait for this weekend” or “I can’t wait for this day to be over” are all phrases that show discontent with what’s going on right now. Why can’t I be grateful and content right where I am…right in the moment? But I digress…
Back to the baby shower:
I walked in and was totally taken aback by the outpouring of love by our California family. I mean, they secretly planned a baby shower under the guise of a Phase 10 war! Ingenious! My (adopted) daughters made a little photo booth area with all sorts of different beards. I think the theme was books and beards. It was so clever. I told my sister-friends that I wanted to do a belly cast before BB’s born so they had someone make a cake for me in the shape of a belly cast. My sister friend sent a video that we watched at the party. People gave us books for BB. There were pictures of my ultrasounds and pregnant belly. My mom in law sent a baby blanket that she made along with her favorite book which had a special note to BB inside. I cried when I saw the book because I knew exactly who it was from. Pastor Jaren and a lot of my other friends hadn’t heard the book so he read the book to everyone. It was great. He’s a fabulous story teller.
BB has a plethora of bibles that cater to kids, now. Some of the bibles are even interactive! My daughters thought to tell everyone to bring a book because of my love of reading and the fact that I’m an English teacher. But, on top of that, they wrote special notes (in the books and on cute little flowers) for Wes, BB and me. I love that personal touch. I must figure out a way to incorporate these notes into BB’s journal.
It always takes me a while to get back into Arizona mode after we go to California. I started writing this post over a week ago but looking at the pictures made me nostalgic. Our vacation filled my love tank to OVERFLOWING! I’m so happy there. Here, I have to constantly work at being content and it takes me some time to get back to that middle place where I can remind myself that this is where I work and this is where a lot of Wes’ and my family lives. This is where Dee lives and, let’s face it, I’m not the best at keeping in touch…neither is she. This is also the place where I will give birth to my baby. And, I complain a lot but I do love the mountain views. The sunsets. The mild winters. I have a couple of friends here. This is where I met my husband. This is the place that I earned my bachelors and masters degrees. Where I got finally figured out what career I wanted to pursue. Where I got my first teaching job. Where I turned thirty. This is the place where I learned to love to run. This is the place where I ran my first half marathon. This is that place.
It’s easier said than done. Maybe part of the reason I’m still here is because I have to keep walking through it. I know that life in CA won’t be all glamorous but I can’t help but think how awesome it would be to live in the place where most of my friends live. To be involved in church again. I may have played it up so much in my mind that I’m setting myself up for disappointment. I don’t want to be disappointed.
I know that in CA, I won’t be going to Roscoe’s every weekend or playing Phase 10 every day… or will I? I probably won’t see my friends every day either but I’ll at least see them each weekend. I wouldn’t want to be on Facebook or Insta as much because the people I connect with on those social media platforms will be in the near vicinity. I noticed while I was on vacation that I didn’t get on FB nearly as often as I normally do. My CA friends/family and I connect through social media.
In this waiting place, I can be content. I can do hard things (like wait to see what God’s got up His sleeve for my little family). I can mature in many ways while I’m waiting. I can gear up for parenthood and other life changes. I can work on becoming the budgeting queen. There are a lot of things that I can do here…now… while I’m waiting.
Someone I love.
In case you didn’t know, I get kind of mushy when I write about my husband. With good reason: he is one of the best “things” that has ever happened to me. I mean, remember when I said that I never wanted to get married? He is the one who changed my perspective on that. I also didn’t want to have children but, somewhere in the back of my head I knew that if I were ever to have children, I wouldn’t want to procreate with anyone other than him. He is the one I saved myself for. I waited for him my whole life (well, until I was 23) and I didn’t even know it. While I was waiting for him he was waiting for me. How awesome is that?!
So, here are some things that I love about my Wes:
- He’s strong. In more than just the physical sense. He can lift anything. He can make tough decisions. But he’s not cocky about it. It’s just who he is.
- He’s intelligent. It’s sort of silly to say but the person who I spend the rest of my life with has to be smart (at least I have to think they are smart…or smarter than me, at least). He does know how smart he is and (for the most part) he’s not a jerk about it. Haha! I have to be honest.
- He is gentle. He cares about my feelings and how I perceive his gestures.
- He is self-less. I have a lot to learn about not being selfish. The things that I have learned, I learned from Wes’ example. He puts my needs before his…always. He even gives me the last piece of bacon or the last spoonful of ice cream because he loves me that much. When I ask him to borrow something or to have something, his response is always, “Sure, Baby, you can have whatever you want.” He means it.
- He has phenomenal work ethic. While I do worry that his commitment to work can verge on workaholism, I admire that he always does his best at work. And at home.
- He is considerate. He always, always asks me what he can help me with (even though my response is usually, “nothing.” I’m totally working on that.) He washes the dishes when I cook at night and he doesn’t complain about it. He sees completing the household duties- not as a woman’s job…cringe- but as the job for a team. We are the team.
- He is nice to look at. He has these eyes that are sometimes blue and sometimes gray. He has a little dimple that sometimes shows up when he smiles. And he has the cutest giggle in the world.
- He’s ticklish. Wes can thank his sisters of informing me of this nice little surprise. =)
- He’s handy. He can fix most anything or figure out how to fix the thing. And, when that fails, he outsources it.
- He loves M&Ms. Sometimes, when he’s eating his candy (which we don’t buy very often) some “accidentally falls” on the floor and the puppies get to eat some. It’s gotten so bad that when Wes opens up the M&M bag (no matter how long it’s been since we last had M&Ms), the puppies will run to go get some. It’s bad.
- He’s good (responsible) with money. This is a very good contrast with me because I am learning with him how to manage our money well.
Those are just a few of the things that I can think of for why I love Mr. B. There are a crap ton more and I would list them but I’m sure I’ve already bored you to tears already. I try to make sure to tell Wes what I think about him a lot but I probably don’t do it often enough. What good does it do to gush about him on a blog if he doesn’t know this is how I feel, right? Right.
I should be crying, but I just can’t let it show.
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking
Of all the things I should’ve said,
That I never said.
All the things we should’ve done,
That we never did.
All the things I should’ve given,
But I didn’t.
Oh, darling, make it go,
Make it go away.- “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush
When I was in college (the first time), I went through a very depressive phase. When I say very, I mean VERRRRYYYYY. It’s kind of strange to think about now all these years later but, here I was living my dream: I was attending college (at a Christian school, no less!) but I just couldn’t seem to pull myself out of the funk that I somehow managed to get myself into. I was missing my family (yeah, the one I’d tried so hard to escape from). I was missing my little sister (the one who I tried to convince that I hated- I know…I’m weird). I was missing Tucson (freaking Tucson?!?! Seriously?!) and everything about it. I got so low that I began to miss my dad.
My dad and I have one of the rockiest relationships. I seriously told him that I hated him (more than once)… and I meant it. With every fiber of my being. I hated him for not being around when I was a kid. I mean, he worked and stuff but he was not that dad who went to awards ceremonies or end of the year elementary school performances or anything like that. He worked and he sometimes barbecued at the house. In most of my memories (the few that I haven’t managed to erase) he just isn’t there. When he is “there” he’s listening to his music on his headphones and singing in a really high pitched voice and playing the drums with drumsticks and a couch cushion. Or he’s walking out the door to go hang with his friends (he was always very popular… would- and still will- talk to ANYONE). But I cannot remember a single instance of spending any sort of quality time with my dad… or really any time.
But, when I was in my first semester of college, I called him ( I was super desperate) and he answered the phone. He would listen to me complain about everything (I am a master complainer when I want to be) and attempt to give me soothing advice about how things will get better and I’ll feel better soon and that stuff that people tell you that doesn’t really work because even you don’t know what will make you feel better but you know “that thing” isn’t meaningless words. Not to say that my pops didn’t mean the words he said, I’m assuming he meant them but what I’m saying is that after all of these years (or, rather, in hindsight) his words seem kind of empty. Why?
Because he didn’t know me well enough to know what sort of things he could say to me to feel better (which would be none). He didn’t know me at all. I was (and still am) his daughter but my dad had no idea who his girl was. He had no idea whatsoever. Who is to blame?
He is. Because he was never ever there.
I am. Because, now, I can try to make a relationship where none existed and I. don’t. want. to.
There. I said it. (Must explore this topic further.)
Now, back to the song lyrics.
I have regrets about the way that I’ve handled my relationship with my dad. There is no reason that I should still be hurting over things that happened so many years ago. There are so many things that I need to say to get them off my chest (although, I have a feeling that “dumping” all my feelings isn’t the mature way to go). There are so many things that I wish my dad and I had the opportunity to do. So many things that I should have given to my dad (like my trust). So many things that I feel he should’ve given me (like love and TIME)…
But now… I’ve got my own family with Wes. And our growing BB. We’re making our own memories. We’re doing our own thing. What I really know is that when BB becomes an adult, I don’t want to have any regrets.
It’s no secret that California is my favorite place. It’s where I used to want to live. People would ask me, “what do you want to do when you finish college?” My answer was always, “I want to be a teacher… in California.” At the time people were asking me this question, I had actually never even been to California. It was just the place that I KNEW I wanted to live.
I met Wes and we visited CA a lot because his sister (our sister, now) lives there and we had a lot of Jesus stuff to do back then. But, I recently realized that I may not really want to live in California. I know, that’s a big step for me to even admit that “aloud.” But, hear me out, the reason I may not want to actually make a life there in California is because I love going there so much (I mean, I ALWAYS cry when I leave…ALWAYS- and, I’m not a crier) but I want to keep CA special. If I live there and take care of all of my mundane business there, it won’t be special anymore. Besides, I don’t know for certain that I want to raise our family in CA. Babies change EVERYTHING.
I know. I know. It makes me sad, too. I know I want to move to a place that is NOT Arizona…or, at least, not Tucson, I just don’t know where. But, for now, Wes and I are wanting to keep California as our special place to get away from everything. We’ll see what God has in store. He knows better than we do anyhow. Just look at my bulging belly! Haha!
Flashback to that time that I looked up and saw a heart in the sky. So unreal. Little things like rainbows are some of the ways Jesus shows me His love for me. This picture is so beautiful that it looks Photoshopped but it’s not. It’s just God being God.