Some Things Never Change

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The air conditioner at home didn’t sound like this. The sofa was lumpy in different places, there was no carpet, and family members (furry four-legged ones included) were never far away.

All of that has changed. I’m curled up on a new couch, listening to the air conditioner compete with my instrumental playlist. I’m the only person here tonight. No matter how many times I imagined it, or how much advice I was given, I couldn’t know what moving out really felt like.

As it turns out, it feels like my entire life has changed. Everything, from where I store cereal to the route I drive each morning, is different. Some people seem to thrive on change, and while I appreciate that change is necessary, I don’t always cope well with it. Too much at once leaves me overloaded and anxious… like tonight, when I called my mom in tears over a malfunctioning fridge and soggy waffles.

I’ve filled countless journal pages with the changes that have come in the past couple of years, so I won’t belabor that point in my blog post. Suffice it to say, a lot has changed and a lot of it has been to my benefit.

In two days, another one of those good changes will happen when I walk into a church as Miss Munson and walk out as Mrs. A. I’m excited, thankful and a little astonished over this season in my life. Yet as wonderful, memorable and joyous as this time is, it’s also a little overwhelming. (Hence the weeping over refrigerators and waffles.)

After agonizing over kitchen appliances, a stain on the sofa, and more unpacked boxes, I was convinced that my life had changed 100% and would never settle down. Did I mention that I’m a tad melodramatic when things get overwhelming?

Since writing is my therapy, I typed and backspaced several captions about “Change,” and started to ponder what had really changed. Then it dawned on me that even though so much has changed in a short time, some things haven’t. In life, nearly everything changes but there are a few things that remain. Reflecting on those steady things in chaotic times helps to anchor me. Some of my unchanging things are:

Love. My relationships look a little different now that I’ve moved out and I’m getting married, but I still deeply love the same people I did before this season. I’m still confident they care for me. It’s reassuring to know that even when I’m not down the hallway, my parents and brothers love me. It’s comforting that even when I’m overreacting, my soon-to-be husband loves me unwaveringly. I’m truly thankful for the friends, church family and work family who have sacrificed and supported me through this time. I’m in a different place but I’m still connected to many of the same people. That hasn’t changed.

Words. A one-in-the-morning blog post proves I still need to write. Even when I have no idea what I’m trying to say, my brain needs to clear itself onto paper (or a screen.) I used to dramatically say that I was born with ink in my veins. While I’m very much red-blooded, I agree with Lord Byron: “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

Chocolate. Just kidding… Maybe.

Community. The people we’re surrounded with cycle through changes, but I think it’s inherent that we all need community. Even when some friendships fade away, we need friends. I’m stubbornly independent and absolutely an introvert, but even I can’t change that I need others. While this forces me to be vulnerable and open, it also reminds me that I’m not alone in stressful times.

Jesus. Everything else could completely pivot, but we have the assurance that He is steady. He is faithful, until the end of time. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV). Even though it’s a few years old, I love the song “Remain” by Royal Tailor right now. The lyrics are a perfect reminder that no matter what happens around me, God’s love will remain true.

The sky could fall
The ground could shake
The stars burn out
And seasons change
The time will pass
And beauty fade
But all my love will remain

If you’re overwhelmed by changes right now, know that you’re not alone and that despite all the differences, some things haven’t changed. Acknowledge the changes and start to get comfortable with them, but also reflect on what’s remained the same. Let those things be your anchor as you chart the course for your new adventure. Remember… some things never change.

In Season

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Hello, friends – old and new. After nearly three seasons, it’s good to be back.

One of my favorite things about living in the Northeast is the change of seasons. Although I grumble about the uncertain transition periods between seasons (Why was I still wearing sweaters for the first week of June?), I love that we’re never stuck in a single season. Winter thaws out; the spring rains dry up; summer falls away; autumn settles under the frost.

Weather aside, I frequently think in terms of seasons. We’re all familiar with them, but how would we really define one? One definition on Dictionary.com says a season is, a period of the year characterized by particular conditions of weather or temperature.” 

The words “particular conditions” struck me. It doesn’t surprise me when it’s rainy in April or blazing hot in August. These are the natural conditions for those seasons. Yet I’m often caught off guard or bothered by the conditions of my life seasons.

As surely as nature does, my life cycles through different patterns. A season of busyness. A season of longing. Of silence or restoration. Of expectation or disappointment. A season for waiting. Another for moving.

They’re more varied than winter, spring, summer and fall, but they are seasons nonetheless. Some of them are flooded with activity and blessings; others are brittle and dry. Each season comes with particular conditions.

Since my last post, I’ve been submerged in another season of busyness. This hasn’t been the energizing sort of busy. It’s been the burnout kind. I haven’t liked this season’s conditions – exhaustion, doubt, cynicism, and impatience among them. Like a heat wave, these are conditions that will burn and suffocate if you stay in them too long.

And I have. Like a stubborn four-year-old refusing to wear sunscreen, I’ve let those conditions scorch me. I’ve blamed the season for bringing such conditions, but that’s really just one side of the story.

The truth is, we can’t control the elements or the conditions. But we can control our response to them. Just like turning on the air conditioner or applying sunscreen, we can choose to tune our reactions. My season isn’t my real problem. The conditions of life have been challenging, but they’ve only revealed the conditions of my heart.

Maybe this is what Solomon meant in the oft-quoted chapter Ecclesiastes 3, when he said, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (3:1, NKJV). In my mind, I think this verse works backwards, too- “A purpose for every time.” To adapt a cliché Christmas slogan, there is a reason for each season.

In the grand scheme of things, our seasons are such brief times. Whatever season we find ourselves in, another one is already on its heels. Even when we can’t see the change, it’s stirring. In the meantime, there is a purpose for this current time. There is meaning in our current conditions.

It’s another well-known verse, but further down in Ecclesiastes 3, we receive the assurance, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (3:11).

Everything is beautiful in its time… Even the seasons we’d prefer to skip or the conditions that test us. It is all beautifully woven into eternity.

It’s all in season.

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What I Learned in June (Part 2)

June CollageAnd just like that, it’s a week into July. By now, you know I’m shocked every time a new month rolls around. Seriously, I don’t know why I’m constantly stunned by time passing, but I am. I’ll try to spare the exclamations, though, and move right into recapping what I learned in June. Or at least, what I learned in the second part of June. (I discussed the first half in this post from a couple of weeks ago 🙂 )

  1. Instagram accounts featuring books are the best. Most of my feed these days is filled with books, so every time I scroll through it makes me happy. It also makes me want to buy books, which I never need more encouragement to do.
  2. Speaking of, book thrifting is a new extension of my addiction. I’ve always ordered used books from Amazon, but lately, I’ve been foraging through secondhand shops and used bookstores. It’s time consuming, but it’s also relaxing and rewarding. Nothing is more exciting than finding the exact copy I was looking for. True, I could order the book online, but discovering it beneath a stack of others is like unearthing a treasure.
  3. There are A LOT of options when laptop shopping. Most of which I don’t understand. I’ve already forgotten the specs of the one I ordered. But it’s lovely, and this is the first post I’m typing on it… I should probably go read the manual now.
  4. Chick flicks + popcorn + best friends = insanely late, memorable nights, filled with laughter and jokes that don’t make sense the next morning. I don’t realize how much I need moments like this until I’ve gone too long without them. When I do finally experience these times all over, I’m reminded how much better life is with friends.
  5. Starbucks Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade is my new favorite summer drink. I don’t know what made me choose it over a frappe one day, but it’s fantastic. I’m craving another.
  6. No matter how prepared you are to say goodbye, it’s impossible to be completely ready.
  7. I physically require time to be an introvert. Especially when I’m stressed, I need to recharge alone. Funnily enough, I make the least time for this when I’m stressed. It’s something I’m trying to be more conscious of this month.
  8. Writing muscles require exercise. In the last few months, I haven’t devoted nearly enough time to writing and I can feel atrophy setting into my ability. My goal for July is to get back into a writing workout routine.
  9. Sometimes the most spiritual thing is to sleep. There are too many nights I stay awake being anxious. In those times, I have to remind myself that I can “Go to sleep in peace; God is awake.” (quote, Victor Hugo)
  10. Keep not settling. I came across this quote on Pinterest, and it’s become my mantra. Life is too short to stay stuck. Even when it’s scary to step out, refuse to settle.

That’s all for Part 2 of June! What have you learned in the past few weeks? Have you set any goals for July? How is your summer going thus far?

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Thanks for Nothing

Thanks for Nothing

I have so much to be thankful for. It crosses my mind at random intervals throughout the year, but at Thanksgiving, it’s so much plainer. Towards the end of November, life seems to glow with gratitude. As the season crosses into Christmas, I want to sing and smile at strangers and express thanks for everything.

But there is one thing I’m not thankful for. I have trouble being thankful for nothing.

It’s an odd statement, and I’m pretty sure it’s grammatically incorrect, so let me explain.

When everything is going my way, when life is busy and bustling with blessings, it’s easy for me to be grateful. It’s second nature to give thanks for each good thing, for each answered prayer and successful step forward. When my dreams come true; when I get the job I wanted; when the words come smoothly, the “thank you’s” flow freely.

In the times when nothing is happening, though, when nothing is working out the way I planned, and I feel like I know nothingI don’t consider being thankful. How can I be, when there isn’t something to be thankful for? Who says thanks for nothing? 

I don’t. When nothing is going as I want it to and I feel stuck in that nothingness, my response is not to be grateful. It’s to sulk and mope about how nothing is going right. Nothing is happening. Nothing is changing. 

Although this year has been a whirlwind of change for me, it’s also been spaced out with empty caverns of nothingness. I’ve hated those “nothing” times. As difficult as change is for me, being stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the midst of seemingly nothing, is worse. I’m only thankful when I get out of those places!

Yet looking back, and then looking ahead and wondering if I’ll be in another “nothing” stage soon, I’ve realized something. Those times of stillness, when nothing happens and I go nowhere, have been some of the most life-shaping seasons for me. In every long stretch of “nothing”, something actually has been happening. God has gracefully been teaching me patience. He’s been holding me back when the time isn’t right for something else. He has given me these pauses so I can breathe, and rest, and simply wait and be still. 

Those moments of nothing are when I should be most thankful. Rather than being anxious about what may be ahead, and when I’ll get to it, I should actually pay attention to the powerful words found in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Every time I’ve read that verse, I’ve paid attention to the prayer and supplication part. Do you know which part I’ve ignored? With thanksgiving. 

Don’t be anxious; be thankful. Even when there is a cause for anxiety, give thanks.

In everything and in nothing, give thanks.

This Thanksgiving, I want to say thanks, even for those times of “nothing.” …Especially for those times of nothing.

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Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! In the times of everything and of nothing, I pray you’ll be blessed.

What are you thankful for this year?

Also, on a mostly unrelated note, what kind of pie do you prefer? The pumpkin pie pictured above gave me a craving, but there are some scrumptious apple pies in my kitchen at the moment too. How does a girl choose?

One last thing before I go for the pie and whipped cream: Thank you for being a reader and friend here! I can’t express my gratitude, and how much it means to share the journey with you. It’s another thing I truly give thanks for.

Happy Stuffed-Like-A-Turkey Day!

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