Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

COVID-19

The Coronavirus, as it is commonly called.  What a week, or should I say month, huh friends?

I’ve gone back and forth about what I would actually say, if I would actually say anything about what is going on in our country, let alone the world.  But for my little corner of the internet, I thought it would be appropriate to tell my story, my experience, so far, as a little memory capsule for years to come.

So, in my normal routine, I get supplies for the house about once a month and groceries once a week.  Starting at the end of February, Michael and I decided to go ahead and get March’s supplies and two weeks’ worth of food for the pantry, plus a few nonperishables.  At the time, I’ll admit I thought I was being a little overreactive, but even at that point, there was no hand sanitizer on the shelves and very little Clorox wipes available either.

Then last week happened.  The Stock Market started tanking.  The first states to be hit with the virus started shutting down and taking more extreme measures.  The President addressed the public several times.  The CDC went from just washing hands to social distancing recommendations.  And the number of people affected by this virus in our area started to climb.

My dad works at one of the biggest grocery chains in the country.  He told me stories of people waiting by the stock room door for pallets of toilet paper to come on to the floor.  They get picked up before they even make it to the shelves.  By Saturday, every department was hit with empty shelves as people continued to buy in double the normal average amounts.

But the reality is this.  We are not running out of food.  Employees are working overtime to make sure we can get the things we need.  And I am so grateful for them.  And I’m also reminded that I need to not let myself succumb to the hysteria while still being alert and informed.

There is a lot of unknown and scary right now.  Anxieties are high.  My anxiety has gotten the best of me several times.  I’ve had to designate phone-free times during my day.  I’ve also had to designate clean-free times as well, because I will stress-clean (as my husband calls it) obsessively.  I have to be really intentional about down time and self-care.  I haven’t finished a book in over a week because every time I try to sit down and read; my brain won’t turn off.

One funny example from last week, I made myself some tea and was going to curl up in bed with a book while my son napped.  But first, I needed to clean off my bedside table, and then my headboard, and the other bedside table, and might as well wipe down the dresser.  I knew I was in trouble when I found myself kneeling on a chest wiping down the frames on the wall.  So, I have started using timers. I also bought myself some puzzles.  For some reason, puzzles can take that obsessive aspect of my brain and keep it occupied.

And of course, I’m leaning on God.  He is revealing things about His nature through this experience.  His faithfulness to our family, His love and strength.  I am so thankful that He is in control, and no matter what happens in the next few weeks and months, I know He won’t leave my side.

I hope you are finding ways to bring calm and sanity into your life.  Whether it’s gratitude for the hard-working men and women at the grocery stores or organizing and structuring your life to keep you from obsessively cleaning (or is that just me), or leaning on God morning, noon, and night.  I hope you stay safe and healthy and find new ways to stay connected to both God and the people around you.

And as always, wash your hands.

Being a Writer

As a kid, I didn’t really think of myself as a writer.  I wasn’t really encouraged by any teachers to become a writer, either.  It’s not that I received that much criticism, but the spotlight for creativity always managed to be on someone else.  I managed to squeak by with decent grades on papers, but that was as far as it went.

In college, I tried to join a writer’s club.  I can’t remember why I went to that meeting, but I felt way out of my league.  Of course, at that point, writing seemed to be reserved for the well-read and the English majors.  I was neither.  I mean, I enjoyed reading, but I never seemed to be reading the right books or understanding the books I did read the right way.  Basically, I had no real confidence when it came to my writing.

So instead of traditional writing, I tried blogging.  I was introduced to it through my college roommate.  She blogged to her friends back home, and I really loved the interactive aspects of blogging.  So, I started my own blog, but it never really took off.  I didn’t have the kind of interactions or views I thought all other blogs must experience.  It was strange to feel isolated in a place where so many other people found connection.

When I got married, I started working from home, and it was the first time I was physically isolated from people for large chunks of my day.  That gave me some time to really devote to blogging, which I thought had been the problem.  But I kept moving from one site to another trying to reinvent myself almost on a yearly basis.  It was hard to maintain a following when I was moving around so much online.  Plus, my confidence kept me from really finding my own voice.

Over time, the subject matter on my blog found its direction.  In 2014, I started Katy’s Life Story because I wanted to share my story of pregnancy loss and my journey to having a baby.  I had no idea at the time how long and heartbreaking that journey would be, but I kept writing.  I started getting some feedback from others, and it felt great, but I started obsessing about the numbers, the likes and the comments.

At the end of last year, I realized how much validation and pleasing others had affected how I write.  In fact, I struggled with even calling myself a writer.  My first inclination was to leave.  But I realized the blog wasn’t the problem, it was how I saw myself as a writer, and that was what I needed to change.

I started listing the reasons I write.  In truth, the numbers were just a distraction.  With all of the reflection I’ve had over the years from my writing, I feel like I know myself on a better level.  I have had the courage to learn new things, embrace the things I like and become more of who I was created to be.  And I have made a few amazing friends and connections who have inspire, encourage, and challenge me when I need it most.

Going forward, I want to challenge the way I write, and appreciate it for the art that it is.  I want to play and connect, to read other writers and see how they put words their own words and thoughts together.  This journey is far from over, and I’m excited to see where this will take me, line by line and word by word.

Valentine’s Day

It’s the first major holiday of the year (I mean, you can’t miss it with all the pink and red in every store), and it is wrapped in mystery as to its origins.  Like some other major holidays of the year, it seems to be a Christian holiday derived from a popular pagan ritual.  And that ritual is all about fertility (and apparently some lottery where the women of the town were matched up with single men).  There is even some disagreement as to which St. Valentine is being celebrated, but ultimately the holiday has evolved into a celebration of love.

But in our culture, the pressure of exactly how one shows that love on Valentine’s Day seems to be over the top.  Extravagant gifts, extravagant trips.  Bigger, better, filtered depictions of life.  Buy all the cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry.  And the ones we need to hold close, we keep a selfie-length distance away.  And we do it all in a style that comes across easy.

The reality is that relationships are hard.  And not just the romantic ones.  Every relationship brings heartbreak and disappointment, and joy and fulfillment.  It takes active, intentional work to maintain healthy and vibrant relationships.  I think celebrating the people in your life who support you, who stick around through the mess and chaos, is vitally important.

This year, I’ve been trying to look intentionally on my decisions to find out if I’m making them out of a spirit of conviction or a spirit of people pleasing.  Whether I’m doing something because I feel like I’m supposed to, or if I really actually want to participate.

Before any plans were made this year, I thought about why we do the things we do on Valentine’s Day.  It was really good and healthy to take inventory of our why.  So, a couple of things I want to incorporate this year:

  • First, I want to be a little more private with how I celebrate.  There is this running joke that says if you don’t post about it, it didn’t happen.  But perhaps not posting about any of the details might be a bit refreshing and help me live more in the moment.  This isn’t a judgment call on what other people decide to do, by the way (because public declarations of love and recorded memories have their place as well).  This is just a me thing. 
  • Second, I want to broaden the holiday.  I want to take a moment to sit down and write to some of the relationships in my life that need to be celebrated.  And this is a great opportunity to do just that. 

I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  But I do need to be aware and intentional about the choices I make in life, despite what may be expected of me by others.  This particular holiday can be an opportunity to be the kind of intentional that I want to be.  Maybe let go of the clutter of this holiday and focus on the simple and sweet that really reflects my relationships. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be special.

However way you choose to celebrate, if you even want to celebrate at all, I hope you find joy and connection this month with friends and family.  I know this day can be hard, lonely, and isolating.  But the truth is you are not alone, you are so very loved, and you are so very, very precious.  Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

Why I thought about leaving Social Media (And why I did not)

I think everyone can relate to the love-hate relationship that is social media.  I’ve been on social media for almost 15 years.  Over that time, I’ve connected with people from my past and present that I wouldn’t have been able to without social media.  There is no doubt that it has been an amazing tool.

But there have been some issues in the last few years.

  • Facebook’s feed algorithm is a joke.  I see the same 25 people’s posts every time I get on the site.  I have 840 friends. The number of friends is not the point. The point is that I’m not even seeing 25% of the posts my friends make.  And recently, Facebook got rid of lists, which allowed me to quickly check for updates from certain groups of people, like family.  Now, I don’t know if they post unless I go to each profile individually.  I don’t have time for that.
  • Instagram’s feed is going the same direction.  I get constant comments from people I follow, especially ones that depend on social media for their livelihood, that their followers don’t see their feeds.  This has led to a lot of Instagrammers completely relying on Stories but those are getting so congested, making it longer and longer for me to watch in one sitting.  And I don’t have time for that, either.
  • Twitter is getting congested with retweets and sponsorship links.  Plus, there are a lot of people I follow who get really caught up in the vitriol and drama of the internet.  While I started following some people for the encouraging, yet challenging, posts, a lot of their more recent stuff has just been reactionary.  I actually like Twitter’s format the most, but it sometimes feels like I’m not connecting with anyone on there, just shouting into the ether, and like I said already, no time for any of that.

With all the frustrations I had been experiencing, I really felt compelled to just leave it all behind.

In September 2018, I removed the Facebook app and Facebook Messenger app from my phone on a whim (why two apps are required is just ridiculous).  Last year, I continued with the impulsive decisions.  I stopped using social media on Sundays (with a few exceptions sprinkled throughout the year) and I deleted my Twitter app from my phone. 

A lot of these decisions were influenced by wanting to be present with my active son.  But it was also influenced by the fact that I lost track of time when I was on these accounts. Just think about all of the other things on my to-do list that could have been done in that time.

And if I felt energized or motivated after the time spent on these sites, then that would be one thing, but I usually don’t.  And this is not a judgment on anyone else’s social media use.  I just know that what I’m doing with my use was simply not working.  And I needed to make a change.

But I realized I couldn’t leave.  Not completely.  Facebook groups are utilized on a regular basis by my neighborhood, church, and community.  If I want to stay connected to these places and people I care about, I need to stay on these sites to some extent.

It’s not the people I was wanting to leave.  It’s the sites, themselves.  So, heading into this new year, here’s the plan.

  • I am not going to deactivate anything this year.  But I am going to be purging a lot of the accounts I follow and reassessing how I want to use these sites moving forward.  I’m hoping that by culling back, it will help with those algorithms, among other issues.
  • I am keeping both Twitter and Facebook off of my phone.  I can still use my laptop, but it does naturally limit the amount of time I can spend on them.
  • I will continue to fast from social media on Sundays.
  • I am moving the phone charger away from my bedside table, so I don’t use it first thing in the morning or last thing at night. 

I may add to this list as I move throughout the year.  I don’t want it to get complicated, though.  Simplicity is actually my main motivator in all of this.  I just hope I can use these changes, or maintain the changes I’ve already made, to pursue a happier, healthier, more productive, and ironically, a better connected life.  I guess we shall see.

Thanksgiving 2019

Life can be so unpredictable. At the end of October, when I published what I thought would be my final blog post for at least six months to a year, I certainly didn’t think I would be writing another one before the end of 2019. But when life is unpredictable, the best place to go is to the community that has supported and loved you, so here I am.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, my husband received a call from his mother. If you have been following this blog, you know that Michael’s dad has had Alzheimer’s for several years. His mom told us that his health had taken a turn for the worse, and we needed to come say goodbye.

So, Monday morning, we packed up our car and made the day’s trek to Arkansas to say goodbye. On Tuesday afternoon, Michael’s dad passed away.

Tuesday. On the fifth anniversary of my first daughter’s stillbirth.

A week after I got the diagnosis that our daughter had passed away, I wrote a blog post of thanksgiving. I felt that it was appropriate, here a week after my father-in-law has passed, that I would write another post of thanksgiving.

I am thankful that Tony is free from the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. His body and mind are once again whole. I am thankful for the advocates that fight and raise funds to find a cure to this disease. We will continue to walk for the cure in honor of Tony as well as other family members who have been affected by it.

I’m thankful for the community that surrounds my mother-in-law and has surrounded her for these past several years. We don’t live very close by, so knowing that her friends could be there for her in the moments we weren’t able to was such a comfort. Community is such an incredible gift from God.

I am thankful for the few cherished memories I have of Tony. I didn’t get to know him well before the disease started affecting him, but one of my best memories of Tony was the time we were in a parking lot, walking to somewhere, and he was walking behind everyone else. So, I went back to walk next to him and gave him a side squeeze before taking my arm in his. He smiled at me and said he loved a good hug when he could get one.

I am thankful for the pieces of Tony that I see in my son. My son has that same penchant for a good hug. Also, when my son is thinking hard about a problem, he makes the same face Tony did. I look forward to the glimpses of Tony we will see in the years to come.

I am thankful for the memories that Michael has of his dad and the impact his dad had on him. One of his best memories is of going down to the creek with his dad and his brother to explore. I see how that love for exploration has encouraged Michael to stay curious about his passions and the world around him and to never stop learning.

I am thankful for the many ways Tony has affected the world around him. When my mother-in-law posted his passing on her Facebook, there were so many comments of how special Tony was to other people, how he encouraged, loved, and impacted their lives. I’ve been able to get to know even more about this amazing man through the stories and perspectives of those he has loved.

Most of all, I am thankful for God in whom we can place our trust and hope. He makes his presence known in such powerful ways on the darkest days. I know that Tony is finally free from the struggles of this life and has received his promised reward. And for that, I am so thankful.

Not What I Thought I Would Say Today.

I’m dreading this post, but I know it needs to be done. I know it’s probably obvious to some people, but it really didn’t dawn on me that I would come to this conclusion.

I’m going on another hiatus. This time it’s going to be indefinite.

I know that sounds ultra-melodramatic. But I didn’t just want to disappear without saying something. You all have been an incredible community, so you deserve more than just being ghosted.

I tried to fight it, but all I was doing was putting unnecessary pressure on myself. The last straw is this writer’s block I’ve been facing. Usually, if I just push through it, I’m fine. But this time is different. And I think it is a sign that God is calling me into a new season.

A season of rest.

Recently, I caught my son’s cold, and it just about did me in. It reminds me of that cold medicine commercial, where the guy sticks his head into the office of his boss and says he needs a sick day. But the boss turns out to be his toddler jumping on the bed with this blank expression on his face. I lived that commercial this week.

But it’s been more than that. I’ve been running myself ragged lately for reasons completely unknown to me – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This fatigue has manifested as a reading slump, writer’s block, staring at walls and counting it as “down time”. Every cell in my body is clamoring for rest, and I think I’m finally listening.

A season of listening.

Though sleep is awesome and very much needed to further my health and good attitude in general, I also feel like I’m entering a season of listening to God. I’ve been talking a lot – on this blog, in therapy, to any living being around me and sometimes even inanimate objects to be honest.

The reading slump, the writer’s block, even the slightly sore throat I’ve had this week (though to be fair, I have had that cold), everything is pointing to listening more than talking. And God has been revealing some things to me in the few moments I’ve created space to really listen. He’s been encouraging me and convicting me. And it only makes me want to free up more space for Him.

A season of preparation.

Someone I knew once said, “You are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed into a crisis.” I don’t know if I subscribe to this line of thinking completely. I would probably use the word change instead of crisis. Because change can be good or bad, and I would like to think everything headed towards us isn’t all bad.

That being said, I feel like a change is on the horizon. I feel it in my bones. It feels like God is trying to get my attention before the change arrives. And I don’t know what it will be or when it will come. Maybe it’s returning to this blog with new direction, energy, and fervor. Maybe it’s finishing that book I started writing at the beginning of the year (which has also entered into a slump of sorts). Maybe it’s some opportunity in my community, my family, my friends, my career, my life in general.

Side note, I have no intention of shutting down this blog in the interim. I may have one more post come out that will help navigate the site while I’m gone for those who want to read my story. But it will probably be after the holidays.

Whatever is coming, or not coming, I know that I need to rest in stillness, listen to God, and embrace this time of preparation. I am really going to miss all of you. I will probably still be lurking on social media, primarily on my Instagram @katyslifestory. So, hopefully, I will see you there! Thank you, everyone, for your love and support over the years! I cherish it more than you will ever know!

A Rotten Netflix Show

Okay, so how could I not play with the name of this series on Netflix?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but this show hooked me. I wanted something slightly educational, as well as something I can watch while I fold clothes. Rotten is a documentary series on Netflix that checked both of those boxes.

At first, I thought this was another “guess what is in your food” kind of show. But instead, it kind of assumes you know the basics. While it does briefly touch on a few of the processes for each food product, it is really about the whole culture surrounding it. It’s about how government policy, climate, and consumer demands affect everything in the process.

For example, the first episode is about honey. They talk about how bees make the honey and the difficulties of bees disappearing or colony collapses. But they also talk about some of the crazy things local beekeepers have to deal with and decisions they have to make.

One problem is that China sold diluted honey (diluted with sugar syrup) to America, making a very cheap product and American beekeepers could not compete. Even when America put tariffs on the honey to help American beekeepers, China still found ways to circumvent the tariffs by sending it through a third country.

Another problem is when American beekeepers lease out their bees to almond groves in California to help with pollination. It sounded like a great idea, but then someone came and stole whole colonies out of the orchards. They ripped off any identification, so when the thousands of stolen colonies were found, they couldn’t get them back to the rightful owner. So any keeper that leases their bees to these groves could lose the hive forever.

Each episode doesn’t end with an answer to the problems that these keepers/growers/farmers face in food production. Of course, it promotes buying from small, local farms, but it doesn’t villainize bigger operations. In fact, it shows human faces to all of it. It really discusses the complexity of how our food shows up in the supermarket and how being an informed consumer will help in the long run.

Season 2 recently came out. I’ve already watched a few of those episodes. I will put a caveat on this show. There is some profanity, mainly in the people being interviewed. They are not bleeped out. It is rated Mature and I think it’s because of the profanity. Nothing else really stuck out to me as graphic or gory.

Overall, I am really enjoying it. I’m not sponsored by Netflix or anything like that. I just thought I would share this fascinating documentary. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the second season!

Anxiety Update

I wanted to write an update on my anxiety, but I’ve kind of been in the thick of an anxiety storm. And when I’m in a storm like this, it’s harder to really articulate what I’m trying to say. Every time I try to put pen to paper (or in my case fingers to keyboard), I’m constantly deleting what I’m writing because it sounds like gobbledygook.

Overstimulated has been a well used word in my vocabulary lately. Usually, it is used to describe my son when he is really in need of a nap or is experiencing big feelings. It’s been interesting how helping him to navigate his feelings can help me navigate my own.

Which brings me to what I learned about my anxiety. I realized that my anxiety ramps up after a string of days of being overstimulated. Mix that with major changes in my schedule and it becomes a perfect storm for an anxiety episode.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Autumn has always been a busy season in the year with a completely full schedule. All fun and exciting things, but a lot of changes to my schedule – travel, events, new experiences. Knowing what I now know about my abilities and limitations, I want to be able to incorporate times of rest and reflection between the craziness of the weeks and months ahead. I also realize that sometimes it might not be possible to balance everything perfectly.

In those moments when things are out of balance, it’s so important to give myself enough grace to learn from the experience and adjust. Of course, this is all easy to say and not always easy to do in the moment. I just need to keep reminding myself that I’m growing and learning about this season in my life. It’s okay to make mistakes.

But I’m not a mistake. Even though my limitations and my anxiety are a part of who I am, they are not the whole package. I am a daughter of the living God who created me as a part of His plan. I have purpose in that fact. Even in the darkest parts of my journey, God is the light guiding my way. So I’m making Isaiah 43 1 (the second half of the verse) my mantra this season to hopefully remember that I’m not alone in my anxiety, and that God will see me through all of it, one step at a time.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

Seasonal Rhythms

Most of my life, I’ve tried to set up time-based schedules to live by. It’s how our world really works, by the hours and minutes of a clock. But it never seemed to work well for my own life. I would fill up every hour with some activity. I would even include rest time or down time. Or I tried using blocks of time for activities, but it never worked.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

On top of that, I’m not great with change. It’s unpredictable and time-based schedules crumble in the face of change. I needed to be more flexible, but it didn’t feel like it was in my DNA to be more flexible. Change wears me down, even the good kind. So I wanted to find a way to live into that ebb and flow of life.

Then I heard about living in rhythms. What I have learned so far about rhythms is that they are as natural as breathing. Even in the face of change, it’s just the next right step forward, or sometimes even backward. But it requires slowing down, paying attention, creating space to reflect. But, I’m so busy running after my son and my dogs and all my responsibilities, that I thought it would be impossible.

So, I decided to try incorporating some seasonal rhythms. At the beginning of each official day of the season, I stop and change a few things in my home to celebrate and commemorate the natural change of the season. In each one, in addition to changing the decor I already have, I added a scent, and the hobby focus in my life for each season. Here’s the result.

  • Spring
    • Scent: Lavender
    • Hobby: Gardening (this is the point when I make all the plans of what to plant and how to maintain it all, but I do continue to water and maintain through Fall)
  • Summer
    • Scent: Citrus & Coconut
    • Hobby: Piano or Guitar (something inside because Texas heat is real)
  • Fall
    • Scent: Apple
    • Hobby: Knitting (my newest hobby that I’m learning and loving)
  • Winter
    • Scent: Mint (think peppermint at Christmas and mint chocolate around Valentine’s Day)
    • Hobby – Baking

I picked scent because that particular sense tends to ground me to the present. I smell citrus, I think summer. I smell lavender, I think spring. I chose a different hobby each season because, honestly, I was trying to do them all at once. Dividing them up and dedicating intentional time to each one, even for only a few months, has helped me grow and learn more than I did when I was trying to do it all.

I would love to learn how to incorporate this rhythm mentality into other aspects of my life, but I’m not there yet. That’s okay. I guess, that’s part of the whole process. Slowing down and letting things happen more naturally and less forced. I already see a difference those other parts of my life, even without doing anything intentional. I can definitely see how rhythms can be really helpful, and I’m looking forward to trying more things, especially in the face of busyness and change.

Do you have any seasonal rhythms or traditions that you look forward to? Do you struggle with change like me? Do you have anything that helps you deal with ongoing changes in your life?

Why Is This Still Happening?

I did a series on my blog called Continuing the Conversation about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. As I would research articles online about recent conversations on this topic, I started noticing a trend. A lot of these posts online would start out with “We don’t talk about (miscarriage, infertility, etc) very much.”

Even though 1 in 4 women experience loss , I still seem to live in a world where that statistic is not realized (and that’s the American statistic. One of the most technologically advanced, medically advanced, innovative countries, and we still experience infertility and loss 25% of the time). I still get comments at the store from the cashier or some other stranger who suggests that I need to have another child like it is as easy as picking laundry detergent on aisle 12.

Being on this side of the road now, it’s easy to see the struggle, the tears, the waiting, the dashed hopes, and all of the pain that comes with simply trying to add another member to your family. There doesn’t really seem to be a simple way to do it, despite how much people have suggested all sorts of “easy answers” to our complicated struggle in the past. So, I thought I would take a step back, back in time, to when I was that newly wedded wife who was afraid her birth control wasn’t going to work, and she would get pregnant way before she was ready. The first few times I even heard about a friend struggling with infertility, all the responses that I would eventually hear in my own situation popped into my head, and sometimes even out of my mouth.

I just simply didn’t understand. I thought I did. I thought infertility or miscarriage were things that happened in extreme cases, that all this anxiety may just be an overreaction and that they needed to just relax (I know, I know, I was young and ignorant). It wasn’t until I had the term “unexplained” attached to my own stillbirths that I realized the medical research doesn’t actually have this all figured out. It’s is not a simple cause and effect. It’s a case by case situation. And each case has to be approached with compassion and patience.

But why, when we have all of this evidence, all these stories shared in books and online, do we still have to endure the conversations in the grocery store or at church or even in our own families? And I realized, speaking for myself most of all, that this world is not as stable as we would like it to be, that pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, working hard, being diligent, saying the right things, praying the right prayers, checking all the boxes just doesn’t guarantee anything.

Personally, I like structure. I like the routine. I like to know that if I do A and B, then C will always be the result. But life doesn’t happen that way. Kids die before their parents. Loving wives can still be cheated on. “Til Death Do You Part” can happen way before it should. People who love their jobs and are good at them still lose them. Houses, even in gated communities, can still be vandalized. Kids from loving, supportive homes can still make bad choices in their life.

I’m not saying this because I’m just throwing up my hands, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” about it all. But since we all know and experience instability in our lives, we have an amazing opportunity to extend patience and compassion to those who are experiencing it in their own life. To acknowledge that there is no easy answer that will fix things. To listen and be willing to sit in the silence of grief. To understand that I won’t understand every situation completely, and extend grace to those around me who could be having the worst day of their life. To approach every conversation without all the answers.

This is challenging for me. I like being in control and knowing how things end. I don’t like being uncomfortable or have anyone around me that’s sad. I love laughing and having living room dance parties and late-night board game sessions. I love stories with hopeful and happy endings. I like sunshiny days in the garden. I like seeing other people experience joy and good surprises.

But life is both these good things and the bad stuff, too. And it’s healthy to acknowledge them both in our lives and the lives of others. As a Christian, I think it’s a big part of being a follower of Christ. He wept and laughed and got outraged. He felt all the feelings without fear or shame. In all the instability, he is a rock. A cornerstone to all the hope in the world. I want to use that hope in Christ to further my growth in how I interact with others, forgiving the hurtful, ignorant comments because I understand the need for control and distaste for the uncomfortable. And in the same way, I want to watch the words that come out of my own mouth, that they bring hope instead of hurt, silence when it is preferred, and enough compassion to acknowledge that I don’t understand, but I’m still gonna be here anyway.