3 Hard Choices For A Whiney, Wishful Control-Freak

Not quite two weeks ago, my husband Kevin graduated from his 10-month long Residency Program. As you may know, he was selected to be in the Leadership Institute at Christ’s Church of the Valley. The program ended on May 7th, with a graduation ceremony for all the Residents.

Leadership Institute GraduationThere’s Kevin along with all of the 2014-2015 Residents. He’s at the far right with a blue shirt, 2nd to top row.

I’m so proud of all that he has accomplished and all the ways he’s grown and been stretched. These past 10 months of intense training not only better prepared him to be a pastor, but to be a godly man and husband. By being here and learning from some amazing people, I know we’ve set a firm foundation for our marriage and ministry.

But with the graduation behind us and the celebration over, we’re in the midst of a difficult time. The majority of our close friends have now moved away. Kevin is still job-searching. We’re trying to make future decisions even though we’re forced to live day-by-day.

We are struggling with feeling discouraged at times. I sometimes feel disappointed that we haven’t moved onto our next chapter, when others have already started theirs. I feel STUCK. Like, I know we’re done here, yet we haven’t started anywhere else.

I’m here saying, “Okay, God…it’s time! Let’s move on now! Provide a job for Kevin, okay? I have a whole dream life planned out that can’t start until we can move on with our lives!”

In times like these, in difficult and miserable times, it seems like there is no other choice than to be, well, miserable! But I am continually reminded by God that even in this annoying time of waiting and uncertainty, I still have a choice to make.

So these are the choices I’m going to make right now:

1. I’m going to appreciate this unique time in life.

Even though it’s sad to say goodbye to so many close friends and even though it’s annoying to be stuck in a state of “limbo,” I have to admit that right now Kevin and I are the most free we’ve ever been and probably will be for a long time! We have very little obligations or engagements at the moment, which leaves us free to spend quality time together.

Just last weekend we got to spend almost all weekend just doing fun things together. We started a Harry Potter movie marathon. We went hiking. We went couponing. We played Mario and couldn’t stop laughing at how often I kept dying in the game.

I have the rest of my life to be full of obligations — people to see, places to go, events to fill up the calendar. And don’t get me wrong, those things are GREAT! I love spending time with friends and attending fun get-togethers.

But right now I have a very special time where my main obligation is enjoying life with my husband, and I want to soak it up. 🙂

busy-full-calendar

2. I’m going to live NOW.

I’m a dreamer. I think it’s a part of why I love planning so much. I love the idea of possibilities. I love thinking about what could be.

Thus, I also have a tendency to think, “My life will start when…(fill in the blank)…” For example, “My life will truly start when I get married.” Or, “My life will finally start once Kevin and I have our own house.”

I have these ideas of what my perfect life should look like (which, at the moment involves having a yard where I can have a hummingbird feeder and grow tomato plants), and until I get there it’s like my life hasn’t actually started yet.

But if I keep living this way, one day I’ll wake up and realize I never really lived at all.

I will spend my entire life wishing for whatever comes next.

So right now, that yard for a hummingbird feeder and tomato plants will have to wait. Even though my life isn’t where I wish it was, I am choosing to live RIGHT NOW. Life doesn’t start tomorrow. It’s already here. I’m going to grasp it and live it to the fullest.

Grand Canyon 2

3. I’m going to trust God by having JOY!

Last weekend at church, this verse popped on the screen and it really hit the spot:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

I leaned over to Kevin and said, “So that’s what God’s doing right now…he’s working on our perseverance.”

Let me tell you, my perseverance is pathetic!!!! (Uh oh, I hope I’m not giving God any ideas about making us wait even longer…)

I know that the situation that Kevin and I are in is hardly a trial compared to the sufferings of others. Compared to those who wonder if they will eat each day, or compared to those who are enslaved in trafficking, or compared to those facing terminal disease, Kevin and I have it pretty easy.

While I am so so grateful for all the blessings we have, can I just say that, comparison or not, this situation is still trying for us? It’s still frustrating. And it can be easy to be frustrated with God.

Yet, because I know that my God loves me, I am choosing to trust him. I am choosing to have joy. Why should I be joyous in a frustrating time like this? Because I know my Father in Heaven has BIG plans, and he has invited Kevin and I to be a part of them. He has a place and purpose for us.

So, I know there is good coming. And in the meantime, I know that God is only refining me to look more like him. So, it’s basically a win-win situation. Whether we’re in a trial or not, God’s good purposes are still unfolding. Knowing that truly gives me joy.

James-1-2

These are 3 big choices that aren’t easy to make. It’s a lot easier to whine and complain (which, I have done a lot of already). But even when things seem out of control, I still have control over at least one thing: how I’m choosing to respond to our circumstances.

So here’s to living life to the fullest right now, because I have faith in a God who is God of my present and my future.

Advertisements

Reflections on the Life of a Great Man

It’s been almost two weeks now since my grandpa Erich passed away. Between all the busy-ness of flying back home to St. Louis to be with family and attend the funeral, the times of mourning, and the busy-ness of Kevin’s graduation and saying goodbye to friends, I haven’t made time to write lately.

Even more, in the midst of sadness, new blog ideas definitely took a back-burner in my mind as I processed the death of a very special man.

But I’m ready to write again. And what a better way to pick back up than to take a moment to reflect on the life of my grandpa?! I believe that we can learn from every person, experience, or encounter, if we would just take some time to observe and reflect. Over the many years I spent as his house, I certainly learned a lot from my grandpa. Even now that he is gone, I learn about the person I want to be when I reflect on his life.

Grandpa 2

1. He let me be a part of his hobbies and routine.

Some of my most cherished memories are those growing up at my grandma and grandpa’s house. I adored my grandparents, and it wasn’t because they bought me all sorts of gifts and toys. My grandparents gave me the gift of their time. Growing up at my grandpa’s house was special because he let me join in on his every-day life. My grandpa let me spend time in the shed with him (until I got too bored and decided to go run outside and play!). My grandpa let me help him feed the cows and barn cats. My grandpa let me help him find dandelions that needed to be sprayed. All of those little things meant so much to me because it was in those moments that my grandpa shared his heart with me.

As a friend, and probably someday a parent and grandparent, I want to be like him. I don’t want to rely on gifts to form a relationship, but on genuinely sharing life with each other. I want to share my hobbies and my every day duties with my children and grandchildren. I don’t have to change around my life for them, I just need to be willing to invite them into the life I already have and share it with them. I want others to know that they have a place in my life.

2. He was a hard worker.

Though my grandpa had retired by the time I was around, I’ve heard the stories about how hard of a worker he was for his family. He would work a full-time job at McDonnel Douglas and then still come home and tend to the farm. He did what he needed to in order to make ends meet. Even as he got older and his body faced health issues, he would do all he could do keep up the farm and the house. My grandpa was determined to get the job done.

…And then here I am, constantly saying how I’m ready to retire! Ha! I want to be as hard of a worker as my grandpa was. I want to do the job well. And I want to do it humbly, without complaining.

3. He had a good sense of humor.

In my experience, my grandpa was definitely more of the strong, silent type. He wasn’t a man of many words. But I do know that he liked to laugh. He had a great smile. I can faintly hear the sound of his laugh as he would tickle me as a child, or push me on a swing. When my grandpa laughed, you couldn’t help but smile along with him.

I want to exude joy and laughter. There are times to be serious (as he was many times), but also times to laugh and revel in the moment. I can sometimes get so caught up in the stresses of life, that laughter is far from me. I want to find simple joys every day to make me smile.

Grandpa 1Grandma and Grandpa in the photobooth at my wedding!

4. He was devoted to his wife.

My grandpa was married to my grandpa just shy of 68 years. And even up til the end, he continually cared for her. Even when her health started to fade, he took on the household duties she couldn’t do…laundry, cooking, shopping. He visited her in the nursing home. He loved my grandma.

I want to be devoted to Kevin for the rest of our lives. Even in the hard times (which I know there will be), I don’t want circumstances to affect our commitment and relationship. I want to care for him forever, no matter what that looks like.

5. He lived a full life and faced death bravely.

My mom told me that near the end, my grandpa said he was really ready to go. He was ready to face death, and to see Jesus. He said that when he saw Jesus he would sing the old song, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” My grandpa was able to say such things because he lived a full life. I know that he and my grandma went on some amazing trips and had tons of unforgettable experiences. He had meaningful relationships. And he had faith.

I want to live a life such as that, so that I am ready to face death. Of course, because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I have no reason to fear death and I know my life is in God’s hands. However, I want to live this life to the fullest. I want to soak up every opportunity and make meaningful relationships. I want to do something great for God with the time he gives me. When I’m old I want to be able to look back on my life and know that I lived it well.

You see, I want to be like my grandpa.

Grandpa 3Grandma and Grandpa at my wedding.

I know there are so many more things I can learn from my grandpa’s life. He was a very special man to me. It is weird thinking he’s, just, not here. At the funeral, all our family was gathered so it felt like grandpa should be there too. Such a strange thing. I do miss him.

But not only do I miss him, but I miss what used to be. I miss those care-free days growing up on his farm. I miss the simplicity. I miss my grandparents as they were in those cherished memories, before so many health issues took their toll. I am saddened to think that I will never make any more of those types of memories. I am sad to face the end of a chapter.

But of course, the end of a chapter only means the start of a new one. And a great reason to make these stories great ones: to honor the life of my grandpa and to, hopefully, one day be the type of person he was.

Grandpa 4Grandpa and Grandma with their grandchildren at my grandpa’s 90th birthday.

Erich August Brakensiek, January 21, 1925 – April 29, 2015