On Faith

Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in a new direction. A direction that if asked me about five years ago, I probably would have laughed at. I’ve been hesitant to write about this for some time as it’s a personal journey that tends to be very, very intimate. So, uh… here goes. In the last year, I’ve had a new, unfamiliar desire to become more spiritual. It’s always weird to just come out and say, “hey – we’re going to talk about God today” but.. well, why the heck not? When did believing in any religion become uncool? We’ve talked about love, loss, depression, good days and bad. Heck, we’ve even talked about dog poop. So.. I guess nothing is off limits.

Let me get into a little background first. What better place to start than my parents?

My mom grew up in a very Catholic family, went to Catholic school up until high school and spent the first decade of her children’s lives getting us to go to church as well. However, my mom has always been a questioner. Apparently a rule-breaker in her youth, she often challenged the old schools of thought. My dad had a very rough childhood without much religious experience and converted to Catholicism to get married and raise my brothers and me in a religious home.

When we moved out to the country (yes, western Howard County at the time only had farms and giant fields – no McMansions like there are today), the only decent church around had strict rules on what women can and cannot do within the church(surprise!) and tried to hold my brothers back from Sunday school for missing one or two classes because of sports. Apparently there was a big falling out and eventually we stopped going. My parents still raised us knowing what was right and wrong, how to treat others fairly and all that jazz – we just didn’t go to church every week.

From then on, religion was very foreign to me (I was probably 5 when this all happened). I didn’t understand so many of the rules or get how the Earth could have been literally made in 7 days when all of my classes said otherwise. I just didn’t get it; I’d like to think mainly because I just didn’t know. How could I know? I didn’t have much experience in that department.

Fast forward to college, I took a philosophy class and anyone who has ever taken a philosophy class knows that they tend to try to prove that God doesn’t exist way more than they support that claim. For about a year after that class, I, in all honesty, didn’t think there was a greater spiritual being out there – because again, that’s what I had been taught. However, I did feel envious of people that had such strong convictions. I wanted to know what happens after you die, I wanted to feel like I could wake up and thank God for a beautiful day or pray for a sick family member without feeling like a fraud.

Alex’s upbringing was very different than my own. Some of his favorite childhood memories are associated with his church… camping, the friends that have become family, the lessons and values he learned, the list goes on and on. I wanted that. I wanted to believe. I wanted to know that one day I would see my dad again. I wanted family friends that we met through church for our *eventual* kids. I wanted them to have those experiences. I longed for that community. When Alex and I started dating and he asked me to go to church with him one Sunday morning – I’m not going to lie, I was terrified. I didn’t know what to say when everyone else was just spouting stuff out. I didn’t know when to stand or sit or anything. But I went… maybe because I just really liked this new guy or maybe because that desire already took root somewhere inside of me and it was struggling to break free.

Before moving into our house, we found a church we really liked and I found myself looking forward to hearing the next week’s message. I felt uplifted and… well, just different. I still didn’t know all of the stories of the Bible or who did what, but I was learning and I was getting the exposure that I lacked. Unfortunately, since moving we haven’t found a church that even comes close to comparing — one day we will though.

Anyway, for the last year or so I’ve been feeling like I’m meant to learn more. I have a desire to figure it all out, to get a deeper understanding, to let go of all my worries and fears and shortcomings and trust that there is a plan… and that it all will work out.

After my surgery in November – I was so lost. I kept asking why I was meant to have such a hard journey, why are there so many bad things in the world, why me… why me, why me, why me. There were so, so many questions that I just didn’t have answers to. But maybe the difference was – that I wanted answers. I wanted to know what it all meant and what I was supposed to learn. I wanted to give up control and just let things happen when they’re supposed to, and – here’s the kicker, trust and have faith that they would happen.

In the last few months, I’ve been basically telling God that if I was meant to find my way to church, to Him, to… wherever – I needed a sign. I needed to feel like that was where I was meant to be, that someone was watching over me… I needed to know that if I let go, I would be in good hands. I wanted a big smack in the face, a violent shake, or, you know, a gentle hand leading me in the right direction.

About a month ago now (geez, it’s crazy how time flies), when everything was going right and neither Alex nor I had any problems in the world – I got into a very serious car accident. A freshly turned 16 year old boy ran through a stop sign and smashed right into my driver’s side. I was on a fairly major road and was going about 55 mph when it happened. Thankfully, I had time to slam on my brakes causing the other car to smash more towards my front tire. If that didn’t happen and he slammed right into my door, there is no way that I would have walked away from that accident untouched. Best case scenario is that I would have been rushed to the hospital.

Only days later, when we were still dealing with insurance claims and appraisers, when I was still full of bruises and sore – Alex got into an accident as well. I count my lucky stars that he was okay (and that I was… and all of the other drivers involved). It kinda got me thinking again though. Maybe this was my sign? Maybe it was how I was being told that really, honestly, and truly – someone was looking out for me, for us, for everyone. In the last six months I’ve battled infertility, being cut open, losing a baby, depression, deployments, and was in an almost-fatal car accident… and you know what – here I am to tell you about it. And not just that, I can smile about it all and tell you what I’ve learned, how I got through it and how you could too (if it ever came to that).

Maybe all that bad stuff wasn’t bad stuff at all. Maybe it was just leading me to where I was supposed to go.

I’m not here today to tell you that I have it all figured out; I don’t. I’m not trying to convince you to find Jesus; I’m not sure that I’ve found the way either. I’m just trying to bare my soul, show you my insecurities, tell you my worries and doubts and fears. This is just a diary for me, albeit a very public one, and I hope to one day look back on this entry and feel proud, even only for sharing something that made me vulnerable. Maybe this is a turning point? Maybe this is the crescendo at the end of a long string of painful events? There has to be more. And it’s my turn to find it.

Note Taking

Are you a journaler? Do you feel the need to snap pictures of things so you never forget them? When you’re listening to music, do you ever write down lines of the song that really speak to you? At night, do you feverishly re-tell the events of the day?

I bet you would be surprised to learn that I am, in fact, a memory scribbler, a quote jotter, a “don’t move let me take your picture” taker. No? That’s not a shocking revelation? What gave it away? Was it this three year running public journal that I share with the world? Dang. I knew that would be my unraveling.

Throughout college, I carried a small little notebook (probably the size of your palm) around in my purse. The absolute worst thing was to laugh all night at some ridiculous joke and come morning, no one can remember it. So, my little journal filled this void. I’m not kidding you, I would take that out ANY time someone would say clever little one-liners and jot it down real quick. I’m fairly certain that I looked incredibly insane – at a bar.. writing something in a notebook. You know me though, I didn’t really care what it looked like I was doing — and getting to read them all the next morning was seriously priceless.

If I didn’t have my notebook, I would write them on little scraps of paper, receipts, napkins… whatever I could find. I still find little notes in purses, pockets and jackets. It’s pretty entertaining, really.

This one was exactly four years ago when we were getting ready to celebrate my 21st birthday.

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I don’t do this as much now as when I was younger — mainly because, well, I’m way more boring now! Somehow I find that going to work every day is a little less “quote worthy” than living in a house full of girls in a college town. Strange, isn’t it? Yet — the tradition isn’t gone completely. On every vacation, you better believe I’m there to capture the funny moments! Like this one…

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I’m not the only one that does it either! Alex started a whole section of his “Notes” app on his phone for stupid silly things that I’ve said. Isn’t he sweet? 🙂

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A few years ago when Alex went on his first deployment (while we were together that is, he’d already been on a couple pre-us) — I started a journal where I would write to him every night. We only got to talk maybe once a week and during that short time, it would be so difficult to try to remember every last detail of everything that I wanted to tell him. I often found myself angry when we got off the phone because I forgot to tell him this or that. The journal also helped me feel like I was able to say goodnight to him. I know that’s kind of silly, but when you’re used to saying goodnight or calling when you leave work every day, it’s hard to break that habit. And honestly, feels weird and kind of lonely when you don’t have anyone to share those little details with.

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I meant to give the journal to Alex when he got back so he could get up to date with all of my happenings. Yet, when he finally got home — I was kind of embarrassed by it. I don’t know if I didn’t think it would be “enough” or I didn’t want him to focus on the times I was sad when he was gone or what the problem was — but I never ended up giving it to him.

As Alex packed up to leave town this past weekend, I suddenly remembered the journal and fished it out of my nightstand (this was pre-me cleaning it out). I read a few entries out loud and we couldn’t stop laughing at some of the silly things that I said.

It’s been a blast to re-read them over the last few days. I’ve marveled over how much has changed in just a couple short years. Some entries were mundane and just really noted what I had done that day… like this excerpt from one —

9/6/2010

…I got a lot of chores done today. What a way to spend Labor Day. But hey! At least I wasn’t at work! I did some more cleaning, took Smelly on a coule of walks (I didn’t even remember calling Hunter – Smelly.. hilarious), ran some errands, decorated for fall, addressed some Save the Dates, watched Maryland beat Navy & made Cinnamon Honey Butter. That’s a lot of stuff!

(the next paragraph is boring… we’ll skip that. It just talks about being half way through my journal)

I love you so much. I can’t wait to kiss you & hold you & lay with you & see your handsome face! I love you so much! Sleep well! Love, squeeze squeeze

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This next one I particularly found amusing. Apparently, I wrote it pretending to be Hunter (remember — Bailey wasn’t even born yet, so I wasn’t favoring one dog over the other 😉 ).

9/16/2010

Dear Daddy,

This note is being written by “your boy.” Dad, are you home yet? Momma keeps telling me that you’re coming home soon, but I haven’t seen you yet. Every day I hope that today is going to be the day.

Momma doesn’t play the same way you do. She doesn’t always get down on the floor and throw me around. She doesn’t throw as far as you do and she rarely takes me on my morning runs. I mean yeah, I guess she walks me and everything but she just doesn’t understand how much you and I bond on our runs.

Sometimes when I am outside with Momma, I see your truck! I get so excited! I start to bite my leash and throw it around celebrating your return. But it’s not you in your truck. Did you give your truck away? I really hope not. I love my truck. Momma says that other people have trucks that look and sounds like yours. I don’t understand that though. Bring my truck back with you when you come, will ya?

Even though Momma lets me sleep on the bed, I’d rather you be here and have to sleep on the floor again. Speaking of that, would you mind if I slept on the bed when you come home too? Momma says that I have to ask you. Maybe just for one night?

One thing that I’m really looking forward to is getting all your food scraps! Momma’s lame and only sometimes gives them to me. All in all, if I could take myself out and feed myself I wouldn’t need her. Don’t worry though, Dad. I know how much you love her so I’m taking good care of her. Come home soon, Daddy! I miss you! Love, Mr. Hunter Bo Ziffer

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I like how Hunter called me out on multiple occasions. What a great dog!

One thing Alex gave me for my birthday this year was a new journal, which I started writing in last night. Maybe in a couple years I can share some of those entries with you as well 🙂 My new journal pages are much larger than the old one — see them compared to each other here…

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Can’t wait to fill that bad boy up with new memories 🙂

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Anyone else an avid journaler? Does anyone know any guys you like to keep a journal? I couldn’t think of any! I’m sure it would be fun to read about the days events from a man’s perspective. Have you shared any journal entries with anyone? What about crazy people like me that take a notepad into a bar?

Sunday Musings

I have a list of, oh, I don’t know, 39 things I’d love to chit chat about today. None of these little tidbits have any cohesion between them – so, get ready for a terribly random post. It’s definitely been awhile since I completely downloaded my brain on you, so I guess it’s about time I get started.

First — let’s get the party going with some music. I know this CD has been out for at least six months already, but… I just love it. Literally, I could replay every track over and over again and still look forward to hearing the same song again. Obviously, I have a small obsession problem. When I was a little girl, I used to watch Beauty and the Beast over and over and over. Not kidding. I would finish the movie and immediately rewind it, just to watch it six more times. I don’t know how I got from music to Beauty and the Beast… I warned you that this post would be random.

Anyway — here’s one of my favorite tracks off Mumford and Son’s Babel CD

I also like this song by The Lumineers, this song by The Avett Brothers (song doesn’t start until 43 seconds in), this song by Melody Gardot (no video attached to this one) and this song by Griffin House. OH! And I really like this song by The Gospel Whiskey Runners. Can I do one more? Thaaaanks. This is a great song by City and Colour. Okay. Sorry. Little off tangent there.. but like I said, I haven’t done a random post like this for way too long.

Alright, now that we’ve set the mood, let’s get to the meat of the post, shall we?

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Just wanted to update our friends and family: Alex left Saturday mid-morning for a couple week long trip for work. I’ve pretty much grown accustomed to having him around all the time. Whenever I start to get sad or feel lonely, I try to remind myself that he was home for almost the entire year last year and before I know it, he’ll be home again. Crossing my fingers and toes for lots of safe and stress-free flights for him!

Since I had plenty of time to kill today, I decided to tackle some really fun tasks that I’ve been putting off for.. oh, well, forever.

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I took everything out of my dresser and night stand. I sorted through all my old crap, threw some stuff away and made a giant pile to take to Goodwill. Then I re-folded every single item and put the keepers back in my dresser. This hasn’t been done since we moved over two years ago! One thing I learned —

DSC_0210Apparently I like to dress in every color of the rainbow at the gym.

I also emptied my nightstand — which was really the biggest offender. Definitely not the most thrilling task for today… but! I found something (slightly important) throughout the ordeal.

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Yep. Now I can see.

I also found my super fancy one-piece bathing suit that I bought freshman year in college when I decided that swimming for exercise would be my new thing. That lasted a good three days when I realized that… um.. swimming is hard! Now that the gym we belong to has a few pools (seriously.. a few) that bathing suit may come in handy. I also conveniently found some goggles (I’m not joking, these were in my nightstand).  After trying it all on, I may have cried a little. Uhhh. Let’s just say that it wasn’t my best look 🙂

Okay, let’s move on. Cue: Awkward subject change.

This year, Alex and I decided that we would use a portion of our tax return on ourselves (imagine that!) Last year we had the bathroom fiasco, which pretty much sucked up our return. It actually felt pretty damn good to spoil ourselves instead of spending all our money on the house! He picked out some parts for his truck and I decided to get two new lenses for my camera. I’m sure you can imagine that I’ve had a lot of fun over the past few weeks playing around with them 🙂

This one is my favorite —

IMG_0936 IMG_0935Yeah, it’s the bees knees. Here are a few pictures that I took with that bad boy.

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Here’s a close up of the glass that Alex blew up in NY a few weeks ago…

DSC_0190And the big ol’ truck that has stolen him from me.. Kidding… kind of 🙂

DSC_0172And this is the second, smaller fixed lens that I got.

IMG_0938I still need some practice with these little man. Here’s one photo with the baby lens…

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Has this post been random enough for you yet?

No?

Good.

Yesterday my mom and I found these…

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You know that I’ve since started calling my slippers “foot duvets,” right? I just can’t imagine a group of people sitting around a board room trying to think of a new marketing strategy for slippers. Literally someone got paid to think of the term “foot duvet.” Gosh, I’d love to sit next to that person on an airplane.

This picture kills me.

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Alright. That’s enough random stuff for one night! I have some more though provoking posts coming up in the near future, I promise 😉

But for now, I have a very important date with a JUST CLEANED (I tell ya, I’m on top of it today) bathtub and it looks something like this!

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What music are you listening to? Any CDs you could never get sick of? Buying anything fun for yourself lately? Any other people spring cleaning?