Tag Archives: life

NEW! Affirmation Cards: Encouragement for the Heart

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Hey everyone!

I’m so excited about this. My mom is a fantastic artist over at Sparrow’s Journey by Heather Santos (first link is her blog, second link is her Facebook). She’s a self-taught artist, which is even cooler. She uses her art as an outlet for her thoughts and emotions…and it shows through powerfully in each piece she does.

She recently (January) made Truth Cards for the Brave Girls Club, which were sent to the Philippines as little notes of encouragement to women who were rebuilding their lives after being trapped by poverty (or force) into human trafficking. (They teamed up with Full Circle Exchange to help these women get into lifestyles and careers that would support their families and take them out of the sex trafficking industry for good.)

But as more and more of her customers in the U.S. started asking for these cards, she realized something…

Women and men EVERYWHERE need words of encouragement, just like these.

And that’s where I come in to the story…

She asked me to create some encouraging words to put on cards that she would paint the backgrounds for.

So I wrote down things that I need to hear, things that I’ve been told in the past, things that I tell myself every day to keep me going, whispers from my Creator that comfort me…and this is the product.

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There are several more designs (and sayings) available in her etsy shop (including some more suited for men). They are only $5.50 (free shipping!) and they make a great gift. My mom and her coworkers even handed these out to girls on campus on Valentine’s Day. She said they seemed happy and touched–and I’m convinced that they are keeping these cards close by, for reference. 😉

So if you know anyone who needs encouragement, or if you know that you need one of these around to encourage you (like I do), then consider stopping by.

Because everyone deserves to know that they are loved. That’s what we humans were made for, anyways!

 

Life is a Trade-Off.

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I knew it was coming.

It had to.

That special wistfulness of times past, the knowledge that this was really the last time, and there would be no more after this.

The romanticized versions in my head that ignored all of the frustrations, discouragements, and feelings of helplessness of the past two years.

I never thought I’d be here. I’d already thought that I’d never miss it; that when I hear of a game this weekend, I’d chuckle at how much I hated sacrificing my entire Saturday to do something I didn’t even like: watching football. And that I’d remember how much I loathed getting up early and ending up sick and voiceless the next day.

But it’s the school songs that get me. The ones I know with my heart and not my hands or lips. The ones that simply tumble out with the ictus of the drum major’s hands, through me.

Was it a family, but I just didn’t notice or partake? Could I have made a difference if only I didn’t believe that I was powerless? If only I didn’t listen to the wrong voices? If only I’d opened my eyes to the people who actually cared and wanted to see a change?

Did I waste my time and my potential by giving up and going through the motions–by acting sullen when I could have done much better by offering a cheerful spirit?

Oh, how I wish I could return. I feel a terrible debt to them, because I could have given so much more if only I had remained hopeful and persistent.

But regardless of my regret, my pride that makes me want to prove myself, or the what-ifs that swirl in my head, I’ve already made the choice. And now I must live with it. I must justify it…make myself certain that I chose rightly. For that is the human way.

Life is a trade-off. Time is a commodity, a scarce resource. In order for me to choose to capture one opportunity, I must give up another opportunity that I have never experienced, or one that I’ve had previously. I’m still not sure which is worse: the torture of not knowing what could have been, or giving up that which you already know. Perhaps it is both intertwined that torment me so.

When the mind and the heart are at odds, who is to say who should win? But the heart shouldn’t always win, and neither should the mind. One who only follows his heart may find himself in a sea of aloof impracticality, and one who only follows his mind builds walls that forget about feeling.

In this, I have chosen the mind: I must do what I must. For my education, for my marriage, for my health. And I must have faith that there are greater things waiting for me. I must trust God to “make all things work together for the good of those who love him.” And above all, I must make peace with myself.

I’ll  allow myself the luxury of sadness now, so it won’t tear me down in the months to come.

Perhaps I’ll entertain the bitter memories to prevent the nostalgia. Or perhaps I’ll preserve only the good ones, that I may have lovely thoughts to look back upon.

Either way, I know this:

I will continue.

Being Who I Am, Where I Am: A New Direction

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I feel that the summer months have watched me slowly slip back into my all-too-familiar social silence.

I went to a surprise birthday party last night. It was all people I’m acquainted with, but haven’t actually had a conversation with. A few months ago, I would have viewed it as a perfect situation–it’s weird to talk to someone you’ve never seen, and only sticking with people you know well can become monotonous. Acquaintance is opportunity.

But no…last night, social anxiety reigned and I could barely find my voice. (Except when a couple of young moms started talking about their birth stories. Those were the most interesting things I’d heard all summer–did you know that delivering a baby on your back is one of the worst ways to give birth?–and I forgot about my anxiety. But then, a new anxiety came…ha!)

It’s a really terrible feeling when all you want to do is interact with someone, but all you can think about is that you don’t want to bother them. Or that you’re too young, or not at the same stage of life, and so you are simply naive and don’t have much to offer–after all, they’ve already been where you are; they’re probably “over it”.

Reading back over that, it’s the most sickening sack of lies I’ve ever heard. Yet when they swirl inside your head with no outlet except for a couple of nervous giggles, it’s all you’ve got.

You see…there is a reason that all of those things take hold over me. Not only am I introverted, which makes me prefer to be by myself…I am also a recovering co-dependent. That means that I let people’s thoughts, actions, words, and attitudes determine if I am inherently good or inherently bad at any moment. A day where I am wanted and appreciated is much different than a day where I am unwanted or unappreciated…it determines my motivation, my mood, my view of my work, my self-esteem,…

And my coping mechanism has always been, as long as I can remember, to shut down and stuff my emotions way deep down, in the name of duty…and they always explode later. I’ve gotten better about that, but I still don’t really understand what I should do with them if I shouldn’t bottle them up.

While we’re on the topic of my problems, I struggle with not viewing myself as “good enough” to be a part of certain groups. I spent my entire freshman year of college wholeheartedly believing I wasn’t as good a trombonist as my same-age counterparts. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to perform and learn. Now…I don’t feel like I am good enough to “fit in” with other married people…especially those with kids. I know, it’s ridiculous, but it plagues me. I find these categories that I could fit into, and then I find ways that I’m not really good enough for them.

I wanted to start a blog that has encouraging, heartfelt, life-changing stories. The ones that you walk away from and you feel that life isn’t so bad after all; and now I have strength to face tomorrow.

But now…I’m thinking that I just want to go on a journey. Life is a journey…and it was silly of me ever to think that I should only tell stories after they are over. But if life is not over, my stories are not over.

This is a new direction. This is for accepting life as it is…whether I am where I want to be, or not. Whether I have something encouraging to say or not. Whether I have a point or not. I don’t care about getting traffic anymore. I don’t care about pleasing people; I just want to write.

And so dang it, I’m going to.

Here’s to the journey of life. Through my co-dependency, through my bottled-up emotions, through my skewed view of myself, through my successes, through my rule-following, my character, my introversion, my relationships, joy, anxiety, wisdom, foolishness.

This is everything. Spilling out. Whether it’s good enough or not.

And it’s gonna be awesome.

My Love Story, Part 5: Long Distance

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

We spent the summer together, all day, every day. It was wonderful, and we became accustomed to one another. It was nearly impossible to let go, that night before I left for college. To be completely honest, I’ve repressed the memory (unintentionally) and it no longer exists.

There is a lot of bitterness stored up in this part of my life…and a lot of strong–hardly harnessed, truly–emotions that had no outlet then. This is essentially their first outlet. It’s something I didn’t share then, and I wouldn’t have thought to share now (until this series came along). The following information is an incohesive cloud of emotions that overlap and work together to create a toxic mess.

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Day 6: Steal; Savor the Journey

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This is Day 6 of the Great Writers series from Goins, Writer.

I haven’t really been blogging through it because I’ve kinda been lacking inspiration (as silly as that may seem…seeing as I am given a prompt every day to work on). Most of them have seemed to me to be “thinking” prompts, and they all seem to be centered around starting a project. I haven’t been at this whole writing thing for long, so I don’t have any dreams yet to put into action.

But anyways, I am totally up for today’s challenge: take inspiration from somewhere else, and incorporate it into my writing.

One thing that really inspires me is my mom’s art. She is so talented and it’s been a beautiful journey to watch her art change and develop as she pursues it more. When I see a new painting of hers, I feel like I am looking directly at her heart.

“Savor the Journey” by Heather Santos at Sparrow’s Journey

I want you to take a long, hard (or soft) look at that piece before reading on. Notice the details. Notice your emotions. Think about what it means to the artist…to you.

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My Love Story, Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

I was elated by Matt’s decision to get baptized. The testimony he gave at the baptism was quite touching. All I could do was be incredibly happy for him and encourage him despite his fears.

But I still couldn’t help but believe the wise advice that everyone had always given me. “He still can’t be your spiritual leader.” And I talked to God about it. Talked at Him. Let’s be honest: when He brought it up, I always cut Him off before He could say anything—“I know, I know, I’m wrong. He can’t be my spiritual leader. I’m taking care of it. Don’t worry about me.” How silly of me–to tell Him not to worry about me. HELLO. God of the universe up there. He loves me where I am! (These are things I wish I could tell myself back then.)

Well, I was really just avoiding the feelings of failure that I thought God would speak down towards me. How foolish! What He was really trying to say was, “I see you. I know your heart, and I love it. I love you. I want to give you everything—you don’t have to do anything else (and I could imagine Him shaking me at this point), just accept what I want to give you!” Now, what he could have meant by “I know your heart” could be any number of things; I think it is a mixture of “I know you love me and want to please me” and “I know you’re stubborn, so I just made your non-Christian into a Christian for you. And what’s more, he’s gonna be your spiritual leader.”

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