Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Relational Fatigue and Putting Down Roots

As I touched on in my last post, my entire adult life has been one of transition. First as a missionary, now as the military (Tangent alert: those two seemingly completely opposite lifestyles actually have an incredible amount in common. I fully believe that my time spent as a missionary was, in part, training for the military lifestyle. I have been incredibly fortunate to have all of those varied experiences as a foundation from which I draw my support and knowledge that I can not only survive this lifestyle, but thrive in it as well). Moving here, there, back again. Saying goodbye only to turn around and say hello. Leaving, staying. In some ways it's done me great favors; I can adjust relatively easy and quickly to new surroundings, it has given me a great sense and longing for adventure and an eagerness to try new things. In some ways, relational ways, I've allowed it to do me a disservice. I say goodbye a little too easily. That lesson came at great cost but there it is. While some people cry and hearts are wrenched when the time comes, I give a hug, a smile and say I'll see you again sometime (and really, that statement has proved rather right more often than I would have thought, luckily). I've slowly built up a wall surrounding the part of my heart that allows friends in. I by no means keep people out, but I don't allow them full access, unrestricted. I protect that part of my heart that knows a goodbye is inevitable, and start protecting myself from the first hello. I have been so fortunate and blessed by the way my life has unfolded, I hope I'm not coming across sounding bitter or snobby about it. I feel like my friends are branches on my tree of life, some grow this way, some that way, some together, but all grow from the base. Sometimes the branches break, sometimes they grow stronger.

Since getting married I have thought a lot about roots. Two people bringing theirs together, starting new ones or tying old ones together. My husband and I both hail from the same town, and nothing means more to us than our families (we both have tattoos proving it!).  In a world where everyone dreams of far away places and where they hope to one day be stationed, our dream is to be stationed back at home. When people hear that they can't understand, stating that if we can go anywhere in the world, to travel and see new things, why would we want to go back? Because our dream is of family. Of being around ours and turning back to our roots, continuing to grow and strengthen them.

But perhaps I've been missing it all along...
The roots of an oak tree grow deep, and don't stray from the base very far. Often the root system is larger than that of it's branches. The roots secure the tree to the earth steadfastly. This has always been my picture of family, a strong bond that runs impenetrably deep and is the base of everything. While that still holds for me, perhaps my perspective needs to be more like the roots of an aspen...the roots of an aspen tree grow out from the base far, they do not sink into the ground as deeply, they grow out from it.
Perhaps it's not so much about few, deep roots, as it is about 'branching' those roots out, able to settle in more varied places, able to move with more ease.
We've been married for a couple of years now, and the talk of children and expanding our family is becoming commonplace. It's a good time to think about our roots, where we came from, where we are going. Whether we want to be like the oak tree, which is native to a smaller area of land, or the aspen, which is much more adaptable.

At the end of the day, I am incredibly fortunate to spend my life beside a remarkable man, one whose roots and passion for family runs as deep as mine.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15: 5

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I am a disappointment.

Don't worry, I am so not that self-deprecating...(it's a catchy title though! :)

I've always considered myself to be a good friend, but looking back through the glasses of time and perspective, there have been a few bumps in the road. Whether those bumps were put there by me or not isn't important, they just were there.

My best friend and I are going on 12 years of best friendship, the last 10 of which have been long distance. I've always maintained that the reason we've made it this far is due in large part, surprisingly, to the distance, it's actually been our friend. We fell into the habit long ago of not communicating on a daily basis, but saving most of our life stuff for the few times a year we get together. We'll call each other occasionally and big life events always get a call immediately. For the most part though, we don't know the daily goings on, but we know everything there is to know about each other. For some reason, the distance has been kind to us; we always appreciate one another, we never fight (which I know isn't always healthy), and always look forward to carving out time in life's busy schedule for some quality BFF time, whenever we do manage to connect in the same time and same place.

Where this example has hurt me is not in my friendship with her, but in my friendship with others. I've come to not expect too much from my friends (not in a bad way though), the knowledge that they will always be there for me and I them has been enough. Couple this with an entire adult life of transition and constant hello and goodbyes, and this has gotten me into trouble. Trouble by not being dependable enough, investing enough, being there enough. I've gotten pretty jaded, I suppose. From my early twenties I spent a few years as a missionary, a quite transitory lifestyle. People were always leaving to go on short or long term mission trips, or I was. I learned how to say goodbye without feeling crushed (but boy did I learn that one the hard way), and how to say hello very well. After my time as a missionary ended (although, does it ever really end?), I married into the military and immediately moved to a different state. Needless to say, this lifestyle is almost more transitory than the last. My time previously has helped me to maintain a positive spirit (well...most days) about it, but I have discovered that I have carefully guarded my heart against letting anyone in too close, knowing that the inevitable move, whether ours or theirs, is, well...inevitable.

This school of thought has left my road littered with a few casualties, and that is something I deeply regret. I believe that we never stop learning and growing, I am only sorry that my lesson learned came with the cost of hurting some very dear people to me.
While I have learned to guard my heart (and that isn't a bad thing in itself, as long as we are guarding it against the proper things), it has been at quite an expense. When it is against people, the good people in your life, it's really no way to live, it is quite empty and life-stealing, not giving.

So, I am a disappointing person. I hurt the people I love, and I protect myself at a cost I am finally learning is way too high. But here's the thing: everyone is disappointing. God created each of us so uniquely, and with that individuality comes differences. We can allow those differences to divide us, or to help us grow and unite us. We will all hurt one another, whether intentional or not, we will all disappoint. Is that reason enough to end friendships, to move on? Perhaps that may be a factor into why the divorce rate is so high, people fall out of love once the reality of life and our differences come to light, and it's too hard or painful to work through...except that it's not, but the alternative really really is.

I may have lost someone who was once thoroughly enmeshed in my life, and I just can not come to terms with that. I have yet to come across a person who was not worth saving, or a friendship not worth saving. I am discovering that the key is vulnerability. Opening ourselves up, letting that guard down, and being prepared to be hurt. Because it will happen. I believe that an important aspect of the healing process is realizing our self worth, and realizing that our friends are equally worthy.
Don't give up. Keep letting your guard down. Keep letting people all the way in. Keep fighting for the friendship. In my relatively short life so far, every friendship has ALWAYS been worth that inevitable goodbye.
Open your heart, more and more every day, and keep it open.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

To Milk or Not to Milk...

I've never in my life straight up drank a glass of milk. Like ever. Not even when I was a kid. I've never been a fan, the thought of drinking cow juice grosses me out (After reading Skinny Bitch and this section on dairy I'm grossed out forever and ever! Here's a link to an excerpt of it, I found it online and haven't looked into the blog so can't vouch for it...yet...). I'm the person who eats cereal with a fork (to let all the excess milk drip off) or with a spoon and tilt it each time to drain the extra milk. Get the picture? :)
Having said that, I am a fan of almond milk. I eat way too much tofu as it is so I don't need the added soy in soy milk, rice milk has too many carbs for me, and coconut milk is good, but I just prefer my milk in almond form. I use it mainly in Green Monsters, vegan overnight oats and in most everything I bake.
Here is the conundrum: I have recently wanted to make my own almond milk; it is extremely easy with few ingredients, and leaves out all of the stuff you find in every container, no matter the brand (that I know of). Saving money and the quality level as added bonuses to making my own are great, but...
It only lasts a few days. I researched several recipes and every one of them stated that the milk lasted anywhere from 2-5 days, max. Even though making it is simple, I'm not sure it's worth doing every few days. And what if I don't use it all and some goes bad?
What would you do?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hard is Good, Easy Rots Your Soul

I was reading over an old journal I kept the first half of 2008- my last several months in YWAM, and the last time I took an international trip. The very last page was filled with memories and lessons learned that I didn't want to forget. The very last one was a quote we commonly said to each other then, 'Hard is good, easy rots your soul!'
Those words pierced my heart; exactly, perfectly what I needed to hear in this moment. I used to thrive on a life of unknowns, living in the day and letting God plan the rest. I was blissed out in my relationship with Him, and learning ever more about a Christ-filled life and living in community with others.
Fast forward 4 years, and I so far from who I was. God is not in the forefront of my mind, thoughts and actions...at least like He once was. My prayers are perfunctory and selfish. Quiet time? Never. I still live in community...the military community, not quite the same. I am the most important thing in my life right now, not Jesus. Before, I prayed about every little thing, now, hardly anything. My marriage is much the same, it is two of us, not three, with God in the center. It is my own doing.
It was an argument that drove me upstairs and eventually to that old journal, desiring to take myself from the present and into the past, a simpler and so joyous time. The topic of the fight isn't important, but my selfish behavior had everything to do with it. We kept going round and round, each not hearing the other and going for the head instead of the heart. I left feeling kind of hopeless, unsure how we would ever reach a peaceful resolution and a 'win/win' situation.
But as with any situation in my life that was difficult/painful, I came out of it so much the better; it was in those times that I was being refined, those situations that helped lay the foundation of my character. And all the arguments between my husband and I have only made us stronger and more closely bonded.
And that gives me hope.
Bring on the hard, for easy rots my soul.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Catch-Up

My how long it has been since my last post! Since October...

1. My husband came home from his first deployment! He came home a month and a half early (yay!) and arrived home a few days before Halloween.

2. We both went home to California for a couple of weeks after he got back for R&R (and he really missed all of his friends and family. :)

3. Thanksgiving came around, and we spent it with our military family, so blessed!

4. We went back to Las Vegas and moved into a new house! Let me tell you, moving all of your earthly possessions...when it is just the two of you...is a feat no one should ever suffer through. My back still hurts.

5. Christmastime! We spent the day apart, as he had to work, but I was lucky enough to spend it with some wonderful friends!

6. My family came! They weren't able to make it for Christmas, but did come the day after! We managed to convince them to stay through the New Year, and were able to enjoy spending a whole week with them!

7. 2012! It's the start of a new year, and I was so blessed to ring it in with my hubby this time!

It has been a whirlwind few months! Things have finally settled down; we are happily living in our beautiful home, Ryan has adjusted to a new work schedule, and I am still in school, looking forward to getting my certificate in June!

I think that has summed the last few months up pretty well! I plan on doing a much better job keeping everything up to date and posting much more often! Until then...