Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reflecting on My First Year of Marriage

Sometimes whispered conversations in the dark are the best conversations.

It was close to 11pm and we had finally turned in for the night. An angry outburst from me earlier in the day had lead to a tense hour in the grocery store, and to making my first stop at the ABC store since I turned 21 just over a week ago.

The room was so dark I couldn't tell my hand from the ceiling and the pressure of my actions over the last two weeks was finally eased slightly by the copious amounts of rum I'd had to drink.

I laid on my back, staring up into the blackness.

"Do you still love me?" I whispered.

There was a moment of silence and I began to feel my heart breaking. For the past two weeks I had very literally felt my marriage crumbling around me, knowing that I stood in the center of the crack and had no idea how to make it right.

"Yes," he said finally. And then, "Do you still love me?"

I had to think about it for a minute. My answer was not immediate like it once was. But I was not the same person that I was a year ago when we got married, or the year before that when we had just met. I know now that I wasn't ready to be married last year, and neither was Brian. But I don't think our age had anything to do with it. Another twenty years or so could've passed before we got married, whether to each other or to someone else, and I still think it would've been the same.

We had already lived together before we got married. I thought that's what marriage was like, and we had been okay so far, so might as well make it official. To a certain extent, I was right. But I wasn't prepared to the sameness of it all.

I wasn't prepared for the dirty dishes in the sink night after night. I wasn't prepared for the pile of socks next to the bed. I wasn't prepared for headaches and bills and don't touch my feet that only comes with the knowledge that you are forever bonded to this one person for the rest of your life. I wasn't prepared for the heartache of losing pregnancies, for the renewed hope and repeated failure that comes month after month of doing everything right and having my body fail me. I wasn't prepared for coming home from work, from school, knowing how utterly exhausted my body was and walking into a disaster of a house that I didn't have the energy for. I wasn't prepared to go to bed every other night without my husband next to me. I wasn't prepared to feel so lonely.

But my answer was the same as it has been all this time. "Yes," I said. "I love you."

"Are you sure?" His voice cracked somewhat, and I knew that I had hurt him. "Because sometimes I don't think you do."

Over the past few weeks, I felt like evil had taken over my body and was making me say things that I possibly didn't mean, like I couldn't control what what coming from my mouth. I would see Brian's reaction, see his hurting face again and again, and yet, I was helpless to stop myself. I would wake up depressed, defeated, wanting to lay on the couch and do nothing, not even change clothes or eat. I went days without eating something substantial, reverting to my old habits of dealing with stress by avoiding food. I functioned for school and my internship, and I had no energy left for my marriage.

Yet despite all of it, I knew I was with Brian for a reason. Before he put that ring on my finger just under a year ago, I promised to love him through better and worse. This is one of the worst times, and I still love him. I have to figure out how to deal with the issues that I feel, and I have to figure out how to be the wife that God and Brian want me to be, to be the wife that I expect of myself.

"Yes," I answered. "I'm sure."

I thought about how to explain myself to him. I come from brokenness, from fights and cursing, from sipping alcohol to numb the ache. I don't come from prayer, from smiles and encouragement. I come from smacks and holes in the walls. I come from drugs, from meaningless sex, from a pattern of failure again and again. It wasn't that I didn't love Brian. It was that I felt I could never match up to what he expected because I didn't know how.

"I just need you to be patient with me," I said. "I'm just trying to figure this all out as I go along." Under the covers, I felt Brain's hand reach out and grasp my fingers. Fatigue kept us from being able to get a good grip, but I squeezed his fingers as best I could in response.

It wasn't the best grip, but he knew I was there. And I knew he was there for me despite my flaws.

And sometimes that's all that really matters.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Another cycle has come and gone. We called in the big guns this time with a fertility drug but no luck. I'm beginning to lose hope that it's in the cards for us. Maybe my body is telling me that it wasn't made for children.

I should be content with what I have. Between classes and my internship one would think that I have my hands full and be too busy to think about a baby. That I should be content to be with my husband and dogs, to be content with the struggles of new marriage, of finishing out my college life. But I'm not. How can I be when the one thing that I was created to do is kept from me? My obsession will hurt my marriage, they tell me. Just stop trying and it'll happen. But that's easy for them.

Do you feel the same? Wanting to get pregnant? The marriage counselor asked Brian.
Yeah, I guess. He shrugged. She has a medical condition that makes it hard to get pregnant so I'm not too worried about it.
He might not worry about it, but I do.

I worry every day.

I worry about seeing the two pink lines. I worry about whether my body can support a fetus. I worry about whether I'll ever feel flutters and kicks and cry when the ultrasound tech tells me it's a boy. I worry about how long it's taking. I worry about how much longer it'll take. I worry about how much money we'll spend trying to diagnose the problem. I worry about adoption and about whether or not people wanting to place their child would even give us a second look. I worry about what'll happen to my marriage when I come to Brian and know that I've failed him. I worry about whether or not I'll still be good enough. I worry about what's wrong with me that I can't be a normal person my own age. I worry about why I feel this desperate need for a child. I worry that there's nothing I can do about it. I worry about my conscience, for hating every single person who complains about an unplanned pregnancy, who complains about their child. I worry about my soul, for breaking it into pieces every single month with charts and calendars and thermometers and tests and pills only to have my hopes crushed at the last second. I worry about whether I'll be able to hold it together, to be able to smile at babies and not feel that ache in my heart where my own baby belongs. 

I worry all the time. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Coffee is the Fuel of Life

*Blow dust off* Cough, cough, hack.

Oh hey, look! There's a blog under here!

I know, I know... It's been a while. Going back to school has been harder than I originally imagined it would be, and then my typical overachieving-self had to go and throw an internship right into the mix, two weeks before mid-terms.

*Cue slow clap here*

Not that I'm complaining, mind. I absolutely love my internship even though I haven't progressed past doing anything more important than reading terrible manuscript submissions and feeling like a villain when I crush someone's dream of being a published author. Mwahahahaha! 

My day begins with my alarm going off and an inner pep-talk to get myself out of bed. Normally I have to bribe my brain with coffee. If you get out of bed and get ready really fast, we can go to Starbucks on the way to school. How does that sound? *Wink*

A rush to get ready and out the door. My promised stop at Starbucks somehow always takes longer if I get there early, so that regardless of when I actually leave for school, I'm always pulling into the parking lot and huffing my way across Rhyland to walk into class just as the Professor puts the roll sheet away. Yeah, well, coffee is more important than perfect attendance sometimes.

Then there are the times when I've skipped class just so I have time to do classwork. This doesn't even make sense, but I guess when my Academic Advisor told me that I shouldn't take more than three English classes and I pshaw'd him and went ahead and signed up for five, he knew what he was talking about. An English professor knowing what he's doing? What is this magic?

Then I come home, obligatorily pat the dogs on the head before quarantining them in the kitchen with the miracle of the baby gate and drown out their whining with three or four episodes of Law and Order:SVU until I either get hungry and my stomach talks me into getting up, or I fall asleep on the couch in exhaustion.

Every now and then I am able to talk myself into being a productive member of academic society and instead of coming home, I head over to Barnes & Noble where I am actually able to get class work finished. Also, they have coffee, which, let's face it, is the real reason I can 'focus'.

Right now, my life is filled with poetry, metaphors, analysis essays and lecture notes living off of whatever I can find in my cupboard that can be cooked in about three minutes and coffee. It's not healthy, but hey, I'm finally able to fit into those jeans I haven't worn since last year ;)

And really, that means I'm winning.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Aching Bones!

A single Starbucks white mocha at 10pm left me so wired that I couldn't sleep longer than 4 hours last night, and I woke up with my back hurting and a distinct feeling of regret for staying up so late. Then the realization that I'm only 20 years old kicked in , and while most of my classmates were out boozing it up and getting schwasted last night, I came to accept the fact that I have an old soul just a few hours after I was sitting in a movie theater kind of laughing but mostly annoyed with the language in That Awkward Moment, the new Zac Efron movie that my friend and I saw on a whim.

The signs of my old soul wrinkling and collecting dust instead of partying made me think of other signs that I'm getting old. Here are a few:

1) I grumble when the weatherman predicts snow. 

There was a time, back when December first meant a close watch of the morning news before school and my ears would perk up at any sound that resembled the fluffy white stuff. Back before the days of emails and alerts sent to your phone, I would stare unblinking at the scrolling blue banner at the bottom of the tv, singing my ABC's in my head to see how long I had before my school district popped up. If I looked away or started daydreaming and I didn't remember seeing it, I would sit there and do it all over again, just it case. 

Now, any hint of snow receives a curled lip and a wrinkled nose like I just smelled something foul because snow is cold and wet and icky and it makes the roads slick and then I have to explain to my professors no, I'm not being lazy and skipping class, I really am just a bad driver in any situation outside of perfect conditions and especially bad when Virginia only has one snowplow and they haven't gotten to my road yet.

2) Vehemently saying (and believing) that there is no excuse for public schools to close when there is half an inch of snow on the ground.

We had a bit of snow and frigid temperatures recently, and the fact that schools cancelled because of the prediction that turned out to be nothing, and then were out the entire next week for days when there was only a dusting of snow left on the ground made me so frustrated at the school system that I complained right alongside all the other parents. And I don't even have kids yet.

3) I (not-so)secretly enjoy it when plans to do things are cancelled.

Bundle anti-social behavior and laziness and you have a perfect combination for doing absolutely nothing.

4) I start following Brian around the house turning off the lights because our last electric bill was through the roof. 

With all of the frigid temperatures and an inefficient heat pump, our electric bill doubled this past month. Now every time I see lights left on around the house, the voice that emerges from my throat sounds remarkably like my father...

5) Talking about digestive problems is no longer the embarrassing issue it once was. 

Growing up I would sit in the garage at our neighbors' house and hear my dad have an entire conversation with a group of adults about ewww... poo! and how difficult it was to do it when you got older. My lip would curl in disgust, and I would always shake my head in embarrassment, because it's POO and people shouldn't talk about that, at least not with someone other than a medical professional, and then, only if they specifically asked you because it pertains to some disease you might have. Now I'm right up there with the worst, talking about cervical mucous and constipation like its no big deal until I see the deer in headlights looks on people's faces. Did I come on too strong with the detailed description of how I know when I ovulate?

6) Having the dogs jump on the couch or on the bed is the worst thing that could happen

Back when I was a kid, I used to beg to have the dog sleep in my room and was always soundly rejected because, "Dogs don't belong on the bed." To rebel against that, from day one, Maya slept right on our feet for the first year of her life, up until we brought home Baron and the teeny puppy took over half of our queen sized bed. I realized then that we would have problems, and so both dogs were kicked off the bed. They were allowed on the couch but after we had to replace it because Baron's monster claws shredded the seats when he clambered on, if I see so much as a single black hair on the couch seat or on our comforter, I get all worked up like I'm a detective in an old movie that just caught the criminal. Ohhh I got ya now! You're going downtown, buster!

7) I'm talking about features I want in my dream house. 

A sliding glass door opening up to a large fenced in backyard with an expansive wooden deck, complete with outsourced patio furniture (edit: I originally typed "outdoor furniture", but Autocorrect decided that I really meant "outsourced". I find the irony astonishing so I think I'll leave it for your enjoyment) for when I just want to enjoy the sunshine without putting shoes on. Open kitchen design with tons of counter space, a deep sink, dishwasher, and large pantry closet. Big bay windows to let in the light. A master bathroom with one of those private toilet rooms, twin sinks, and a walk in shower with those revolving shower heads on different sides... Drool.

8) I complain about our neighbors for being too loud and once called the fire department on them for having a bonfire at 2a.m

One Saturday night (or Sunday morning, depending on how you look at it) after our neighbors first moved in with their five kids and set up their 4ft above ground pool in the backyard, Brian and I laid in bed unable to sleep because the sounds of our neighbors having a grand old time drinking beer and listening to loud music at 2a.m. with a five-foot flame coming off of a burn pile about three feet from their house were akeeping us awake, so we called the fire department and watched with our noses pressed against the windows as the truck pulled up and the firefighters scolded our neighbors by telling them to turn down the music and keep a firehose nearby. We then giggled like school children, climbed back into bed listening to our neighbors complain about it, and we proceeded to whisper in the dark about it like a pair of grumpy old geezers. Those kids these days have no respect!

9) When I'm babysitting, people assume I'm their mother.

Even if I'm with a 10 year old. I could possibly understand the confusion when I'm with the twins, my shirt is covered in snot or spit up or drool, and I look exhausted and people make that sound like aww your poor thing! You must be exhausted for taking care of twins all day, but when I manage to look reasonably well put together and I'm corralling three kids into Barnes and Noble for story time, the oldest one being 10 years old, having some lady seriously ask me if I could have my son help her with something was a low point. Right up there with having the youngest kid out of the group ask me how old I was.

"I'm 20."
"Woah, you're like, really old. What was the Civil War like?" 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Birds: The Kind You Flip

Warning. This post contains some bad language and four-letter words.

I first stumbled off to college just after effectively pouring a shit-ton of gasoline (is that even an amount? A "shit-ton"? Is it like, a regular ton, or is a shit-ton a different measurement?) on every single relationship I've had from the age of 10 and walking cooly away from the explosion like I was in some action movie with terrible acting and so-so special effects, my hair flowing awesomely behind me as I slipped my shades on like I didn't just didn't give a fuck. 

Because frankly, I didn't. 

My "friends" in high school all simultaneously turned their backs on me our senior year, but I failed to receive the memo that I was kicked out of the club. Stupid me, I tried over and over again to fit in only to get the cold shoulder or to feel like I was left out of the joke. By the time my 18th birthday came around, the fact that my friends hated me became so blatantly obvious that it left me in tears by the end of the night. I decided then that none of them mattered. I didn't need them because I was leaving for Richmond in a few months, where I could start over and make new friends. I left Bedford behind with a middle finger salute, and while I still stay partially connected through Facebook, and lately I've been missing the connections that I've lost, I have to say that I made the right decision. I've only been back about four or five times in the last three years, and I can only see that number dwindling as time goes by to just the few hour visits on Christmas Day. My life is in Richmond now, and I couldn't be happier.

As my English Professor says, "But I digress."

When I left home, I had my heart set on art. I loved art, and I thought this was going to be such a great thing, and I was going to be amazing and blah blah blah. It turns out, I'm not really that good at art. I mean, yeah, I can see why something is visually appealing and I've learned how to analyze art pieces with the best of them, but anything that I've produced has at best been mediocre.

So I decided that I would teach. I enjoyed my education classes, but I faltered trying to decide what subject and age level I wanted to focus on, and eventually I realized I wouldn't have time to complete the degree anyway. In the midst of all of this confusion, I registered for 20th Century American Literature the fall semester of my sophomore year just for the English requirement.

From day one, my professor blew. My. Mind. He was able to hold an entire hour and a half lecture on a single sentence, and the connections he made within the text made me realize there was an entire world of literature that I was missing. 

Was "Melanctha" the worst thing I have ever read? Most definitely. Did I learn a lot from it. Absolutely.

And still, I continued to deny it. I struggled to make myself fit into a mold that I thought I needed to be, and the harder I tried, the more of me that was left behind and I had all of these holes where my whole self used to be until finally, I stopped. I stopped trying. I stopped trying to force myself to be that same girl that I was my senior year when I was trying to be the girl that my friends would like again. Because it didn't work then, and it wasn't working now. So I flipped the bird once again at the end of the spring semester, and walked away.

By the time I got the letter that said I didn't get the financial aid I needed, and I was forced to withdraw from school, I was actually relieved. I was tired of pretending to be someone that I wasn't and everyday was becoming completely exhausting. I needed time to figure out who I was and what that meant for going back to school. So I began working with the most amazing family, being a part of a team to raise a pair of adorable twin boys. The work was different and it challenged me in entirely different ways. It became my saving grace, going to work every day and being happy to be with the boys. It washed away all of the pent up stress and anxiety I had over my future. 

One day, just about a week before Christmas, I had just put the twins down for a nap and while I sat on the couch, I suddenly thought, I should see what I need to do to go back to school. So I sent my dean an email.

Within half an hour, I got a reply. "I have no problem readmitting you," she said. "The deadline to be readmitted for next semester is today. Here is the application. Fill it out and I will have everything processed by the end of the business day."

It was insane. I freaked out, called Brian, emailed my bosses. I looked up possible classes, possible majors. By this point, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew art wasn't it. The English Major was doable, and every single class I needed was available this semester. God was shining a flash-light and for once, the tiny little operator in my head was actually able to interpret the Morse Code. English Major, it beeped out.

So that's what I did. I quit my job, signed up for a bazillion classes, which are all English classes and it means I have a lot of reading and writing to do, but the weird thing is, I'm loving each and every second of it.

Every day in lecture, I'm left with that warm and fuzzy feeling in my chest that makes my face light up like someone just handed me a heart-shaped balloon and a candy bar and told me I was pretty. It's that good. I had my first paper due yesterday, and as I sat in Barnes and Noble (my go-to place for getting things accomplished), I planned, wrote, and revised the best paper I have ever written within two hours.

My semester break was the best thing I have ever done. I was able to take a breather, to think about what I wanted for myself, for my life, and for the first time, I realized it was okay to not have a plan. I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up, and I think that's okay, because it's part of the process. Instead of leaning on my own understanding, I've learned how to trust God to take care of me, and He has.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Procrastination and Resolutions

As I'm sitting on the couch in my sweatpants and coffee stained t-shirt enjoying one of my last days at home before the chaos resumes, I'm contemplating what many of us are perhaps thinking about so close to the New Year. I have resolutions, things that I would like to see myself accomplish in the year 2014, but the how of accomplishing those things seem a tad bit daunting.

First, the obstacles. I'm a terrible procrastinator. When I have that momentary spurt of energy/motivation, I can do anything that comes across my mind. I can have my house clean, my errands finished, all the phone calls to the doctors offices and insurance companies and registrar's offices knocked out in a couple of hours, thus allowing myself a nice and relaxing congratulatory snack on the couch for a job well done.

Unfortunately, those days are few and far between. Maybe it's the life of a newlywed, but my house is messy more than it is clean, with dirty dishes piled in the sink, clutter scattered all over the desk, coffee table, and that weird metal thing next to the stove that Brian brought home one day, saying, "This way I won't have to put my stuff on the stove!"


And, after a few heated arguments about whose job it was to do what, and who did the majority of the cleaning, I finally did what I had been threatening to do for the past six months. I made a chore chart. An honest to goodness, fourth grade, you-get-a-sticker, chore chart that divides the daily household chores (washing dishes, folding laundry, sweeping, etc) between my husband and I. That way, both of us are held accountable by what we needed to do for the day around the house, neither of us have the excuse that they are the only one doing their job, and it results in a nice looking house to come home to.

For those of you thinking that the chore chart is juvenile, you may be right, but hey, if it helps avoid an argument and cleans my house, I'm not going to snub my nose at it over semantics.

And then, guess what guys? I friggin' procrastinated doing my chores!

I had them laid out, right there, on the chalkboard, plain as day. There are only 5 things that I have to do daily: wash the dishes, sweep the living room and the bathroom, clear off the coffee table, fold and put away laundry, and dust the surfaces.

And I didn't do it!

The first day I wrote it, I thought, "I'm going to wait until Brian gets home from work. I can't do my half until he does his." An excuse this was, but I'll let this one slide because that fat little prideful devil on my left shoulder is looking up from her book and giving me a smile of encouragement. If he didn't clean, why should I?

Okay, moving on. The next day, Brian comes home, sees his chore chart, and without complaining, knocks out all the chores on his side within 15 minutes, and he's free to sit down and play a round of Battlefield without me being able to complain about anything. I sat on the couch, engrossed in a book that I just had to know what happened next, and told myself that after two more chapters, I would get up and clean.


I'm one of those people who thinks that books happen in real time, like I have in front of me a little window into a world that will only exist for a short amount of time. If I put down the book, I will miss out on whatever is about to happen and be completely confused when I pick it back up later. Logically, I know that's not the case, but once again, that fat little devil stares unblinkingly at the book and blindly reaches out for some popcorn, dropping a few pieces on the floor in the process. Well that's just one more thing I have to clean up.

Okay, the next day. The next day, I woke up bright and early to the slightly desperate sounds of my dogs trying to hold their bladders, stumbled sleepily out of bed and to the backyard where I closed the gate, and then I promptly fell back in bed and slept for another three hours. Say what? I never sleep until noon, but with the Good Lord as my witness, sleep until noon I did. I woke up in a panic, realizing my dogs were missing because Maya is a bit of a Houdini genius and had opened the gate, and then had them come back as soon as I got dressed and in the car to go looking for them.

By that point, knowing that I had to be at work in just another three hours, I thought to myself, I don't have any time at all to do my chores today. I'll do them when I get home. I went to work where I played and cuddled with the twins, enjoying every last second of them before I go back to school full time in another two weeks, fed, changed, and put them to bed, and then proceeded to wash their dishes, because that's a part of my regular job description and I wanted to do something nice for the family that wasn't angry at me for dropping the "you need to find a new nanny in four weeks over the Christmas holiday" bombshell. I ended up not getting home until close to midnight, and by that point, I was falling asleep standing up and the thought of having to do chores before going to bed was exhausting.

I'll do them tomorrow.

Are you seeing a pattern here, readers? The procrastination is terrible. I did eventually do them last night (the last tomorrow that I mentioned) when Brian mentioned that I hadn't done them in two days when he had already done his share, and now my house looks nice. I fully intend to complete my portion of the chores everyday, but then, don't we all begin that way?

Diets, exercise, workload, etc. That's what New Years Resolutions are always about. How can we turn over a new leaf, become a new person through determination and perseverance, and develop healthy habits that change our lives for the better in the process?

This year there are a lot of things I would like to accomplish. I would like to succeed in school. I would like to keep my house clean. I would like to have a sexy, passionate marriage with my husband. I would like to be healthy physically. I'm not overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but I tend to come home after a day of crawling around with the babies, sit on the couch, and read. That's it. No going for a jog, no anything. Back before the wedding, I had signed Brian and I both up to run in the Color Me Rad 5K, and since I was equally out of shape then, I began running for it every day. And I mean every day. I would come home from class, change clothes, put on the "Couch to 5k" app (I highly recommend this app for anyone who has getting into shape on their list for the New Year) and then go run. By the end of a few weeks, Brian and I went running for four miles. FOUR MILES! True, I had to walk and catch my breath a few times, but regardless, I did something that I hadn't done since that painful year of track in the 8th grade where I was the only girl running middle distance and therefore the only person left on the track at the end of Tuesday's two-mile-run practice.

And when that 5k came around, I ran the whole thing, fast walking only once to drink some water. And I was insanely proud of myself for that. But after that day, I haven't run since.

My point is, my goals are praiseworthy. But excuses come in all shapes and sizes. That fat little devil on my shoulder would like nothing better than for me to sit on the couch reading, and man, that sounds super amazing. But I know I can no longer afford to give in to that devil. My marriage, my mental and physical health all ride on me flipping that little devil the finger and getting off my ass and doing something.

So, let's not wait for the New Year to begin new habits. Saying you're going to wait for the New Year is just another excuse, one more procrastination that makes it that much harder to do than if you close your laptop, put down your phone, and just do it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Baby Steps

There are so many parts of my life that are changing, or about to change. There is so much that I am afraid of, so many doubts that play through my mind like a constant stream, that if I allowed myself to listen to it all, I would feel the pressures of the world caving in around me until I couldn't breathe anymore. It's times like these that I am so blessed to know the beauty of God's love. My favorite verse that I repeat to myself all the time is  Proverbs 3:5-6. 

"Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." 

"Trust in The Lord": trust implies uncertainty. Trust requires risk. Without risking anything, you are not trusting. It is a gambol on my part because I have no certainty of the future. Only God knows what will happen, and this is going to happen regardless of whether I place my faith in Him or not. But placing my trust in Him is what makes all the difference; yes, the fear is still there, but so is courage. So is resolution that things will work out for the best in the end. Placing my trust in God is the difference between, as JK Rowling put it, "[it is] the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high." Regardless of the outcome, the difference is incredible. 

"With all your heart". Not half of your heart, or a portion of your heart. It's a gambol, this trusting thing, all or nothing. In it to win it. God doesn't make bargains. He doesn't negotiate, or compromise. God gets what He wants ultimately because He knows how it is already going to end. Notice here also, that we are trusting with our hearts, not our heads. Our heads are logical: they have to be. They, after all, ensure our survival on a daily basis with small decisions that we don't consciously even think about. That hot stove you turned on this morning? Oh yeah, your brain was totally looking out for you the whole time those eggs were cooking. Your hand (and hopefully all body parts) stayed safely outside of the burn zone. While you may have been thinking, "hmm, these eggs are going to be pretty good. I think I want some coffee to go with my eggs this morning", your brain was making sure you didn't burn yourself, or your hair, or your clothes. It made sure you remembered to check the eggs before your house burned down. Every single second, your brain is computing at a thousand miles a second ensuring your survival. 

But God doesn't want your brain. He wants the illogical side of you. The part of you that you can't really explain away despite all the science and psychology and however many other labels you place on it. God wants your heart, your love. Our hearts are our most vulnerable. Next to our brain, they are the most important organ in our body. Without them, we could not function.The heart is the first organ created during pregnancy. Our bodies are centered around protecting the heart with our ribs, a physical cage of protection around something so valuable. God knows how important the heart is, how vital and emotional and vulnerable it is. And He wants it. All of it. And that goes back to the trust thing: we have to trust God that He will protect our hearts. That does not mean that we won't get hurt: goodness and blessings do not exists without evil and curses. There is no light without the dark to compare it to. But the trust means that God will ensure our survival. Our trust means that God will lead us through the hard times, and more likely than not, God will help us to learn from our painful experiences. 

"Lean not on your own understanding." This goes back to that brain thing I was talking about. Our brains are so good at functioning and thinking. ALL. THE. TIME. That they automatically begin trying to problem solve for something that we should really look to God for guidance for. While my heart is pleading, my brain is working double-time trying to come up with a solution to my problem. But there is no solution. At least, not one that I can do by myself. I don't care how much money you make, how many degrees you have. How much you exercise, or eat right, or study, or read, or volunteer. You cannot control your body, or your life. There are many things that are beyond our reach, beyond our understanding. We want to make up reasons for these. It's human nature to explain that which cannot be explained. But we can't do that here. Here, God wants our trust, our hearts, our pathos rather than our ethos. Truly trusting is based off of feeling, not logic. If you try to introduce logic, you can no longer trust. Now you are calculating, and as that is not what God wants, calculations will not work, leading you once again back to trusting. 

"In all your ways acknowledge Him.": This is where I, and I think many of us, fall short. I like to take credit for my own accomplishments. I like the feeling of glory, that sense of pride that comes from accomplishing something others have failed at. But "pride comes before a fall", and all Glory belongs to God. Your accomplishments were achieved because of God. Taking credit for His work in your life is the ultimate plagiarism, yet we do it every day. "In all my ways" I am to acknowledge God. I am to Glorify God, both in my accomplishments and my failures. I am to praise God for the work He has done in my life. I am to lead others to God as they begin to see the good work that I have given Him the credit for. The more credit I give to Him for the blessings in my life, and believe me, despite my struggles, I am so very blessed in so many ways, the more others will want that same Glory and blessing in theirs. 

"He will direct your paths." All of these things add up to one thing, and that is a God filled, blessing enriched life. They come with sacrifice: nothing in life is easy. But God made the Ultimate Sacrifice for us, so really, what is our sacrifice in the end but a small repayment, a small acknowledgement to Him for the love that He bestowed upon us. Here, God is offering us His Kingdom. He is offering to us, lowly, sinful, prideful, lazy, doubting, insecure us, the Kingdom of God. All we have to do is take a deep breath, and hold his hand. It's okay if we're afraid. It's okay if we stumble. Like any child learning to walk, our Father will pick us up, wipe our tears, dust us off, and encourage us to keep going. 

So that's what I'm doing. I've stumbled a lot. I've got scraped knees and bruises. I've got tear stains on my face from all the crying I've done. My pride hurts from falling, from failing. But that trust that I have in God allows me to feel that spring in my step just when I think I'm about to fail again. Because I know God is holding my hand and teaching me to walk on my own.