Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My First Durango Summer

Tomorrow will be exactly two months since Nolan and I moved to Durango, Colorado. These two months have been filled to the brim: visits to Urgent Care, unpacking, organizing, exploring, weekend trip to Cripple Creek, my family visiting, and starting a new job this past week. I am now officially a preschool teacher aide/substitute for a local Christian school. I simply cannot fathom that it took me one whole year and three months of job searching to finally secure a job. Those who have walked alongside me know the grueling process I went through: the countless applications, the seven interviews followed by seven rejections. Albuquerque is a terrible place to go job hunting and I do not recommend it. I was glad to leave it. Applying and interviewing with no positive results is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It is a constant rollercoaster of emotions and I rarely thought positively about myself. Thankfully, that chapter has closed and I am not looking back. Whether I should have or not, I carried that burden every single day of this past year and I became rather embittered about life. While I fully believed that I was capable and had something to offer, it's more difficult when it seems like no one sees the qualities and service that you have to give. The job market and modern methods of interviewing and hiring are in great need of reformation. It is poorly done these days. Thus, it takes a persistence that requires allowing yourself to be stretched far beyond your own capabilities. I have a considerable amount of empathy for those who have so much to offer and, yet, are presently struggling with unemployment or stuck in dead end jobs unable to be hired on by a better place.

Ah, but I won't vent about such things. I am moving forward in small ways and that's all that matters presently.

I would not be honest if I said I don't still struggle with anxiety, restlessness, frustration, loneliness, and bitterness. How does one even recover from such things? I do not know. Knowing Jesus doesn't guarantee a quick fix. He walks you through all of it, that much I know. And I am still shuffling my way through toxic thoughts and emotions, laying each one down at His feet, trying not to hide. My heart know He would never shame me in these struggles. His eyes are adoring and gentle. Yet, I am not always prepared to admit that these are my present ongoing struggles. I shame myself because I could not be who I hoped I could be in the midst of pain and loss. So, I linger in the past and worry about the future. You see, I am still scared. And when I am alone, I am confronted again by my own sadness. He takes my hand. One day at a time. I do not need all the answers, nor do I need to force movement or growth in myself. One day at a time.

I knew I would probably end up working with children for this very reason. When I am around kids (regardless of how disrespectful, irritating, and bratty they are), I see myself in them. I see how small their understanding is and how incapable they are of changing their own faults. I observe how often they fail and how, sometimes, they aren't sorry for their mistakes or wrongdoings at all. I am touched by their vulnerability and realize that they are worth loving, teaching, and guiding. I wonder how often I reflect one of these little ones during their temper tantrums. I know that under the guise of being an adult and having respectable every day responsibilities, I am still just like one of them in relation to my Father. I suppose I might always work with children just to keep these reminders close to heart. Somehow, I feel more capable of patience, gentleness, and grace when I am around them. Even during days when I must be strict and disciplinarian, I return home remembering my own smallness of understanding and child-like vulnerability. I remember that after all the temper tantrums and screaming and disobeying, all is well, all will be well.

My goal is to blog a little more frequently now. I have many ideas, projects, and pursuits that I hope to undertake soon. Lately, I have been finishing up our wedding scrapbook (I vowed to myself that I would complete it before our 3rd anniversary! It's gonna happen, folks!), which has been a sigh of relief to finish up. Now that I have some of my own income, I can begin to add to my photography gear (Yay for finally saving up for that beautiful 50mm f/1.4 lens!), as well as get a start on decorating our apartment and making it feel more personal and home-y. I will, over the months, blog some of these projects and ideas that have been sitting on my Pinterest boards far too long! In addition to this, Nolan and I have been trying to build a schedule or routine for ourselves, to be intentional about our time with each other. Bike rides, homemade desserts, movie night, trying out a delicious new eatery downtown, picnicking at a local lake...these are all just a summary of activities that we've been enjoying with another in our new hometown. I want to remember this season as actively being present with each other.

Despite the recent mining spill in the Animas River (a huge tragedy for the entire Four Corners region!), Colorado is still beautiful. Durango will recover, I hope, from the catastrophe. It will just take time. Lots of time. That's what I try to tell myself when I am in a flurry and attempting to rush through life. Time has been given, however short it may appear, and that time will be enough to heal, to grow, to live, and to be.







Friday, July 3, 2015

[new season contemplations]

I am convinced that I am not a real blogger. I lack consistency, discipline, and focus. Yet, I somehow find my way back here to journal some thoughts and share photos. To be frank, I have been re-thinking my online presence again. I wonder, what's the point of it all? I am always questioning certain areas of my life, examining if it's contributing to my self-growth (and sanity) or not. It's a complicated ordeal. For the moment, I will carry on as if blogging and sharing matters.

May and June slipped through my hands. I simply had no energy or inspiration to write or to take out my camera. So many transitions, set-backs, and new opportunities have marked the past two months.
May was living with my generous in-law's, getting addicted to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, and learning to physically rest.

June was securing our apartment in Durango, the exhaustion of moving, and making a trip to Urgent Care (oh yeah, all while still obsessing over Outlander!).


 In the whirlwind, I can now say, with much relief, that I live in Durango, CO. Two years ago, as newlyweds, my husband and I didn't even know where we were going or what we were doing. It has all been a journey of many surprises, not all of them pleasant, but still full of comfort from Grace along the way.

I have lost many things along this journey. Friends, what I perceived or knew as reality, family stability and security, vibrant and functioning physical and mental health, my views on God and myself, and more.

It's only since the beginning of this year that I have begun to awaken to the normality of loss. Life is very much like the changing of seasons and it is inevitable that there will be loss involved on some level. Having living a privileged, stationary, and unaltered lifestyle for so long, it is obvious why loss has been so jarring to me. It came all at once and I was unprepared for it. I have felt my inner self changing and evolving, a process which has unveiled my humanity to myself. I am weak. I am frazzled. A mess. My identity, shifting and confusing. All is uncertain. Permanence is an illusion. My thoughts are scattered, broken questions. All I can say is, I wish someone had told me that adulthood was this bizarre and unsettling!

If anyone has read my previous posts on my blog, you will know that, though I write as if I'm totally disoriented, I have found the core to my identity through the pain. It's funny...sometimes Jesus is just sitting there on the roadside, so ordinary and nonchalant, as we carry on trying to pull ourselves together and bring a sense of purpose and stability to our lives. I have known Him almost my entire life, but I haven't known Him quite like this before. It's His own humanity staring me down. Well, yes, I am quite aware He took on flesh and became like us for a time. But just for a time, right? The relatability levels kind of plummet after 2000 years, I think. That was then, this is now. The disconnection seems so obvious. I want to protest and question and doubt. It's easier to react that way then to do the hardest, the best, thing and open myself to trust. To trust that we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. For anyone who resists and doubts the existence of such Love, all such verses from Scripture will seem trite, empty, superficial. I know because I resisted His love for a time. Then, it became apparent that the more I resisted such love, the sicker and more bitter my heart became. It scared me. I scared myself. So, I chose to bring my broken shards back to Him who I knew would never reject me.

As I have entered into this new season, it hasn't been smooth. I am learning new beginnings are from easy. You'd think I'd be glad about the new surroundings, but I ain't Pollyanna, let me tell you that! Again, I am tempted to linger on all that I lost, on all that was before, on all that I still cannot make sense of. I am tempted to become bitter that my body is riddled with numerous concerning symptoms and anxiety. I am tempted in a million ways every single day to sin willfully in my heart and thoughts. There's a battlefield in my mind and I wonder if I shall ever know victory. That's when the Word comes to me,

"In returning and rest you shall be saved,
In quietness and trust shall be your strength"

My cry is to not be unwilling, to not run away and pursue on my own what I cannot do, what I shall always fail at doing. It is the patient heart of Christ that has allowed me the opportunity to no longer run. If He was not patient, kind, and gracious, there would be no safety net for me in such moments. He knows I have been frightened and has pulled me all the more close to Himself. This is Jesus, the man well-acquainted with the fragility of humanity and the sorrows of this world. He doesn't want to give us religious answers. He wants to hold us close. In quietness, we will hear every whisper of Him affirming us.

I have experienced the loss of many things. I am not promised anything to be certain or permanent. My weaknesses are blaring. Fear seems all-encompassing.

Yet, the sun rose again today. My husband sleeps by my side. After long, tormenting thoughts, I reach out for him. The familiarity of his skin, his strong hands, and quiet movements. Pressing close to him, I remember. My marriage. My husband. My friend. Many things have been stripped from my life, but not him, not what we have. Communication is often difficult. Our personalities rub against one another with a coarse friction. But, this. This, Lord! Let the nurturing of this gift be my greatest work on earth, if nothing else! Friends will come and go. Babies, successful careers, vacations, grand accomplishments, and a great home may never be guaranteed to us. But I know I want to come to the end of my life and be satisfied that I loved this man well. To love him unconditionally. To love him without reserve. To love him with raw honesty. To love him even when he changes, even as I change. To love him with shocking vulnerability and gentle tenderness. To learn to love him in the exact way I am learning how Jesus loves me. Everyday, re-learning in renewing my vows to him in word, thought, and deed. This is the hardest thing. The best thing. So, today, I breathe a thank you for this man, my ranger. And I learn the steps of our new beginning.

In my usual style, I end my post with some photos. The images below were taken by my sister this past April at the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert, AZ - a special little place to me and Nolan. It is the park he took me to in the summer of 2012 and quietly surprised me with my first-ever kiss. That moment was like magic and I don't ever want to forget the simple little place that became the setting of something so extraordinary.

And because it's on my mind, two quotations from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander that keeps things in perspective.

Love forces a person to choose. You do things you never imagined you could do before.
[Jenny Murray]
For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough.









Friday, May 1, 2015

Blessings of April


April was a full month. It brought a happiness I haven't known in over a year. I was able to visit my family and friends in my hometown and what a blessed time it was! Every moment was golden to me. I haven't laughed that long and that hard for so long. I sang and played songs for all my loved ones. My love and I visited the farm where we said "I do" over two years ago. The familiarity of everyone and every place was comforting to me. Leaving the people and the place that made up my home for almost 25 years has proven to be the hardest choice I have ever made. I knew that marrying a ranger-man, who always takes the road less-traveled, would lead me to make a sacrifice. In February 2012, days after we entered into a courtship, my man and I took long walks during sunset and sat on top of rustic red buttes, discussing the future we had envisioned with each other. I knew leaving all that I had known was part of that equation. I did not hesitate. I promised to follow him always. I promised everything to him just as he, in that moment, promised to return to my home-state and marry me soon. Over three years have passed since that first conversation and I have no regrets about my choice, but the pain is still real. Even so, whenever I am able to be with those I love, those moments mean ten times more to me.

April was also a month of closing in, an expansion of the mind's understanding and also a narrowing of the mind's focus, a letting go of all that has been, and receiving closure for the things that I cannot change. Sadness will always walk with me. It is a part of my story. A divine instrument to strip and carve me down into my truest identity, the truest self that has always been within, waiting for an awakening. Yet, I have also found that there is a reservoir in me capable of much joy. The sorrow and joy, coexisting in harmony, create the rich fruits of gentleness, kindness, patience, understanding, compassion, and acceptance. In my times of meditation and introspection, I sense these fruits welling up within me. What they will become in maturity, I do not yet know. I welcome the water of Life to my inner garden, the grace of my sweet Jesus, and tend to myself. Grace and Identity, hand in hand, are restoring the inner landscape of my ravaged heart. Grace, which says I am always and unconditionally favored. Identity, which says I am the Beloved, the Pure, the Clean, the Righteous. I have nothing to prove, nothing to do. I rest, allowing my inner self to receive what has been given, and entrust my growth and healing to Father's care.

As I continue to struggle with physical pain and symptoms of unrest in my body, I am learning to simple be, to cease the grasping for solutions and resolve. I came across this Kahlil Gibran quote from a now-favorite yoga therapist that I recently started gleaning wisdom from.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so you must know pain. 

I am allowing myself the opportunity to truly know my pain. To cease wrestling with it has opened a world of understanding about myself, about my Savior, about humanity, about nature. And suddenly the revelation came to me that my Savior, who took upon the unpredictability and frailty of my own human flesh, became well acquainted with many layers of pain. He did not turn from it, nor did he fight it. Also, he never sought a solution to "fix" it. From the day He was crucified to the day He resurrected and until now, pain has continued on in this world. Pain in all its varied, traumatic, and despairing forms. Instead, He came so that we might know Him, to remove all that stood in the way of a restored relationship with Him. Pain and suffering became a gateway to this. Nature is a narrative to this as well when you study the seasons and when you analyze the cellular functions of our bodies. Life birthing from decay, death, and pain is a cycle that continues on in many layers. More recently, I have begun picking apart the ways I view this cycle. Before, the goal of restored Life was all my focus. Being vision-minded, the end result is all I have cared about. Oddly enough, that focus has been unhealthy and self-destructive. While that thinking is an integral part of my personality, I also see how those thoughts are heavily instilled into the Western world and, sadly, Western Christianity has adopted it. It revolves around results, achieving goals, and constantly improving ourselves, our circle of people, organizations, businesses, etc. So much could be said on this, but I am summarizing this to say that in awakening to my pain and taking time to step back and releasing my hold on "fixing" it, I have been made aware to the self-destruction of constantly pushing to the end result. I must allow the cycles of nature to run its course, even in myself. In observing, self-reflection, and remaining present, I can then learn what is needed to serve me towards wholeness. 

As I write these words, I wonder if this comes across as sounding esoteric. Maybe so.  

I have found the key to unlock my life. I misplaced it by adopting frenzied approaches. Still, I must practice this, memorize this. Learning comes slowly, but it comes with gentle repetition. These days, I am learning the slow, subtle, soft repetitions of grace, present-mindedness, receiving what is given for the day. You know, like the birds? They who neither sow nor reap, and yet they fly as free beings, bound by nothing.

P.S. This song inspires me.

A summary of snapshots from my Arizona trip:






Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March Musings

Goodbye, March.

You were a month of drifting, but with fresh buds of promise that there may be good things on the horizon.
I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. - See more at: http://rebeccapacheco.com/quotes/have-patience-with-everything-unresolved-in-your-heart/#sthash.6qpu5NpR.dpuf

During the long past month, I wasn't very inspired to pull out my camera and use it. However, a trip up to my husband's parents' home gifted me with some scenic views and pretty blossoms. At the moment, I am a little frustrated with the limitations of the kit lens that came with my camera (just realized I need a lens with a smaller f stop for better aperture range!), but until I can save up for a better quality lens, this shall have to do. I took hundreds of photos, but these are most definitely my favorites.

I was musing on this excerpt from one of my favorite selections, Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke.


 Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

I am not yet there - the place of patience with all that is unresolved in my heart. I hope and sense that I am closer to that place than I was at the end of 2014. There are some big changes coming up this summer in my life, but I feel not quite ready to meet them in my current state. I have no control over the progress that my own heart makes and that leaves me a little more than flustered and frustrated. I know I must trust this journey that I am on. Trust my Father's heart that He will provide for each laborious step.
I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. - See more at: http://rebeccapacheco.com/quotes/have-patience-with-everything-unresolved-in-your-heart/#sthash.6qpu5NpR.dpuf
have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” - See more at: http://www.refinethemind.com/wisdom-of-rilke-love-solitude/#sthash.Twg7MSZo.dpuf
have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” - See more at: http://www.refinethemind.com/wisdom-of-rilke-love-solitude/#sthash.Twg7MSZo.dpuf
have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” - See more at: http://www.refinethemind.com/wisdom-of-rilke-love-solitude/#sthash.Twg7MSZo.dpuf

I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. - See more at: http://rebeccapacheco.com/quotes/have-patience-with-everything-unresolved-in-your-heart/#sthash.6qpu5NpR.dpuf






Do you think it all means nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? 

// Brennan Manning //





































Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it. 

// Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet //























Now so much I know, that things just don't grow if you don't bless them with your patience. 

// First Aid Kit //