Love ain’t easy!

15 04 2016

In a couple of weeks I will have been married for 8 months! Life’s journey took me down the aisle after meeting a great man who captured my heart! A mutual friend kept telling me that she had someone she wanted me to meet and she felt we would really hit it off since we had a lot in common. This went on for several months and I got a little impatient waiting for him to be “ready” to jump into the dating world but eventually we met.

Jim is an LMFT and he had a contest by asking people to submit their story or the story of someone who had experienced a significant life change. I was encouraged to submit my story by our mutual friend and I did. A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from Jim letting me know my story had won and he wanted to post it on his web-site and we made arrangements for me to pick up the $25 gift card from him at his office shortly after that! I stopped by his office to pick up the gift card I won and we ended up talking for about 20 minutes in the hallway. I remember thinking how cute he was and what a great conversation we had but that I’d probably never hear from him again. It took him a little while but he finally contacted me and we met for coffee which then led to a hiking trip at Radnor Lake and then meeting up one day to share our life stories with each other the day before we went out on our first date. We both wanted to share what we had been through so we could decide if we still wanted to go on a date. It was an amazing experience to be authentic and experience honesty about who we are and what we had been through.

We went on our first date on August 29, 2014 at Carrabba’s in Green Hills and then to see the movie The 100 Foot Journey and were married exactly one year later on August 29, 2015 at Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville! A few months after we started dating, Jim let me know he had a confession to make. I braced myself as I prepared to hear something bad but instead he let me know that actually I had been the only entry in his write your story contest and that’s why I won!!!  My mouth fell open and I said, “You mean I won by default?”  He laughed and said, “yes!” Then he made it a point to say, “but your story was really good, though!” Nice save, Jim!

We had a bumpy obstacle on our wedding day but we endured and plowed forward into love and starting our journey in life together. I am ever so grateful to have this man by my side. Despite the obstacles we’ve faced, learning how to love again with wounds and trauma from our past, figuring out how to maneuver through the work of being a couple which is so hard, we are finding our way. Communication is hard. Loving even when I am so stinking frustrated with him is hard. Having to sit back and watch him get hurt or deal with something heavy is hard. So many things about being married to this man who is willing to work on “us” is so very hard but so worth it. To truly believe that we are both in it for the long haul is what helps me keep going even on the tough days. The tough days are what make the really outstanding, joyful days so much better because we know it is the fruit of our labor of sticking together! God is good!

Be blessed!

Carolyn

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It’s Been a While

8 09 2013

I’m back! It has been a while since I last blogged and it feels good to be back. I am hopeful that I will be more diligent about blogging in the future. Life got really crazy for me a couple of years ago so I took a break from some things, including this blog, so I could focus on finishing grad school at Vanderbilt, assume a management position in my department at work, start guitar lessons (which I love!) and focus on building better and healthier relationships with the people that I choose to be in close relationship with. My family of choice.

I am excited to say I completed my MLAS degree at Vanderbilt on August 10, 2012! In May of 2013, I was hooded and received my diploma at the graduation ceremony on campus. The 3 year and 2 month journey was long indeed but it was worth it. I am so grateful the opportunity to further my education presented itself. It was an exciting day for me although there was some sadness. It was very difficult for me to go to my graduation ceremony knowing no family member would be present. Not one member of my immediate family attended graduation, and I am going to be very honest about this situation. It hurt. There are no other words to describe it. My family should be there and be supportive of me on a big day such as this but they don’t bother to show up. The disappointment was tremendous although it was not surprising. This is a reoccuring problem I have in my life. When I am going through difficulties or joyful occasions, my family doesn’t know how to be present or chooses not to be present. 

I was fortunate to have a group of friends who gave me time and assitance I needed to deal with my grief weeks before graduation. When I started to feel the downward spiral arriving once again, at yet another big event in my life, these friends stepped up and supported me. My friends I met in the MLAS program and some of my staff showed up for me at the ceremony to cheer me on and take pictures. My family just doesn’t show up for me at the times when I need them most and it is a painful part of my life that I work on accepting, without really understanding why, each time I want or need my family.

My family of CHOICE has come to mean so very much to me over the past few years and even if my family or origin lets me down, I do have a family I can turn to. I have confidence that my family of choice will be there for me in whatever way I need them to be present. This is the perfect example of how God fills needs in my life in ways that are unexpected. Growing up I thought my family would be there for me but God has brought new family into my life that is there for me when it really counts.

Trust the process. 

Be blessed,

Carolyn 

 





Trust the Process

2 06 2011

I recently had the experience of getting away from everything, taking time to take care of me, recharge and seek a new beginning. What I discovered there was priceless. God met me there and walked me through some things. I discovered some answers to questions I had for years. These answers opened up new perspectives for me, allowed some of the hurt to lessen and I found a new thirst and zest for life. I made some new friends, formed some bonds that will live with me for a lifetime, saw miracles happen and even heard about some happening after we all parted ways. Amazing is all I can say about my week away.

We are all the same. We are all seeking something or someone. We are all walking wounded. I think David Gray said it nicely, “vapors of joy and hurt”. The hurt pushes us to places unknown. Joy redeems what the hurt has taken. In everything, trust the process.





Reunion

27 02 2011

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to have a reunion with 2 friends from my college days at the University of Arkansas. We finally were able to pull together a date that we all agreed upon and converged upon the Pottery Barn Outlet in Memphis. We’re women…..shopping had to be a part of our girls weekend! So, Michele arrived from Arkansas, Heather from Mississippi and me, representing Tennessee. Sounds like a Miss America pageant! It was great to see them again and to be able to spend time just hanging out and having some fun. After we finished up shopping at Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma Outlet’s we headed to lunch for a quick break and learned all about Heather’s adventures at the Super Bowl in Dallas. She was 1 of the 400 people who did not have a seat! Michele and I were both in disbelief and it is definitely a story that Heather should put on paper or write in a blog!

That night we spent 3 hours at the Melting Pot in Germantown and had a wonderful time eating! It was agreed that the chocolate fondue was the best part of the meal. We had a great time just catching up with each other and reminiscing about memories from the dorm and the rest of our adventures at school! It had been almost 18 years exactly since we took our 1 and only spring break trip together to Disney World in Florida our Freshman year. Although this was a reunion, sadly one person from that spring break trip was not with us for this reunion. Shannon passed away 4 years ago and is sorely missed. It is especially sad because we are still so young and I do not think about losing friends at such a young age.

Shannon was a character and memories of her little, blue, 4-door car that she drove that first semester, which she hoped would get stolen so she could get a new car was eventually replaced with a new Jeep Cherokee, which took us to Florida! I also recall that we had a very small stove complete with an oven in the hallway of our dorm and when I learned that Shannon had never had a Chef Boyardee pizza I insisted that we have it for dinner that night. We set out for everything we needed and once the dough was spread out on the pan it ended up looking more like the amoeba pizza…very odd shaped! I cannot remember if she liked it or not but I think we all decided that Eureka Pizza was better because they made it and it was dirt cheap! Less work on our part so we’d have more time to play Pitch and make our TCBY runs to get yogurt. Those were the days!

Our get together had to come to an end Sunday. Heather was headed back home so she could make it to work, which she is a wonderful nurse who will become Dr. Heather as soon as she finishes up her Ph.D. program! So proud of her!

Michele’s husband and kids were having their own hangout weekend in Memphis so I joined Michele and her family for church at Grace Evangelical Church in Germantown. Dr. James Young III is the pastor there and what an amazing message that he delivered that morning! The church was celebrating 20 years in that building on Feb. 20th and the music was fabulous. Dr. Young delivered a message that definitely spoke to all of us. We all agreed that we were supposed to be there that day so it was definitely a God thing! Michele and John are great parents to their 2 children so it is so amazing for me to see them together as a family and to see them being strong Christian parents. So proud of them both!

It was a great weekend and it was sad to say goodbye to my friends but I am grateful that we have kept in touch over the years even though our lives have spread out in different directions. We hope to do this again every year and it will definitely be interesting to see where God has led us in each of our paths the next time that we meet.





The Benedictine Disciples

5 01 2011

A habit that I have is walking across the campus where I work during my lunch or break times especially when the weather is beautiful and warm enough to get outdoors in the winter. Yesterday, I decided to go for a walk since the sun was shining and so I set out on my usual path for my late lunch walk. As I headed toward the library I decided to run in and do a quick search for a book I needed for a project for school and believe it or not I was in and out in less than 5 minutes and successfully found the book I was looking for! So far, my day is going great! Again, I set out on my walk and am headed toward the divinity school enjoying the absolutely beautiful day when I spot 3 young gentlemen that are walking around with a video camera and a tripod. I spot them. They spot me. And before I know it we are headed straight for each other.

They introduced themselves as being seniors at the Benedictine College in Kansas and they were traveling around the south looking for people to interview on what the meaning of life is. Wow! The meaning of life?! They went straight for the tough question….there was no slowly breaking me in on that one! So, I agreed to be videotaped and to answer their questions so once the video was rolling the interview began. I answered their first question and my answer was a “religious one” because I mentioned that my faith in God was what brought me meaning and believing that I am on this earth to serve a purpose, designated by God, and to complete that purpose was my answer. They all kind of looked at each other as I was talking with a somewhat surprised look but they seemed to be pleasantly surprised. I was hoping with a name like Benedictine College that it would mean they were Christians, too. I answered a few more questions that touched on some deep issues but I felt at ease talking to them because they did not appear to be threatened by my talking about God so much. The interview ended and they thanked me for my honesty and one of them told me that they were all Christians, too, and that they were excited about the interviews that they were getting. Only about 5 or 6 people had declined the interview so it seems that they were blessed in their travels.

They were talking about starting out in St. Louis, maybe somewhere else before Nashville, and then they were headed on to Atlanta yesterday afternoon to end up in New Orleans before heading back home. The project will be completed in April and then they will graduate. We said a quick goodbye and then we parted.

As I walked away these three young men made me think of the disciples. It says in Luke’s account of the last supper that Jesus sent Peter and John into the city to make preparations to eat the Passover. It was like seeing some of Jesus’ disciples sent out to complete a task and they were willingly doing what was asked of them. Hopefully they will be blessed in their journey, blessed by the people that they meet and bless some people along the way. I know I felt blessed after meeting them and getting to spend a few minutes talking about the 1 man in my life that I love more than life itself…Jesus.

I have had more encounters with other believers during my lunch walks (you will have to check out my earlier blog titled “Jake and the Yellow Balloon”) and it always happens on a day when I really want some Godly joy to just drop in and visit, even if it is for just a few minutes. I am thankful that God takes moments like these to assure me that I am not alone in this world when it comes to having brothers and sisters in Christ!

Maybe it is time for you to take a walk soon and expect the unexpected!

Be blessed in your travels,
Carolyn





My Wishes Aren’t Even Good Enough!

4 01 2011

My daily devotion yesterday had this beautiful paragraph written in it and I want to share it with you, now.

“The Lord does not disappoint those who seek His will. Don’t misunderstand that statement. We might feel temporarily let down when something we hope for is not in God’s plan. But He doesn’t go back on the biblical promise to give His children the best (Isa. 48:17; 64:4). When one door closes, there is another about to open with something better behind it. Friends, the Lord cannot be outdone. We can’t even wish ourselves as much good as God has in store.” (In Touch Ministries)

Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about good things I want for my own life and a lot of times these daydreams show up while I am in the middle of talking to God. Moments later I realize I have that deer in headlights look and I snap back to reality only I used to apologize to God for getting off track and ruining my prayer time. One day several years ago it hit me that I shouldn’t have to apologize to God for wishing good, beautiful and joyous moments in my life. He is the one who gave me the instinct to desire good things that are beautiful blessings for my life and since God knows my thoughts He’s paying attention to what it is I am dreaming about! The amazing thing is that God takes those thoughts I have in my head and He creates them, at times not determined by me, and they are created in way’s even greater than I am imagining. In other words, move over Hollywood, you’ve got nothing on what God can dream up!

I want that for my life! I want God’s absolute best; knock your socks off; have to pick your jaw up off of the floor; pinch me because I have got to be dreaming type blessings! The next time you happen to catch yourself day dreaming remember, God knows what the desires of your heart are and He will give you those desires if you put your trust in Him.

Passage Psalm 37:4:
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Be blessed and keep dreaming!
Carolyn





Waiting….as a New Year’s Resolution?

1 01 2011

Happy 2011 to you! I pray that God blesses you tremendously in this new and exciting year!

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone but I am excited for what the new year holds. This morning I opened up my January issue of a booklet I received from Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries and the title on the outside is: “life’s most difficult lesson”. That did intrigue me so I decided to settle down on the couch with my cup of java and warm blanket and see what the most difficult lesson really is.

Waiting. That’s it….waiting is the most difficult lesson. That was not at all what I thought it would be but it does make sense. Who likes to wait? Not me that is for sure! What does God require of us in between times when He speaks to us with clear instructions and calls us into action? To wait. Dr. Charles Stanley states “The Lord has places to take us, and He knows what baggage to leave behind.”

What does it take to “shed” things from your life? Time. I have hit the gym a lot over the past 2 weeks in preparation for getting back into the healthy habit of taking care of myself physically and shedding those unwanted pounds and bad habits that I was slipping back in to and this will all take time to make it a healthy habit. I would like to have instant gratification but I would not appreciate it as much if it were just handed to me. God knows that and He uses the process of waiting on Him for the next set of instructions to do whatever He needs to do in my life to get me ready for the plans He has in store for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I must constantly remind myself of this promise from God so I can keep telling myself that it is all going to be okay because God knows the plans He has for me and they are good. The days I want to believe the lie that God doesn’t really care about me as much as He does someone else and those promises in the Bible do not ring true for me like they do everyone else I have to fight hard against these negative thoughts and remind myself of the promise in Jer. 29:11 that absolutely, positively does hold true for me as well. Get rid of the stinkin’ thinkin’!

I can either wait patiently on God and embrace waiting as a form of obedience and not laziness or lack of production or I can try to run ahead and make things happen in my own time. Often times I do run ahead of Him and when I discover I am merely running around in circles and bringing myself much more pain and suffering than was needed I end up back where I began. Waiting. My hope for 2011 is that while I am waiting on God I will embrace the positives that are happening as a result of that waiting. That could be shedding baggage, learning lessons, learning to trust in God more and becoming more dependent upon Him for everything that pertains to my life or a multitude of other things. I want to start looking more for the “good” that God is bringing about.

The article references Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:19-26. Read it below and see that Jeremiah started off focusing on the negative, then he allowed his way of thinking to be changed so he saw new results (positives) and finally it resulted in a new attitude where God’s purpose for his life was becoming more clear.

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.

I pray that you will encounter a renewing of your mind and that new, positive attitudes begin to develop in your own walk with God! Trust Him! He knows what’s ahead of you and He’ll be with you the whole way.

Happy New Year!
Carolyn





What a difference a year makes.

20 12 2010

This time of year always prompts me to look back at what my life has been like since the last Thanksgiving and Christmas. I reflect on last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas memories. Some were not so good and brought great sadness to me but others were beautiful, sweet and wonderful and brought me much joy. Quite a combination and it certainly seemed to have a roller coaster ride effect to say the least. When I think about what my life would be like right now if I had received everything I desired this past year, I can pick out a lot of the things that I wouldn’t know or have experienced if I had gotten what I wanted. I cannot imagine my life without these things, now. No matter what I have missed out on or the disappointment I may have felt I can honestly say that I cannot imagine my life without the people, places and things that I now have because “life” turned out differently than I had expected this past year. It’s bittersweet you know. I had to give up some dreams in order to gain some new ones.

It is so easy to say “what a waste of time” when I reflect on things that have gone wrong but my friend Linda O. reminded me the other day that “no, it’s not a waste”. She’s right. Some very hard, valuable and good lessons have come out of the time I spent over the past year. Do I miss what I thought my life “would have been like”? Yes, I do. It doesn’t mean it was the right thing, though. Reality says it wasn’t right and I have God to thank for saying no to my desires and replacing them with His desires for my life. After all, His viewpoint is better and He can see much farther than I can to know how things turn out in the end.

Today, I reflect on my life and it is good. I am truly blessed and I cannot even understand why in so many cases. God is good! He may remove some things but what He replaces them with is even better. He watches out for me. God has plans for my life that require I be on the path that I am presently on and I want to enjoy that path and take in all that I can instead of running along in a hurry. For I know that those very dreams that were not given to me this past year are waiting somewhere in another year just down the path. They are out there waiting to greet me at the right time.

Merry Christmas!
Carolyn





Thanksgiving

25 11 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Today we set aside a day to give thanks for the blessings in our lives, be with family and friends and oh yeah…to eat a lot of good food! I stayed in Nashville to celebrate Thanksgiving here with 4 friends who were not with their families today and I hosted my first Thanksgiving celebration where I actually cooked a turkey. Once my frozen fingers finally pried out the yucky stuff from the cavity of the turkey I was in business! I actually had fun preparing the turkey and wondered why I had never attempted to do this before? It felt good to be thinking about the people who would be arriving at my home this afternoon to sit at my table, say a blessing together and have good food and a fun time together. All in all this day was good and I am glad that I now have today’s good memories to carry with me. An unexpected visit from a friend after dinner made the day even better.

When I open up my home I try to remember to pray for each person who will be stepping across the threshold and praying that they will feel comfortable and safe here no matter what is going on in their life. I like for people to kick off their shoes, prop up their feet, spread out, relax and feel like they can let their hair down and be who they really are. It has been very important to me that my home be a safe haven for those who are hurting and just need to talk and escape from the world for a bit. One of my guests called me this evening to thank me for including her in my festivities and she shared with me that she was hurting inside today and was so thankful to have a place to go and to be around other friends. Out of all of the compliments that I received today this by far was the greatest. I never know what God has up His sleeve in situations like this but I am grateful for all of the times people have let me in on the real reason that I truly opened up my home. Usually, it was not for the reason I intended but for the very reason God intended. People everywhere are hurting and in need of someone to say I care about you and what happens to you.

Today was a good day!

What are you thankful for?

May God bless you richly so you have many, many things to be thankful for!
Carolyn





Redeemed

29 09 2010

Sometimes I like to go back and read my old journals just to see how silly, serious or crazy I was when I wrote the passage! There are times when I remember writing it, how I felt, where I was sitting when I wrote it and so forth. Other times I do not remember at all and have no clue where it came from! Tonight I found some old entries in a journal that I had in a pile of papers to shred. I went through a phase earlier this year where I tore out some pages from an old journal because I was angry about something and I just did not want to go back and ever read about my stupid mistakes or remember what I had written about. Along with those pages were other entries that, as I found this evening sorting through them, were about some things that I do not want to part with (for various reasons).

I found this one in particular that I wrote after a devotion I had read. This was a long time ago so it was good to go back and see just how far I have come from when I wrote this entry. I have no idea why I am sharing this other than maybe, just maybe someone out there will read this and it will hold a key to something that they need to hear. Take what you can from it and leave the rest!
Thanks for stopping by!
Carolyn

ISAIAH 63:9
In His love…He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them.

My life lay broken and in scattered pieces. The life was sucked right out of me. The rug was pulled out from under me. A cruel joke had been played on me and there was no laughter. It was real. Life, brutal life had happened to me.

No more tears left..all had been shed. My strength was wiped out and there I lay. No movement. Just a quiet, heap upon the floor. Memories and events swirled through my mind as if I were watching a movie. Oh, how I wish it had not been of my life. It was though. A sad, disturbing existence. One I hope never to return to.

Out of my turmoil came a strength unlike any I had ever known. Nothing absolutely not one ounce of that strength was required of me. It was a gift. It felt so good. I gladly accepted it.

At times I feel like I am an observer, just along for the ride. Grace. Sufficient to meet all of my needs. It redeems me, lifts me, carries me through life. No longer trying to be in control and it is so freeing.

In letting go, I was held.
In resting, I was strengthened.
In trusting, I was walking.
In believing, I was seeing for the first time.