Monday, April 7, 2014

currently vol. 4

How did a week fly by so quickly? I feel like I just wrote my last "currently" post yesterday! And it's already been a week. Wow. Linking up with the lovely ladies of A Mama Collective and Home Away From Home.

I am currently...

Excited about:

Doing another show! A few years ago, I did a production of CATS as a pit singer. This means that while the cast is dancing their faces off on stage, they have one singer per part in the orchestra pit on microphones singing their faces off. (This doesn't mean the cast on stage isn't singing - they just need the extra support to make sure the sound is strong.) So I found out a while ago they were doing CATS at a great theatre company nearby, so I figured out who the music director is, found him on facebook, and then messaged him asking if he needed pit singers. I've been told that that was ballsy - but being bold is definitely not an issue for me! What did I have to lose? And hey - I got the job! So I had my first rehearsal tonight, and it was so fun to remember this music and learn it all over again. I never liked CATS until I worked on it - now I think the music is a blast to sing, and a lot of the same performers who did the show with me last time will be doing it again. So I'm happy about that!

Pondering:

What to do with my life, still. I'll let you know when I figure that out.

Reading:

I've been slowly working through Gilead, which is apparently a beautiful novel but I'm struggling to invest myself in it. I love reading, but this one hasn't caught my interest yet. We'll see if that changes.

Watching:

At this moment, Resurrection. It caught my interest when they were advertising it before its premiere, and it's kept my interest enough to watch it weekly. It hasn't changed my life or gotten me totally into it yet.

Listening to:

Dr. Laura podcasts. Um, I love her. I figured out you can get little snippets of her podcasts for free on itunes so I downloaded all of them and have been listening to them on my long car rides.

Thankful for:

This life-changing, grace-filled, beautiful talk with my sister last night. Thank God for sisters. To sit on the sofa and weep and talk and speak truth into each other's hearts is so special and I am just so thankful.

"She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Sometimes she is the reason you wish you were an only child." 

--Barbara Alpert

Nope, never wish I'm an only child. But yes, she is my mirror, my witness, my partner in crime, my defense attorney. All of it. I am blessed. And lucky me - I've got two. So thankful.


And for my sweet readers who don't have sisters - these lovely words are for you:

"They called each other family and that's what they were - sisters. Many people in the world had family of the heart, kin by choice rather than by blood, and hers had come along in her darkest hour and saved her life."

--Christine Feehan, Spirit Bound

Friday, April 4, 2014

reflection friday: a love story

It's been a while since I've done a Reflection Friday - so it's time to do another! As I've mentioned before in this blog, 2010 was an incredibly difficult year for me. I lost my grandmother that year, my family had to put our dog down, I was having an incredibly bad year financially, my roommate and I had an extremely toxic living situation (with one another, not the place itself), I had people hurt me in ways that are not worth putting into words. I was aching deeply, and it was affecting everything that I did. 

I have worked at my current job for almost five years now. I've talked about it before, but to remind you - I'm the music director at a performing arts high school. I could write a book about how this school has changed and impacted my life. I've grown up there - literally. When I graduated from college, I got a phone call from the musical theatre teacher at this school. We'll call it HSPA (High School for Performing Arts). She called me 5 days after I graduated offering me a job and I accepted. I had prayed and prayed that God would just throw something in my lap after graduation, because I was clueless. Graduating with a degree in drama didn't give a whole lot of direction - so I prayed and trusted, and God seriously came through.

So I started working at HSPA, intending only to be there for one musical. Here I am, almost five years later, and my students and co-workers have made me into the woman I am today. There are many, many stories of how this job has impacted my life and I know I will never be able to tell them all. Or even thoroughly express how deeply and intensely these moments and my students and co-workers have changed and enriched my life.

But this one moment is one I will never forget and one that touched me so deeply that it completely changed my life and re-set the course I was on. It reminded me of God's grace, His beauty, His love.

For the last few months of 2010, my students and I were working on a production of Little Women. My students at this point knew me well enough to know something was going on. I was not doing well. I was so depressed and in such a dark place, and no matter what I did, my students knew me and knew I was not okay. Our show opened in December, right before Christmas, and it went beautifully. My students sang their hearts out and made me so proud. And then we had our cast party - our traditional party that we have after the closing night of every show. We go to a cast member's house and eat and chat and celebrate our show and each other. This particular cast party, I had a friend come with me. I walked him out to his car and spent a few minutes saying goodbye.

When I re-entered the house, all of my students - every single one - were standing in the foyer of the house, waiting for me. Right when I walked in, all of them joined in song. Just for me. No one else was in the room. They were waiting for me. And they sang, in overwhelmingly beautiful harmony, the song of my heart - my favorite Christmas song:

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night, Oh night divine

And I remembered then when Brandon had asked me what my favorite Christmas song was. He knew. He knew that my heart needed this. My students singing and praising God with their voices just for me. 

As they sang, I melted to the floor. I sat down and wept and looked at my students, giving every ounce of the love in their hearts in the best way they knew how. Through song. My heart was so healed that night.

I had convinced myself - or the enemy had convinced me - that I was unworthy of love. That no one loved me. I was alone. I was worthless.

But looking in these children's eyes, there was no. possible. way for me to deny that they love me. That I am worthwhile. That I am not alone. I am so loved, whether I feel like I deserve it or not. How can you deny the love of children? It is so pure, so innocent, so full. (And yes, teenagers are still children. It is the dichotomy and mystery and beauty of teenagers and what I love the most - they are just as much children as they are adult. It's an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.) 

The love of children is life-changing, life-giving, grace-giving-to-the-point-of-drowning-in-it, pure, whole, beautiful. Just beautiful.

And my life was changed. I have never been so sure of how loved I am than in that moment. And that was the moment I knew everything was going to be okay. That if they love me, God must love me, too. 

December 12, 2010 -- my facebook status from that day

There is nothing in this world that could have healed my aching heart like all my students singing "O Holy Night" just for me. "To learn and never be filled, is wisdom; to teach and never be weary, is love." Thank you for picking my heart up every time the weariness starts to take over.

To teach and never be weary, is love. Yes. But to teach and be weary and never give into weariness, that is even bigger love. And to see past your own weariness and love someone else through theirs? That is the biggest love of all. To be shown that kind of love will change your life forever. My heart is forever grateful to know that kind of love. The love of children looking past their own needs, their own wants, their own troubles. Oh that I can learn to love people like that.

"The soul is healed by being with children."

--Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Thursday, April 3, 2014

cheese alert

my friend posted this on facebook today - an experience he had last night:

"Had dinner and drinks with the sweetest woman last night. Christine from Boston lost her husband of 50+ years last fall and is finally starting to do some of the things that she and her husband always did together, like travel the world and go to the theatre. She told me that her absolute favorite memory of Raymond is that they would slow dance in the kitchen, almost daily. They had no idea why, they just did it. She asked me if I was married or if I had found that special woman in my life yet. When I said no, with tears running down her cheek, she made me promise that when I find her, that I will always take the time to dance in the kitchen."

I read this and it made my heart sing. Truly.

Because the moment I first felt that whisper in my heart - well, in the beginning it was more like a roar - that I was in love with Michael was when he pulled me into his arms in the kitchen and slow danced with me while he sang quietly in my ear:

I can only give you love that lasts forever
And a promise to be near each time you call
And the only heart I own
For you and you alone
 That's all, that's all...

We danced and I cried, because that's just what I do when I'm so overwhelmed with emotion. I'll never forget that moment. I hope we always remember to slow dance in the kitchen.




Told you. Cheese alert. I don't care. Sometimes you just need to tell the world that you're in love.

Monday, March 31, 2014

currently vol. 3

Hello, blog. It's been a while. I didn't stop writing because I was having a hard time this time, which is good news! I don't have a real reason, other than maybe feeling uninspired to sit down and write. I haven't even been keeping up with my reading - I finally sat down and read all your blogs. Every single one. I love the blogs I follow and I don't want to fall behind! So instead of me attempting to find something inspiring to write about, I'm going to start back up with linking up with some of my favorite girls! Anna Kate at Home Away From Home and Jenna and Mary at A Mama Collective.

So I am currently...

Thinking about: 

So right now I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life -- do I want to dive head-first into performing? Stay teaching? It's been a crazy few months and I'm trying to discern what God wants from me, although I'm starting to think He's asking me what want.... and I'm still trying to figure that out. I'm also thinking about the fact that I'm waiting to hear about a show right now. Waiting to know if I've been cast in a show I auditioned for. It's weird. Seriously, just weird. I got out of the whole "theatre world" (the performing side) for the last five years to teach high school kids how to become performers. So now I'm back in the game, going to auditions and picking songs for myself and learning dances and competing with 20 blonde girls who look like me. I ran into two of my high school students at this audition - one of them sang a song I gave her when she was my student. The other was called back literally for the same exact thing as me - she was my competition. What a weird thing. I taught these girls how to do what they are doing, and now they are my competition. What a trip. It's a weird world to re-enter - the world of auditioning and performing. I don't know if it's what I want or not, but I'm in it for now and I'm just going to enjoy it. I found myself going into "teacher mode" at the audition - answering my old student's questions about her clothes and whatnot, and then I remembered - wait - we are up against each other for the same job! Weird. All I can say. Weird. So I'm just waiting for the cast list and I have another callback coming up soon. It's all in God's hands.

Also, my man flew back to Colorado today. I miss him already - but we were blessed to see each other every weekend in March. It was wonderful. Maybe that's why I've been blogging less!

Reading:

Honestly, nothing at the moment. I've picked up so many books recently and have put them down for too long. The only book I have invested in and still pick up is Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. It has helped me so immensely and resonates with me and where I have been for the last year so deeply. I will have to post about it in depth when I'm done with it - it's very dense so I'm taking it little by little.

Listening to:

This song, non-stop.


The slideshow doesn't mean anything to me - I didn't even watch it, to be honest. But this song. I sing it on repeat in my car on the way to work. It just brings me joy and touches my heart. 

"It's a long and rugged road - and we don't know where it's heading. But we know it's gonna get us where we're going. And when we find what we're looking for, we'll drop these bags and search no more - 'cause it's gonna feel like heaven when we're home. It's gonna feel like heaven when we're home."

Watching:

My sister and I are each working on our computers, sitting on my bed, with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion on my TV. It's a slumber party and it's fabulous.

Thankful for:

God's unending love and mercy. The fact that I am starting to be able to see and experience this grace and mercy for the first time in a very long time. Even if it's just a whisper right now.
My sisters. Especially when one can come over for a slumber party and just sit in bed with me and watch junky TV and just be together.
My boyfriend. The amazing example of love, selflessness and kindness that he sets for me. His pureness of heart. I am so blessed to have someone like him love me so much. It's so humbling.
My job. My high school students who bring me so much joy and who teach me so much every single day.
Musical theatre. Performing, playing, singing, dancing. It doesn't matter. I love it, and I am thankful for it. I am thankful to watch young people fall more in love with musical theatre every day and work so hard to put on amazing shows and become incredible performers.
Being able to have perspective on auditions and callbacks and know that at the end of the day, none of this reflects my self worth or my talent, and none of it will take away my joy. I wasn't ready for this five years ago, and I'm thankful God gave me that time to be a teacher. To learn. To grow.

The list I could go on forever - suffice it to say, I am thankful. So thankful.


My view at work. Page 1 of my piano music -- one of my favorite things in the world, getting ready to start a show. I love it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

do not be afraid. keep on speaking. do not be silent.

There is so much to write. So much to say. I've been listening to this song on repeat this afternoon so I encourage you to hit "play" while you read. I hope this song makes you want to live a little bit more today - I know it did for me. "Let's go to sleep with clearer heads, and hearts too big to fit our beds - and maybe we won't feel so alone, before we turn to stone." Beauty.


I finally took the plunge and announced my blog on my facebook page. So far, I've kept my blog pretty closed to the "blogging community", and haven't shared it with many people who know me personally. The response so far has been overwhelming.

The reason I started this blog was because I felt called to it. That's the truth. I felt God tell me that I needed to write my story down, so that someone would know they are not alone. I've always had the gift of transparency - God has gifted me with a fearlessness in sharing my heart, my story, my thoughts, my feelings. I've never really known why. I am unashamed to be me. To cry in public. To sob in public. To tell people that I'm mentally ill. To tell people "I love you" a million times before they ever say it back. To tell strangers how I'm really doing, even when they were just making small talk. To ask strangers to tell me how they are really doing. I'm not afraid. Thank You, God.

But with this fearlessness has come pain. I of course have been betrayed, I have been hurt, I have been used, I have been mistreated and disrespected, I have been hated. But I will keep going. I will keep sharing. I will keep choosing to be fearless.

Because when I am fearless, God somehow uses that to allow other people to step into bravery and tell a part of their story they have never spoken aloud before. To tell me that they struggle with depression. That they doubt God. That their mother is going through chemotherapy. That no one knows they are mentally ill, and they wish they could just speak it out loud. That they have always felt alone. That they feel guilty because they are so unhappy.

Oh, my friends. How you have touched my heart. You will never know how deeply you have touched my heart. I sit here and write and weep. Because God is allowing us to speak life to one another. Shame has no place here. Shame cannot survive when we speak our truth to one another and overcome it with love and understanding. Shame is defeated when we let in the Light. Shame cannot breathe when we choose to breathe life into one another; when we uphold one another's hearts in the Truth. The Truth of God's love for us, and the truth of our love for one another.

The truth is that we are so worthwhile. In every struggle. In every sleepless night. Through every night of tears, through every manic episode, through every day of chemotherapy, through every day of job searching. Through the days of feeling friendless. Of feeling worthless. Of feeling like everything is pointless.

Every story matters. You matter. Your story matters.

Do you hear me?

You matter.

Your stories have touched my aching heart and I am so deeply moved.

My beautiful friends, be unashamed. Be fearless. Be unashamed of who you are. Be unashamed of your story. Be unashamed to tell it. To tell people that you are suffering. To tell people that it's okay that they are suffering, too. Because the truth is, we are all suffering. We will continue to suffer until we go Home. And the only way to survive it, to live it, is together. To love each other to death until death brings us new life. 

"Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood."
--Isaiah 54:4

"Overhearing what they said, Jesus said to him, 'Do not be afraid. Just believe.'"
--Mark 5:36

"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: 'Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent."
--Acts 18:9

Oh, my friends, how I love you. You are not alone. You are never alone. Let us live unashamed. Fearless in Christ. Do not be afraid. Keep on speaking. Do not be silent.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

if grace is an ocean, we're all sinking

So yesterday, Michael and I got in a huge fight on my lunch break at work. I had already had an awful morning with my 8th grade and 6th grade classes, and he called me on my lunch break and gave me bad news. And I was so, so angry with him. We fought and fought and in all the fighting, I forgot to take my medication. I take all of my pills at 12:30 PM every day. But I was too busy fighting to remember. So I didn't. I took them at different times, I took them hours late, and my body got so confused. My brain got so confused. And I paid the price with a massive episode.

I think this episode was bad enough that maybe the details are too much for a blog post. I have no problems sharing, but my intention is not to throw a pity-party, to scare people, or to make people feel uncomfortable. So just know that it was a bad one, but I got through it.

So I'm okay today. Back on track and on time with my medication, reminded once and for all that my entire world needs to stop for 5 seconds every day at 12:30 PM so I can take my pills and be okay. I am okay.

So this is what I have to say today.

Life is so hard right now.

But yesterday, I played a game with my 1st graders that was so much fun I temporarily forgot that I was in the middle of a huge fight with my boyfriend. We walked back to their classroom singing a song we learned from Ghana, just because they loved it so much they couldn't stop singing it.

Yesterday, my co-workers listened to me as I shared with them how upset I was that my boyfriend and I were fighting. They listened and loved me so that I could get my head back on straight to teach my 1st graders.

Yesterday, my 5th graders saw that I was struggling and they behaved perfectly all afternoon. They saw my pain and they gave me the best gift that they could. Their quietness. Their calm. Their peace. Their joy.

Yesterday, my 8th graders needed a lot of discipline. But when I sat with them and spoke to them like adults, they listened. They really, really listened.

Yesterday, I danced like a lunatic in front of my choir class because I know it makes them giggle. Their giggles brighten up my day immensely.

Yesterday, my assistant at work listened and supported me like he always does. Oh, I am so grateful for that man and our friendship. I don't know what I would do without him. If only he was there all the time, instead of a few hours a week.

Yesterday, my roommate listened as I shared my heart and vented about my frustrating day. She listened and loved me and sent me a text message today encouraging me just the way I needed.

Yesterday, even though Michael and I got in a fight, as soon as I started having an episode (they start pretty much instantaneously), the fight was dropped and he loved me so hard and so deep and so true. He stayed on Skype with me all night, singing to me until I fell asleep. I love this man.

Yesterday, the only thing that brought me peace was Michael praying over me as I screamed and cried. I have not prayed in a long time. But in my madness and tears, I think I let God in for the first time in a long time.

So here I am, so tired today. But I see grace today. I have new eyes today. And I am trying to let God in and let His grace keep me afloat. Because His grace is everywhere. I just have to look for it.

And we are His portion, and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
if His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
 I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way He loves us.
Oh, how He loves us.

Monday, February 3, 2014

my own currently

Linking up with Anna Kate and the girls at A Mama Collective like I do every Monday - only this time I'm not following format. So here it is. My "currently."

Oh, how I wish I could sit down and just write a beautiful and inspiring blog post today.

But, oh, I am struggling.

Struggling to see past my current reality. Struggling to feel hope. Struggling to feel like I'm not drowning. Struggling to breathe.

I have been unhappy for quite a while. Really unhappy. I will never stop living in gratitude, and choosing thanksgiving over wallowing in self-pity, but I am not doing well.

After my surgery in November, I was so hopeful that that was the answer. Once we realized my uterus was full of polyps and my hormones were going crazy, we removed them and life was going to be different. My PMDD would start to regulate itself - maybe I would only have one period a month instead of two and my moods would change!

And don't get me wrong - things have been better. I have not had a single manic episode since my surgery, I have not threatened or wanted to hurt myself, I have not blacked out and failed to remember my own words and behavior the night before. And for this I am beyond grateful. But I think maybe a part of me had hoped I would be all better. The joyful, radiant, vibrant girl that I know myself to be would magically return.

But I'm not her. At least not yet. I'm suffering, and I am unhappy, and I couldn't tell you why.

Maybe it's the fact that all I want is to be married and a mother and that is still months and years away. Maybe it's the fact that I really feel trapped in my job. Maybe it's the fact that I don't like my current living situation. Maybe it's the fact that I'm so alone where I live - no community, no friends - only my TV and my job. Maybe it's the fact that I'm so overworked and exhausted all. the. time.

And I am so far from God. I have isolated myself from my friends and from Him. In December, I asked Him for help for the first time in a long time. I lied on my bedroom floor night after night in hysterical tears, screaming at Him, begging for help. And it never came. So I stopped asking. And I'm having a really, really hard time asking again. I know I'm not supposed to do it alone, but when you ask and He just turns away, what then? What next?

Everyone has been saying this is my dark night of the soul. So I bought myself the book Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. I am ready to pick it up, I know I need to. I have also been told repeatedly by priests in confession to ask for the intercession of Mother Teresa. I know this is not a coincidence. Every priest I go to talks to me about Mother Teresa. She didn't experience any consolation or sense of God's presence for most of her life - and she never stopped praying or doing God's work. I ask for her prayers constantly, but I am certainly no Mother Teresa. I feel so selfish, like such a failure - like I am being so childish, just wanting God to make me feel better. But I'm telling you,  I can't do this anymore.

My therapist today has suggested I see my doctor again and change my anti-depressants or change the dosage again. My mom wants me to see my OB/GYN again and go on birth control finally. Both scare me a little. Is all of this because I am imbalanced? Am I depressed? Or am I supposed to make life changes that will make me happy? Am I inherently unhappy and chemically not ok or is it life situations that are just making me feel unhappy? With mental illness, it's so hard sometimes to see the difference between true, genuine sadness versus your brain just keeping you from being happy and maintaining itself in a state of depression. It's so much to go through in my mind and my heart, that I just feel like sitting still. I don't even feel like walking forward anymore. How much can one girl take?

This week, I've gotten my first speeding ticket, I've gotten into my first car accident, and my debit card was reproduced and money was stolen from my bank account. It's almost funny... in a sad, ironic way. How am I supposed to look at all of that on top of everything else and just keep walking? I've been feeling like life is one big blizzard and I've been taking one step at a time with my head down, just making it through one step at a time. I'm just starting to feel like the blizzard is too big. The snow is too deep. I want to just stand here and freeze.

But I know myself.

I will not give up. Even if I want to. I don't think I know how to give up.

So I will keep walking. And I will keep trying to let God in, even if I don't know how to anymore.