2015: Looking Back

2015 held a lot of change, joy, blessings, disappointments, pain, fears, struggles, and loss.

Overall, this past year was the hardest year I have ever had. It would have been so easy to just glide into 2016 without looking back because I didn’t want to look back and re-experience the pain. In looking at my blogs from the last year, I’m reminded that it wasn’t all pain. There was a lot of growth. I learned to make more meals, I learned to sew, I learned to grieve, I learned to ask for help, and my marriage grew. Am I glad it’s over? OF COURSE. I pray 2016 is marked with joy and growth, not overshadowed with the same pain that 2015 was. I want to share some of my goals for this year, but this post is about looking back. So, here’s a year in review.

 

January was a month packed with change. I turned 24, Aaron moved in with us, and I got a FitBit. I was extremely motivated being able to see how much I was exercising (I love stats) and went a little crazy… which meant I wrecked my knees and had to do knee drains for a few weeks. Gahh.

February we hosted a Superbowl party for the first time. At work, I fought for a raise, and I got one. It was a huge blessing to our family, since we had increased expenses with the new house and Aaron living with us. I used a sewing pattern for the first time, making pillow cases for my friend Elise. Snow and I hit a rough patch in our relationship… lots of stress missing hours at work, and lots of late starts. Off the blog, I started struggling with depression, but didn’t fully realize that I was. Looking back, it’s crystal clear.

March held a lot of joy. We met our godson, Joseph, for the first time… and fell in love. Josh and I had a hard time adjusting to sharing our home/time with Aaron. Luke came to visit. I found the perfect dress at Kohls for Easter.

April held changes and I met some personal goals. I chopped my hair off. My boss gave us a giftcard to a super fancy steakhouse. We celebrated Aaron’s birthday, complete with homemade Apple Pie. We spent Easter in Virginia. I learned to crochet… and then I destroyed my crochet project because I dropped a lot of stitches and it looked AWFUL. Josh’s family visited. I went to my first Blogger event.

In May, we took a Corneli-Sims vacation to Disney World. I came back to a mountain of work and cried. Life turned to crap and I couldn’t blog about it.

In June, Josh fixed our laptop and saved us $200. I got an unexpected raise! I learned how to make my own cold brew coffee. We upgraded our phones. I bought flowers for outside. I then killed the flowers. Josh’s grandpa passed away, and Josh went to Wisconsin for the funeral.

In July, we spend the 4th of July with the Gilmores. I taught Joseph how to smack his lips like a fish and died because it was the cutest thing ever. Andrew (my brother) spent a week at our house. My mom came to visit! We saw Minions and Jurassic World at the Drive In. We got kicked out of our house, cried a lot, and house-hunted. Signed up for a 401-K plan. Got a bonus at work. Found the perfect rental house, and an awesome landlord. Looking back, I can see God’s faithfulness. The blessing that my mom was present when we got horrible news, the provision of a bonus when finances were tight, and a house that met our needs perfectly.

In August, we moved into our new house, with my family’s help! Paid off a TON of loans. Had a weekend away at the beach. I reached the depths of my depression, and reached out for help. Josh started his last year of Seminary.

September started with a visit to Columbia, and celebrating Josh’s 25th birthday. Our house became a home. I got super sick and had to call in sick multiple days. I bought a bread machine, which was truly life-changing! Aaron got his drivers license. I made homemade laundry detergent.

October was full of so much rain, I thought Raleigh was going to float away. It rained like crazy and I had cabin fever- like every other person in the city. Columbia flooded, and I cried seeing pictures of my favorite places immersed in water. I struggled with feeling like I couldn’t blog from my heart and strongly considered abandoning this blog. Had major foot pain, and had to buy new shoes. We implemented a quiet hour in our house- for my sanity. Aaron got a job! Spent Halloween in Virginia and I went trick-or-treating for the first time with my sisters-in-law.

November started with the craft sale, where we made a lot of money! The next day, I threw a baby shower. I didn’t blog a ton, because we were in constant motion. I posted about my struggle with depression. We spent Thanksgiving with Josh’s family, and I contributed stuffing and Pumpkin Cheesecake.

December didn’t have a lot of posts… but we survived finals, had free steak and margaritas at my company Christmas party, went to Myrtle Beach for our 2 year anniversary, had Christmas in Columbia, and New Years with the Gilmores.

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Dear Josh,

This year has been hard, but this year has also been full. I am so thankful for the way you have encouraged, loved, and served me this year and I’m excited to see what the Lord teaches us this coming year. Most of all, I’m thankful we have the most important thing in common: we love Jesus. Without Him, I don’t think we would have gotten through this year as a team. With Him, I think this year has made us a stronger team. I love you.

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What’s Next?

I’m going to be honest: I don’t know how to follow up a post where I bore my heart and soul on the internet, divulging my deepest battle. (That’s why it’s been a solid month since my last post.) Honestly, I thought I understood depression until I experienced it… I think it’s difficult to imagine what depression is like, and I think it’s often difficult to express and explain it when you are experiencing it. I also think there is a reason that within 24 hours it became the most-read post I’ve ever published, and even though I was shaking for 24 hours, seeing the number of readers climb, I am confident that I have experienced this for a reason. Thank you to those who have affirmed my bravery for posting. Thank you for those who have read, shared, and sent me messages with your stories. I’m sure this will not be my last post on this topic… I have more to share.

How am I doing now? The nights are still sometimes scary, and the days sometimes bleak as well. Every once in a while, I have a day of sobbing. My eyelids are red and swollen, my ears ache from blowing my nose too hard. My nose is rubbed raw from countless tissues, and my heart is breaking. I don’t have something specific to attribute this to. I don’t know how to “fix” it. What I do know, is that these kind of days are filled with relentless pain. It feels so trivial to share recipes and weekend happenings when I feel I don’t know myself anymore. I battle fatigue on a daily basis and I find it most difficult to take care of myself, because I feel that is expected last. Hopefully this helps explain my lack-of-blogging… I know I have things to share, I just don’t feel like sharing. I sit down to write and often struggle to compose something that doesn’t sound like it was penned by Eeyore.

However, a lot has happened in the last month… a lot of GOOD, happy things. So, to catch you up: the craft sale went wonderfully. Josh and I had a lot of fun, and it was a great success. We’re so thankful for the extra money, and I had a blast preparing for it as well. I made some custom boy aprons (car and truck print, super cute!), and just delivered those yesterday. So, a month and a half later, the craft sale is officially behind us.

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In the last few weeks we have seen the new Peanuts movie, The Martian, I finally watched Pitch Perfect (the first one), and we saw Maze Runner the Scorch Trials… which ended up being a pseudo zombie movie which I did NOT appreciate.

We went to see my family in Columbia and got to go to my brother’s musical, Shrek. They are some of my favorite people and we always leave so encouraged.

I threw a baby shower for one of my dear friends, Halley, and finally finished a baby blanket for her sweet girl! The blanket isn’t perfect, but I had so much fun making it and covering that precious family in prayer. They’re actually moving away this week and I am SO sad!
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We had our best friends Phil, Elise, and Joseph over for a weekend. That was such a highlight for me. We got to spend hours playing with Joseph, cooking, and playing board games. I am so incredibly thankful they were able to come see us for a weekend, and it was so much fun to have a little person in our house. 🙂 (Even if he didn’t want to sleep. It’s clearly because he wanted to hang out with Aunt Deborah. I mean CLEARLY.)

Thanksgiving was spent in Virginia Beach with Josh’s family. I made the stuffing and a Pumpkin Cheesecake. I was SO worried about the stuffing, but it was amazing. I did my Black Friday shopping online… stocked up on some sweaters and such. Target, Old Navy and ThredUp have served me well! Our Thanksgiving visit was pretty short, because Aaron had to work until 5 am on Thursday, and had another shift starting at 2 on Saturday. We were so thankful though, because Aaron got to spend the holiday with his family, AND he is employed. He is doing really well, and has been getting a lot of hours.

For those that don’t follow me on Instagram, Josh has planned 8 “super special date nights.” The first was themed my “favorite things.” We got Chickfila and watched The Sound of Music, which we didn’t own so Josh bought it! AND Chickfila’s Peppermint Milkshakes had just come back… which are my favorite. (He is so good at this.)

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The second was a lunch date at Olive Garden!

The third, he took me to see The Sound of Music Broadway play, and we went out to a nice Mediterranean restaurant for dinner. Lobster Ravioli and a musical? YES.

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The fourth, Josh made me dinner and we watched Rudolph. Then, we drove around the neighborhoods around us listening to Christmas music and looking at Christmas lights.

This week, for the fifth date, we are going to a place called Lafayette Village. We’re going to have come crepes, walk around, and see some more Christmas lights!

Next week we are heading to Myrtle Beach for our anniversary trip. I am SO excited. We try to go away twice a year, which has become even more important since we are sharing our house with Aaron. I look forward to these trips… a chance to escape, rest, and have some fun together. We got a SUPER awesome hotel deal, so we are able to stay for 4 nights! There are a few things we’re planning on doing- walking on the beach, seeing the Hunger Games, going to the aquarium, watching movies, and reading.

After the beach, we’re heading to Columbia to spend Christmas with my family. We’re super excited because this is Josh’s first Christmas with the Crutchfields! I think he is most excited about the Christmas Eve book tradition. 😉

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So, that’s what has been going on with us. Lots of travel, lots of social stuff, LOTS of sewing, and we’re ready for some rest… and some Star Wars. I can’t believe I wrote an entire post without saying that WE ARE GOING TO SEE THE NEW MOVIE ON THURSDAY. AHHH!!!!!

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Yet I Will Praise You

I didn’t even realize I was depressed. I was feeling hopeless, I felt worthless, and I couldn’t sleep.
It’s because I’m too stressed. I need to be a better Christian. I need to find hope in Christ… whatever that means.
I sobbed, wailed, wept, because my body felt numb. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t feel anything but pain. My husband held me, as I screamed and let out the pain that I felt so deep inside me. He gave me tissues, he stroked my hair, he said I love you.
I struggled to believe him. Look at me, I am the definition of unlovable.
He wouldn’t let go. He wouldn’t stop telling me that he loved me.

This summer has been full of the most real, intense pain I have ever experienced. I have been lost in darkness. I have prayed for a desire for the light. Maybe you’ve felt this. Maybe you have experienced the power of words… for they hold tremendous power. Words can heal, they can encourage, they can isolate, and they can destroy. I have felt destroyed by words this summer.
Words that were spoken out of another’s pain. Words that, I hope, they wished they could take back. Words that have rung in my ears since the moment they were spoken. Words that have created doubt in my mind.

This summer, I have been reminded of the power of words. Not only hurtful words, but words that can heal.

So many times I have pleaded with God to speak audibly. To say the things to me, that he says in scripture. You know what? We can speak them to each other.
This summer, I experienced healing as the words of God were spoken over me. Blameless. Beloved.

This summer, someone got in the trenches with me. So, I pray that this is what sticks with me… not the words said from hurt and anger, but the words spoken to me in my despair. I pray that I learn how to come alongside those who are hurting. I hope that I have learned something about healing. I hope that I have learned something about humbling myself to ask for help in healing.
My heart hurts. I have burst blood vessels in my eyes from crying. I have had many sleepless nights, awake for hours consumed with anxiety, anguish, and fear. I have been afraid of sleeping because of the dark dreams that awake.

Bear one another’s burdens.
Weep with those who weep.

 

I thought that having a reason for feeling the way I felt would make it easier…. it hasn’t. Instead, I dare to say things have gotten worse since I admitted I’ve been depressed. The difference is I’m not walking by myself anymore. I am recognizing wounds, and I am labeling things for what they are. It hurts. It’s hard to say “these people say they love me, but have hurt me by doing X-Y-Z.”
So, maybe it’s worse… but I also feel like I’m in a better place now, because I’m not alone. I’m in a better place, because I’m being honest. I’m in a better place because I’m not holding everything inside.

For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness, in health.

Most of all, I have been shown such love by my husband. My joy in the midst of sorrow. Thanks for being my sunshine. For making me happy when my skies are perpetually grey.

 

Maybe you’re wondering why I’ve decided to post this. First, this has been my struggle this year and a lot of people have no clue. Second, a lot of people DO know that this has been my struggle, but I have had a hard time expressing it. I feel like this puts my feelings into words. I feel like I finally explained exactly what I wanted to, and my words don’t fall short. Finally, I feel like it could help someone. When you’re in pain, you want to isolate yourself… DON’T. Find people you can trust, that will speak truth into your life. Find someone who will ask the tough questions and challenge you with the truths of scripture. And, most importantly, cultivate friendships with deep roots that won’t be easily swayed when hardship hits.

In every sorrow, Jesus is better.

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Welcome to Real Life

Just in case you thought I had it all together, there were 5 days in a row I was supposed to make soup… and put it off until the next day.
Those breakfasts I made ahead of time and froze? I have forgotten to defrost them. I have overslept. And I have skipped them.
I had a friend over on Monday, and we literally ate leftovers. Welcome to real life.
I keep saying “at least I still have clean underwear.”

This weekend was really fun with our little sisters. We were able to spend a ton of quality time with them playing games, taking them trunk or treating at a church, and trick or treating around the neighborhood. It was so fun to experience those things with them, and to celebrate Grace’s birthday too!

This weekend was a big milestone for Aaron. First, HE GOT A JOB! Second, he drove from Wake Forest to Virginia Beach! It was his first extended trip driving, and despite the construction and darkness, I think he did a good job. It was definitely good practice!!

The last few days have thrown us for a loop. Things haven’t made much sense, and we have received a lot of conflicting messages. Josh and I have steeped ourselves in the Psalms, which our church is going through right now. We have been so encouraged by listening to the sermons online, and meeting with our growth group. I am so thankful for that precious group of people that have surrounded us in our pain this year, lifted us up in prayer, and spoken truth to us.
Hurting people hurt people… that has been so apparent this week. But the Lord restores. I have seen Him work miraculously in my heart and my marriage this Summer. I know that He works all things together for our good, and His glory. I pray His opinion and His favor always matter more to us than what a human thinks, says, and does in their hurt and anger.

Wednesday night we enjoyed an amazing dinner at Olive Garden! Josh got unlimited pasta, and I got stuffed chicken marsala. Oh my word it was amazing. Our growth group has been so encouraging and supportive this year… and dinner last night was actually on them. They blessed our socks off with a giftcard a few weeks ago. We are so thankful for the community God has given us. We love you guys!
After dinner, I worked on some finishing craft sale touches (button holes on the aprons) and we watched a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory. We’re a few seasons behind, so we’re tying to catch up. It was a wonderful, relaxing evening together in the midst of a crazy week. I’m so glad we protect time together.

Also, I just have to mention this. I chopped veggies in my food processor for the first time. I know. Kinda late to that party. I’ve used it for salsa, smoothies, and more… but I finally approached that huge scary blade and it “chopped” my food prep in half. Hehe.

Last night I met a friend for Mexican food after work. It was so fun, and so delicious! The rest of the evening was spent… freaking out. I priced my items, tried to design what my table layout will be at the sale, and finally finished all the button holes on the aprons.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the craft and bake sale! All my projects are done, and I’m setting my table up tonight after work. I have had so much fun preparing for this. Stretching myself to make new things (kid-size ties and hair bows), mass-producing previous successful projects (toddler-size aprons), and setting out to sell leftovers from last year’s sale. One of the rules for the craft sale is “No Comparing.” I’m struggling with that one… but I’m thankful for the projects I was able to spend time on and hopeful I will make some money from them.

Sunday is the baby shower I’m throwing for one of the girls in our growth group! So… after the craft sale tomorrow it will be cupcake decorating/streamer hanging time for me. 🙂

And, finally, the best meme I have ever seen.

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Dear Josh,

I’m glad you’re going to be at the craft sale with me. I am excited but also pretty nervous about it… at least we will have chili and bread waiting for us when we get home! I’m glad we’ll be together all day. It might be a long day, hopefully not full of “I could make this” comments from customers, but I know that you believe in me, and are so excited about selling my crafts. Maybe in December we can have a lazy Saturday again?

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Wants vs. Needs

Before January, I’m not sure I could have pinpointed anything specific that I need to recharge. I knew that big groups of people suck the energy out of me. I knew that I liked doing creative things- painting, crafting. I knew that I enjoyed baking and cooking. I knew that I was naturally more of an introvert than an extrovert, so I needed time apart to re-charge.

What I didn’t realize, is that all my activities had a common denominator: silence.

Before January, I didn’t realize that silence is restorative to me. I need time to be in peace, to process my thoughts, to recharge after being drained by the endless words of others. I didn’t realize how much I value, crave, and need silence… until there was none.

In January, the dynamics of our house drastically changed, and there is a constant presence of noise. I knew there would be an adjustment period, and I told myself it would be ok… I’d get through it. Some days have been better than others. However since our recent move we are now all on the same level… and I’ve been struggling more than before.

I like my job, but if I’m honest, it exhausts me… and not just because it’s work. It exhausts me because I am the face, and voice, of the company all day. I don’t have my own space at work… my desk is right inside the front door, next to a wall of windows that lead into the lobby. I don’t have a door to close when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of words or noise in the main space. The main space is my space. My space is the main space. The hardest part is that my home has felt the same way. The only space that I feel truly alone is the bathroom… and that is just not a great space to do my crafting, my baking, etc. 😉

I have been struggling with this thought since January: how much of my house is supposed to be my house? How much can I ask of the other members of the house? Is it possible for me to re-charge without silence?

To answer that last question, NO. It got to a point where I dreaded going home every night, and desperately looked forward to Monday mornings when I got to go back to work… where there was noise, but not CONSTANT noise.

This may sound trivial. It may sound ridiculous. But it felt like my emotional breath was being sucked out of me. I want my home to be a haven, for my family and for my friends, but it turned into my personal prison.

Since January, I have learned that there are wants, and there are needs for emotional health. I want every dish washed right after it is used. I want all the carpets to be vacuumed, I want all the floors swept, I want people to take their recycling out like they are supposed to. Some of these expectations are reasonable, but they are wants. These things are not fundamental to my survival, health, or well-being. I can ask the members of my house to help me with these things, and I think it is reasonable to ask for assistance with chores… but I have to chose not to be upset if these things are left un-done.

It has taken me since January to distinguish that silence is a need. Some things are considered basic needs… food, water, sleep. It seemed silly to me to include silence on that list… but after ten months, I consider it a need. We have instituted a “quiet hour” in our home from 5:30-6:30 after I get home… and I pray this hour of silence every day meets the emotional need I have. I pray that it increases the quality of life in my house. I pray that it is respected.

What I know for sure is that I didn’t act hastily. It took me ten months to come to this conclusion, and we came to a compromise as a family… because we try to meet each other’s needs. And though it has been hard, and even painful at times, I think it has been beneficial to learn the difference between wants and needs.

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5 Things

5 Things I am loving this week…

  1. The rain and the cold weather. I am loving all the sweaters, leggings, tights, boots, and scarves. I’m sure I’ll be sick of them by February, but right now I am LOVING IT.
  2. My freezer. It is so stocked right now with breakfasts, cupcakes, meat for months worth of recipes (YAY FOR SALES), and even a loaf of pumpkin bread! I wanted to get ahead of the game, and I really do feel ahead right now.
  3. The shoes I got on sale at DSW. These flats are sooo comfortable, and I don’t even feel frumpy wearing them… because they AREN’T frumpy. A lot of the “comfy” shoes I have looked at this past week are super frumpy.
  4. My Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. For those that don’t know, the Hummingbird Bakery is located in London, England. My friends and I stumbled upon it while we were exploring the city just after Christmas. The cupcakes tasted so wonderful I literally cried because it reminded me of home, and all the wonderful things my mom bakes. Josh gave me the cookbook for Christmas or my birthday (they’re so close, I forget) last year. Last night I used the recipes to make cupcakes for my friend’s baby shower. 🙂  Wonderful memories… and wonderful cupcakes!
  5.  This Parmesan tomato basil soup. I have made it many times, but this was the first time I blended it. Definitely a fan! Combined with grilled cheese or the oatmeal bread, it’s a perfect cold weather meal.

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One Step at a Time

Too many nights this week I laid awake… in pain. Last week Josh and I went on two very long walks. I enjoyed being outside, exercising, and not being drenched in sweat. This is my absolute favorite time of year. A few days later, my feet hurt so bad I could barely walk. Each step felt like someone was stabbing me in the foot. After spending WAY too much time on the internet, and scaring myself to death, I realized that there was a glaring obvious reason my feet are in pain: bunions.

I eventually realized that my feet have always had issues, and pretty much always been shaped in a bunion-eque way. On top of that, it is hereditary. Unfortunately my shoes have done me no favors, especially considering I have been wearing one pair of shoes to work every day. Wow. You’d think I would have realized that wasn’t good before I was in crippling pain, but nope. That is how the hunt for comfortable shoes began.

Y’all. It doesn’t make any sense. Shopping is fun until you HAVE to find something very specific. This week has been a pain in the… well, foot. The good news is now I have some shoes with arch support, cushion, and room for my toesies. The other good news is that we had extra money this month, which came exactly when we needed it.

That has been the biggest thing happening in my life this week. It may sound trite or trivial, but it has been a huge deal. I have been in intense pain, frustration, and felt like a money pit. Not saying great things to myself, obviously…

I felt like Superwoman on Saturday, you guys. I did the laundry, made two casseroles for the growth group meal, breakfasts for November, two loaves of bread (Oatmeal), finished a blanket, watched Star Wars episode 2, caught up on my tv shows, vacuumed, fixed a pair of boots, did a lot of shoe shopping, made Josh’s favorite soup, and cleaned our room.

I don’t feel ready for the craft sale at ALL. I know I am a lot more prepared than I feel, but I feel about two months behind. 🙂 This week is quite packed! I have some baking to do tonight, some shower planning, some sewing, and a few short hours. Please pray that I don’t burn out this month, but that I am given the strength, rest, and ability to do everything I need to. And… pray for my self-esteem issues. Being a vendor in a craft sale is SO scary, and I have really struggled with my feet issues and what that means for being able to exercise.

 

Dear Josh,

I am so thankful for the way you meet my needs. Thank you for doing some laundry for me on Friday, to save me some work. Thanks for going shoe shopping with me, because I didn’t want to do it alone. Thanks for giving me some space on Saturday so I could knock out so much of my to-do list! I am so thankful for you, and the ways you take care of me. I love you.

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5 Things

  1. I made a new casserole, Chicken Parmesan… accompanied by pasta, salad, and bread. It was so easy. I made the chicken by throwing it in the crock pot with water for a few hours… shredded it, and threw it in the casserole dish with the other ingredients. The cold weather hit us this weekend, and this was the perfect cold weather meal. We spend yesterday curled up watching movies, and then this meal warmed us from us the inside! You can find the casserole recipe here.
  2. Made some more homemade pizza for a spontaneous game night! You can find the pizza crust recipe here.
  3. Got my first Lilly dress in the mail. 🙂  One of my favorite bloggers was doing a “shop my closet” sale, and I got a Lilly dress from her at a price that fit my budget! You can see the dress here.
  4. Loving the sermon series our church is doing on the Psalms. You can listen to them here.
  5. I did all my Christmas shopping for Josh! Obviously no links, because he reads this thing…

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Bear With Me.

I started my blog a little over a year ago, and I was so proud of it. I have been so proud of it. When I started, I felt I had something to share. I felt I had things to give.

When I started this blog, I felt like I was allowed to be vulnerable. I felt like I was learning so much, and I was enjoying the early days of marriage so much. It was hard, but I was learning.

The past few months, I have felt drained. I have felt stifled. I have felt deep sorrow. I simply don’t feel like I have as much to say anymore.

This blog has strayed from my original intent for many reasons, and many painful things have happened this year. Because I feel like I can’t write about the things that have happened (and what is truly going on with me), every post feels trivial. I don’t want this to be a food blog… that’s not why people used to read. I don’t want this to be a complaining session… that’s not why people used to read. I’m no longer writing from my heart, because my heart is covered in bruises. I’m no longer writing with hope, I’m trying to get through each day. I’m struggling. If I was only struggling with depression, I would write about it. But I’m not just struggling with depression… I’m struggling with so much more.

I have been so grieved in relationships, distant friendships, our housing situation, strain on my marriage, and I don’t know if I can/how to write about it.

Maybe one day I will find my voice again…. but right now I am spending so much time listening to the Lord. I am listening to people trying to build me up and encourage me in scripture. I am trying to find that joy.
I have considered (and am still considering) taking a break from blogging. I desperately want to share what we have been going through, but I am still trying to figure out what that looks like.

Bear with me.

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