June 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

June (how is June over?) was a little tumultuous. There were several situations, involving change or relationships or something new or all of the above, that were difficult to deal with (especially because they happened all at once!) but grew me so much at the same time. June was busy and involved two mini health crises plus lots of bad daily symptoms, but also some fun stuff and meaningful projects.

The first week of June we were in Mississippi visiting my grandpa. I mostly worked and didn’t feel well, but we also ate a ton of desserts (lol) and got to go sailing on my uncle’s boat (which was SO fun but took many days from which to recover). Back home, I had a couple of voice lessons, went to physical therapy once a week, and had four other doctor’s appointments; I also interviewed seven people for my book.

Fun stuff: My group of friends had a bonfire at Kenna’s one night and dinner at my house another night. Brooke and I had a picnic one day; Kenna came over for dinner twice. My dad and I went to an artisan market and Smoothie King. We had two special dinners, one for Joshua’s 15th birthday and one for Father’s Day. And Andrea and I had a fun day picnicking at Amicalola Falls!

This month I’m…

Reading: All the Flowers in Paris, Sarah Jio. Moon over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool. The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year, K.C. Ireton. Flight Season, Marie Marquardt. The Missing Kennedy, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff. An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, and Reaper at the Gates, Sabaa Tahir. Be Still My Soul: Reflections on Living the Christian Life, Elisabeth Elliott (life-changing). Come Matter Here, Hannah Brencher. Yes No Maybe So, Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed. The Rose Society, Marie Lu. Through the Shadowlands, Julie Rehmeyer. Mananaland, Pam Munoz Ryan. 14 total.

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Listening to: Ben Rector’s Extraordinary Magic album, especially Boxes and Peace. Jordy Searcy, especially Why Can’t We Be Friends? Em Carey’s Chill playlist. Hallelujah and Better Now, Oh Wonder. Lucky, Chelsea Cutler. The Weather, Lawrence. If You Need Me, Julia Michaels. Cold Sweat, Axel Mansoor. Favorite T-Shirt, Jake Scott. Haunted, Saint Claire. Morning Song, Steffany Gretzinger.

Watching: Freedom Writers. Kiara Madisen‘s YouTube. Abbey Sharp‘s YouTube.

Eating and/or cooking: Biscuits. Banana pudding. Shrimp with green beans and roasted sweet potatoes. Apples. Strawberry brownies. So Delicious ice cream bars and cookie dough ice cream. Chicken with roasted russet potatoes and baked zucchini/yellow squash. Watermelon.

Writing: Outside of work, I interviewed seven people for my book and did some other research for the book, too. I also wrote 54 letters (and received 51).

I’m adding two new sections to my monthly wrap-up posts this month–the products I’ve been buying and using (unless otherwise noted, I recommend them all), and the life lessons I’ve been learning. Yes, I’m aware that one is very shallow while the other is not, lol. But here you go!

Buying: This cat tree with two scratching posts (a GREAT purchase, very worth it). This Romwe short-sleeve tie front T-shirt. A new three-a-day pill organizer. The awesomely comfortable pink dress, shown below, from Walmart (can’t find a link for it now). Four shirts and a couple of pieces of jewelry from Shein that I really like. Also, lots of fun birthday gifts that will be revealed next month…

Learning: God just wants me, not the things my body can or can’t do. It’s so important to choose to be a person who stays and builds anyway (creds for this one, and the middle picture below, to Grace Anne). The kingdom of Heaven is found in ordinary tasks and every rhythm of existence is a place in which the Kingdom can come. It’s the hard situations that grow and refine you. Sometimes doing the right thing is a little lonely. Where I am physically weak, He is strong. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. How to dig in for the daily work of growing myself and loving others.

What did you do this month? I think my two new sections are keepers, so tell me–what’s something fun you bought for yourself or someone else in June, and what’s something God taught you?

in all of the change, grace remains

Change seems to be the theme of my life lately and I don’t know how I feel about it. Actually, I take that back–I know exactly how I feel about it. I think I stupidly thought that when I got settled into my apartment a year ago, my life would then be all set and would go on to proceed just like I expected it to, with no deviation from my normal work or my current friends or my favorite hobbies. But life doesn’t really work like that, does it?

And now, after months of very little going on thanks to COVID-19, it seems like all of the aforementioned changes are happening at once. A major shift in our family dynamics and logistics alike; my health still in a bad place with new treatments and new doctors up in the air; trying to figure out how to handle some unexpected curveballs in my schedule in light of my poor health; and just observing all of the things happening in the world at large. Even my brother’s birthday tomorrow is adding to the overwhelm because it’s another thing that’s signaling change and new seasons of life. (He’s going to be FIFTEEN, people!) To top everything off, it’s been a year since I moved into my apartment and here I am looking at floor plans and calculating rent again. Not for anytime terribly soon, and I’m excited about the possibility–but it’s not something I expected to happen, and if and when it does, it’s going to be another big change.

Kenna and I are currently studying through Esther Smith’s new devotional Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith, and it is changing my life. I used to wonder in these exact words whether it was okay to “just live”–meaning, if it was okay to go about normal daily life and not be training for the Olympics or writing a 10-book series or feeding starving children in Africa. (It’s the choleric in me, what can I say.) In some way, each day of Esther’s devotional has reinforced for me that God doesn’t care about the things my body can or can’t do–He just wants me. And that’s so, so freeing. I feel so much less pressure, and I can also see how the Lord has given me outlets for ministry and serving Him that are doable with chronic illness–and, in fact, many of these doors have been opened because of my chronic illness.

Sometimes loss leads to gain–like how losing the things we could do prior to chronic illness can bring us closer to Christ, knowing our salvation is based on His righteousness alone. In one chapter of the devotional, Esther talked about Enoch and how God commended him not for doing any great works but simply for seeking God. God wants our faith, not our works. Physical strength doesn’t matter; fear of God brings Him pleasure. This line in particular is changing my life:

“If all that you ever do, all the days of your earthly life, is to walk with God, then that is a life worth living.”

God does not love me more when I do more. The work God has for me is to believe in the one He has sent (John 6:29). And that is such a relieving and freeing truth, I can practically feel the weight being lifted off of my shoulders. Chronic illness does not change our end mission–which is, in the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, enjoy safe pasture. That’s it. Trust, do, dwell, enjoy.

I don’t really have an eloquent end to this blog post; I just thought I’d share where I am these days. A life update of sorts, I guess. All kinds of changes, big and small, are happening faster than I can wrap my mind around. Most of them are good things–I just need the time and space to process them. But at the same time, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed and out of my depth.

Through these things the Lord has been showing me, however, I feel peace at the same time. All of these aspects of life are changing–but it’s okay, because all I have to do is seek the Lord. I have so much peace from internalizing this message that has been on my heart: If all I ever do is walk with God, that is still a life worth living. I hope you can learn this truth, too.

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I would love to hear in the comments what is going on in your life right now or what God is teaching you!