Second chance love

Special thanks to my former professor and friend, Dr. Teresa Burns Murphy, for sharing this beautiful piece on gratitude, friendship, and love with us today.

At the beginning of 2014, Bethany wrote a beautiful essay identifying still as her word for the new year. When Bethany invited other people to identify their words for 2014, I had a difficult time narrowing mine down to a single choice.

Teresa and Leisa in Carmel the summer after college

Teresa and Leisa in Carmel the summer after college

Finally, I selected friendship. During the course of my life, I have been fortunate to have wonderful friends.  One of those friends is a California girl named Leisa who was my college roommate.  From the day we met, we became friends and have remained friends over the years.  Shortly after Leisa married her high school sweetheart Scott in 2006, I wrote an essay for her titled “Boomerang Hearts” about her wedding and a long-ago memory I had of her relationship with Scott.  This post is an extension of that essay.

Friendship is a gift that yields many happy returns, and I am grateful to call Leisa my friend.

 

Two Valentine Memories

By Teresa Burns Murphy

 

Bethany's Blog, See's Candy Display (2) It happens every year around Valentine’s Day.  I walk past a display of See’s candy, and a memory is sparked of a Valentine’s when I was a college freshman.  My friend Leisa and I both had boyfriends back home, and we decided to make them heart-shaped pillows.  We had lots of fun getting the material, making the pillows, and sending them off so they would reach their respective destinations by Valentine’s Day.  My boyfriend sent me a dozen red roses, but no Valentine’s Day present arrived from Leisa’s boyfriend Scott.

During the days following Valentine’s, Leisa must have checked her campus mailbox a hundred times, returning to the dorm disappointed, but certain that Scott would not have forgotten her.  About a week after Valentine’s Day, Leisa came back to the dorm with a Valentine from Scott.  It was giant heart-shaped box of See’s Candy.  Apparently, the box had gone to the wrong address and was a little beaten up during the detour though the candy inside was unharmed.

Bethany's Blog, Leisa & Scott's Wedding

Leisa and Scott’s wedding

Several years later, just after Valentine’s Day in 2006, on the beach in Carmel, California, Leisa and Scott got married.  As they stood inside the heart-shaped rope on the sand, their smiles illuminated by the sun shining through the puffy white clouds, the turquoise sea foaming in the background, I thought about that long-ago Valentine’s Day.   Like the heart-shaped box of chocolates, Leisa and Scott’s hearts got re-routed to other relationships for a while, and they experienced their own share of less-than-gentle handling. A chance meeting brought them back together, and they discovered the love inside their hearts was still there, resilient and better than ever.

Since then, when those ubiquitous heart-shaped boxes start showing up in stores, I recall those two Valentine memories, and I’m reminded of the gift of second chances.  But most of all, I think of my friend Leisa and smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washed away

On our first day of vacation at Gulf Shores, we decided to hit the beach, take pictures, and cool off. James is always more adventurous than I am, and he jumped into the water and started swimming out into the ocean past the breakers right away. I timidly stood at the shore and slowly moved further out.

He grabbed my hand and told me to follow him past the breakers into calmer water. I didn’t really want to, but I decided to give it a chance, so I followed him. A few minutes passed, and a gigantic wave crashed into me, submerging me for a moment and knocking my very expensive prescription sunglasses off my head.

“Where are your sunglasses?” James asked, frantically looking around in the water.

“Gone,” I said. “That’s several hundred dollars just gone.”

I headed back to shore.

“Why don’t you stay out here? There’s nothing we can do about it. They’re gone. We’ll just get you some new ones,” he said.

“I know there’s nothing I can do about it, but it makes me sick to lose something so expensive. And I don’t feel like swimming when I’m upset. That’s not fun to me,” exclaimed an emotional, water-logged, pregnant wife.

I headed to the beach and laid on my towel, contemplating how to get a copy of my prescription while two states away and get prescription sunglasses made in a timely fashion. James came to join me and comfort me.

“Babe, really it’s okay. It’s just money. And luckily we can afford to replace them, so we will just do that. Let’s go back and take care of it right now,” he said.

So we did. And of course, it all worked out fine. Sure, we had to alter our plans that day and the following day to accommodate my lack of sunglasses and the time it took to make new ones. But we found other fun things to enjoy and used the time to shop and rest together. Everything was fine.

I’m not sure how James maintains such composure most of the time, or how he can almost always see the horizon in spite of the crashing waves in front of him, but I’m grateful he does.

And I’m grateful I lost my sunglasses that day. Maybe every time I put my new sunglasses on, I’ll remember that things are only as big a deal as I let them be.

Manic migraines

Today is my seventh day in a row with a migraine.

I swear its onset is related to our return from our honeymoon to the beach. About four hours from home, the migraine reared its nasty head. Despite medical treatment and an array of other attempts to decrease its severity, it’s decided to stick around, teasing me with a few hours of relief occasionally.  I’ve suffered from migraines since college, but I’ve never had one last for seven days.

I know it’s hormone-related, and even though I feel terrible, I’m still grateful for the hormones because without them, I wouldn’t be pregnant with our precious child. Still, it’s difficult to maintain a positive outlook and pleasant disposition when my head is pounding and aching incessantly.

A few days ago, while reading my devotional book My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I came across a paragraph about our moods.

“There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.”  -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 20

I needed that.

Lying around with a cool rag on my head in a dark, air-conditioned room doesn’t help to improve my migraines, and it certainly doesn’t improve my moods. It doesn’t calm me down; it frustrates me because I lie there thinking of the day wasting away and passing me by. Relaxing? Meditation? Yoga? No, these things do not rid me of my migraines, unfortunately. Do they improve my mood? Try meditating with a real migraine, and you will have the answer :).

So how can I make any changes to my mood if I can’t change my circumstances? If I can’t control or alter my physical condition, and my mood is directly related to my physical condition, how can I improve my mood?

For me, the answer only lies in my relationship with God. I can choose to talk to Him while I’m lying in the cold, dark room and use that time to pray for people who need it most. I can attempt to smile when I’m at work even though I don’t feel like it, sharing a little joy with people who might benefit. I can keep in mind that no one around me causes the pain I’m experiencing, and it’s not fair to take that pain out on them.

And last but not least, I believe it’s important for me to remember to be easy on myself. I don’t have to smile constantly. I don’t have to pretend to feel great when I don’t. And if the laundry sits in a pile for two more days because I’m still suffering from this migraine, life will continue without any major catastrophic consequence.

In the mean time, maybe I’ll start planning our next trip to the beach.

It’s about time!

Photo by Sarah Crowder of Phoopla Photography

For the first time in four years, I’m going on vacation.

Four years is considerably too long for a person to go without taking a real break from real life for a really long time (well, at least for a week). But life happens–at least, my life happened to me, and I found myself pinching pennies, getting divorced, and working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Thankfully, when James and I moved in together, he decided that I’d spent way too long taking care of other people and working myself into a tailspin. When I searched for a job after relocating back to my hometown, he suggested that I look for something that would give me flexibility, a lower level of stress, and bring me some level of happiness.

It took me a while to climb aboard the S.S. Wallace, kick up my heels, and hold onto a tall glass of lemonade (or a nice cold beer) and let go of the ingrained notion that if I weren’t making more and more and more money, I must be doing something wrong. Choosing to make less money–by choosing a job which brought me happiness and plenty of flexibility–proved to be the right decision for me at the time. Later, when I started working part-time instead of full-time, I decided to spend the extra time going back to graduate school.

Now, having just finished my first semester of school and feeling pretty darn proud of myself for pulling excellent grades, I’m heading off to the beach with my new handsome husband to kick up my heels and grab a glass of lemonade (hold the beer. . .  I’m pregnant :).

I couldn’t be more grateful.

P.S. Please forgive the temporary lack of posts while I build sandcastles, fish right along the beach, and consume as much delicious seafood as possible.