Ache.

It was ten years ago this summer that I first had that feeling.  That feeling of clarity, as if an Almighty Hand had pulled back the veil to allow me a glimpse of my future.

It was one year ago today that I was to take the first step toward that future I had seen ten summers ago.  A future that, some days, feels even further away now then it did at the tender age of 16.

~~~

I was finally finding peace with being single and childless.  While it was not the future I had seen and for which I had longed, it seemed to be the future I now faced.  And for a moment, that was okay.

I began to envision my entire future that way.  I would get my Master’s and then go on to get my PhD.  I would spend my life doing research, writing books, speaking and traveling the world, changing lives and touching hearts with my insight to the human spirit and psyche.

My life would be full, and I would want for nothing.

But right now, when I look to that future … I ache.

I ache for companionship.  I ache for someone to call my own, someone who will call me his own.  I ache for his arms wrapped around me, filled with a love like no other.  I ache for that one man with whom I can share the magic, mystic, and mundane of everyday life.

I ache for the sound of little feet running down the hallway, accompanied by peals of laughter.  I ache for those late nights, walking like a whisper to their bedroom doors and peaking through the darkness to catch a glimpse of of their breathing as fantastical dreamscapes dance behind their eyelids.  I ache for little hands entwined in mine that fill my heart with a bigger love than I ever imagined possible.

Today, my heart aches like I never knew it could.

…but tomorrow is another day.

My Word for 2013

In December, I took part in a free 30 Day Goal Setting Challenge offered by an up-and-coming life coach.  A friend recommended it, and upon looking at this life coach’s methods and organization tools, I thought it might be fun.  If you know me at all, you know that I love love LOVE new ways to be organized about ANYTHING.  Out and proud Type A personality right here, baby!

So, I gave it a shot.  I wrote about the woman I hoped to be by the time I rang in 2014.  From that vision, I crafted beautiful lists of the ways I hoped to improve in all areas of my life: physically, fiscally, professionally, educationally, spiritually, personally, relationally, aesthetically, emotionally, mentally, and blog-writing-ally.  (Not a word, I know, but I wanted to keep the flow going.)  I developed individual goals within each area and wrote out a plan to achieve each of those goals.  Finally, I broke those plans down into day-by-day to-do lists.  (Did I mention that I’m a little bit Type A?)

We are now almost two months into the new year…and I have all but literally thrown that list out the window.  While I was incredibly motivated during the goal writing process, I found myself incredibly unmotivated when the time came to actually work on said goals.  I mean, when you have eleven areas of your life you are trying to improve, it can be a little overwhelming.  Then, when you add the magnitude of this lifestyle overhaul to the fact that I’m something of an all-or-nothing girl, your only real options are to walk away or fail.  And let’s be honest here, I don’t do failure very well, so my (perceived) only option was to walk away

And that is exactly what I did.

While wallowing in accepting my self-defeat means of failure prevention, I began to see a trend in a few of the blogs I follow.  Women were writing about their “One Word” for 2013.  Not lists of resolutions.  Just one word.  This idea of choosing one word on which to focus for a year…it resonated with me.

No lengthy lists.  No detailed organizational tools.  No spreadsheets.  No dry erase boards.  No rewards programs.

Just

one

word.

Wow.

This got me thinking about the kind of word I might want to focus on this year.  I had spent hours and hours pondering and journaling about the kind of woman I want to be by the time this year came to an end.  What one word could possibly sum up all that this woman was?  What one word would encapsulate the multitude of goals I had created for myself?

It took some time to sift through many words that didn’t feel quite right, but after much prayer and consideration, a word came to me.  And with that word I felt a deep peace in my soul.

Redeemed

All the other words I thought of had been heavily based in action.  Try.  Go.  Do.  Act.  But this word…it doesn’t ask me to go or do anything. Instead, it asks me to remain and be.  Remain in the truth of God’s redemption.  Be redeemed.

I realized that all the goals and resolutions I had created for myself were my way of using perfectionism and control in an attempt to make up for my past.  “If I can just get these parts of my future right, it will atone for the parts of my past that I didn’t get right.”  But that is so far from the truth!  My present actions will not undo my past sins.  I do not need perfection.  I need redemption.

This redemption refutes each lie as satan whispers it in my ear.  “You are trash.”  “You messed up.”  “You aren’t forgivable.”  “No one will ever love you again.”  “Your dreams are ruined.”  “All you had hoped for is gone because of what you have done.”  On one level, I know that these are lies, but I also know it will take time and work before I am fully convinced.

Even after two months of mediating on this word, I still struggle to fully grasp what it means for my life.  It isn’t tangible.  It isn’t something that can be turned into a list of steps to cross off, accomplishments to achieve so I can say that I did it.  I can’t create a 12 step program that will lead me to success.  I can’t approach this process the way I usually approach life.  I can only enter each moment of every day recognizing that I am redeemed.

This is my call to always, always, always remember that He has redeemed me and He continues to redeem me again and again every single day.

He redeems me from my sin and my brokenness.

He redeems me from the future I had planned, for the future HE has planned.

He redeems my past, my present, my future.

Through Him, my sins and my life have been redeemed.

This year, I will live in recognition and acceptance of God’s redemption, because

I

am

REDEEMED.

Yours,
breylee♥

The Russian Adoption Ban

Photo Credit: Nico Paix on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Nico Paix on Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I feel about the recent ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by parents in the United States, and honestly, that has been a little overwhelming.  When I found out that Putin had signed the bill into law, it felt like I was just told that I can’t have children.  My heart is in Russia.  It has been for years.  And now the door from here to there has been bound up by politics.

And there is nothing I can do about it.

When I shared with a friend how I was feeling, he said, “But, you still can have kids.  There are other countries.  There are kids here who need to be adopted.  And you can probably still have your own.”  As selfish as it may sound, that hurt almost as much as the news of the ban itself.  Other countries, domestic adoption, biological children…that has not been my dream or my heart’s deepest desire.

You wouldn’t (or at least you shouldn’t) tell a woman who had just been told by her doctor that she was infertile that “everything will be okay, there’s always adoption and fostering and surrogacy.”  No, you would mourn with her the loss of a dream.

So that is all I am asking of you at this point.  Mourn with me.

And mourn with the hundreds of thousands of Russian orphans who are waiting for their forever families, who now have a that much smaller chance of ever being adopted, because the largest population to adopt them is no longer allowed to.

And pray.

Pray for the Russian people who are speaking out against the ban.  I don’t want to speak generally or ignorantly about the Russian government, but free-speech doesn’t mean the same thing in Russia that it does here.

Pray for the proposed reform of the orphan care system in Russia.  If you know anything about its current state, you know that it really is not the best place for a child to grow up.

Pray for Russian families, that their hearts would be opened to adoption, especially of special-needs children.  There is a rather large stigma against adoption in Russia and that stigma is even larger when it comes to adopting a special-needs child.

And finally, pray for the orphans, in Russia and around the world.

Mournfully yours,
breylee♥

Bucket List Extraordinaire!

Photo Credit: donjd2 on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: donjd2 on Flickr (Creative Commons)

As promised, here is the bucket list I told you all about in this post.  Enjoy!

  1. Be a mother, whether through adoption, birth, or both.  (Did you honestly think my list would start with anything other than this?)
  2. Learn sign language.  (ASL 1: Done.  ASL 2: Starting in two weeks.)
  3. Get another tattoo.  (Yes, another.  Hi, Grandma and Papa!!!  Please don’t be too scandalized.)
  4. Set foot in all 50 states.
  5. Visit ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.’
  6. Walk where Jesus walked.
  7. Change my oil on my own.
  8. Go on a camping adventure with friends.
  9. Become an award-winning blogger.  (Wishful thinking?  Eh, maybe.)
  10. Join community theatre.  (Yes, I spell that with the ‘re.’  Perhaps it’s pretentious, but I really don’t care.)
  11. Blog once a week for an entire year.  (Wishful thinking again?  One would assume so when looking at my track record.)
  12. Bake one Pinterest-inspired dessert per month, for a year.
  13. Cook one Pinterest-inspired dinner per month, for a year.
  14. Make a list of all my faults and work to improve them.
  15. Go on a cruise.
  16. Participate in another ladies book club.
  17. Make another dress.  (Should probably add “get sewing machine fixed” to my to-do list…)
  18. Keep a regular prayer journal.
  19. Eat a vegetarian diet for one month.
  20. Set foot on all seven continents.  (Yeah.  You heard me.  All seven.  Antarctica: Here. I. Come!)
  21. Write another children’s book.
  22. Learn Russian.
  23. Visit Auschwitz and other Holocaust memorial sites.
  24. Attend a Star Trek convention.  Probably in costume.  Probably more than once.
  25. Go on a road trip with no destination in mind.
  26. Get a cat.  (DONE! 9.1.12)

    My little snuggle bear, Roo.

    My little snuggle bear, Roo.

  27. Go Geocaching.  (Treasure hunting for the modern age.  So much fun!)
  28. Read the Bible cover to cover.
  29. Participate in a huge food fight.
  30. Become well versed in cake decorating.
  31. Find a circle of blogging friends and meet them at a blogging conference.  (Any takers?)
  32. Run a fun 5k.  (Color Run, y’all!)
  33. Run a baller 5k.  (Something scary, like Diamonds and Dirt.)
  34. Get out of debt.  (My grad school plans will kind of get in the way of this one…)
  35. Go spellunking again.
  36. Return to Jamaica and visit my friends there.
  37. Go to an airport with packed bags and take the next (affordable) flight.
  38. Meet at least one of my blogging heroes.  (And try not to fangirl like CRAZY.  I’ll probably fail on that part.)
  39. Go snorkeling and conquer my fear of fish.  (I will hunt them like a pro, but I am mortally terrified of swimming with them BECAUSE SOME OF THEM HAVE TEETH AND COULD EAT YOU!!!!  *ahem*  Yes, I know that is an irrational fear.  But seriously, what phobia is rational?)
  40. Make a list of my strengths and grow them.
  41. Vacation at an all-inclusive resort.
  42. Create one Pinterest-inspired craft per month, for a year.
  43. Read all of my books.  (I never plan to actually cross this one off, but trying will be grand!)
  44. Visit Boston, St. Louis, and New Orleans again.
  45. Ride an elephant bareback.  (I will quite honestly weep tears of pure joy if this ever happens.)
  46. Go to the movies alone.  (DONE! 1.18.13)

    Silver Linings Playbook. Excellent film. Loved going to the theater by myself. That might be the only way I ever go to the movies from here on out. I mean, unless you’re buying. :)

  47. Hike in the mountains.
  48. Illustrate my fairytale.  (One that I wrote for a Children’s Lit class in college.)
  49. Visit every major biome.
  50. Marry an amazing man.  (I don’t necessarily have control over getting married (I can’t *make* it happen), but I can control who I marry.  And he is going to be rather awesome.)

What about you?  Any awesome stories of items you’ve crossed off your bucket list?  Any ideas of what I could add to mine?  Hit me up in the comments!

Not-so- “listlessly” yours,
breylee♥

What? No goulash?

(Title brought to you by my friend John.  Confused?  You obviously don’t follow rocks.in.a.jar on Facebook.)

Just over a month ago, I got together with two of my best friends for a stereotypical girl’s night, filled with copious amounts of laughter, junk food, and, well, even more junk food.  We painted our nails, caught up on each other’s lives, talked about boys (well, I talked about boys; both of them are married, so they have been happily excommunicated from the “boy-talk” club), and had a grand time.  It had been months since the three of us had the chance to get together, and it was a much-needed reunion.

Despite the slightly frivolous activities in which we engaged, our get-together had a deeper purpose as well.  But first, a little back story…

Last summer, I came across a blogging event that caught my eye.  I couldn’t tell you the name of this event, but it provided female bloggers a place to come together in community, share their goals and dreams, and then receive advice and encouragement regarding what they shared.  Every year, these women would come together again and again to do the same.  Of course, I was instantly drawn to the idea of this event.  The mutual vulnerability, the development of community with women you had just met, the chance to support and be supported by like-minded women.  Who wouldn’t love that?

Since this wasn’t an event I would likely be able to attend, I thought I might as well try to recreate it myself with two of my very best friends.  Although it took us six months to finally find a day in our busy schedules, we made it happen and it was amazing.

Me, Marissa, and Stacey at the first of many amazing weekends.

When planning our inaugural get-together, Stacey suggested that we each write a bucket list of 50 items to share with each other.  While the idea of a bucket list had crossed my mind before, I had never put much thought or effort into creating one.  But, it’s nothing like the encouragement and accountability of two of your best friends to finally make you suck it up and get it done!**

This bucket list creation occurred shortly after “The Event,” and it was honestly a huge part of my healing process.  Putting together a list of goals, dreams, hopes, and desires for my future reminded me that I actually had a future.  I mean, obviously I had a future, but you don’t really think all that logically when your foundation has been torn out from beneath you and your entire world is crumbling down as a result.  (Melodramatic?  Maybe.  Accurate description of how I felt?  Absolutely.)  The idea I had of my future had been built entirely on the concept of “us,” so when “us” no longer existed, I felt as if my future had been lost as well.  But, writing that list of 50 goals reassured me that, indeed, I do still have a very vibrant future to which I can look forward.

I owe this rediscovery of my future to these girls.  Hey, what are sisters for?  :)

You know, other than people to have crazy dress-up photo-shoot dance parties with? Seriously, I love these girls.

Just in case you were wondering, I’ll be sharing my bucket list with all of you later this week.

Wait?  What!?  Two posts in one week, from the girl who hasn’t written in months? 

Yes.  Two posts.  Maybe more.  Get excited.

But first, I’m wondering if any of you have a bucket list?  How about a group of close friends who can serve as support and encouragement as you work to achieve those goals?  I’d love to hear more in the comments section below.  (Yes, that was a shameless plea for comments.)

Until my next post…

Futuristically yours,
breylee♥

**Kind of like it’s nothing like the constant needling encouragement and accountability of one of your best blogging friends to make you suck it up and finally start posting again.  :)  Thanks, Alex.

Why I Skipped the Candy Aisle…

Yesterday after work, I went to the grocery store.  Milk.  Shampoo.  Bread.  Toothpaste.  It was just a quick trip to grab some generic staples one would find in any home.  I also purchased my weight in canned cat food, a romantic comedy, and some *ahem* feminine hygiene products.  (Shout out to my male readers if you are still with me.)  Slap a bottle of wine, a tub of ice cream, and a bag of chocolates in there and my cart would have practically screamed, “Single girl going home to her cat and a little screen time with Ryan Gosling.”

I mean, ladies, amIright? *swoon*

But I didn’t buy any wine…because I think wine is rather gross.

And I didn’t buy any ice cream…because I basically forgot.

And I didn’t buy any chocolate…because I don’t support child slavery.

*insert sound of record screeching to a halt here*

Say WWWHHHHAAAATTTTT?!?!?

You heard me.  Chocolate and child slavery.  Believe it or not (and I do pray that you’ll believe it) most major chocolate companies source their chocolate from farms on the Ivory Coast of Africa.  Okay, that part is actually easy to believe.  But how about this:

These farms use forced child labor.  Also known as child slavery.

Are those of you I didn’t lose at the mention of tampons still with me?  Good, because this is something everyone needs to hear.

According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, there are approximately 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in Africa.  Many were kidnapped or purchased from their families and are now forced to work all hours of the day in deplorable and dangerous conditions, while being fed little to nothing and beaten if they fail to meet their daily quota.

The cocoa beans their little hands harvest are then processed into the chocolate that makes the candy you may be passing out to other little hands next week.

Little hands that don’t know the sting of a switch or a whip.  Little hands that have never felt the deep pain of true hunger.  Little hands that are tucked safely in to their own bed each night and then rub the sleep out of little eyes when it is time to get up for school the next morning.  Little hands that are held and kissed and loved.  Little hands that experience so many things stolen from the little hands that were used to make their Halloween candy.

Doesn’t look quite so appetizing anymore, does it?

They spend the years of their childhood harvesting the millions of pounds of cocoa beans required to meet the worldwide demand for cheap chocolate.  All so that those cocoa beans are a little cheaper to harvest.  Sure, the savings get passed on to us…but at what cost?

Do you really need your chocolate fix so desperately that you would be willing to enslave a child to provide it for you?  Because that is what happens when you purchase from a company that buys products from slave owners.  You may not be the one carrying the whip, but you are financially supporting the company that purchases from the man who does.

That purchase pays his owner.

Some complain that budgets are tight and fair-trade chocolate is expensive.  How can you be expected to shell out that much extra cash for candy?  Try explaining that to the ten year old boy who farmed the cocoa beans used to make your candy bar.  Explain to him that his childhood, his safety, his comfort, his education, and his life are less important to you than saving a few bucks at the supermarket.

Go on…tell him.

I don’t mean to be Captain Guilt Trip with this post, but this message needs to be heard.

Fortunately, it is being heard, and people are finding ways to make a difference.  I’ve gathered together a few other great blog posts and articles on this topic that I would strongly encourage you to read:

Here, at Rage Against the Minivan, blogger Kristen Howerton shares a bit more information about the chocolate slave trade.  She ends her post with the BBC documentary “The Bitter Truth,” a heart-wrenching exposé on the use of child slavery in the chocolate industry.  If you do nothing else, please take the time to watch this documentary.

Here, at FoodisPower.org, is a great article detailing the appalling conditions children face when taken into the slave trade of the chocolate industry, including a few first hand accounts of former child slaves.  I would encourage you to peruse their website for more information on this and other issues in the food industry.

Here, at Sidewalk Theologian, blogger Jess writes about her experience of learning more about child slavery in the chocolate industry and how we can make small choices that could have a big impact in this area of social justice.

Here is a great article on ways you can still celebrate this chocolate filled holiday without supporting child slavery.

Finally, here is a well researched, comprehensive list of recommended and not recommended chocolate companies, updated October 23, 2012.

I hope you will all take the time to look at the above resources and pass this information on to a few of your friends.  Perhaps this new knowledge will influence your shopping habits as it did mine.

And hopefully in the near future, this issue will no longer be an issue.  But that, my dear readers, is up to us.

Sweetly yours,
breylee♥

Inviting God Into My Closet

When I was a little girl, I loved to build forts.  Toss me a couple of pillows and a handful of blankets and I would recreate the Taj Mahal in my bedroom.  Send me outside to play for any amount of time and you would find me up a tree with my little brother trying to turn the twigs we had gathered into the most epic tree fort your eyes had ever seen. Once, I even tried to talk my dad into letting me have free access to the lumber and building supplies we had in our garage, as I was fully convinced that I could build my own playhouse in the backyard if he would just give me a hammer and a few days off from school.  (Yeah, that one didn’t happen.)

As fun as fort building was, I didn’t always do it for recreational purposes.  Sometimes, building a fort was my way of building walls of protection around myself.  I was an insecure child.  My home life wasn’t perfect.  (It was far from terrible, I promise, but things weren’t always great.)  Sometimes I felt completely overwhelmed by what was going on around me and inside of me; and when the environment I was in did not feel safe, I had to find a way to create an environment that did.

When those moments came, when I found myself feeling sad, angry, or frightened, I would clear out the floor of my closet, set up a little nest of blankets and pillows, bring in a lamp and a book, and read until I fell asleep.

My closet fort was my safe place.  In it, I could hide from the world.  With those doors closed, nothing could hurt me, scare me, or make me feel bad.  The outside world could not touch me.  I was safe.

A few weeks ago, I shared this old coping mechanism with my therapist, Bethany, after she shared an image she had of me, as a little girl, crawling into my closet for a safe place to cry.  We were both a bit blown away by the accuracy of this image.

Later, in a different session, I was sharing with her how unsupportive M had been when it came to my struggle with depression, and how difficult it was for me to so often hear, “It’s all in your head.  I don’t understand why you can’t just get over it.”  (I know M tried.  It just wasn’t something he was fully capable of understanding, so I can’t blame him for his insensitivity.)  

I told Bethany that, in the aftermath of our breakup, I realized how greatly his words and attitude had hurt me, and I knew that the right man would be able to understand what I had been through and show me compassion as I occasionally continue to struggle.  She responded to my revelation with, “You need someone who will crawl into your closet with you.”

Wow.  Yes.  Exactly that.

I need someone who will crawl into my fear, my anger, and my sadness without reproach and without looking back.  I need someone who is willing to hold me while I shake, rage, and cry.  Someone to sit quietly by and simply be with me.  He doesn’t need to solve my problems, he just needs to be there to support me through them.

Honestly, I am still that little girl, curled up and crying on her closet floor.  A cancelled wedding and a broken heart will do that to you.  While I may not have literally crawled into my closet the day I received that phone call, I certainly began to build a figurative closet of protection around my heart.  It had been broken and needed to be guarded, so I did that by closing my heart off to the outside world.

As I was driving to work Wednesday morning, struggling with some thoughts and recollections I thought I had dealt with months ago, something struck me.

I need God in my closet.

While I may not be ready to let anyone else in, I need Him there.  I need God to join me in my fear, in my anger, and in my sadness.  Only He is trustworthy enough to see it all.  Only He is gracious enough to sit with me in silence with no judgment.  Only He is able to be exactly everything I need when the world around me forces me to withdraw into my safe place.

Only He can be trusted to never, ever, ever break my heart.

I need God in my safe place so I can once more trust in Him to be my safe place.

Maybe then I can begin again to open my heart to the rest of the world.

Guardedly yours,
breylee♥

On Niche Blogging and Finding My Voice

I read a lot of mommy blogs.  Seriously.  A. LOT.  But, it makes perfect sense.  A great deal of my friends are mommies who blog.  I love them, I adore their kids, I read their blogs.  I want to be a mommy someday, specifically an adoptive mommy, so it goes without saying that I would read a handful of adoptive mommy blogs as well.  Some may call it obsessive, I call it being prepared ridiculously well in advance.

I read a variety of other types of blogs.  A friend of mine writes a fashion blog.  I read it.  I love the idea of doing tons of DIY projects and crafts, so I read some of those blogs.  I follow a few cooking blogs, because, well, there is a kitchen in my house I someday hope to use for more than pouring a bowl of cereal or making a PB&J.  Many of my friends are involved in some form of ministry, as missionaries, ministers, or seminary students, and I love reading their words of conviction, struggle, and encouragement.

I also read some others blogs that serve absolutely no purpose other than entertainment and wishful thinking. (*cough*webcomicsandweddingblogs*cough*)

But, as I read these blogs, I start to wonder.  Where is the voice that sounds like mine?  Where is my blogging niche?

I’m not a mommy blogger.

Or a fashion blogger.

Or a crafty blogger.

Or a cooking blogger.

Or a Jesus blogger.

Or a wedding blogger.

Or an artistically comical blogger.

I’m not really anything all that similar to any type of blog I follow.  I don’t quite fit in any of those niches.

I’m just a girl with an oft-neglected blog and some lofty aspiration to someday be one (or all) of the above types of blogger, rubbing elbows with the women whose blogs I read at the next big blogging conference.  (BlogHer, I’m looking at you.)

I’m just a girl, single and in her mid/late-twenties (in West Michigan, WHAT?!?!), not sure what she wants to be if when she grows up, straddling the space between entering the adult world and actually feeling like an adult.

I’m just a girl trying to find sure footing in her faith while searching for a sense of purpose, direction, and meaning in life.

Certainly there are other girls like me out there on the blogosphere, whose lives have gone in a very different direction than they had ever imagined.  I wish I could read their stories of feeling unfulfilled, listen to them as they share their longings and desires, and experience with them their struggles and triumphs as they navigate this thing called life.  But until I find those other blogs and can read other women’s stories, I will share my own.

I may not have a niche, but I do have a voice.

So, here it is.  Here I am.  Sorting out my day-to-day musings on this little blog I call home.

Vocally yours,
breylee♥

“The Event” (Or, what my roommates have been calling my recent break-up.)

About a month ago, the relationship I had been in for the past 2+ years ended.  Amicably.  Somewhat mutually.  (He broke up with me, but it was for reasons I had been thinking about as well.)  But it was still not without a great deal of pain.  And grief.  And tears.

Right after the break-up, I was in a daze.  I knew what had happened, but I still could not wrap my head around the conversation I had just finished.  I was sure he would call me back, say “just kidding”, and things would be the same again.  I would be very upset with him for pulling such a cruel prank, but I would forgive him and everything would be okay.  Even as I dropped my groceries on the kitchen floor and told my roommate what had just happened, I could not seem to process the reality of the situation.

She hugged me and I heard her cry a little bit; I honestly thought to myself, “Tears.  Yeah.  You’re supposed to cry when your heart is breaking.  I should probably be crying.  Okay then…why don’t I feel like crying?”

Shortly thereafter, I did feel like crying.  And then I could not stop.  It was as if the floodgates had opened and nothing short of an act of God could close them.  The reality of what had happened was finally setting in.  Our relationship had ended.  The man I had imagined spending the rest of my life with was no longer in my life.  I had just been broken up with by my very best friend.  The plans we had, the trips we would take, the colors we would have at our wedding (did I forget to mention that we had started planning a wedding some time before?); all of it was over.  Completely, irrevocably over.  Even though I knew it was for the best, I could not imagine my life going on without him by my side.

I took the next day off of work, vacillating between tears, confusion, anger, and phone calls.  I called my closest friends to let them know what had happened.  I called my friend who I was to move in with in a few months to let her know that the boy I was moving to be closer to had just broken my heart, and, needless to say, I was no longer moving.

Work the next day was a blessed distraction.  I didn’t much feel like talking to people, but a couple of my work friends came to my desk to see how I was doing.  Their caring helped me make it through the rest of the workweek until it was time for me to head home that weekend, because you are never too old to need your family when you are struggling.  Something about being in the home I grew up in helped to calm the sudden panic and heartache I had been experiencing during that first week.

At the encouragement of my roommate, I also began journaling as a means to process through this experience.  I think that was probably one of the best pieces of advice I received.  Externalizing and analyzing my thoughts and feelings has taught me so much over this last month.

I have learned a lot about grief.  It is not a pretty thing.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance to not arrive on your doorstep each in their own tidy little package.  Rather, they pepper your entire life, ready to rear their ugly heads in absolutely no sensible order at the slightest provocation.  There is no easy “12-Step’ program to overcoming it.  Instead, you must simply take life as it comes to you, one day at a time.

I have learned a great deal about myself, what I want in a relationship, and what I don’t want.  There was so much that was absolutely beautiful and right about the love we had, but there was also so much that was not.  I am now able to look back on our 2+ years together and see more clearly the signs that it should not and would not be a forever love.  There was nothing wrong with him.  There was nothing wrong with me.  But there was something wrong with us.  (I want to be sure that no one gets the wrong idea from any of this.  Yes, I was hurt.  Yes, I am angry at him sometimes.  But he is not a bad person.  Please be clear on that.)

Finally, I have learned so much about the importance of friends, family, and faith when it comes to getting through difficult times.  I could not have made it this far without the amazing support system that has surrounded me during this last month.  Phone calls, emails, and text messages just to say “I’m thinking about you,” “I’m praying for you,” and “I love you” have meant the world to me.

I could not have survived this had it not been for my family.  I have spent more time on the phone with my mom, dad, and brother in the last month than I think I had in the last several months.  They have been willing to just sit and listen as I pour out my feelings completely uncensored.  They have been on the receiving end of my very misdirected anger.  And they have stood by me through all of it.

My friends and family have been there to provide a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to all of my ups and downs, and they have brought joy back into my life.  They have shared with me their experiences with grief, consoled me and reminded me that it will get better, and given me tools to deal with my own grief.

And I absolutely could never have gotten through this without God.  As cheesy as it may sound, He has been my strength during this time of great weakness.  I really don’t know how to explain it without using a ton of platitudes and sounding even more cheesy, so I’ll just leave it at this: In Him, I am learning what it means to really trust. I am learning what it means to be vulnerable. I am learning what it means to be held.

God is good.  Thanks for listening.

Much love,
breylee♥

My heart’s one desire…

I want to adopt.  Oh how desperately do I want to adopt.  My whole life I have wanted to be a mother, but only in recent years (perhaps the last 5 or so) has God moved my heart toward adoption.  Specifically, international adoption.  More specifically, adoption from Russia.  (Goodness knows that may change, but that is where my heart is now.)

My heart breaks for children who live without forever families.  Children who do not know the gentle touch of a mother’s goodnight kiss or the pure joy of play wrestling with daddy on an afternoon at home.  Children who spend their days and nights in an orphanage with dozens of other children and very few staff.  Children who have learned not to trust because their basic needs are not being met by those who are there to protect and care for them.  Children who know how to self-soothe not because they have naturally reached that stage in their development, but because self-soothing is the only kind of relief they have ever known.

I cannot wait for that day when I look into a tiny pair of eyes and just know, from somewhere deep within my soul, that they are my baby.  That, before He even thought the world into existence, God had chosen to give me the privilege of raising that little child.  Regardless of whether our lives intersect while they are an infant or a teenager, God planned for us to become a family.

I am excited, but I am also terrified.  I know that adoption is no easy task.  Years of paperwork, tens of thousands of dollars in legal and travel expenses, endless sleepless nights of worrying if your child will ever come home.  And then once they do…Will they accept you and your spouse as parents?  Will they ever be able to move past their attachment and trust issues so they can rest peacefully knowing that you are there to protect and love them?  Will they continue to suffer the negative effects of their early childhood spent in an orphanage for years after they come home?  Will they be able to handle all the changes that come with being adopted?

Will you be able to handle all the changes that come with adopting?

Will I be able to handle all the changes that come with adopting?

Is this something I am remotely capable of?

Can I even do this?

Can I?

Longingly yours,
breylee♥

[This post is largely inspired by my reading through the archives of an amazing blog Rage Against the Minivan over the last couple of weeks.  I would highly, highly, highly recommend reading her blog.]