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Still here, II. Better late than never…right?

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Found while hiking with Jason on the Greenbelt in Austin. So. Cool.! 

Oh hey, I guess I’ll blog again. It’s been a year.

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. I work at a book store, so that means I am always coming home with new books to read. I’ve decided to focus on the books I already own and actually read them. I’m not really going to provide a huge in-depth summary, but rather a commentary/reflection while I read. So, here’s a blog/book “review”/how this book applies to my life currently.

If you’ve read Lamott/have any book suggestions/have thoughts about what I wrote, please feel free to leave a comment!


Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

I’ve heard wonderful things about Lamott (I feel a little late to this party, but whatever), so I decided to give her a try. I often refer to Goodreads to know the best book I should start with for a new author, and this one was highly suggested. (Check out my Goodreads account here if you’d like to know what I’m reading/friend me/whatever!)

What it is: a memoir/reflection of Anne’s life. Snippets of childhood, adulthood, motherhood. Struggles with addiction, grief from loss of friends and family, moments of clarity about God.


Lamott often turns to prayer in times of need, stress, fear, but also for comfort and in praise. Two significant prayers for her are “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Feeling inspired, I decided to consider what my current “prayer” would be right now. While working at Mercy, Pastor Maggie would often incorporate breath prayer into our daily meditations. I found it relaxing to focus on a certain phrase while inhaling, and then while exhaling, a different but related phrase.

Lately, I’ve been breathing in “I accept” and exhaling “Let go.”

I went to yoga a few weeks ago, and it was specifically a session for grief. I learned about the “ocean breath” and the guttural sound your throat can make while using this practice. In fancy yoga terms, it is called ujjayi. Click here to try it yourself, if you like.

I’ve lost a lot of things close to me the past year, which honestly makes it feel like I have lost bits of who I am. With the flood, the loss of my Granddaddy and my cat, and even coming back from my year of service, I have been mourning who and what I have lost.

With my own simplified Serenity prayer, I’ve found myself able to focus on the moment and how I feel. When my thoughts get overwhelming, when regret and fear and guilt kick in, I have been using this practice to calm and relax and focus on the moment. I can’t change what has happened, but I can certainly pray for God to help me accept this current state of my life and to help grow and move on. Not to rush through grief, but to recognize and experience it.

A common theme that comes up in Anne’s book is that you can’t fix someone’s problems or grief. You have to let someone sit with it because if you don’t, you are doing more harm than good. I am fortunate to live with my sister and brother-in-law, and that they have been with me through the grief. While I know they would love to do anything and everything to fix it, they can’t. But, they have been with me through it all, hearing me out, and reflecting with me in my pain and sadness.

So if I had to give a rating for this book, I’d give it a 5/5. Definitely worth a read, and I read it at a perfect point in my life.

Favorite quotes
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

“All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it… I’m pretty sure that it is only by experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed – which is to say, that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.”

“God isn’t there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with his or her presence.”

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Leaving Home to go Home

Well, my two week break from work has almost come to a close. I’ve been able to rest, adjust back to sleeping in until 8 vs. 5:40AM, spend time with family, and eat all sorts of food. I’m blessed to have spent time with my family and friends. Here are a few pictures from my vacation!

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Christmas Eve at the Harrell’s house. A tradition in our family!

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Jenny and I helped my sister Laura and her husband Jason move into their new house. We also hit up some tourist locations in Waco!

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Playing with my new cat friend, Daisy. Yes, that is a piece of tape stuck to a string, her favorite toy! Also, note the shorts… winter in Texas!

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Then and now with my favorite Merry cat!

During this time, I’ve reflected on what it means for me to be home. As I type this, I am sitting in my living room, the place where I’ve experienced a lot! I’ve been blessed to live in this house my whole life. Memories I’ve had as a child come and go as I pass through this house. The walls, furniture, floors, and the sounds may have changed, but the people who live in this house are still the same. My sisters and I may come and go, but my parents are here, and so is my cat Merry. This is my safe place, my haven. Memories of my grandparents visiting, late night sleepovers, and times of despair and pain are present, but I have grown and changed as I come back to this place.

I was able to recently visit one of my “homes” in Bristol, TN, and I had those same flashback moments as I spent time in a place I had been to almost every summer. I know that one day I won’t be able to come back here to my home in Houston, or even to the one in Bristol, but for the time being, I can soak it all in and enjoy the history of these houses and have new memories with my family.

Even though I am about to leave home for Atlanta tomorrow, in my mind, I am going back “home.” Home to my roommates, my job, my church community. It is the place I’ve been able to call “home” for the past few months. I miss my instruments and my paint chip walls of my room in the Blurple house, and (I can’t believe I would ever say this) I actually miss my early morning bus commute! I miss the endearing qualities of the Blurple house and even though it can be freezing, I still love it. I am ready to get back to experiencing things in community, like having tea with my roommates from the stove kettle, making dinner together, movie nights, and Tuesday community nights.

I am also ready to get back to work and see all of my Mercy friends. Although I experienced quite a few Terrible Thursdays and emotional times at work before I left, I feel rested and ready to be doing meaningful things. I am ready to worship, make coffee and soup, pray, and love my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have found my “homes” to be places where there is love, family, and experiences. Family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood related. I find myself at home here in my Houston house, but I now have a new home in Waco. I have a home in Atlanta with a community of sisters and I have a home at work in community of my Mercy family. Overall, I am grateful that God has blessed me with many places of comfort, many “homes,” and they don’t all have to be in the form of a house or an apartment.

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I am Joy

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For Halloween, the Blurple House has decided to dress up as the emotions from Inside Out. There are five of us and five emotions, so it works out perfectly. There is Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Joy. I happened to be chosen/picked/volunteered to be Joy.

For the past few days, I’ve told several people that I was dressing up as one of the emotions. Every time, they’d say, “Oh, it is so obvious. You’re going to be Joy.” I didn’t understand why, but each time someone guessed correctly, I felt shocked. People think I am joyful? People think I am happy?

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I guess it is so shocking to me because I haven’t felt pure joy in a long time. College was a wonderful experience. It was so worth it. I would have never met some of my closest friends, learned so much about myself and the world around me… but it was also incredibly difficult. Life built around papers, studying, and late nights was not a fulfilling or joyful time for me. Certainly, hanging out with friends and exploring the town were ways I survived anxiety and stress…but four years of college changed me.

Freshman year was a year where I experienced joy. I flourished my first time ever away from my home town, Houston. I loved that Austin was just far enough to where I wouldn’t feel tempted to go home every weekend. It forced me to form friendships and step outside of my comfort zone. I spent so many nights hanging out with friends until the crack of dawn, whether we were eating Kerbey pancakes or playing Smash in the Roberts TV room. I didn’t feel homesick. Sure, I missed my family, but the opportunities present in college were exciting. I was so excited to live life.

Then, my sophomore slump began. I had such an awful year living in a different and less appealing dorm, taking extremely hard Spanish classes, and having very little down time. I felt so drained by class and by the commitments I made to the Wesley. I was spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. I gorged myself on Amy’s mac and cheese from Kins Market. I drank so much tea in hopes that I would feel a little happier. I became so good at sleeping. I also binge watched so much Netflix. I based my time calculating how many minutes I had left to watch another episode. My attachment to TV show characters became unhealthy, and so I would try to stop watching, but it would never work. I didn’t know I had depression, but I certainly was aware, afraid, and unsure how to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing.

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At least it was organic pasta, right?

Things got better. My memories of being numb, checking out of life my sophomore year in Kinsolving are vivid, but the memories of my summer after that disastrous year are also vivid. I went back to staying up late, adventuring with Andres and Rowena, and living life. My heart slowly healed from the loneliness, lack of purpose, and pain. Despite working at a difficult job, God healed me through friends and community. I was able to experience joy and who God made me to be: a happy person!

The past two years have been hard. The pressures of doing the right things to be successful and making the right choices to land a job definitely caused extreme anxiety and stress. I was *suppose* to graduate and find a job and have a sense of something, anything! There is still a giant question mark for my future…but here is the cool thing:

I feel joy again.

Praise the Lord I am no longer in college. There is so much relief to come home and not have to study or do homework. Sunday afternoons are actually peaceful! I no longer have that sense of dread to finish all the work before Monday morning. Having the time to play the guitar and read books in the park is so rewarding and wonderful.

I feel like I am *me* again, and people can recognize joy in me. Even though I go to bed between 9-10:30pm every night, I have so much joy to wake up at 6AM and be at Mercy Church to make the soup, wash dishes, and sing songs about a revolution of love. Yes, there are long and hard days that I want to just throw my hands up in the air and say “nope,” but I go back the next morning with a smile on my face, ready to do whatever needs to be done.

I am grateful for the experience I’ve had in the seasons of pain and lonliness. I am reminded of God’s unwavering love and that He knows me, understands me, and has a great plan for me. I am grateful and so relieved to experience this season of joy and of self-discovery.

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Miss and don’t miss; love and don’t love

Things I miss:

The sound of the bus going by my house. Riding the 7.

The empty sink and lack of dishes.

Everything Marvel, ice cream, and chocolate chip banana bread.

Memories of friends in my Hyde Park house.

Long nights of Catan and Escape.

Burnt orange, everywhere.

Texas. The tower. The capitol.

My 15 minute commute from my house to the capital.

Having tea with family.

Rachael’s office. Discipleship group. Wesley worship.

My family, my cat.

Staying up late and reading a book.

Texas gas prices.

Church family. Youth group.

Mangonadas, elotes, pineapple tamales, and nopales with my other family.

Spicy food.

Late night trips to HEB. Man, do I miss HEB.

Learning in a classroom setting. Questioning.

Things I do not miss:

12 page essays.

Wrist cramps from typing too much.

Being alone in an empty house and knowing no one else is coming home.

Fear of the future.

Thinking this program was a bad idea.

Anxiety about leaving my home for this adventure.

Questioning everything.

Things I love:

Nerdy coworkers. Teamwork.

Seeing people how God sees people.

Playing, making, sharing music.

The smiles of the community. The tears and the heartache. Shared emotions and feelings.

Riding the bus with a companion.

Riding the bus and watching the sun rise.

There’s always someone around at the house.

God’s sense of humor.

Having keys to a church.

Working at a church.

Waking up early. Enjoying the morning.

Feelings of accomplishment when I make it home via MARTA.

The weather. Fall is a thing.

Things I do not love:

Random strangers calling me beautiful. Ugh.

Waiting for the bus to go home at Five Points.

The stares that ask, “Why are you here? You don’t belong here.”

Being so tired by 8:30pm.

The weather. It’s going to be so cold. I’m such a wimp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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