Happy birthday, Mom

Today’s my mom’s birthday. Her birthday is exactly three weeks after mine, and we would always celebrate the time in-between by hanging out and shopping the summer sales. Historically, this time was always a time of happiness and joy. We made a great team and partnership: mother and daughter, best friends. The past two birthdays have been hurdles for me. While I still enjoy my birthday and appreciate all the well wishes and joy surrounding it, it’s this time after my birthday leading up to my mom’s birthday that just seems empty now.

While going through the holidays without her is hard, I find her birthday the hardest. I just keep thinking how she was robbed of her life at way too young of an age. Also, a part of me is sad to think she didn’t have a chance to meet her future potential grandchildren in person (looking at you, bro).

On top of everything else, in the past I have felt the transition from July to August to be emotionally draining. I’m actually feeling the strongest I’ve ever felt in my entire life, emotionally and physically. My faith is stable, my mental thoughts are steady. My legs carry me through, helping me achieve my goals during this marathon training season of my life. In addition to running, I’m also working out in other various ways in order to grow my strength throughout my body. I have other fitness-related goals that I’m achieving and surpassing as I continue to push myself further.

Overall, I’m in a good place, but I still fear this time of year. Maybe because my mom isn’t hear to listen to me vent. Or maybe because I try so hard to be independent when God created us to be interdependent. I struggle letting go of the control I think I have on things. I have trouble asking others for help. Feeling vulnerable. I’ve learned to lean on God during the best of times and worst of times. Now I need to learn to lean on others. Humans aren’t perfect, we all have our own issues and struggles. But without each other, we aren’t going to make it very far.

I already know I can’t do everything alone. I have an amazing support group in my family and friends. I also have a great therapist. The cherry on top is that I’ve joined the welcoming community at Free Church that I’ve fallen in love with.  And I started giving back by serving on the host team.

Just because you don’t have a microphone doesn’t mean you don’t have a ministry. Follow me on this journey that I call life. And know that while I’ll always miss my mom, I know she is proud of me and this manifestation of goodness and love in my life.

Aladdin the musical

For my birthday, I saw Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago with Nathen.  I had heard it was amazing, but had a feeling it may be a little corny (you know, Disney corny). I also wasn’t sure how they would portray Abu the monkey and Iago the parrot, which could definitely be distracting if done wrong. But it surpassed my expectations!

 

 

First of all, instead of Abu the monkey, they gave Aladdin three human friends with three different personalities. This made a lot more sense than a talking monkey. And Iago was also a person, basically Jafar’s sidekick. Iago was funny, and so were Aladdin’s friends. They still kept the overall personalities and didn’t soil them. Good move, Disney.

Beyond that, the Genie song “Friend Like Me” was hands-down the best part of the entire musical. You can tell they put a lot into that song production, and it was amazing to watch. Also, the magic carpet ride “A Whole New World” was really well done. The visuals were entrancing. I would highly recommend this musical to everyone, young and old included.

Have you seen Aladdin? Or any other musical recently? Comment below your favorite musical! What should I see next?

This is 31

IMG_20170715_075327

Last year I did an entire This is Thirty series where I looked back at my past and took you through the process of my life pre-marriage and eventually to where I was, or where I thought I was. Looking back over the past year has me seeing double. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come, and I’m only getting started.

It feels like where I was at 30 is a completely different world and different life than where I am now. The crazy part is I thought I was in control of my life and thought I was mature. Thought my mom passing away and my dad starting a new family helped me grow, but little did I know I had no control and my marriage was already falling apart.

Today, as a single and independent woman, I am no longer in that fake-happy world I was stuck in. I’ve grown up and out of the “American dream” and I’ve found my own dreams. I not only was thoughtful, but also methodological in my choices and actions over the past 9 months. Moving to Oak Park wasn’t the easiest choice, but it was a no-brainer for me for several reasons. Reasons relating to my job, my friends, my sense of community, my safety, and my lifestyle. Above all, though, I feel like God called me here. And I listened.

In the middle of the storm of my previous life, I grew quiet and listened to God. He told me several things that still ring true today. He told me “He’s just a person” “I have someone better for you” and “I have something better for you.” I believe that something better was and is Oak Park, Free Church, and the community I’ve found here. I’ve moved on from the person who tried to control me, and find it surprising when people ask me about that old, long ago time and place.

I’m still growing and I’m still maturing. There won’t be a time where I will say I’m mature and I’ve grown, because there is always room to grow more. I learned that even when you think you’re in control, you never really are. And I’m learning to let go of that need to control and to let God. So far, he’s steered me into this new, wonderful life that I would’ve never imagined on my own. And I’m savoring every moment.

What’s in a birthday?

Today is my birthday. Yay? I was born on Bastille day, I’m a cancer, and my stone color is ruby. Ruby red crab. Also a tiger. Tigercrab:

 

Does anyone else find it weird to celebrate your day of birth? Like yay I was born, I did absolutely nothing so celebrate me. If anything, my mom should be celebrated for doing all the real work: pregnancy, labor, giving birth, and the hardest part: raising me. Not that I was a difficult child to raise or anything, but I’m sure I wasn’t easy.

I’m extremely stubborn, and when younger I was extremely quiet and shy. Like the crab, I put up a hard exterior and protect my soft insides from others. From far away, I seemed innocent and kind. My mom would get frustrated at me since I wouldn’t tell her my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I would just cry, or just be extremely mad, but I wouldn’t tell anyone why.

Since my mom is no longer around to celebrate, I have decided to keep my birthday low-key. She isn’t here to be lifted up in glory of raising what I think to be a wonderful Jen (that’s me). My friends have been trying to get me to throw a party or go out for my birthday, but I already made plans to see Aladdin tonight and just hang out/chill with friends and family the rest of the weekend. Sorry not sorry. Ideally, I would be like a crab and hide in a cave by the sea until the storm passes. But I have tailored my weekend to my liking.

Do you celebrate your birthday? Why? What did you do to deserve a celebration? Or am I just weird? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

In lieu of a birthday gift, please donate to my fundraiser to bring clean water to those who need it in Africa by clicking HERE. Thank you!