It was one of our previous Saturdays spent in the walls of Hopkins. I placed my fork down and put my napkin in my lap as I leaned back in the hospital recliner and away from our current dining room table -Danny’s hospital room tray. Letting out a big sigh and a “that was great”, I looked up to see Danny just staring at me wild eyed as if I had just said “there is a bug in my food” and shoved the plate away. “What?” I said in that crazy defensive wife tone – seeing he had caught me off guard, he said gently “What’s going on? Are you alright?” I looked back confused, since I was actually feeling pretty great. This was one of the first tasty meals we had enjoyed in this place and much to both of our surprise, Danny seemed to keep most of it down (yes, through this season we eat with a bucket for catching vomit just like other folks have a water pitcher – this esphoagus wrap is no joke), so I was actually pretty content. Which in the hospital you tend to both notice and appreciate more, since it can be rare. Dan continued, “I am just confused- this is like our third meal you have not finished and its one I was thinking you would really like”. The thing is, I did really like it – in fact it was great, I was just content and I said as much. Danny’s confusion did not seem to clear and I asked if he wanted to learn what I meant…. and so my return to blogging is to also share with those of you who might be curious too what it means to live in abundance.
It has to start back with my word for 2019: HOPE. If you have seen any of those posts you have learned right along with me that hope isn’t just wishing upon a star, in fact it means “living in expectant joy” – you actually believe good and blessings are possible and coming. This concept can be a challenge, especially as our 2019 has been full of unexpected non-joyful moments. So while I was learning the true definition, I was also realizing that to produce that kind of pure joy – I needed to be surrounding myself with things that helped cultivate it. These have included: increasing my quiet and prayer time to build strength in faith, taking care of my physical and mental well being so my natural state feels good, and letting go of worry. I am a positive person who does look at the glass as half full…. but I do worry what is going to come and knock it down. And that is not living in joyful expectation at all. The other two I had really started to work hard on in 2018 and the habits had started to stick, the worry one though had found itself a whole host of new things to feast on: Dan’s health, my new job, and our plans we have chosen to continue – even when life getting fuller doesn’t seem smart all the time. This meant I had to attack worry fast and hard so I could start leaving space for hope.
To beat something I have come to appreciate that I can’t sweep it under the rug or just push past, in fact I do better to understand it. So I had to look at worry, why it leads to fears and all the ways I tend towards worry that are disguised as good habits. If you know me then you know I am an over packer, over-orderer, over apologizer, over-worrier…. because I want to have enough, be enough, and give enough. And the worry will get to me by saying all those things are impossible. I had comforted myself with the idea that being prepared is a good thing, being cautious is important, striving for perfection is admirable. But I was letting those goals be so present in my life – they turned into the weaknesses that also haunt me. My goal for 2019 was to live in HOPE and I had to stop thinking life was so limited. I had to always be more, bring more, eat more, buy more, do more….. because there was not enough of XYZ. If you flip that on its head though, and picture life and yourself and your circumstances as full of enough – then the chance for worry almost disappears. (Seriously, try it…… when packing for the hospital if I forgot something, chances are I could get it, find it, live with out it…. so why was packing always so overwhelming???? It was these little awe producing moments that were awesome)
Now that I understand the importance of cultivating hope by also living in the belief of abundance it was time to put it into practice. Anytime I worried or wanted to do extra, I literally stopped and took 2 minutes to address specially why. Then to undress how that is the wrong way to think or that is a reasonable thought process. Yes, there are situations that worry makes sense – Danny weighing under 120Lbs and not getting food in is a valid reason for concern. Losing sleep over it or requiring I eat that extra snack because life is hard right now and I deserve it, are not ways that are going to help. So I embraced the worry, figured out if it was valid, gave it a few minutes to say “that is fair I am distracted” or “get over it Jackie and give it time”, and then put the worry away (As many times as it took). Thoughts are a choice and I had to start choosing hope and abundance. After some true practicing this mindfulness has become much more common and it found its way into my meals… my packing… my ability to time manage. I stopped adding in that one more … bite, outfit, thing to do and started accepting just the right amount. By learning about it… thinking it… and actually doing it as often as I could, it started to work. It was hard and I had to separate myself from things that did not encourage it like my social media, certain relationships, and lengthy conversations over circumstances I could not control. But it worked and I am so grateful for this lesson in such a crazy season so I was sure to learn how to really use it.
Living in abundance is truly a way of life and one I suspect I will spend the rest of my life practicing – because perfection ain’t possible. But it has relieved the stress, helped my health, made me feel confident and content, and the feeling of hope that I have so longed for seems to have found a place to be in our world. So today, my first post back in quite some time, I wanted to share with you what I have come to understand about living abundantly and what that can mean for your world. My hope is to help begin to address why a break to focus and get through this season was so important. It is our job to cultivate what matters and is important in our lives and I want more of that for my household and wish that for all of you. We will certainly be sharing an update on Danny’s health and other life happenings as I return to my corner of the internet, but in the meantime I wish you all a life laced in abundance and a beautiful start to this glorious spring and Easter season!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!