Loving the “monsters” in front of us

This is not the first time in human history when things have been confusing, overwhelming, and for many…hopeless.

I’m not about to lay out an explanation of my views, or argue a case and point. What I do want to do is redirect the ones who are feeling like things are no longer clear. I am a HIGHLY emotional person, and I try to view things from a non-biased perspective….impossible sometimes…I know. At the end of the day, however, I find that anything I do or think or say is moot without actually connecting with other people.

Yes, I have beliefs and opinions. Yes, I would like certain things to happen, not happen, and I would love to see certain things highly restricted. But guess what….those things are not as important and seeing the people in front of me, and listening. Loving them. Helping them. Caring for them. My job here is not to press into political schemes, but to encounter others and show them how God intends to love his church. How He longs to heal and forgive. His provision. My job is to do so much more than cast a vote and post links on social media to let people know how wrong they are.

My real job is this…
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40  (ESV, Matthew 22:37-39).

So how does that translate into everyday life? What does it even mean to love someone as myself? What If I DON’T love myself? Not really. Two things are important here: 1.) where do we find our value and self worth? Is is from God? Because if it’s not I think we will find it difficult to love others the way He intended us to. 2.) How can we expect others to love themselves if they do not know the love of God? The standard is DIFFERENT. People who do not ascribe to our beliefs are not expected to act as we would act or think the things we would think about certain issues.

Sure, to some this will seem passive…ignorant…maybe impractical? I’m not here to appeal to the masses or convince anyone of anything, but I will say that we are going nowhere fast (no matter what laws/statutes/restrictions) if we are heading there without trying to connect with one another. The person standing across the political line from you is still human. They are still worthy of love, and contrary to popular social media postings/protest signs/comments….they are not monsters. They are human. Which ever side you are standing on…open your eyes, allow your ears to hear, and let your heart settle into a moment of connection. I think if we do this we can come to more reasonable solutions for our society. And at the very least we won’t hate each other as much, and that’s a HUGE step from where we are right now.

I feel like this thought is pretty incomplete, and I think I could write about this particular subject for days, but I need to fold my laundry too. So, maybe you will get enough from my unfinished ramblings to connect the dots on your own. *fingers crossed*. Also….you are loved.

Let’s do better,
TZ

Past Tense/Present Tense

As I distance myself with things from my past it becomes easier to connect with people, easier to push through moments when I feel extremely triggered, and easier to believe that life is, in fact, good. Then there are other days when my past, in all of its darkness, comes back to me. Like a rush of cold air at the mouth of a cave hits you on a pleasant summer day; It takes my breath away. It reminds me that there are still things that, even though I have acknowledged/dealt with them, can stop my in my tracks. Make me feel like I’m going to vomit. Give me tunnel vision. When this happens it makes me feel powerless. “well, have you tried praying?” or “if Jesus has healed you of those things shouldn’t you be done with them?” or “Just allow Jesus to fill you with His joy”…..all of these things (and more) have been said to my face, and honestly it just pisses me off. Yes, God has done REMARKABLE things in me, and in my life, but abuse, neglect, death….they aren’t “deal with it once and it’s done” kind of things. They hide and creep. Some days, they find their way back to the forefront of my brain, and they are relentless. I wish these days didn’t happen anymore, but today is here, and it’s one of them. So, rather than sit and stay silent I just wanted to say….”Hey…today I’m in a dark place” because just saying that gives today less power.

That is all.

-TZ

A Little’s Enough

My English professor from college once taught us to give daily gratitudes to help redirect our focus in life from a negative narrative to a narrative driven by joy and thankfulness. Dealing with a mental illness can sometimes take over the narrative in my life. It’s hard for me to sit down and make a list of things I am thankful for, but just taking a few moments to do it takes the edge off just enough to keep pushing through. I thought I would make one publicly just as an example. I always say my family, our home, and Jesus (as those are a given). These are things that often go overlooked…

*Chapstick; it soothes my lips and my soul
*A warm shower proceeded by sweatpants and a movie
*Car rides by myself
*Good photography
*A clean kitchen. Can I get an amen for cleared countertops?!
*Long ass walks…the kind that never seem to end…but always feel too short.
*Dried salt water on my skin
*My freckles in the summer
*Tacos. Enough said.
*Carolyn Spaulding’s singing voice
*A good pillow
*An uninterrupted conversation with Daniel
*Catching waves until my body can’t hang anymore. One day I’ll do that again.
*Running. Just the pure act of running.

I’m thankful. I’m Thankful. I’m thankful; even when my mind is spiraling.

Remembering the Tanya of Old

Sometimes, usually while I’m driving or running, I’m reminded of things from my past. Some of these things are welcomed memories, some not so much. Nevertheless they come flooding back to me, and I welcome them every time, like an old friend. Today I was reminded of a time when Daniel and I were dating, when I would INSIST that we attend any open house we saw when we were driving. At first Dan wasn’t so excited about these random drop-ins, but as the years went on he started enjoying them. Sometimes we would pretend we were interested buyers, create a backstory, and ask ridiculous questions that no adult would ever be concerned with. Other times we just waltzed on in and floated around, what was usually, a very large house (if not mansion) in eastern Pennsylvania. Today I was running past an open house and thought about the girl who got excited to parade through homes that were out of her reach, and I honored her by doing so. It was a house that (I’m pretty sure) we will never be able to afford, filled with interested buyers who make way more money that we ever will (prolly). The countertops teased with flecks of gold. The windows allowed light to reside on the walls and floors abundantly, and with pride. Tiles adorned the walls playfully in rooms meant for mundane activities; cooking, washing, eating, being. Every little detail reminded me of the importance of daydreaming. It reminded me of wonder, and play, and beauty. I was happy, for a moment, to be reunited with a younger version of myself in that house. And even though she came with me as I skipped down the newly cladded brick steps, I also felt like I let a small part of her stay to rest in the light that danced through the stained glass window. I sometimes feel sad that parts of me, like this one, don’t get to be “let out” much anymore (you know…kids), but it’s so so sweet when they do make an appearance.

As I drove home I thought about some of the other parts of me that I don’t get to interact with as much anymore. I don’t have as much time to write as I would like this evening, but I would like to write them down so I can be assured that they are left in safe keeping. Just in case.

I used to go to the SPCA just to pet cats and dogs in my free time
Little, itty bitty Tanya, used to lay on the kitchen floor of her dad’s house where the heat ran under the tile, and fall asleep on it while dinner was being made.
I used to play soccer, and I was really good at it. I miss the ball at my feet.
I hated rinsing the saltwater off of my skin after swimming in the ocean.
I was ashamed of how much of a tomboy I was. Painfully so.
I used to bring home animals I would find and try to find homes for them
I used to sing more
I used to take pictures of things that weren’t my children
I used to say “bad words”
I was afraid of getting married
It was easier for me to sit, and be silent, even when things were terrible.
I used to write more
I used to swing dance

I do other things now. I feel different things now, and with greater depth. I miss some of these things, but I’m also so so happy of who I am and how far I’ve come. I hope that in another 10 years I can welcome and honor little pieces of THIS Tanya, but still feel this good about myself.

Try to honor where you have come from, and embrace all of it.

-TZ

The Thrill of Hope

Before I became a Christian the idea that I could escape some of the things from my past seemed like a naive dream inceptioned by fairy tales and Disney movies. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (NIV; John 10:10) and that he did. Over and over and over. Children should not have to know the sting of a stepfather’s fist. They shouldn’t know how to identify what kind of high their mom is experiencing based on certain facial features. I should not have had to attend that same mother’s funeral at 14. My brother and I were robbed of our innocence. The enemy stole our feeling of security. He killed with intention and precision. By the time I was 15 I not only felt the sting of death, but was starting to submit to it…

But there is someone else. “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (NIV; John 10:10).
Christmas is a precarious time for me and my mental state. I’m well aware of my childhood deficiencies and challenges. They creep up around this time of year more so than others. Luckily I am also very aware of what Jesus came to do, and that the season of Christmas is about celebrating the beginning of His life. In the moments when the enemy tries to remind me of the things I have lost, Jesus reminds me of the life I have been given, not only in Him, but my literal life. My husband, my children, provision, a new job that I LOVE, the ability to still run…all of it is because I turned to Him when I was 15 instead of submitting to that voice telling me to end it. The enemy wanted to literally destroy me, and I was fine with it. Jesus said He wants me to have life, and He wants me to have it abundantly. His voice was soft when I first heard it. Different from voices I was used to. He spoke to me kindly and with love and grace. He sought me out and required nothing but faith in Him. He promised to walk with me through all of my days and to never leave me. He knew what I needed to hear. It’s been hard to allow grace to not only heal me of things from my past, but allow it to reshape my current life and future.

All of this is to say…Christmas can be hard, but when I allow myself to think about Jesus and what He came to do my heart feels light. It dances and finds wonder in Christmastime again. I find joy in all of the traditions rather than feeling angry for missing out as a child. I see the lightheartedness of my children and rejoice in knowing that they will look back seeing Christ in these moments instead of abuse, and drugs, and struggle. They will look back and find peace, and joy, and grace in the innermost weavings of their childhood. The burden they carry will be lighter, because mine surely is.

Merry Christmas to all of you. May you find peace, joy, and hope in your heart. You are worthy of it, and it is freely given. It’s thrilling.

I love you, and I see you.

-TZ

Intentionality

Every moment deserves our attention

It can be tiring waking up and giving each day our “all”. Life doesn’t always extend the grace we long for, and the same is true for each small moment. There are times when it’s not only easier to check out, but desirable. We encounter these moments on a daily basis; the conversations with strangers in the midst of our busy day, playing with our children after they just threw a tantrum for 30+ minutes, saying “yes” to going outside even when the rain bullies you to stay in.

There is a term in medicine called “first intention” that (from my understanding as a person with little medical training) means that a wound is being healed via sutures, adhesive, staples, etc. and that the wound has had little tissue loss. Nevertheless it was a wound that needed something INTENTIONALLY done to make sure it healed properly.

It’s interesting, to me, that all of these moments that require intentionality are moments can show us areas within ourselves that are gaping wounds. The efforts that we put in, then, during these moments must be our “first intention”. The efforts are our sutures to close up these wounds that would otherwise fester.

Have you ever tried playing with a toddler who has just thrown a tantrum and then minutes later desires connection from you? Maybe it’s just me, but I find it extremely difficult to gather my emotions (usually anger and frustration), tell them I’m moving forward, and enjoy the next moment with my children. I want to be angry still, because that tantrum literally drove me insane, But you know what? The moment I choose to move forward and allow myself to feel joy and connection again my children see it. They feel it. Not only am I preventing myself from feeling anger and frustration for longer than I need, I am showing my children what it looks like to feel the feelings, own them, and then move forward with strength. It’s hard to choose connection in the midst of that, and it’s hard to be intentional about how you connect moving forward. Without intentionality, though, we miss out on growth and healing.

I have found nothing more beautiful than saying yes to intentionality in the hard moments. I have made friendships that would otherwise be missed out on. I have had amazing experiences and conversations. I have felt pain with people that would otherwise be carrying that burden on their own. I’ve seen bigger smiles on my children’s teary-eyed faces when I play and hug after arguments than when I choose to allow anger to dictate my actions. All of these, and any others that you can think of, ought to be what we are aiming for.

If we choose intentionality every time, then it becomes muscle memory, and the things we needed to be intentional about are no longer areas in our life that need to be addressed (or at least not as often). So, all of this is to say…

When you wake up each morning, think about what needs your attention and give it just that. Decide ahead of time how you want to handle hard moments with your family, or bad weather, or people you encounter. Think hard about it, then be intentional in those moments to strive for those results. This stuff isn’t easy, but healing and growth are not known for their paths of least resistance.

-TZ

When Life Hands You a New Place to Live

In my life I have moved over 20 times.

I have known people who have moved more, and I have known people who have lived in the same house for most of their lives. The biggest take away for me has been, regardless of where life takes you (or doesn’t take you); find connection. Find connection with your neighbors. Find connection with a body of believers. Find connection within your surrounding community. Seek it out, and be intentional. Intentionality is key because there will be days when connection may feel miserable, but sometimes those are the days when it’s most important. For some reason our society has placed virtual connection on a pedestal and we’re losing our ability to connect with people in real life. As a stay at home mom this has been one of the most challenging aspects of my “job”. Never before did I work in a job that kept me so isolated from others. It’s not for lack of trying. I have spent the last three and half years attempting to connect with other moms, church groups, and neighbors. I wouldn’t say my efforts haven’t bore any fruit, but I find the fruit of my labor to be disappointing in quantity. I expected there to be more people. The quality of the people I have been able to connect with has been astounding. The few that have worked at maintaining relationship have shown me what life can look like when people value real connection over convenient friendship.

Moving is a major culprit in making this process more difficult. I find it extremely challenging to, as runners say, “build my base again”, every time we move. Building your base, as a runner, means to change the habits of not only your daily life but your body’s habits (how it burns fat, how it utilizes oxygen, etc.). It allows you a “base” to build your training on. The wider the base, the greater your peak. When we move, I have to re-build my “base” and that, I feel, has impacted my social life. I know this won’t be our last move, and I’m not necessarily upset about that, but I do look forward to the day that I can sit, and know, this is my place….these are my people. For now, I treat each place as if it is just that, but it hurts when we leave. It’s so hard and takes so much out of me (as an introvert and a mom who already feels spread thin), but it’s so worth it when I finally find that connection. Right now I feel like I’m in the base building phase of this new place, and I’m tired. I miss having my neighbor from Palmyra who was there through it all, and I for her.

Mamas reading this will understand what I am talking about (and others too, I’m sure), but what I would like to really say, after rambling through these thoughts is this…

Take the time to connect.
It’s hard, I know.
Be ready to show grace.
Be ready to empathize.
Be kind.
Open yourself up, and allow them to see you.
The real you.
You are worth it.
They are worth it.
The connection, though painful at times…
Is worth it.
Even if life keeps giving you new places to live.

At least, that’s what I’ve learned.


Be Seen,

TZ

Living in the Tension

It’s obviously been a minute since my last post. Life has been busy, full, and surprising over the last two years.
In list-form summary….

*We welcomed our daughter, Amelia Noelle Ziegler, into our family (we call her Millie)
*We moved to Bentonville, Arkansas
*A global pandemic (COVID-19) really messed a bunch of stuff up (in case you didn’t know)
*Walt turned 3 (he’s currently 3.5 years old)
*Amelia turned 1 (she’s currently 1.5 years old)
*We re-homed one of our dogs because our yard in Arkansas was way too small for her =(
*I started running again, and am crushing it!
*Dan is working in a new position within Hershey, and doing amazing

It looks like a small list, but it was a pretty wild ride working our way through it all.

Now, we are settled in Bentonville making friends, raising our kiddos, and being intentional about the time we have in this life.

One thing I have gathered (after a recent trip to the northeast to visit family) is that my time is precious and the relationship I have with my children is even more. I don’t get a second go at this. I don’t get to pause, rewind, or move forward at a slower pace. I know this is not new information and it may seem a bit derivative, but it’s weighing heavy on my heart, and from my experience that means it’s worth sharing.

I want to write more from here on out, because I want to look back on these days and be able to uncover the things I may have forgotten, relive the days that have settled under dust, and show my children the beautiful process of growing up.

So, Walt, Millie, and any other offspring that could come along….
I hope you read these words and understand that the days were muddled and quick. They rushed us along and were ruthless in taking time. Despite that, we found joy in warm rainy days, bugs under rocks, and wandering. We found love in sitting with other people, hugging one another, and tending to small and large wounds. We found liberty in sacrificing time, things, and money. Above all of this, we saw God living amongst us in the hardships, the “best of times”, and in childhood prayers. I hope you look back in your memories and in my words and know that when all is said and done, “you are so so loved”.

While these days continue to prove me wrong and teach me knew things, I hope that these posts remind you of your strengths, that you are not alone, and that even in the mundane you can find pieces of the wonderful.

Blessings,
TZ

Postpartum Depression and All of Its Glory

So, I’m going to be real here for a bit. I LOVE being a mom. I would do it all again, and again, and again. He is the best thing I have done in my life…but, man, postpartum depression is a B word. I have never quite felt the love, anger, joy, despair, excitement, completeness, and emptiness that I have felt after welcoming Walt into the world. I spend everyday watching him grow and learn. I spend every day learning how to love this tiny human better. I spend every day missing the interaction I would get as a student and employee. I think to myself “how am I going to make it through?…How am I going to fill the day?” and the answers are always the same; we can go to the library, we can have a playdate, go for a walk, go swimming, or make a mess of something (usually snow, jello, whipped cream, etc.). Eating kills about 20 minutes. Naps (if they’re good) can give me at least 30 minutes to pee, eat, fold laundry, let the dogs out, and maybe sit for a few seconds. My brain is literally mush. I swear I looked at the mashed potatoes we ate for dinner and felt a strong kinship with them. I cry at least twice a day. I      space      out    so    much.  I feel nothing sometimes. Then again, sometimes I feel everything. All of it. It all comes rushing over me, and it’s overwhelming. It takes my breath away.
I know it will get better one day. I know hormones are a part of all of this nonsense. I know that being a mom is still so new, and it takes time to catch up. I am okay. Don’t worry (for those of you who may be). I have great support structures. I just wanted to see my thoughts become words. I wanted to remind my future self of how hard this was, and I know that future version will think to herself “TOTALLY WORTH IT”.

❤ TZ

Digging Deeper

I have done a lot of thinking this year about identity. I now hold two titles (Wife and Mother) that society recognizes, and while I a completely honored to hold these titles I have been questioning what my real identity is rooted in, where it comes from. This will not be a post that highlights some epiphany I’ve come across, unfortunately. I just wanted to get some thoughts down. Maybe in publishing this I will be blessed by your prayers and/or words of encouragement. Obviously, for those of you who are Christian and reading this, my identity comes from Christ. That’s easy to say, and most of us proclaim it on a regular basis, but what the heck does that even mean. What does it mean that my identity is in Christ when my defiant toddler brings out, what feels like dormant demons, from deep down within me? What does it mean to have my identity reside in Christ when my husband is trying to be, literally the perfect gentleman, and all I want to do is yell at him (I have problems, don’t judge me). This year has forced me to dig deeper. I cannot rely on simply eating well, exercising, sleeping enough (because Lord knows that does not happen), or relying on friends (because I am lacking in this area currently). I have to reevaluate the area of my life I have neglected…prayer. Ugh. Why is it so hard to do this regularly?

Maybe none of you have this issue. Maybe it’s just me. If so, please enlighten me. I must also say that I have had to up how frequently I read my Bible by almost twofold. Prayer though…that’s where I get tripped up everytime. So, right now I am working on that. In terms of identity, I am proud to wear the hats of Wife and Mother, but I want to hear what God would say about my identity in Him. I’m hoping He wants to spill the beans sometime soon =)

Thanks for reading the ramblings of a confused woman.

❤ TZ