Common Sense

Livin' the dream with hakuna matata!


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Joy

“Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.”

~ Wess Stafford

New Year’s resolutions hold very little substance for me, however I always seem to find myself joining the hoards of people making them. As I was thinking about last year and the things I made progress in, and mostly the things I fell short in I found myself thinking that grace seemed to be the theme of 2017.

Let me explain.

Last year was definitely the most difficult one of my life, I found myself stressed by the weight of trying to decide on my future, difficult relationships, and new changes in jobs and education. There were very few mornings when I didn’t wake up and immediately feel guilt or anxiety over something that I had been thinking about. The tendency to overthink and indulge in emotions grew to an unhealthy level and I found myself drowning as a consequence.

Guilt is something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, and even now I often wake up in the morning already wrestling with the feelings of shame and sometimes disgust. Most of the time, I would ignore it and try to think about something else, however it always seemed to be there. Now, let me clarify. I haven’t murdered anyone. I’m not running around at night, vandalizing homes or hanging out with boys of ill repute. That said, I would feel guilty for basically everything else. For not having my devotions, for being deceitful or lying about something, for things I had done years ago, but mostly for feeling like I had somehow disappointed my parents or family. I found myself exhausted by my self-imposed shame, but along with that shame came the constant feeling of anxiety. Anxiety is not something that I’ve always dealt with, but instead has been growing in force in recent years, and a lot of that anxiety spawned out of the guilt I previously mentioned.

I remember a lot of nights trying to get assignments done, but instead finding myself crying about some shame or worry I couldn’t seem to shake. I let myself wallow in a lot of unnecessary emotions, and then felt guilty because I knew that I shouldn’t. These feelings would be followed by anxiety because I didn’t feel like I was making any progress. I found myself in that highly charged emotional situation often, and it frustrated me greatly. I came to a breaking point sometime last spring, I couldn’t handle the freaking guilt and anxiety anymore.

Guilt seems to be a trend in this homeschooled, conservative-Christian community, and for what reason I’m not sure. I suppose that with any tightly knit community there will be a greater pressure to make sure that you’re on the straight and narrow, however I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think a large part of why I was struggling so much was because for my whole life when I had done something bad or something that went against Scripture I would need to go to my parents and confess that. However, now I was in a different situation. It was time that I started to deal with those things myself. It’s a, for lack of a better word, awkward time of transition. That transition being that I had to change from a moral code dependent on my parents and their rules, to one dependent on my personal beliefs about the Scriptures. Obviously because I’m still living at home, I need to adhere to whatever rules my parents give me, but it’s time for me to decide where draw the line between right and wrong. Not that I’ve been a will-less waif my whole life, but knowing where I drew that line wasn’t as needed when I was a kid.

That breaking point that I previously mentioned was one that I arrived at gradually. It was obvious that I needed to make a change, so I slowly came to a couple realizations:

  • The first of those realizations was that shame and anxiety are not given by God, rather they are agents used to eat away at joy and contentment. (Romans 8:21; Luke 12:22; Phil. 4:6)
  • Second, it should be a practice of all Christians, including myself, to pull from the freakin’ ever-flowing avalanche of God’s grace, and pour that upon yourself when you become filled with feelings and ideas that are not of God, like shame and anxiety.

Coming to those two realizations lifted a great deal of the burden from me, and placed it on the only Person who could possibly carry it. Grace is not an invitation to remove all responsibility for your actions, but rather a source of forgiveness and peace when you repent of the actions that are not of Christ.

Ok. Since that horse has been beat to death, let me tell you what my resolution for this year is…

After wading through the mire of last year’s emotions, I felt devoid of a crucial characteristic of Christians:

Joy 

For the purpose of understanding it for myself, I feel as though I should define what I mean as Joy.

Joy: The purposeful striving to rid oneself of shame and anxiety, and replace those feelings with contentment, hope, and faithfulness. To be the tangible example of God’s grace and glory. 

Joy is literally my middle name, yet I rarely find myself filled with it. Starting this year I want to strive to be more joyful, to make the conscious decision to respond with joy, and to be a obvious example of how God can work in the lives of anyone.

I don’t appreciate the trend among the culture today of letting yourself feel what you feel and following your heart. Frankly, I think it’s a bunch of bullcrap (sorry mom). Jeremiah 17:9 says that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick,” so why are we trying to follow it…?

Wallowing in your own feelings, whatever they may be, rids yourself of Joy and places your own desires at the forefront of your mind, and we’ve been called to do neither of those things.

I hope I haven’t gone down the melodramatic (possibly passive aggressive) teen girl blogger trend, and if I have, well…..oops. 😀 I do appreciate your taking the time to read this emotional rollercoaster, and I hope that God can transform my lack of humility and longwinded ramblings to something that gives Him glory.

So here’s to a year of purposeful joy, and acceptance of grace.

~Susanna

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In Limbo

View More: http://justrylie.pass.us/biltmore

“Wait (v): Remain, expecting something.”

This is my senior year, the year growing up that I pinpointed as being the end of my childhood and final stop before leaving my home forever.

I’m not so sure why I thought that once I was handed that diploma that my life would be flipped completely and I would find myself in some big city, pursuing some grand dream. I just always did.

For the last 11 years of my life I’ve felt like I’ve always been waiting for something, the day I could take my training wheels off, the day I was old enough to go to sleepovers, get my license, take a theater class, and now…finish high school.

But I find myself in a place now that I can’t honestly say I like.

I’m still waiting, but this time it’s for something I can’t articulate.

Yes, I want to finish high school, but then what?

I’m getting the “What are you gonna do with your life?” question regularly and I have no answer to it. What am I supposed to say,”After high school I’m going to community college”?

Lame.

Contentment has always been difficult for me and I believe I’ve mentioned that on here before. Stuck is the word that keeps coming to mind and sometimes it seems like contentment and being stuck come hand in hand.

I can’t finish high school today and I can’t go to college tomorrow. I can’t pack up my room and move away next week. I can’t grow up today. I can’t move on to the next step in my life because I have to wait.

It feels like I’m pushing up against this wall, one that I can’t climb over or go around…I just have to wait for it to fall down.

A lot of days I wake up with this sick feeling, one that doesn’t have anything to do with the 37,000 Mike n Ike’s I ate the night before. It’s this feeling of being in limbo. I’m trying to pray and ask God for clarity and contentment, but so far He’s chosen not to give it to me. That’s ok! I know He will someday…but I’m learning more and more that His will is often revealed in hindsight.

So I just need to wait.

While I feel like I’m ready for the next step, whatever step that might be, sometimes I think…..um. no. you are not. I question whether I’m mature enough….have I grown up enough during the last few years to even be ready for what’s next? Maybe God hasn’t opened any doors because I need to develop some ability or character quality more fully. But which one? All of them?

Frankly, I feel like I’m going out of my mind.

But if you think you’re insane doesn’t that mean you’re not insane?

Or if you think you’re insane when you really are insane doesn’t that just mean that you’ve broken the fourth wall?

Wait, what is the fourth wall?

Is it broken?

…………………………………………………………………………………I need a hobby.

As the youngest, I’ve always felt like I was behind. Like, I need to be at this certain place in my life because that’s where Hannah is or I need to have that particular level of maturity because that’s how Jesse is. But I often forget, that’s not where I am. God hasn’t called me on the same path that my siblings are on. My life is going to look at lot different from theirs.

brandy-melville-usa

I need to be content.

I need to stop putting so much stock in my feelings and just do school, work, and eat mike n ikes. 😀

God will show me where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing.

I just have to wait.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Thank you for listening to my thoughts, did any of them make sense? Probably not.

This blog is basically my journal so I’m sorry if you got lost in the airing out of my mind….or what’s left of it.

Have a very happy halloween, and don’t go into the woods with any clowns.

~Susanna


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Living Fully, Genuinely, and in the Present.

 

“But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples. ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say to every group of Christian friends, ‘Ye have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.’ The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

~ C. S Lewis, The Four Loves

The Tribe

These are some of the people that have truly made an impact in my life this past year. I’ve never been one to be very close to anyone outside of my siblings. While I’ve always loved my friends and enjoyed being with them…I’ve honestly never needed them. That sounds terrible, right? Well, it’s just that when you have 6 older siblings, you don’t really have the time or energy to put into many relationships outside of those 6. At least I didn’t…until recently.

I expected growing up to be this grand adventure, full of new things and exciting opportunities…And it is! But I’ve also found myself saying goodbye a lot more than I anticipated. Being the youngest in a large family has it’s benefits! In fact, it’s been a pretty stress-free life. 🙂 There is one thing that has been difficult however, and that’s watching all of my older siblings and best friends move on and move out. In August I’ll be the last of the Fox kids living at home. I’ve always known that that was coming and it used to scare me because I thought that at that point I’d be alone. This past year however, God has brought those in the picture above and more into my life to replace those that He’s taking out. These friends don’t share the same blood as me, but their hearts belong to same One that mine does.

The Very Best

Friendships aren’t easy. Loving people unconditionally is inconvenient and sometimes a real pain in the butt. It’s hard not to give up on someone or to not write them off as a waste of time. There are times when it’s really easy to tear someone apart behind their back or to their face…but that doesn’t mean that you should. I’m not always a good friend, in fact, most of the time I’m a pretty terrible one….But thankfully God has placed some really patience, kind, and stubborn people in my life. People that have invested in me far more than I could ever in return.

I’ve learned this past year that it’s ok to open your heart to those outside of your family. That being vulnerable, while terrifying, is necessary to building a solid relationship. I’ve learned that people are quick to forgive if you simply ask for their undeserved forgiveness.

Jess and I

I’ve learned that everyone comes from different backgrounds, they each have different stories and standards, and each person views the world in a very different light. But just because someone is different from yourself doesn’t mean that they can’t invest in your life in ways you’d never expect. Being friends with someone doesn’t mean that you’re going to agree on everything…it just means that you hear their beliefs and listen to their hearts. That doesn’t mean that you have to believe everything that they do is right, or that you have to compromise your standards in order to be with them.

Does that make sense?

I guess what I’m trying to say is to look for the beauty in those around you…and if what’s inside of them is more beautiful than ugly, then those are the people that you should cultivate a friendship with.

Mama

Friendships are supposed to last through the good and bad, and honesty is one of the most vital parts to sustaining that friendship. There have been times when I’ve called some of these gems, crying about something that was bothering me or yelling/screaming because I’d just found out some fantastic news! (happy = loud for me…sorraay. :D) I think I’ve found that friendship is complicated, difficult, and so very worth it. When we’re eating popsicles in the Target parking lot, or having a paint war on a summer night, or driving in the country with the windows down…those are the moments when I think I feel most alive. Those moments when we’re excited about being young and being together, those are the ones that I think I’ll always remember. Our childhoods are short and I’m grateful for that..Because I think if they were longer than we wouldn’t appreciate how important it is to enjoy each day.

Being friends doesn’t mean that we’ll always be together, I know some of you will move away this next year…and while I’m dreading more goodbyes, know this: just because you’re moving away doesn’t mean that we won’t be friends anymore. It just means that the times between games of truth or dare may be a bit longer. 😀

So, while we’re young and because it’s summer, let’s make the most of the time we’ve been given…because it’s a precious gift, and it’ll be gone before we know it.

IMG_0368

Here’s to making each moment count, and to doubling Bernie’s milage this summer. 😀

~Susanna (Seuss, Susu, Robin, Karen, Stitch, SueQ, Doc. Que, Nudder Budder, Tink, Hops, and Abilene)


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Called to Leave

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~Mark Twain

 

I know I don’t write often, but this past year has been a little crazy. I do want to share a couple things with you though….

Nugget

When I was a lil babe I decided that I wanted to live in mom and dad’s house for forever and my heart’s desire was for all my siblings to get married and build their houses in our backyard.

Then I realized that the term for that type of community was, “cult.”

I’m not sure when God drastically changed my mind, but somewhere along the way I began to feel that my home was temporary…that eventually I would leave.

I don’t really know how to explain this so excuse me if I ramble.

Burlington is a beautiful, friendly town….Full of kind and generous people. But it doesn’t feel like home.

The people that I’m surrounded by are dear to my heart, however there’s an emptiness inside me that this place can’t fill.

Malitta

I read about places in Europe, Asia, and Africa and I want to be there. I want to see the great monuments of this earth, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, Big Ben, the Himalaya’s, and the Mediterranean. There’s a…..I guess the right term would be a yearning in my heart to travel and see the earth. There are times when I get so frustrated with the sameness of a small town like Burlington. Sometimes I feel like because the town never changes that the people will also never change. They’ll tell the same stories, have the same problems and die the same way generation after generation. They won’t move further than the county line and they’ll acquire the same level of education that their family before them attained. I know how cynical this sounds and that’s truly not what I’m aiming for…it’s just that I feel so stuck.

Stairway

On the flip side of this is the fact that yes, Burlington will never change. It will always be the same steady place, the place that you can always count on to remain the same. In a way, that’s beautiful.

I fully realize that God has placed me in this specific town for a purpose and I don’t want to undermine his intentions for this time in my life, but the desire of my heart is to someday leave.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

image-1

For me at least, I think that to stay in my hometown for the rest of my life would suffocate me. I know how dramatic that sounds, but I don’t think that all people were meant to stay in the place that they were born. God calls us each to very different paths and the one I believe he would have for my life is one that may not be understood or encouraged by all. To stay here would be sentencing myself to a life of settling, of being comfortable and never pushing myself past where I know I can go.

To be perfectly honest, this scares me. What if when I am asked to do something or go somewhere, I’m not ready? What if where I’m called to go is dangerous? What if I misinterpret where God wants me to be? These are all questions that I think about constantly, but the last question is one that scares me the most.

What if this emptiness inside me can’t be filled by another town or country, what if the reason it’s there at all is because I never learned to be content?

I don’t know.

That’s really all that I do know, the fact that the answers to those questions are only known by God. I can simply pray that he, in his perfect timing, would show me.

image-2

For now, in this year, month, week. I am to be content here. I can’t go. I can’t leave now, so I have to be joyful in this place and prepare myself for the day that God says,

“Go.”

image

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Love better, read more, and rejoice always.

~Susanna

Frands

Pictures by JustRylie Photography and the interweb.

 

 


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Summer of 2015

“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

-Dr. Seuss 

South Africa #1

The fact that I was in South Africa just a few months ago is…surreal. Sometimes I don’t even believe that it happened.
We were able to visit different ministries and missionaries, work in preschools, high schools, and churches. We climbed a literal mountain and walked the streets of the most beautiful place on earth.

I learned several things that trip:

  1. Don’t look lions in the eye.
  2. Airplane bathrooms are not your friend.
  3. Stay away from skinny homeless men in Cape Town, lest they attack you with a 2×4.
  4. The toilets do not flush the opposite way in SA (so disappointed).
  5. Missionaries are some of the most genuine, patient, and peaceful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (at least the ones I met were).
  6. Take. Drugs. On. Airplanes…….Do it. Don’t question me, just do it.

Sorry that wasn’t real spiritual and deep. But hey, you’re enlightened now right? Right.

Annual Fox Family Beach Trip: 

Lookin Gud. Real Gud.

Thanks family, for telling Judah and I that we were standing a mile from the rest of the family.

Beach week is always such a highlight in my year, it’s becoming more rare that all of the family can be in one place at the same time, which makes this week even more spectacular. Ya wanna know what else is spectacular?

My kayaking skills.

Once upon a time….I went kayaking with Hannah and the man. We went out probably 12 miles and were just goin’ in circles, enjoying life. Well the man eventually decides to get OUT of his kayak and swim. You should have seen how big my eyes were, I mean REALLY. Haven’t you seen Jaws? But anyway, by some miracle he survived and we started to head back to the beach. I decided, hey I’m kind of a pro at this by now…Imma ride a wave in.

………………………………………….

Never be ambitious.

Life lesson kids.

No sooner had I made that life-altering choice than I was swept up into a Tsunami. As my ship flipped and the water came crashing over me, I looked back on my life.

I’ve done nothing.

No accomplishments.

My body was turned and beaten and battered. I couldn’t feel my legs and my lungs were filling with water. As I looked at the surface of the water, 20 feet above me, I said goodbye to sunshine, love, and happiness, and said hello to the cold darkness of my grave.

But then I stood up and realized that I was in a tide pool.

Well, besides the funeral of my desire to swim, we had another event!

This….how should I put this…..gorgeous couple decided to like each other for the rest of their lives.

Uke and Rachel

Y’all. I’m so happy. They are just treasures and I’m just thrilled that they will never be able to get rid of me.

A Fireman and a Fox

The last event of our summer was one we had been working on and anticipating for months.

The nuptials of a brown-haired, tan girl from North Carolina and a brown-haired, lanky boy from Kansas.

Beauty. Pure beauty.

The fact that my greatest and truest friend now is a “Mrs,” just makes my year.

She is genuine, beautiful, smart, funny, and the highest gem on my list. Their happiness and married bliss is just radiant. May they always look at each other the way that they do now, and may their days be filled with adventure.

Hannah and Isaiah. Y’all get ready. I’ll just be poppin’ out of the bushes every weekend.

Well, I hope I’ve given you all a taste of my summer, it was one of the greatest of my entire life.

Hakuna Matata Y’all.

~Susanna

 

 

 

 


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New Years Resolutions

Travel

“I’m not sure what I’ll do, but-well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

Each year my goal is to grow, learn, and see all that I can. Sometimes I think that I’ve become more immature, lost knowledge, and seen the exact same things as the last year. But my goal still remains the same.

2014.

I learned a lot, forgot a lot.

Broke some stuff, made some stuff.

Said goodbye to some friends,……..didn’t introduce myself to any new friends.

The Office

Knitted more than was good for me.

Partay.

Struggled with some stuff.

Surprise, I’m an introvert.

The whole going to drivers ed for 4 hours every day with 64 teenagers was a new kind of hell. It brought me to tears every day and then on one fun day….I hurled.

On my special shirt too.

Turtleneck

Many road trips revived my love for travel and my desire to see the world.

See the World

I read a lot.

At least I tried to expand my reading list beyond young adult fiction.

But no matter how hard I tried to enjoy The Scarlett Letter I couldn’t help thinking…”Good gosh woman, MOVE TO A DIFFERENT TOWN….idiot.”

I listened to a ton of music and found my place in the 70s with a little 80s rock thrown in. I found that I really don’t enjoy most modern music so the classic jams of Kansas, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Simon and Garfunkal and many many others kept me company. 🙂

I started my own business and have done pretty well for myself.

Beanie    FullSizeRender

I have not decided on what to do after high school, I have no clue who Fidel Castro is and I have never seen the movie “Flubber.”

But other than that I’d say I’ve learned a lot, seen a bunch, and found many things that I enjoy.

A few people have asked me this year what I want to be when I grow up.

Award for the worst question ever.

I have no idea. The options list has gone anywhere from fashion consultant to joining the marines.

I feel like I’d be a great sniper.

Anyway, the only things that I can see in my future are these,

  • I will be a person who is not ashamed to share her faith.
  • I will be someone who takes risks.
  • Someone who shares what she feels when it’s hard.
  • I will be someone who makes a lot of mistakes.
  • I will probably not be a very good lady.
  • I will probably not be a very good follower.
  • I will not be afraid to stand up for what is right.
  • I will learn to love God with my mind.
  • I will go on adventures.
  • I will seize every moment, every opportunity.
  • And I will learn to love every moment of life.

These are my New Years Resolutions.

2015, come at me bro.

~Susanna

 

 

 

 

 


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A lesson for my future.

Recently I had the opportunity to share at a women’s Christmas dinner. I was asked to talk about what I had learned this past year through the Women’s meetings at my church.

Come once more into my truth circle.

Robert Downey Jr

I hate public speaking.

And I double hate sharing any type of personal feelings with large groups of women.

So, here I was about to do both. I was petrified. But I knew I needed to share what God had told me to say. So I put on my inspiration suit and took the plunge.

Epic.

And because I feel like God wants me to share it on here, I’ll tell you what I said.

I’ve learned a lot this past year and these women’s fellowships have played a huge part. This is the time in my life when I’m learning who I am and who I would like to be someday. I’ve grown up, am growing up, in a great home where marriage is upheld as the beautiful thing that it is. But being the second-born daughter that I am, because the expectations were for me to get married someday and because my sister wanted to, naturally I did not. But then what had begun as just a rebellious idea grew into a reality. I didn’t want to get married, I didn’t ever want to be a mom.

This fact kinda terrified.

I felt like a disappointment to my family and especially my parents. I was angry and really confused towards God. I wondered why I wasn’t like other girls. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel attracted to guys or that I never had crushes…I did. I just couldn’t picture myself in any type of lasting relationship. So all of this I was trying to sort through while going to women’s fellowships, and at first I thought that going to talks about staying pure for your future husband and being content in waiting for marriage were pointless when it came to me. Why would any of that ever matter? But then God changed how I viewed them, all of a sudden they weren’t just talks preparing me for marriage, they were instructions on how to better develop my character and relationship with God. I realized that I wasn’t called to be married or single, or widowed. I was called to love the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind and to put him above everything else.

Suddenly, I didn’t have to worry about my future because I knew that as long as I loved God, whether married or single, I would not be inadequate. Up until then I had believed that every good christian girl gets married and has a bunch of kids…and if you didn’t then you wouldn’t fulfill God’s calling to women. God has been showing me this year that that just isn’t true. For this upcoming year then, instead of spending time worrying about the future I hope to begin developing the qualities that every woman should have: kindness, humility, self-discipline, unconditional love, honesty and above all, a heart trained on worshiping the Lord.

Obviously right after I said these things I thought, “oh crud. Now I really have to work these qualities…not just talk about learning them.”

I know that I have a long way to go until I’m good at those things but I’m willing to try.

Merry Christmas All!

Hakuna Matata,

Ciao baby! 😉

~Susanna

grinch