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Celebrate the Mess

I am beginning my fifth full month of unemployment. The charter school that I worked for (and absolutely loved) officially closed leaving five of us to find other opportunities. For some, this was a good thing and offered a transition into retirement or other administrative careers. For me, this change led to a demotion. I became a Professional Couch Potato where I internally rated every Netflix feature known to mankind while my dusty stationary bike sat alone in the corner. Picture Bridget Jones.

I live in Northwestern Wisconsin with my husband, Patrick who is currently serving as a Youth Pastor. Moving here (2 years ago) on Patrick’s 31st birthday and just 2 weeks after getting hitched added quite the mix of emotions and changes to squeeze into our tiny U-Haul truck.

I remember waking up to a ringing phone the day we arrived in our new town (back when I wanted Patrick to think my morning breath smelled like Listerine Strips – we do crazy things for love) and wondering why students from our former church were calling my husband at 6AM. I had already questioned this aloud when I caught myself and tried to cover my forgetfulness. “Happy Birthday!” I blurted out… My husband is a lucky guy. That felt like a wonderful start to our marriage: I forgot my own husband’s first birthday as newlyweds. My selfless husband decided to move ten hours from our families on his birthday and I hadn’t even remembered said sacrifice. I did make up for it by finding a Chipotle on the way. It’s as classy as we Coopers get.

Living here just 25 months, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my relationship with others. I’ve learned to appreciate quiet nights and paid bills. I’ve learned to appreciate falling snow (from inside and WITH a cup of coffee). I’ve learned to appreciate people who go out of their way to make sure I am loved while I am always failing to do that for them. And I appreciate what began as a crummy end to my wonderful job with amazing women. What I see in hindsight is that we are still provided for. I have more time to help Patrick with youth group activities, a little more time to see family, and more time to invest in a creative outlet like this one. Coming to this realization has helped me take a step toward contentment. As my wise friend recently said, contentment is a journey. You cannot just simply wake up one day and decide that life is perfect. Life is messy. We lose jobs. We move away from everything we know. We put our foot in our mouth at large church gatherings. We forget our husbands’ birthdays… Oh. Just me? Joy does not come because you have perfect bodies, beautiful homes, and well-behaved children. Contentment and pure joy come in the midst of a messy and imperfect life.

Instead of dwelling on our short-comings, my hope and prayer is that this blog will be a place for us to celebrate our authenticity and the things that make our lives unique. What keeps you motivated day after day? What gives you pure joy?

Ashley Cooper

I strive to find joy in each ordinary day.

  • Morgan wistad

    Love this post!
    Sweet friends like you bring me joy!

    February 16, 2016 at 10:46 pm Reply

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