Snapshots of Grace

A summer sunset, and the promise of another day.

67 years of marriage… 8 children, 28 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren later and love is still evident.

 

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What a Girl Needs

I’ve been abusing my body lately. I generally operate under the assumption that I’m doing “okay,” unless the scale skyrockets up or down but I’ve been keeping a health journal these last few weeks and let me tell you, the news isn’t good. This fall, I’ve been feeding my body a little too much fair food, a little too much hot chocolate, and a little too much ice cream and while the scale hasn’t budged (thank you, stress from new job), my body knows the difference. Case in point: the ear infection I came down with this week. What am I, two!? So aside from the left-over casserole made with whole milk that’s for dinner most of this week, it’s time to start a new regime.

I’m planning on starting gently, cutting out the dessert at dinner, and really genuinely counting the calories I’m putting into my body. It’s also time to go to the gym. Or give up my gym membership, but with a long, hard, New England style winter ahead of me, I’m thinking that’s not the best plan at this point. So I’m easing back into the gym routine this week too. My goal is three times… and all I have to do is walk.

The good news about this health journal, which I’ve been keeping in preparation for a doctor’s appointment where I know the “next-step” is going to be to keep this kind of log is that if I add the gym days in as a category, I will feel duty bound to make it to the gym more often. I mean, who wants to hand their doctor a record of all the times she didn’t go to the gym!?

Anyway, suffice it to say, I’m realizing more and more that this body is a gift, and it’s my duty to care for it. I can’t put junk into my body day in and day out, and then expect to feel good. It just doesn’t work like that, and it’s time to step up. Again.

P.S. Find this post boring? I promise not to blog more than 1% of the time about health related issues. I generally find them boring too.

Saturday Naps

Somewhere around 4:00 each day, the sun starts streaming through my windows like this:

It hits my couch like this:

And I curl up on the couch, wrapped in the down throw, and take a nap. Sleeping with the sun on my face, in the middle of the afternoon is a fond reminder of summer and all its simplicity, and I try to find time each weekend to savor that hour.

My Own Little Slice of Perfection

I love this photo. I love it because the bookshelf is the one area of my house that never seems to get messy, and I love it because on top of the bookshelf is my first attempt at seasonal decorating. That little display is the first thing I see in the morning, and each time, it brings me joy.

P.S. I’m trying out a new theme for the blog… let me know what you think! And if you have blog-theme tips, I’d love to hear them, I’m a complete novice!

A Saturday in October

On Saturday, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful (albeit windy and cold, but that’s just October) weather to take a walk around the block and show you a bit of my neighborhood.

 

That’s my house to the left. I was going to take pictures from the other side, but when I returned home, there was a man doing the same thing… taking pictures of my house. I’m assuming it’s because it’s so beautiful, and not because he was casing the joint… but talk about awkward as I waited for him to be done before I walked past him and into the house he was photographing.

 

 

 

This is the park around the corner from my house. I love this park, even thought I didn’t make it there often this fall. I’m excited to spend plenty of time there, particularly this spring and summer. It’s part of the 23% of my city that is not paved over. Yes, you read that statistic correctly… yes, it’s one of the things about my city that I don’t love.

 

 

 

 

I learned yesterday that this tower represents the original height of the hill. The flag at the top is a replica of the first American flag which was flown here in 1776.

 

 

 

 

The view from the top reminds me of the library roof at Tufts.

 

 

 

I found this part of my city yesterday. It is literally right around the corner from my house. I love that looking this direction, I can feel like I’m in the mountains. (Looking the other direction it’s clear where I am!)

It only took me 27 years to realize…

That I am not good enough.

I don’t know why the thought finally struck me this week, but as I was reading through the Bible this week, exploring the subject of grace, it did. I’m not good enough, and furthermore, I will never be good enough.

Now, for someone who spends a lot of time wanting to be perfect, I at first expected to be devastated by this realization. I mean, if I’m never going to be good enough, what is the point? Instead, I was flooded with a sense of relief because you see, while I will never measure up when the standard is perfection, Jesus loves me now- exactly how I am. It’s hard to get my mind around that, but I’m learning to walk in the freedom that reality provides.

It’s the Simple Things, Really (A Post of Relatively Random Thoughts)

My week has continued its insanity. Perhaps I should amend that statement, my life has continued its insanity. I tried to schedule a meeting this week, and could not find a single time all week that would work for me. A single time, ALL week. I’m not spending much time at home either, which has been more than a bit frustrating. I love being at home, and I hate those weeks when my time at home is limited.

I finally got to spend a bit of time at home this afternoon. That is, after school and class and a phone call home to a parent, I finally had some time to spend by myself. I enjoyed a bowl of the chili I cooked earlier this week, put on some p.j.’s and curled up on the couch to watch a few episodes of Law and Order and catch up on my blog reading.

So, first I want to point you over to Emily at Chatting at the Sky. Her posts on grace have got my heart eager to explore more about that aspect of my relationship with Jesus. Grace does not come easily to most of us, whether we struggle to show it to ourselves, or each other. It’s only when we’re connected to the One who extends grace to us that it’s possible to extend it to others. I’ve long wanted to understand more about grace, and I’m grateful for Emily’s series this October!

And to close, on to the simple things. After an afternoon on the couch where I transitioned from sitting in the sunshine streaming in through my bow windows to watching the sunset. The moon rose without my noticing, until finally, a few minutes ago, I saw it peaking through the trees just outside that same window. There’s just something about the moon that I love, something that connects me to the rhythms of life as it rises and sets at different times each day. I still remember the first time I saw the Harvest Moon. I was 19, and I had spent a chilly fall afternoon exploring Boston with some college-friends before we took to the Top of the Hub to enjoy a single cheese platter followed by a single dessert platter (we were college students after all). Looking out towards the ocean, over downtown, the Harvest Moon loomed large as it rose from the ocean. I had never seen anything like it. Tonight, seeing a seemingly smaller version of that same moon, I cherished that simple memory, of a few friends playing at adult life and making memories together.

Retreat

My week was more or less insane. Besides the usual school routine, I had Community Group on Monday night, staff meeting and chorus on Tuesday night, new teacher induction and babysitting on Wednesday night, and book group on Thursday night. While I enjoy all of these activities, by the time I got to Friday night, I was beat and I had four hours of sitting in the car in traffic ahead of me to look forward to. I wasn’t really looking forward to the church retreat this time… I was going because it’s what I do every Columbus Day, and because I always end up having fun, but in reality all I really wanted to do was sleep the weekend away.

I took a moment in my car before I walked into the main building to check-in. I needed to prepare myself for the constant social interaction. It’s not really my introverted-self’s favorite thing. From the moment I walked in however, I was reminded of how much I love my church and the people who are a part of it. I’ve never been a part of a community like the one at Christ the King. It continues to astound me how the people at that church consistently go out of their way to show the love of Christ. It is such a model to me of what community should look like.

During the retreat we looked at some of Jesus’ parables in Luke. I’m still processing through what I learned there, but I think more than anything I felt an increased awareness of my sin, and the need for repentance. I’m not sure how that translates into everyday life, but I know it needs to… and I know I want it to.

 

I’ll close with a picture from last year’s retreat, and a taste of tomorrow’s adventures at the Topsfield Fair. I didn’t get to do the hike on the retreat this year since I was on a self-imposed hiatus so that I could get some school-work done before the rest of the weekend. As for the Topsfield Fair, it’s becoming a Monday after retreat tradition. I’m looking forward to next year already!

Broken Promises and the Beauty of Age

I promised photos this week and did not deliver. I should have known better than to make a promise any time before next June. Until school’s out for the summer, it’s just not going to happen on time. I’d apologize, but I wouldn’t really mean it… that’s just my life right now. Instead, I’ll just ask you to bear with me until I get my act together (and here’s a summer photo to tide you over)!

So… on to the topic of the day. I made it home early yesterday. Early enough to throw a three-hour recipe in the slow-cooker and have it ready for a late dinner. Early enough to clean most of my house. Early enough to watch Oprah. Now, I’m not an Oprah devotee… I can go an entire summer watching only one episode. (I like to watch one on the first Monday of break… because I can.) I turned it on anyway on Thursday just because I was home early enough to do so. She had on a few “old” stars who are dealing with the effects of aging. Age is not something that’s totally on my radar yet… I’m only 27 after all, but I’ve noticed that it has been creeping up on me slowly, but surely.

There are the beginnings of crows feet around my eyes, grey hairs that pop up here and there on my head, and veins on my hands that seem a little more apparent than they once did. My body used to bounce back with the application of a little moisturizer, but it’s seeming a little harder these days so I’m learning to embrace the changes. I don’t love the grey hairs, but they’re silver like my dad’s, and they remind me of the kids I had during a super-stressful school year when half of those grey hairs first appeared. The crow’s feet are most apparent when I smile- they’re markers of they good times I’ve shared with others. And then there are my hands. I used to admire the veins on my mother’s hands… they seemed like something that was earned by years of hard work. I’m learning to see them the same way on myself!

So here’s what I’m getting at… one thing all of these women said on Oprah was that while they didn’t love losing their beauty, the wisdom that comes with age is worth the trade off, and I agree. I have learned so much in just my few years on this planet, and if these marks of time are the price I have to pay, I’ll take them. I cherish the times I’ve had, but even in the midst of the craziness of this year, I wouldn’t go back for anything.