Thankful

I’m acutely aware of my need to be grateful this year, and so, in the spirit of the day, here are just a few of the things for which I am grateful.

  1. New beginnings
  2. Living alone
  3. A church community that reminds me that I am not, in fact, alone.
  4. Fantastic coworkers, both new and old
  5. New fine lines (and maybe even a few wrinkles) that remind me from where I’ve come
  6. My grandparents and the way they’ve knit together our entire family
  7. A bountiful meal each year on Thanksgiving and a lifetime of memories on this holiday
  8. My community group at church, the way that we’re sharing our lives, and the way that I’m learning to share mine
  9. The faithfulness of God, and how He never gives up
  10. Learning how to live in each moment

Quiet Times

I’m trying to commit to a more regular routine of “quiet times.” I know that having a time set aside for Bible study and prayer doesn’t make me a Christian. I used to think it made me a better Christian, or in my case, a worse Christian because I never actually got around to doing it, but my thinking has been changing around that lately. I kind of think that when I consider quiet times a key to improving my Christianity, that in fact they become an idol, and I cut myself off from the communion with God that these times provide. It became more about getting it done than about talking to God. The reality is that I should have daily quiet times, but not because it makes me a better Christian, but because I need to talk to and hear from God.

Anyway, in the busyness that is life these days, I’ve been neglecting my times with God in favor of a little more sleep, or (worse) some time in front of the T.V. My soul was literally yearning for God. After weeks of passing my Bible by on my way to bed, I finally sat down, turned to Intervarsity’s Quiet Time Bible Study

 

Those who cling to worthless idols

forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

But I, with a song of thanksgiving,

will sacrifice to you.

What I have vowed I will make good.

Salvation comes from the LORD.

– Jonah 2: 8-10

I love how, once he is thrown into the belly of the whale, Jonah’s heart shifts. Isn’t that the truth for so many of us? Only when our backs are against the wall do we come to see the error of our ways. How clear the truth becomes when we are in that spot that in truth, “salvation comes from the LORD.” I was struck too though, by the line that kicks off that section of Jonah’s prayer, “those who cling to worthless idols, forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” I find myself in this place constantly. I am ashamed to say that there are an embarrassing number of things that I value more than I value God. And how true is it, that when I am in the midst of chasing after idols, that I give up or lose track of the grace that is mine in Christ? How I long to live in the place where grace alone reigns over my life!

I’m struggling to find a neat way to wrap up this post. Some string to tie these thoughts together into a nice little package. It doesn’t seem to be there though, so perhaps I’ll just leave you with this… I may not be there yet, but I am grateful for a God who promises to pursue my heart to the end, and I’m grateful that He will not leave me, even when I am disobedient, even when I question His ways, even when I run. I pray that slowly, but surely, He will begin to change my heart, and I stake my claim on the promise that He will do it.



A Gift from Sunday

I’ve been unusually organized about my groceries this year. After 5 years of adult life eating the same thing for dinner after dinner after dinner each week, I finally grew tired of it. When I thought the monotony of my dinners were just a stop on the path to being married and cooking for two (or three, or four…) I was totally okay with eating the same thing each day. As long as I got my slice of take-out pizza on Friday, I was good to go. This year however, I finally grew sick of the pattern… I wanted to eat different things for dinner each night… and I wanted it not to break the bank. So, rallying my single-girl cooking skills, I embarked on a journey of freezing meals. For the past month, I’ve been cooking one big meal on Sunday, and freezing serving-sized portions in my freezer for consumption sometime later. I held off eating them for a few weeks so as to build up a store of frozen meals.

Well, this week, in the midst of the craziness of conferences, and the exhaustion of having been sick, I received a gift from Sunday. This morning, I took one of my containers of chili out of the freezer and stuck in in the refrigerator to defrost. Tonight, after four conferences and 11 hours at work, three minutes in the microwave gave me a healthy and hearty meal. As I was eating, the thought struck me: all those Sundays when I would rather have been splayed on the couch, had truly paid off in the form of nourishment. On a day when it would have been easier to grab a burrito from the take-out place down the street, I instead came home to a home-cooked meal and I felt fed in a way that allows me to go about the rest of my day with a bit more joy in my heart. There’s maybe not a big life-lesson to learned in this snippet here (except maybe to keep freezing meals), but I was grateful for the moment today. I needed to feel fed, I needed to feel loved, and I’m grateful that for a moment, the bowl of soup gave me just that.

Busy-ness, Sickness, and the Trouble with Being an Introverted Teacher

I’m sorry I’ve been somewhat absent. It’s been a long week. I think it’s finally hit me that summer is really over, and that it’s not coming back for a long, long time. I’ve been so longing for those slow, sweet mornings. I’ve envisioned spending hours on my patio with a book and a cup of coffee, and I’ve been yearning for the feel of the warm sun on my skin. Summer days are more my pace than the rest of the year.

Knowing this, I find myself often counting the days until summer. I break up each season into small parts, count down to the special events within each part, and before I know it, I find myself at summer vacation again. Here’s the thing though, when I do that, I miss so much. Most of life does not exist in the summer months, and when I fail to really live the in-between times, I find that I am wasting away my life. What a challenge it is to truly live in these times that fall in between the times we enjoy so much.

And on that note, this week is one that I find myself just wanting to “get through.” The desire to look to the weekend is especially strong this week.

The dread enveloping the anticipation of this week is hard to overcome. I was getting sick last week, and I spent the entirety of the weekend in bed or on the couch. I was grateful for a Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family to keep me entertained. Anyway, suffice it to say, I’m tired, and this week brings the promise of absolutely no rest. You see, it’s parent-teacher conference week.

It’s not that I dread the conferences themselves. In fact, I find it a refreshing time to partner with families and gain some clarity on how the kids are really doing. The tough part, is for an introvert like me, the prospect of fitting 21 more meetings into a work week that’s already designed for the extroverted is somewhat overwhelming.

So I guess the question is, how do I nourish myself and my own unique need to recharge, while still enjoying the week?

The Anticipation or Beginning of the Winter Doldrums

The first frost finally hit Boston this week. I put my summer clothes in storage, and dug out the winter duds. The flannel sheets have been on my bed for weeks, and my weekend mornings, once beloved for their productivity, have been spent snuggled up in more than one comfy blanket.

I’m hibernating.

There’s so much about this time of year that begs just a little time alone. Things are heating up at work, and I’ve spent one too many days at this point in the old routine. I’m tired and I need a break. It’s cold outside, and I hate being cold for one more minute than I have to. Already I’ve begun packing on the pounds (ok, not really, but I sure haven’t been losing any poundage either), as my diet has begun consisting almost entirely of comfort foods. Right now my freezer is stocked with comfort: chili, a cheesy pasta dish, calzones, pancakes, and my body’s starting to feel it.

This is my normal winter routine. Hearty foods, not a lot of leaving the house. When spring time comes, I’m ready to be active again, but my body has paid the price for a season (or two) of inactivity. I’m determined this time though, that this year will be different. It has to be. I’ve worked too hard to get where I am to backslide. So, any advice for a winter-hating, over-worked first-year-in-a-new-school teacher, who leaves for work at 7:00, and often doesn’t make it home before 5:00 or 6:00, who has an expensive gym membership but not much motivation?

What’s Cooking?

I’m not usually a person who blogs about food, but this recipe from Martha Stewart is just that good. It was super easy to make, I cooked one for dinner last night, and stuck the other 7 in the freezer for future meals. And as a side note, do you know how amazing it is to have a freezer in which to freeze leftovers? As a single girl, who mostly cooks for one, it’s amazing. It helps prevent my food rut where I eat the same thing for dinner every night of the week because it’s cheaper AND it means that on crazy-busy nights, I still have relatively healthy, relatively unprocessed food to eat provided I remember to remove it from the freezer. I love it.

Home is Where the Table Is

It’s been quiet around the blog lately. Sorry about that. It’s what happens when I spend too much time at work, or busy with friends and family, and not enough time on my own. Anyway, I’m back for now (although expect an extended absence later this month… parent teacher conferences are approaching).

I love this picture, not because it’s an example of how perfectly I decorate, although it was my attempt at fall-inspired decorating. I mean really, do you see the orange on the table? I never use orange!! As a side note, do you see how the table-cloth and runner don’t match? I can only do so much. I’m hoping to add a red tablecloth next year, something that I can carry into winter by just switching the runner.

No, I don’t love this picture because of my decorations. I love this picture because it captures just a slice of who I want to be. If you look closely, there are two Bibles on the table. One is my everyday Bible that’s beat up from 9 years of use. The other is my study Bible. I had them both out because I was in the midst of a successful quiet time routine. I had spent some quality time with Jesus, and there was something that I wanted to learn more about. I love that version of me. The one who remembers to slow down, the one who remembers that there is Someone greater than myself, Someone who is truly the bread of life, Someone I need more of.

The other reason I love this Bible, is because perched at the end of my two Bibles, you see my cookbook. This is my old, reliable Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The one I bought when I graduated from college because there’s no better standby than the cookbook with old reliable red and white checkered cover. That cookbook is another symbol of the person I want to be. The person who cooks nourishing meals for myself, and someday for my family. I’m pleased that the cookbook has made a resurgence in my kitchen lately, since it is all too easy for me to fall into the trap of frozen (and not quite satisfying nor nourishing) meals.

The other reason I love this picture? My kitchen table is clean. That never happens.