30 Day Challenge @ The Macs

I’ve written here before about my desire to spend more time with the Lord. I’ll admit I’ve largely fallen away from that desire in the weeks after my aunt and cousin’s deaths. I’m not super comfortable with anger and sadness, and goodness knows my time with the Lord has been spent expressing those feelings. It’s easier sometimes to stay away, but it certainly doesn’t nourish my soul. So when Jess from “The Macs” posted this challenge, I knew I had to join. I have to open time in my day and space in my heart for the Lord to move. The rest is up to Him. Today, Jess posted a few questions to get us on track. I’m posting my answers to keep myself accountable.

1. Have a plan…
What will your time alone with the Lord look like? Be prepared.

I’m trying to keep it simple and easy so that I’ll have as few excuses as possible to postpone. I’ll start by reading the New Testament and Psalms passage from the One Year Bible. Then, I’ll use the One Year in Prayer devotional to structure my prayer time after which I’ll have a time to pray what’s on my heart. I’ll pray for my day, my family, and my students.

2. Have a time…
When will you spend time with the Lord? Schedule it and set that alarm!

I’m not a morning person so it pains me to say this, but I feel convicted that if this is going to happen, I need to get up a half hour earlier. I’m going to start setting my alarm for 6:30 a.m. with the goal of spending from 6:30-7:00 with the Lord.

3. Have a place…
Where will you meet with the Lord? Find a quiet place where you will be alone and the least distracted.

If there’s any hope of having this time in the morning, I’ve got to get out of bed. At first, I’m going to have my time on the couch. Once my patio furniture gets here, I’ll move my time outside on nice days.

4. Grab a friend…
Encourage someone to join you in this challenge and keep each other accountable!

Will you join us??

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Onward

This spring I have put on more than my share of weight. A combination of emotional eating plus consistent sabotage at the hands of my coworkers and myself and I suddenly find that I weight almost 7 pounds more than I did last summer. I pulled out my summer clothes last weekend, and I discovered that almost all of them are… tight. Like almost to the point where I should really buy new pants and shorts. I am, however, cheap. And so, if for no other reason than the fact that I don’t want to spend money on bigger clothes, I am going to lose weight.

My mom and I were talking about it today, and she told me how she’s been asking my cousin for help eating well, since both my aunt and cousin were health and diet conscious. While that’s not really up my alley- I don’t really believe that they have the power to alter my eating habits or help me lose weight, it’s nice to feel connected to them through eating better and exercising more.

To that end, I finally picked up the 30 Day Shred video again. I completed a whole Level 1 workout, and I have been laying in bed hoping my muscles would recover ever since. Man, that workout is instense! The promise of 20 pounds in 30 days though is, well, enticing to say the least. If I were to stick with it, I could almost be at my goal weight by the time school gets out! I’d love to do the Shred workout every day, but at the very least I want to move purposefully every day. Maybe it’ll be a walk after work, maybe it’ll be a class at the gym, maybe, if I’m brave, it’ll be the Shred before school… one way or another, it’s time to MOVE because you know what? I can. And that is a blessing.

In the meantime? It’s off to Baltimore for the weekend!

Normal

Life seems more normal this week. Maybe because the sun is shining, maybe because it’s been more than a month, maybe because I have a squadron of friends praying for me, the twinges of grief seem further and further apart. Am I sad sometimes? Yes, definitely. Do I miss them? Absolutely. But do I have a life to live? Yeah, and I am grateful that the living is getting easier.

I am so looking forward to this summer. I am yearning for these long, beautiful summer nights to be spent without the specter of an early morning hanging over me. I am eager to buy some patio furniture so I can spend some lazy summer mornings reading on my patio. I’m ready for my vacations. I’m ready for some unscheduled time… and at this point in the year, my past blogs will attest, that’s normal.

Simple Pleasures

My uncle, the one who lost his wife and daughter, said something to my mother the other day which she passed on to me. It is hauntingly true for all of us, but all the more so for those of us for whom loss has reared its ugly head. Reflecting on his loss and on the future, he said that we can’t assume that there will be a tomorrow.

How often do you live this way, assuming that tomorrow will always come, that it will always be there to hold your hopes and dreams? I know that I live that way. It’s apparent in the current state of my house, which for a week now I have put off cleaning until “tomorrow.” It’s apparent in the way that I make weekend plans, never wanting to commit to anything, and thus, often not enjoying shared times with friends and family. It’s apparent in the way that I approach even my career, doing a good job now, but always planning what I will do in the future.

What if there was no tomorrow? How would that change the way that I lived today? I was reflecting on that as I went about my day today. After sleeping late, I walked down the hill to grab a cup of coffee and a scone, and then took in a lacrosse game with my uncle and cousin. I went to a movie with a friend, and enjoyed dinner with her sweet little family, and now I’m home, cleaning and reflecting. This was a day well-lived, and full of simple pleasures: the morning in bed, the warm cup of coffee on an overcast spring day, the company of my relatives, the joy and utter abandon of college athletes playing in what could be their last game, an afternoon filled with great and honest conversation with a dear friend, and a little bit of responsible living mixed in. These are the days when I reflect on how happy I am to be here, to be alive. These are the days when I thank God for the gift of one more day, and these are the days that I try to bottle for the times when I get so caught up in the stress of daily life that I forget to truly live, love and enjoy each moment.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy…

I am a people-pleaser. Right down to my core, I aim to make others happy. Not being able to find out how to make someone happy grates at my very soul. Is this sin in my life? I’d venture to say yes. There is certainly an element of idolizing myself, of thinking that I can be the source of someone’s happiness among other things, I’m sure.

Still, I’m hitting the hay tonight knowing that there are a lot of people who are not necessarily pleased with me right now. It’s grating away at me, making me ready to be done with the school year, or at least done with the week. Any advice on how to move away from this way of thinking?

Summer Reading

I was writing another post about the complexities of grief last night, but it sits in my unpublished box uncompleted. There is simultaneously so much and nothing left to say on the subject. I know it will be the subject of future posts, but for now something a bit more lighthearted.

Like my students, I am eager to begin summer vacation. There is so much to love about summer, and as always I am summer-dreaming with 8 weeks left to go. I was contemplating my schedule, which I hope will look a little something like this:

  • 8:00 wake, workout
  • 10:00 reading
  • 12:00 lunch
  • 1:00 afternoon activities, day trips, etc.
  • 7:00 dinner
  • 8:00 walk
  • 11:00 bed
I’ve especially been thinking about how to fill my reading block. There is so much I want to read this summer, and so much I want to learn. I’m dividing my summer reading list into a couple of categories: school, fun, and Jesus. So, the to-read list:
Fun
  • Gilead
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Wilder Life
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Principles of Uncertainty
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (and it’s not even summer yet!)

School

  • The Morning Meeting Book (reread)
  • The First Six Weeks of School (reread)
  • Guiding Readers and Writers (selected chapters)
  • Notebook Know-How
  • Craft Lessons
Jesus
  • Mudhouse Sabbath
  • The Screwtape Letters

Have a suggestion for me in any of the categories? I’d love to hear it… I’m always looking for more! Still to come… the To-Do list.

The Dance

This song came on the radio as I was driving home today and it struck me how appropriate it is for the emotions I’ve been experiencing these days. I mean really, there’s nothing like a good country song to express the depth of human emotion, right? Also, as an aside, I love Garth Brooks.

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

The Dance

Perhaps this is a love song… or an unrequited love song… or a love-lost song, but it speaks perfectly to the feeling when one has lost someone. I would love to be missing this pain right now, I mean really, that would be fantastic. It’s not fun to be up nights thinking about a loved one’s last moments, or thinking about how the same thing could happen to you, or grieving for the memories we had and the ones we’ll never make. It’s painful to think of the words I never spoke, of the love I never shared, of the times I took for granted. I don’t remember saying goodbye at Christmas, there was always supposed to be another time. The thing is though, I cherish my memories; I wouldn’t trade the times we had together for anything. If I had known ahead of time how things would end, I’d like to think I would have loved harder, would have really concentrated on enjoying my family time, but the truth is that I probably would have withheld my love, I probably would have avoided connections with my family, and in short, I would have missed out. Life doesn’t come with a road map. It does come with unexpected detours, mountains of joy, and valleys of grief and perhaps our job is just to dance while we’re here.