Sabbath Taking – Day 1

I stayed late at work on Friday, finishing up lesson plans for the week. I went for a drink with co-workers and then I went home. I looked up the time that the sun would set (5:43) and realized I had 20 minutes before I wanted to light my candles and call it a Sabbath.

I bustled around finishing up the last of some chores I knew would need to happen for me to feel relaxed. I washed the dishes, ran the dishwasher, put away those dishes that were dry. I made my bed, put away my not-yet-dirty clothes and put my work bag out of sight. I defrosted the meat I wanted to use in my dinner and then, it was time.

I lit my candles and welcomed the Sabbath by laying in complete stillness on my bed before I finally opened my Bible and turned to worship. I made dinner, watched a favorite TV show, and was in bed remarkably early. It was 9:45 p.m. when I finally fell asleep, and 10:45 p.m. before I finally woke up again. Today, I spent the day with my dad at a soccer game, and then with a good friend at a class we had paid for learning how to sew. I ate dinner with her family before finally returning home again. As I sat down to write this I was struck by a few things. First of all, how rested I feel. While I am yawning, my body is content and at peace. I do not feel the usual anxiety that I feel on Saturday night, as another week begins to loom large. Also, I am excited to have found a new passion, something I wouldn’t have had the time or patience for if I hadn’t cleared my schedule and prepared for a Sabbath ahead of time. Did I keep my Sabbath perfectly? No, there are things I will change. Namely, I am contemplating taking a technological Sabbath each week, but I just didn’t feel ready this week. I am so used to filling the time and space in my life with the internet and the television, and in truth, I love my weekly routine of sitting down Friday night or Saturday morning to watch my Thursday TV episodes that I went to bed too early for the night before. Beyond that, I want to go grocery shopping on Fridays if possible, or at least carve out the time on Sundays and make my grocery list ahead of time. That was the one thing that hung over my head today.

Even so, I was shocked by how much I found myself anticipating my Sabbath. I woke up in the morning and thought “this is it, today I get to keep the Sabbath.” Leaving work I caught myself thinking “just a few more hours!” When I finally heard my alarm go off telling me the sun was setting, and I stood in front of the candles, the anticipation was palpable. Sabbath was here.

Sabbath

I’ve been reading a couple of new blogs this month (here and here if you’re interested), both of which are spending the month centered on the concept of rest or Sabbath. Each week this month I have come to the weekend desiring to have a Sabbath, and each week this month I have failed because you can’t have a Sabbath if it’s a thought that just occurs to you one weekend morning. Or maybe you can, but I’ve had too much to do, and too much that literally couldn’t be put off.

As I got into bed this evening for a few more hours of reading and resting, I watched the candles burning across the room (a new nightly ritual thanks to one of those blogs I’m reading… I forget which one) and I thought, “I want to take a Sabbath.” You see, at the end of this 48 hour period, I do not feel rested, I do not feel rejuvenated, and I do not feel ready to enter the week. I am yearning for God, and yet, so often, the way I live my life closes myself off to Him. I have the TV on, or the computer on constantly. I bustle around, cleaning, or working and in the in between times there is no space for me to hear God speak. I need to create that time and space in my whole week, sure, but right now I need to start small. I need to feed my soul on the Sabbath so that in the midst of the bustle of the week, my soul remembers what it is like to feast on God, and desires to continue to do so.

The list of things that I’ll need to do to prepare for the Sabbath is long, but it’s only Sunday night and so, with the right mindset, I am convinced that I can do it. I’ll need to:

  • Finish my lesson plans ahead of time
  • Keep the house clean so that I don’t feel pressure to clean it during the weekend, and so that my soul has space to breathe.
  • Do my grocery shopping and plan my errands so that they are done ahead of time

I am planning on keeping my Sabbath on Saturday, despite the fact that I signed up for a sewing class that afternoon. I’m taking the class with a dear friend, and I do believe that is a way of feeding my soul. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday it’ll be Sabbath time, and I for one, can’t wait.

Routines

I am a great lover of routines. I love planning them. I love the first few days of implementing them. I do not love waking up a few weeks later and realizing that I have abandoned the routines that held such promise only a few days before.

Even so, as I laid down this evening to spend an hour and a half with a book, I realized that there are some routines that are working impeccably for me this fall, and some that I want to implement as I move forward.

Morning Routines

  • Weekday: I love my morning cup of coffee, even if I have to drink it at school. That first sip of caffeine, even if it’s not much sends a small sense of calmness into my day.
  • Weekend: Oh that Saturday cup… in a real mug, on the couch with a book. Love.
Daytime Routines
  • Writing my “Morning Message” before I leave work for the day. I don’t always want to do it, but I always regret it the next morning when I haven’t. Taking the extra 5 minutes, and it’s really just that, 5 minutes and a little extra brain power, makes my days so much better.
  • Looking at the kids’ writing notebooks before I leave for the day. Again, an extra 15-30 minutes saves me an infinite amount of stress
  • Likewise, making photocopies the night before, makes life so much easier the next day.
Evening Routines
  • Today, instead of watching mindless TV, I sat down with my book, and read for 90 minutes. I was so grateful for that time. It felt longer than it would have if I had watched TV, and my brain felt healthier too.
Weekly Routines 
This is where I really need to grow. Here are some routines I’d like to implement.
  • Sunday: Make lunches for the following week, plan schedule for the week
  • Monday: Clean living room
  • Tuesday: Clean up bedroom
  • Wednesday: Clean up bathroom
  • Thursday: Clean up kitchen
  • Friday/Saturday: Grocery Shopping

“We’re adults. How did that happen? And how to we make it stop?”

The quote above is a favorite from the show Grey’s Anatomy which  I watch religiously each week despite the fact that it has unfortunately become somewhat formulaic and predictable. I rewatched the first few seasons in order this summer though, and fell in love all over again. At this point in my life, their stumbling around efforts to look adult all the while feeling about 17 feels oh-so-familiar.

I was pondering that this morning as I first woke up early, then rolled over and woke up too late and too tired to drag myself to church. I don’t quite have the handle of adult life. I don’t know my limits yet- don’t know that I can’t spend an entire day outside, get only one of my errands done, and then commit to spending a full day babysitting on Sunday and then expect to have the energy to go to church beforehand. I don’t yet understand how to balance the demands of work with the demands of a house that doesn’t clean itself and a body that can’t exercise on its own.

I am trying to have grace with myself in this time. It’s only my second year in an apartment by myself; it’s only my second year doing this job; it’s only my seventh year out of college (yikes). While I know that I need to be focusing on developing discipline and routines for myself, I also can’t beat myself up over the fact that things aren’t perfect yet. I’ll get there- just not nearly as fast as I’d like to.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your tips on how you balance the demands of adult life. I need your help!

Seeing Wisdom in God’s Plans

This blogging challenge has been, well, challenging. I am so glad I didn’t sign up for the whole month, but equally glad that I committed to trying more. It’s hard to come up with something to write about each day, but it’s been nice to be able to have a place to crystallize my thinking, a place to realize how much I am learning each day. Having blogged fairly consistently for nearly two years, it is fun to look back at where I have been, and to be grateful for how much I have learned over the years.

Yesterday I was struck by how perfectly God has orchestrated my life. I was driving down Cambridge Street, having just finished dinner with some co-workers and I was reflecting on just how far I’ve come in the nearly 14 months since I started at my new school. I remember this time last year feeling completely overwhelmed. I was grateful to be at the new school, but I was learning so much, and each day felt like a huge learning curve. My brain didn’t have time to rest and I missed the friendships I had left at my old school. As I drove down the street yesterday though, I was struck by the close friendships I have developed at the new school, and how I couldn’t have predicted that at this time last year. I was grateful for how my new school is such a perfect fit for my teaching style and philosophy and I was grateful for how looking at the old school now, I couldn’t have predicted how many of my good friends there would be gone now.

This is a season of life, and it is one that I am enormously grateful for. One where all of the pieces seem to come together, where my work life, social life, home life, and family life are all (relatively) stable and I can just enjoy the moments. It is though, in the remembering how I did not orchestrate even a bit of this that I hope to carry through to those other seasons. I did not know what God was doing when He allowed this door to open for me. I did not know what He was doing when he allowed 3 apartments to fall through before landing me here. I did not know what He was doing I felt lead to attend the new church nearly 4 years ago. And yet, here I am, in a life that for this season at least, feels blessedly knit together just for me.

Thanks

Because it’s 9:00 and I’m stuck for a blog idea and it’s only the 6th day of the month during which I committed to write 21 blog posts; because I’ve only written 2 so far this month; because I, like everyone needs to stop and remember He who is the giver of all good gifts, I stop today and join with Ann in giving thanks.

  1.  Green leaves, still on the trees almost six months after they first appeared. A gift of beauty in the midst of what was otherwise a despairing time.
  2. Butternut squash mixed with cremini mushrooms and tortellini, comfort food for a fall evening.
  3. Soccer games and state fairs, Fall traditions that bring joy to a season during which so many of my favorite things fall away.
  4. Running. Being able to run after so many years of not running. Enjoying each step as my body releases tension.
  5. Frivolous perhaps, but my flat iron. A tool which enables me to enjoy thirty more minutes of sleep two mornings in a row and still allows for some style.
  6. The support I find in my colleagues. I could not work with a better team.
  7. The Word. How it feeds my soul. How it is always always there, even when I forget.
  8. Frozen waffles. Easy morning sustenance.
  9. Cheap yet delicious coffee. A balm to those first thirty minutes of the school day.
  10. Grace.

Peace in the Midst of the Busy Busy

There is so much to do these days it’s somewhat frightening. We’re implementing two new big initiatives at work, and while it’s exciting, it is a LOT of work. Plus I’ve been out a lot (4.5 days already… and it’s only the 22nd day of school counting tomorrow- I’m sure the parents love me), and so I’m perpetually crafting sub plans which is in and of itself exhausting. So, imagine my relief when yesterday, I finally turned to the Scriptures and I found verses which spoke directly to my soul.

I’ve been yearning for a deep, intimate relationship with God since I was a baby-Christian some 9 odd years ago. I’ve always had an intellectual belief in God and have clung to a strong knowledge that God exists, but my classically trained mind was hesitant to let my heart connect. Where did this leave me? Thirsty. I was thirsty for an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual connection with the God of the universe. I was thirsty for the opportunity to open my heart to Him and let Him all the way in. Finally, last night, I did something about it. A little Google searching lead me to Intervarsity’s website and a list of links for personal Bible study. Within 5 minutes I found a study on pursuing intimacy with God and I knew I had to pursue it. Last night I read Psalm 84, and below I’ll share the journal entry that I wrote in response:

For years I have complained that my faith is an intellectual one- firmly rooted in my mind, but not in my heart. Where my mind knows that God is good- knows that He loves me and has saved me, my heart wrestles with doubt and unbelief. I’m tired of it. I want intimacy with God. I want talking with Him and stepping myself in His word to become second-nature. I know now that I will need to fight for it. And so I begin.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” -Psalm 84:5

I pray that this is where I have set my heart: on pilgrimage towards the One who created it all. And I pray that as I spend time with Him that He will be faithful to open my heart to understand and love Him more deeply. I am grateful for the peace that this Psalm brought in the midst of the busy-ness of life, and the promise of increasing peace as my time with Him continues.

Habitats

Love love love this post for so many reasons. First, because it so is how I live my life. Those moments before vacations are the ones I live for. I know rest is coming, I know that long luxurious hours are the ones that bring rest to my soul, and so those are the ones that I live for.

Beyond that, I love it because it mentioned the habitat that God created for us. We’ve been studying habitats in school, and it has been striking to me how each animal is so perfectly created for its habitat (or, how each habitat is so perfectly created for its inhabitants). What am I missing in the habitat in which I am currently living? Honestly? I’m not feeding that 1-1 relationship with Him that I was created to live with. This has been a constant struggle for me. I am so exhausted at the end of the day, that all I want to do is watch TV and zone out until it’s time to go to bed. I wake up in the morning too late to spend time with God, with barely enough time to shower. In short, as Bonnie points out I am as, as many, living on auto-pilot.

So, how do I move out of auto-pilot? How do I move into a way of life that appreciates each moment, that stops wishing away the majority of the life that I live? I need to find that time to spend with the Lord. It slows me down when I do, it focuses me on what’s important, and it’s time to do just that. It’s time to begin to live in the habitat for which I was created.

31 Days of… Trying to Blog More

Some of my favorite bloggers are up to their second annual “31 Days” series. You can find links to all of their posts over at Emily’s blog, Remodeling This Life.

As for me, I’m not up to the challenge of posting on the same topic for  31 days at this point in the school year, or in my life. I’m hopeful for next year, but this year I can already tell that it’s a lost cause! Still, I want to blog more, and so I’m going to use this month to try to do just that. I’m thinking every weekday for a total of 21 posts. That way, I can make up lost days on the weekend.

What will I blog about? I’m not sure. I’m thinking a smattering of fall pictures chronicling my adventures this month, a few favorite recipes as I try to cook more, my thoughts on faith as I see where God takes me over the course of the month, and maybe a few school stories mixed in too.

I’m excited for what this month has in store! I hope that you will stop by and leave your own thoughts!