Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whatever is True...Part 3

Part 1

Christianity has been no picnic for me.  I suspect that when you believe anything wholeheartedly, it demands more of you than you imagined possible.  At least, that's the way it's worked for me.  Since I never really have been the type of person to accept life based on someone else's experience, my picnic was interrrupted by any number of natural disasters and unexpected visitors.

From a young age, I really struggled with legalism.  It was an issue in my denomination so it wasn't any wonder I grew up believing Christianity meant women wore skirts to church, everyone voted Republican and the really dedicated drove a GM product.  Into my teens, I found myself pitying those who weren't as good as I was.  I was better because of the list of things I didn't do, and I honestly believed I deserved praise for all the effort I was expending on behalf of God Almighty.  My reward was going to be great, I reasoned.

Then, Christianity became unsatifactory--less than fulfilling.  I was missing something, but I couldn't pinpoint the cause of the disconnect.  Most of the requirements from my early church days went out the door--they didn't seem necessary to living a life pleasing to Christ.  I began asking questions:  "What does it mean to live like a Christian?"

I learned a lot about worship in those days.  My college friends were largely Christians who were asking the same types of questions I was, so I found our relationships challenging and edifying.  Two of those people would be the catalysts that ignited a fire in my body to know the living Christ I professed.

Thanks to my friend, Janna, I learned large sections of Isaiah 61, and truly believed God could bind up the broken hearted.  I developed a real prayer relationship with my Saviour, but still believed that Christians fit into a particular mold--without that shape, the person couldn't be a Christian, right?

Fast forward about ten years:  Favorite and I found ourselves at the bottom of a black hole.  We looked as good as we possibly could--church every Sunday, Bible Study, Praise and Worship, Sunday School, service projects--but inside?  We were broken people.  We had no reasonable idea of how to dig our way back to the surface through our devastation.  So, we did the only thing we knew to do:  gritted our teeth and went through the motions of regular life. 

For months, we floundered.  We looked for any encouragement and found ourselves faced with criticism we couldn't handle on top of the devastation we had faced.  Frustrated and tired, Favorite told me one Sunday, "No more church.  I can't do church anymore."  His statement wasn't a shock.  Sundays had been little more than argument days for months, and sermons consisted of suggestions like "fake it til you make it."  We just couldn't fake it anymore.

Exhausted, I prayed two sentences a few nights a week with no hope that my prayer was being answered:  "Where are you, God?  Show Yourself to us."

Morning came.  We got up, went about our day.  The sun went down and we went to sleep and the process started over.  It wasn't until months later that I could see God's sustaining hand in my life at all.  The fact that I was finally able to get up and function may not seem like a miracle to anyone else, but for me?  It was answered prayer.  God was showing Himself.

In recent months, someone hoped we would find and hear the Truth.  So this?  Is the Truth:

Christians don't always have it together.  I rarely have to have it together.  I'm still learning to rely on a God who will show Himself powerful when I'm not sure I can walk again.  He is capable of redeeming the worst of sinners--I know that from personal experience.  No amount of rule following, happy facing or serving will get any of us any closer to Heaven.  Lip service isn't necessary, because we've been set free from all of that nonsense (Galatians 5:1).

More than anything, the Truth is that Christ came so we could live an abundant life (John 10:10).  He came to destroy the molds that give us any indication that we are "better" or "different" (Galatians 3:28).  But most importantly, Jesus came for the poor,  the brokenhearted, the captive, those who mourn, those who have been shamed and those who have been devasted (Isaiah 61).

He loves you...just as you are--no molds, no lip service.  And He'll meet you there.

That's the Truth.

Whatever Is Noble Part 1

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Whatever Is True

For the new year, my congregation has been focusing on Philippians chapter 4.  PastorJosh has encouraged us to memorize this passage and meditate on the Truth in it.  As we read that passage collectively in morning worship, my stomach fluttered with recognition over verse 8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I'd like to write to each of these themes--not just because they are some valuable parts of my life, but because I want my mind to gravitate to the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy in life.  (And couldn't we all use a few more of those things?)

Here's something true:

Favorite and I attended four years of high school together without speaking.  He was a jock; I wasn't.  Our crowds didn't attend the same sorts of events.  He maintains that we spoke once at a party during high schoo.  I remind him that party was at McClain's house and it was a post-graduation party.  I'm not even entirely sure said exchange happened.  Clearly it meant more to him (*wink*).

College took us separate directions.  He went to a small school about two hours away from our home town while I stayed to attend community college.  Because he was a home town football hero (on a team that couldn't win a game), my parents became familiar with his plans to play football at his small school.

When my mom and dad were young, my dad had a fairly impressive car.  (I don't recall the make or the model, but they tell fond stories of its impressiveness?...impressivosity?)  Because the car was black and red, my mother crocheted a matching afghan for my father to keep in the car on the what-I-assume-to-be leather seats. 

They kept that afghan until they learned Favorite was attending  a school and the colors were black and red--the same colors of the afghan.  Without my knowledge, that afghan passed into the hands of Favorite's mother so she would have something to use during the football season.

He played for one year and then returned home to attend the university near our small town.  I finished my degree at community college and then transferred to the University of Illinois to pursue a degree in advertising.

I was dating someone seriously during my tenure at U of I, but we briefly broke up sometime during the spring semester.  Devastated, I called my mother.  "You know, I was talking to Sherri (Favorite's mother) today, and she said Chris is interested in taking you on a date."  Since I was angry, I told Mom I would be glad to go on the date.  "Set it up" were my last words.

That date never happened.  Boyfriend and I reconciled, and when I transferred back to the local university, my relationship was intact.

But not for long.

That summer I found myself single and no longer looking.  The previous relationship had a few issues (I won't be sharing them on my blog.  What's done is done.), and I really thought it was a good idea to embrace singleness for a bit of time.

Which lasted for about six months.  Then, there was the rebound.  The rebound also will not be discussed, didn't last a long time, and ended at my choice.

LilBro was wrestling for hometown high at this point, and my friend, Kate, and I decided to make an appearance at the invitational.  Oddly enough, Favorite, who was also a high school wrestler, was helping run the tournament.

Just before I had to leave to go to work, Favorite sauntered his arrogant self across the gym to strike up a conversation.  I don't remember what we said, but it couldn't have been important.  I didn't understand why a guy I'd never spoken to in school would want to speak now.

When he walked away, Kate looked and me and said, "That man is your husband."

I've had some surreal moments in my life, but this one will go down in history.  I looked at her with no response.  What would I have said? 

The next day was SuperBowl Sunday.  I had to work after church, and had been working at Walmart for a few months.  At two o'clock, I was a little confused when I saw Favorite saunter (he did that a lot) by the jewelry counter.  Again, he started a conversation.

We agreed to meet for dinner near the university the next day.  He was 20 minutes late, and it was the most horrific date in history.

But somehow...here we are.  That was ten years ago.

We were engaged three months later and married after a year long engagement.

Our marriage has had its fair share of vomit-inducing workouts, and we aren't the same idealistic people we were when we said "I do."  Thankfully, he taught me what it is to love someone else--not perfectly, and definitely not blindly.

But Favorite?  Is true.  And what we have is true.  And I think that's worth a moment.

(Oh, and my mother-in-law still has that afghan.  It's still in my family.  Who knew a piece of history between my Mom and Dad would also become a piece of our history?)

Whatever Is True Part Two

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Less of Me (and Not Because I Lost Weight)

On Sunday, PastorJosh posed a question:  "What stuff are you worshipping?  Who is the steward of your life?"

Automatically, my eyes snapped to attention.  "I can't ignore him," I thought as he lined out the areas of perspective, priorities and personal choices.  When he read those, my mind focused on food and family--few hints of God in very many of those places for me.  "I know I need to hear this, but things are hard now.  When things aren't so difficult, I'll be more focused on worship and more dedicated to seeking God.  He'll get to that part of the sermon."

He never got to that part of the sermon, ya'll.  I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm pretty sure that part of the sermon never existed.

After the service, Favorite and I caught PastorJosh and his family at a restaurant.  We told him that it was a difficult sermon to hear, but one we felt really spoke to some issues in our own lives.  PastorJosh looked at the ground and said, "I don't have this part figured out either.  I get really busy and let myself get distracted."

His admission is humbling and encouraging--not because he screws up, but because he knows that we're all on equal playing ground.  None better.  None worse.  "But for the grace of God go I" sort of thinking.

I think God is really speaking to me about judgment and pretentious behavior.  Were it not for Him?  My life would be a walking testament to bad decisions and worse priorities.  More education, more money, bigger houses, better cars, popularity--those things don't change who or what we are:  sinners gifted grace.  

I don't want to forget who I am in the improvement process.  Losing weight, getting pregnant, building a house or buying a nicer car won't change God, and ultimately, those things really only change my outside appearance, and, sometimes, the way others view me.  But for real change to take place, I need perspective:  Allowing God to become more instead of less even as I seek solutions to issues I'm facing.  I need to spend less time on me, me, me.

(Speaking of spending less time focusing on self, head over here and read one girl's adventures in reducing her selfishness by challenging herself to a weekly random act of kindness.  I love that it encompasses everything PastorJosh told us on Sunday about perspective, priorities and personal choices.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

To Feel vs. To Know

What I know is often overshadowed by what I feel.  I'm not sure if that makes the crazy/hot scale true, or if that's just the joy of living life with estrogen.  Either way points me in the direction of this "female-ness" I've been dealt.  Sometimes it's just hard to be a girl.

Today, I don't feel well.  I feel tired and frustrated, and those feelings call reinforcements so that every single frustration I have felt rears its ugly head in the hours I've spent trying to lift my head off this couch.  All of those frustrations lead to one over-arching feeling:  failure.  That's how I feel despite what I know.

Next month, Favorite and I will have been working on a family for seven years.  This month, I will have been trying to lose weight for four years.  May, we'll be married for nine years.  Today, I still don't quite get what it is to love him the way I should.  Yesterday I was reminded that I'm fourteen years into the exact same lessons I started at the beginning of this Christian journey.

Always feeling.  Always forgetting.  Trying to remind myself:  God is good.  And not in that congregation-repeats-"All the time"-and-then-says, "All the time, God is good" sort-of-way.

BigBro wrote to me once, "Some people say that faith is the absence of doubt.  I don't think that's true.  Faith is believe in the face of doubt because we know He is faithful."  What I wonder is when taking thoughts captive becomes easier business?

Typically, infertility does not define who I am.  It does not rule my day or change my purpose.  I feel pangs as the result of its presence in my life, but it is rarely the one thing I think about all day long.  Buford Betty summed it up best:

Infertility makes you feel like less of a woman. I mean gosh, the one thing I should be able to do as a woman, I can't freaking do. And it doesn't just affect me... I've got a husband who wants to be a dad. I've got parents who are dying to be grandparents. Sometimes I can't help but feel guilty for making everyone around me wait. I've seen infertility kill marriages and friendships. And I totally get why. I think some women dealing with it just completely lose themselves in the anger and depression. I don't ever want to be that person, but I certainly understand how someone could get there. I think I generally have a great attitude about the whole thing. There are lots of bloggers out there who blog about infertility. Their whole blogs are dedicated to infertility. There are a few good ones, but most of them I find depressing. They seem to encompass this very "woe is me" outlook and I don't want any part of that. Infertility in no way defines me... it's just something I'm dealing with. So while I like to update y'all on our progress and sometimes vent here and there on my issues with it, it's not all I'm about. It's not what I want to be known for. 
 I get her.  I don't want to be "woe is me" either, but sometimes living the truth means living these moments where feelings and faith collide. 

I don't doubt Him.  I don't love Him less than I did two years ago.  Sometimes, when I feel a little much, I just wonder where His purpose is and it it isn't more evident more often.

Stupid Inantimate Objects

When I went to bed last night, I was fine. 

Sunday was a productive day.  I cooked a few meals for lunch this week.  I did some laundry.  I did some reading.  I refilled the Keurig.  I reorganized the laundry room area.  I ordered some organizational tools for the dresser in the laundry room.  I thought about sweeping.  I thought about hiring someone to sweep and mop every other week or so.

Suffice it to say this:  I was on the ball.

When I woke up at 3 AM, I had developed some sort of funk.  My throat is raw and scratchy.  My head won't stop hurting and other parts of my body insist on leaking things that shall not be discussed on the interwebs.

It's clear that I have, somehow, pissed my bed off and it's now sharing diseases that spontaneously take up residence in the human body.

The lesson we've all learned here is don't fight with inantimate objects.  You never come out on top.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Being Thick-Skinned

A coworker of mine faced a less than pleasing situation this week that left her bugged up and freaking out. Favorite has always told me that if you're right, there's no need to convince others. Rest in the fact that you know you're right; don't worry about proving it. I shared this insight with her and then encouraged her to develop a thicker skin. She responded, "I'm not like you."

I told her that developing thick skin generally requires lots of situations in which things don't go as planned. And my life? Rarely goes as planned. But in the last two years, I've really been learning what it is not to seek the approval of others.

Despite my hardcore facade, I'm not much on confrontation. By nature, I'm an avoider, because I just don't like dealing with the unsatisfactory. Sometimes the unsatisfactory follows me, though.

Take for instance, a past issue at work. It wouldn't have mattered if I was the most qualified teacher on the face of the planet. I could've earned five hundred awards from prestigious institutions all over the world, but due to the nature of the issue, I still would have faced the problems I faced. Eventually, I had to get comfortable with the fact that some people will think what they think, and they are welcome to their own opinions. Does it make those opinions right? No. But it's also not my job to convert the masses...and chances are pretty good no conversion was going to take place on my watch anyway.

I've encountered people who have chosen me as the focal point of anger when several other people have done the exact same thing I did.  Do you know how frustrating that is?  Were our actions wrong?  (I'm using the plural since they were collective actions.)  No.  They just weren't the decisions the other person preferred we make.  Why did that person focus on me?  No idea.  Maybe the person felt more comfortable directing his/her anger in my direction.  Maybe s/he knew I could handle it.  Maybe s/he liked me less than everyone else in the group?

These experiences have left me on the other side with a couple of options.  I can get my panties in a ruffle about all the people who don't like me.  (And I have.  OH, believe me.)  Or I can quit being so sensitive about the stupidity I can't control.

For the most part, I've chosen the latter.  Forgive me when I say that I don't much care if you don't like me.  I wish it could be different.  I would've worked to make sure our interactions were pleasant ones--especially if I felt like you were also working for pleasantness.  Believe it or not, I really wanted things between us to be good, because I know there are a lot of great things that can come out of relationships with others.  But I know that the only attitude I can control is mine.  So if you dislike me, feel free to waste your time and energy doing it and telling other people how awful I am.  I have other things to be concerned about.

On the other hand, there is this small (teeny-tiny) group of people who generally manage to ruffle my feathers--mostly because I love them.  Because I want them to know me.  Because I want them to see me.  When things go wrong on those fronts, I totally get the paranoia and the lack of thick skin my coworker has developed.  But even in those situations, the only reaction I can control is mine.  Do I always get it right?  I'd say I manage about 15% of the time.  The other 85%, I get my feelings hurt and react accordingly.

And, eventually, some of the people who ruffle my feathers end up transferring to the group that doesn't register on my radar based on reaction alone.

It's not the way I'd want it, but I can't spend my life seeking approval from people who will hold it over my head just to watch me jump for it.  Instead, I've chosen to live my life as best as I can.  (God knows I'm pretty much a failure at that, too.)  Beyond that, I don't have enough time to worry about why you don't like me.  I'd be glad to apologize over my wrong doing.  But I'm not going to waste time trying to anticipate and deconstruct every.single.look. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

On Why It's Hard to Write a Blog About Nothing

I've said before that I started this blog to chronicle a weight loss journey that failed before it really began.  I guess that's what I intended it to be--a weight loss blog.  Then, I wrote a little about Christianity and how it affects my life, and occasionally, I would throw a blurb or two in about education and what it's like to be a teacher.  What I've never done?  Chosen one subject and married this blog to it.  I'm the Seinfeld of the blog world.

I'm a show I never watched, but, ironically, expect people to read.  How's that for honesty?

I envy some of the bloggers I follow.  Kelly is a Mommy-BloggerYoung House Love has that DIY thing down to an art.  Andi lures people in with her 165 lb weight loss and keeps them with recipes and anecdotes about living and eating.  But me?  I ramble about what socks I'm wearing or why I'm the hillbilly of grad school.  Clearly, I've got compelling down to an art.

Sometimes I'm jealous of those other blogs--not because I feel like what I say isn't as important, but because I feel like they understand what they want to say a little better than I do.  People follow because you know exactly the tenor of John and Sherry's posts, Andi's musings and Kelly's pictures.

So it doesn't surprise me that I get followers and then lose them.  After all, what of substance are you getting here?  And yet, something in me says that Weight-loss-PCOS-Dealin'-Christian-Living-Students-Learnin'-School-Lesson-Planning-Whining-Reading-Freaking-Out-House-Building-Improving-Distaster-Dealin'-With-A-Freak-Side-Show-of-Infertility has to be at least as amusing as the Soup Nazi.  Right?  Right?

I tried to narrow the topics.  Talk about one thing consistently.  Focus on a single subject.  My conclusion?   Ain't happenin'.  The truth is this:  This is my life.  It's ordinary and hilarious and full of unexpected forays into, well, the unexpected.  I can't do singular, because circumstances hate me that isn't my life, and anything less than honest ruins my declaration that I will live Christianity as honestly as possible in the hope of blessing one person.

If you consider my sad, sad dependence on the internet blessing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just Another Manic...Thursday?

Today was my last observation before tenure.  I don't post-eval with my administrator until next week, but (*I think*) the lesson went well.  My students deserve a Golden Globe for their performances in class.  I feel like saying that means they were putting on an act for the admin, but the truth is they are that way most of the time.  I'm telling you:  my students this year make me rejoice in my job as a teacher.  On most days, I love them all to pieces.

I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how to root my Nook Tablet so I could download Android Apps--including the Kindle App.  I was told that the textbook for my (grad) class (number 2!  for those of you keeping track) wasn't available on the Nook, and I knew this would be a cheaper route.  Hence, the rooting.  Turns out, the book IS available on the Nook which means that I'm a sucker for not double checking information before I just accept it from another resource.  Jerks.  Uninformed, non-tech-savvy jerks.  (And an apology to Morgan since she thinks I told her she's dumb in the lounge today.  Not my intent, Morgan.  Not my intent.  But I love you.  You and Kerry.  And Schmeig.  Who will always be Schmeig.  I think I'm getting off topic.)

Speaking of class (Please acknowledge my beautiful segue way), this semester promises to be MUCH easier than last semester. And by MUCH I mean the difference between me and a marathon runner.  This class requires a total of 8 pages of writing--due in 2 page increments four separate times.  It's a pretty big turn around from my 25 page monstrosity last semester.

Despite the fact that this semester will be easier, I'm still the hillbilly in higher education.  No risk of me becoming the pretentious jerk who thinks that more time at a desk makes her better than people who didn't pursue college.  Actually, the further I go in education, the more I realize how blessed I am to have the opportunity to learn more. 

There's actually a guy at my church with a doctorate who refuses to allow others to call him "doctor" and has no sense of uppity (it's a super-technical term) what-so-ever.  Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone thought that way?  Part of "teacher" makes me think that I have a responsibility to others...and that responsibility doesn't include looking down my nose at those who are less educated than me.  Particularly when most of those people have schooled me in a hundred different ways.  (Mostly about Christian living.  I'm a slow learner.  Really.  Really.  Slow.) 

Anyway, that's my Thursday.  Sitting at home, downloading books, missing Favorite and thanking God he'll be home tomorrow.  What do you think about education?  Are you pursuing it?  Do you think higher ed is for pretentious jerks?  Give me some feedback.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MidWeek Confessions: 1/18/2012

*  My class begins tonight.  It wasn't the class I had planned to take, or even a class I had signed up for until last night.  But it's a class, and hopefully it won't be too taxing.  It might even have the added bonus of benefitting our RTI team or the PSAE committee with prep ideas.

*  Class may get over soon enough for me to attend my church small group.  Here's hoping.

*  I ordered a mustard yellow sweater, and I lllluuuuuurrrrrrvvvvvvveeeeee it.  I am wearing it today with a navy blue shirt, but I'd really like to find an eggplant colored shirt to wear with it in the future.  How could anyone be sad and wear yellow?

*  The search for the perfect flat continues.  Maybe this weekend I shall be blessed with shoes from the heavens.  (Ha.  I just made finding the perfect shoe a divine experience.)

*  Favorite is leaving for the next couple days due to a death in the family.  I can't go because 1.  we can't afford plane tickets for both of us ($500!!!), and 2.  I can't take that much time from work.  Please pray for this loss.  Randy was younger than my parents and suffered a massive heart attack days after his first grandchild was born.  His family is hurting.

*  Bible study, church and friends are really encouraging me to live where I am.  (Yes.  It's another lesson I should've gotten when I was 15.  The irony of teaching vs. learning isn't lost on me.)  Frankly, that simple lesson is really helping me complete the day to day without feeling like it's mundane or useless.  (Why keep making the bed/loading the dishwasher/sweeping the floor, etc.)  It's helped with the whole Weight Watchers thing, too.  Instead of looking down the road a year, I'm looking at today.  And, obviously, that keeps me from borrowing a lot of trouble.  It's a much more peaceful way of living.  Scout's honor.  (But I was never a scout.  So take it for what it's worth.)

*  Today for lunch:  Sauteed brussel sprouts with slivered almonds and a bit of parmesan.  Main dish:  Mushroom/Quinoa burgers with dijon mustard.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The One Where I Realize I'm The Moron

Today, I realized I'm a complete and total moron.

I highlighted all possible classes scheduled for this semester, because I couldn't take anything offered on Tuesdays or Thursdays.  I needed a Monday or a Wednesday class.  Thankfully, I found an open Wednesday class and signed up.

Tonight, I came home, checked my schedule so I would know where I was going tomorrow and realized the class I registered for?  Is offered on Tuesday.  Not Wednesday. 

So after a trip into town and a pretty obvious panic attack, I have reregistered for a class in Curriculum and Development, because all of the English classes on Monday or Wednesday are full.

But it's a class on reading, and that could benefit an English teacher, right?  Even an English teacher who clearly cannot read?

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Mess of Unraveled Yarn

I've spent most of today with a half-formed blog post in my mind while I successfully avoided grading the papers I promised myself I would grade while I was home.  I'm nothing if not a talented procrastinator.  It's a spiritual gift, really, and I think we should embrace our spiritual gifts.

(Note the sarcasm that translates poorly without its own, specialized font.)

The last question of our Bible study (James:  Mercy Triumphs) this week, in context, was this:

The NASB translates [Acts 15:25], "It seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you."  Few things testify to the presence and power of Christ more vividly than two garlic-strong mind-sets melding into one.  Ephesians 2:14-18 plays the piercing melody beneath the harmony of the letter to the Gentile believers.  [These verses indicate Jesus Christ is the means of their peace.]  How have you personally experience this peace?
Peace is always a difficult one for me.  Salvation?  That I get.  Grace?  I can embrace it tolerably well on special holidays.  But peace?  That's one I can't quite fit in my personal lidded tupperware--even the flexible kind.  And my answer to that question is problematic.  But before I can explain that, here's my answer:

In our current situation, the peace comes from the promise that this will glorify Him.  I am not always on board with what's going on.  I'm not always the biggest cheerleader for events in my own life.  But I know He is good.  And I know He will be glorified.  And whatever the outcome, I can rest in that.

The problematic part of this answer comes in the form of unraveled yarn.  There's no tidying it.  It can't be used for a project.  It's just here, and when I look at it, it looks so completely wasteful.  My heart doesn't embrace it at all, but it embraces the only One who can do anything with it.

When I think peace, I think of people who are comfortable no matter the outcome.  People like Paul--to live is Christ and to die is gain.  But I'm not Paul, and someday I really want to ask him if he penned those words to convince himself or if he truly believed them at that point.

I'm not comfortable with just any outcome.  My heart aches for a family.  Even when I try to convince myself that disposible income and travelling at a moment's notice are incredible alternatives, I know in my heart that this house was built for life and my heart was shaped to love those lives.

I pray that our situation will change.  For miracles.  For continued hope and blessing in the waiting.  But I've never embraced it.  Welcomed it.  Sat down with it to get comfortable.  Mostly?  Because I will never be on board with this mess of unraveled yarn.

But I am on board with Him.  Any sense of peace in my heart and home doesn't come from a comfortability in this situation, but rather a comfortability in God's continued ability to glorify Himself.  That's where I rest.  That's where I find peace--even when I wish for an alternative.

On the previous page, something Beth had written really impressed me:

Afer all our discord, clash, and clamor, we will one day worship in the presence of the One who orchestrated the perfect symphony of two different testaments and, more impressively, a host of clay instruments (36).
 For me, one day is now.  I'm learning to worship Him amid the discord of circumstances, and I'm choosing to remember He is so totally worth it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ballet Flats

I'm a big fan of heels, but there's nothing like a cute pair of flats to make an outfit.  I've been looking for a new pair of flats since my dog has about killed my old pair.  Death by licking.

Thing is, I can't find anything I like more than these:

These are Toms new ballet flats.  First of all I love the look of the shoes, but the biggest selling point is the fact that a child in need gets a pair of shoes for every pair purchased.  I know it probably doesn't work this way, but the idea of some little girl wearing a cute pair of ballet flats warms my heart.

Problem?  These haven't been released yet.

So I continue to search for the perfect pair of flats while longing for Toms to get it together and release these already.

Friday, January 13, 2012


My last several posts have been about food.  Remember when I wasn't so boring?

I've always been this boring?  #blogfail

I would commit to doing better, but I seem to have little to talk about these days.  My life is surrounded by food and laundry and church and students.  And while each of those things is amusing in its own right, it makes for less than hilarious blog reading if I can't relay said hilariousness.  Instead, there shall be lists.

1.  Lentil stew=epic fail.  It was gross.  Won't be making that mistake again.

2.  I went to a church focus meeting last Saturday with my mom and my aunt, and I'm impressed at the number of people who are determined to live Christianity authentically.  (You know, scabs and all.)  I learned that most of the people from this church are recent additions, like myself, and really just want to live Jesus.  I've struggled with that concept my whole life, because when you come from a fairly legalistic background, it's difficult to wrap your mind around freedom.  I've known Galatians 5:1 for years, but the actual concept of freedom is difficult to articulate and even more difficult to enact.  But now?  Now I'm surrounded by a group of people who are willing to wrestle with it.  Struggle with it.  Turn it on its side and look at it from a different angle.  It seems few of them are concerned with form, and almost every one of them desires function.  It makes me want to see people--really see them.  I think that's when they become interested in Jesus--when they know they are seen.

3.  I opted not to join other members of the congregation for a fast this month.  For me, it wouldn't have been about sacrifice and spiritual focus.  It would have been weight loss.  Plain and simple.  And I don't want to cheapen it.

4.  I love my 7th hour.  Love.  They have been my favorite class since the beginning of the year.  However, recent events are throwing a wrench into the works.  Today?  It was wretched.  Absolutely and totally wretched.  Now, Tuesday will consist of a sincere talk with the entire class so I can hopefully recover the awesome dynamic from last semester.

Happy Weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not a Bad Day

Due to an issue with a boiler, I am off work today.  Unexpected, but pleasant.  I am also pleasantly pleased to enjoy my new router and wireless internet :)  I'm not saying you can't live without the internet (clearly, we're pretty spoiled here in the US), but once you get used to something, it's difficult to live without it.

So today, I will be cruising Pinterest:  Follow Me on Pinterest

I will also be deep conditioning my hair, grading papers, doing some general cleaning, and spending time in Bible study.  Not a bad day if I do say so myself :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MidWeek Confessions--1/11/12

*  Weight Watchers is...easier this time around?  (You know, for the whole two days I've stayed on it.)  I think maybe because I'm committed to cooking and it isn't about getting as much food for as few points as possible.  I don't really much worry about those points except to stay in the limit I've been given for the day.  If I eat something for lunch, I just track it.  If I only have 10 points left for supper, I do try to keep portion sizes small.  But I've found I'm less hungry in the evenings so it isn't as big of a deal.

*  Tonight?  Lentil Stew with Cornbread Dumplings.  It's a crockpot recipe, so I have little prep.  (BigAl, I'm sending the recipe tonight! I want to try it first so I can tell you what I think.)

*  Cooking every evening was a bit ambitious for a couple of reasons.  1.  My fridge was overflowing with leftovers.  I was taking them for lunch and Favorite was eating, but we still couldn't keep up.  2.  I don't get home until 6 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so cooking on Tuesday nights may not happen.

*  I love my classes this year.  LoveThem.  They want to talk about what we're doing, and I think conversation is the best way to learn, so I'm happy to comply.  Mostly, I just enjoy their personalities.  (Even when they tell me I'm old.  Or I'm letting myself go.  Or my makeup could use some work.)

*  I'm the worst laundry lady ever.  Ever.

*  Sometimes, even when I've committed to saying as little as possible about an issue, I end up running my mouth.  It doesn't help.  It makes others view me in a bad light, and it makes me less than happy with myself.  Most of the time, I talk out of frustration.  But I hate that I can't just close my mouth when I'm frustrated.

*  I broke my resolution to watch my mouth a couple of times this week.  But most notably?  This morning...when an 8-point buck was standing 4 feet from my car as I drove by and I didn't see him until I didn't have time to stop.  First I said it.  Then I had to keep myself from doing it.

Join MidWeek Confessions by clicking the above button.  And if you're interested, let me know what it is you want.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Do You Want?

I have a student who regularly tells me I'm old.

Before you start planning his funeral, know that 1.  he does it to be funny; 2.  it's a mutual thing between us (I don't tell him he's old, because I can't.  But I do have my own fair share of comebacks.); 3.  he's one of my very favorite students.

Despite the "jokey" nature of  these exchanges, I would be lying if I told you they never bothered me.  As my BigBro likes to remind me when it comes to teasing about age, "It bothers you  more than it bothers me."

It's really not the age that bothers me.  I'm 31.  I don't feel 31.  I don't think I look 31.  (The Wii probably thinks I'm 60, so no help there.)  But there was something specific I had pictured for this age--a bit of expectation if you will.

I don't want to lie.  There are no pretty conclusions to tie up in a pretty bow with this post.  There's just this longing to experience.  By 31, I thought my experience would be a bit more broad.  Instead, there's me:  constantly changing directions, never quite knowing what it looks like, never completely comfortable with the status quo.  Me.  Making circles in the sand.

Case-in-point?  I love teaching.  But I didn't even pursue my degree in English until I was 25.  In college, I pursued broadcast journalism, not because I wanted it, but because I thought that was the talent I had.  When the wind changed, I switched to Advertising, moved to U of I and almost hyperventilated because of the change.

See?  I long for change--for experience--and then I freak out and hide from it.  This is why aging scares me.  Thirty-one has no particular significance.  Just a reminder that I'm not as young as I once was, and in another blink, I'll be 50.

But what I wonder is what is the one thing you really want to experience right now?  At this age, at this time, what did you really want for yourself?  I truly want to hear from you.  I'll save mine for another post.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Revelations at the Stove

I did something I swore I wasn't going to do this year.  I joined Weight Watchers.  Again.  I think I was prompted by this dedication to eating better--and I don't mean that as a health-conscious thing.  I mean eating better--better food, a more enjoyable process, things that taste good.

In the last three weeks or so, I've realized there is a long list of foods that I don't really like, but eat anyway.  Anything from McDonald's, for example.  Or steamed broccoli.  (LOVE it roasted.  But steamed vegetables are usually a little soggy and kinda gross.)  Or pizza rolls.  Or grilled chicken.  ::shivers::  I'm not sure why I spent so much time eating those things, but I know thinking about it disgusts me--mostly because of the sheer quantities I've put in my body.

(Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer.  I am especially not a food photographer.  I don't much care to be a photographer, either.  I put pictures up for my pleasure and as proof that something did actually take place in my kitchen.)

This is Sweet and Spicy Stuffed Chicken with Potato/Turnip/Cauliflower Mash and Roasted Broccoli.  According to to the meal plan, I was supposed to eat the chicken with orange glazed sugar snap peas and carrots, but I got a real craving for broccoli tonight.  So I changed the plan.

And you know what?  It was fantastic.  The whole meal was 19 points of amazing.  And I refuse to be upset that the meal cost that many points.  Instead, I've learned that this particular meal should only be paired with zero points vegetables instead of another recipe that adds points to the mix.  (The potato and butter in the mash actually up the point value quite a bit.  In the future, I'll add more cauliflower and turnip so it serves more with fewer added points.)

But I feel a sense of accomplishment here.  Not because I've spent one day on a program, but because I'm taking back something I love and learning to own it in a way that keeps me from constantly looking over my shoulder. 

The idea of "taking back" has had me thinking about the schedule that ticks in my head.  You know--the one that tells me I'm behind on so many things.  As long as we get there, does it really matter how long the journey takes?

I know.  Rocket science.  It's the reason you come here, isn't it?

I'll try to slow down on my revelations so everyone can keep up :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Menu Planning--1/7/2012 thru 1/19/2012

One of my New Year resolutions is to cook more so I thought menu planning would be  a good way to make that happen.  Here's the plan for the next two weeks:

Monday, 1/9/2012--Sweet and Spicy Stuffed Chicken with orange-glazed carrots and sugar snap peas (and likely potato/cauliflower/turnip mash or even roasted broccoli as I'm trying to work more veggies into my diet)

Tuesday, 1/10/2012--Chicken and Dumplings (recipe from All You magazine)--includes pearl onions, carrots, celery and peas with parmesan-butternut squash gratin

Wednesday, 1/11/2012--Slow Cooker Lentil Stew with Cornbread Dumplings (plan to eat this meal with roasted broccoli)

Thursdays and Fridays are days with Favorite.  We will either eat at home or eat out, but I don't want to plan for those days so we can spend time together.

Monday, 1/15/2012--Mushroom-Quinoa Burgers with Roasted broccoli and Potato/Cauliflower/Turnip Mash

Tuesday, 1/16/2012--Sunny Mediterranean Chicken with roasted broccoli

Wednesday, 1/17/2012--Salmon with Lemon Butter and Pineapple Salsa, roasted broccoli and  grilled Asparagus

I may post pictures of the recipes, but I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to make that happen.  I'm also willing to share recipes if any of these sound good to you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Break in the Hiatus

It's Friday so I'm typically on a blogging hiatus until Sunday, but there are a couple of things you must know because I feel it's my life duty to help you avoid missing all the things I think are important.

I have internet at home, but we are working on buying a new router.  #makingmylifeeasier

Click this link and read what Amy has to say.  This afternoon, a missionary came to speak to the Girls Bible Study group that meets in my classroom on Fridays.  The last thing she said was "Don't avoid the struggle, and don't give up.  You don't know what God has for you there."  Then, I read Amy's post.  I believe Him.  There is a destination and a purpose for the struggle.  It's coming.  I can almost see the runway lights.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Internet Is Ruining My Life

I don't want to be all My Life Is Going To End because my internet won't work, but my life is going to end.    Since one of my resolutions was to cook more often, access to the internet has become crucial in my house.  How else do you look up recipes for the three ingredients you have left before you actually go to the grocery store?  (And I would like to submit that onions, peppers, and chicken are not a bad combination in theory, but actual ingestion means one probably shouldn't spend time in the company of others for a while.  Just sayin'.)

Unfortunately, it's still. not. working.  At this stage in the game, it's probably the router, but ruling out all the other possibilities requires *ahem* internet access.  So each time I encounter a new issue, I have to wait until my planning period the next day at work.  And don't give me that garbage about running water and hot showers.  I need the internet.  ::sobs::

I did sign up for a class next semester at the prompting of Favorite.  He thinks since I received an A in the previous class, I was blowing my experience out of proportion.  (I wasn't.  But I did probably whine excessively.)  This semester, due to schedule navigation, my class is on Wednesday nights--American Literature after 1900.  We'll apparently cover Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Serial Verse and Graphic Novels.  I'm only aiming to survive and learn something in the process. 

I had to navigate a new schedule, because I was asked to teach an after school tutoring session on Tuesdays and Thursdays until the end of February.  The program is something through Sylvan, so while the students are completing a personalized, online, tutoring session, I can stay caught up on grading.  Maybe it will be less of a problem this semester.

I swear I had something more interesting to say, and I probably had pictures to contribute, but since I can't blog at home, when I have time to think, on my laptop, my creativity is stifled.  STIFLED I TELL YOU!

Maybe today's fix-it routine actually did.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Midweek Confessions: 1/4/12


*  I am addicted to The Good Wife.  I rarely get addicted to televisions shows, but when I do?  It's sick.  I haven't loved anything this much since Judging Amy went off the air.  But now I have The Good Wife and Once Upon a Time.  I hope grad school doesn't get in the way of my watching schedule.

*  I have to go to Verizon today.  I am not looking forward to it, but I really like having working internet at home.

*  I love Shakespeare, and I get really passionate when I talk about him.  The students think I'm a little unhinged, but there's something about the St. Crispin's Day speech that moves me.  And I love the scene in Renaissance Man.

*  I have no idea what recipe I'm going to try this evening, but I'm pretty pumped about trying something.  Cooking is something I really enjoy.

*  I have a bit of an after school job until the end of February.  The extra money will be nice, but it will also be an opportunity to focus on things at school for a couple of days a week.  If I have to be here, I might as well accomplish something.

*  I signed up for my class.  It's not the one I intended to take, but it sounds interesting so we'll see ;)

And those are my confessions :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolutions 2012

Last year's resolutions--this year's thoughts in bold.

1. I want to learn more about Jesus. I don't know what form this resolution will take. I know that I will probably facilitate another women's Bible study some time this year. I know that Favorite and I have committed to doing morning devotions together since we don't see each other for the rest of the day. I'm looking forward to it so far.  We didn't manage to stick through morning devotions.  Truthfully, our schedules are so opposite, it got a little ridiculous.  He'd be falling asleep during morning time, and I would be asleep when he came home.  But I do think I managed to learn quite a bit about Jesus during 2011--just not in the ways I had previously pictured.

2. I'm going to take PCOS more seriously. I may talk about it a little more on here and what it has meant for my life. I'm setting a small weight loss goal of 20 lbs for the entire year, because this syndrome makes it difficult to lose weight. However, I do know that losing even 10% of body weight can restore normal hormonal function (per information I've read). So I'm going to set small goals and work toward getting there without getting absolutely crazy in the process.  I didn't lose much weight, but I did take the syndrome more seriously.  More on that later.

3. I'm going to simplify. I need some order and consistency in my life and that may mean giving up some things. I don't know what those things are or even if I'm expected to give up actual activities at this very second, but I'm open to what God has planned for me.  Whoo.  I had no idea that simplification would mean saying goodbye to my church, members of my family and people I had known for years.  2011 was definitely the year of letting go--of dreams, relationships, expectations, people who used to live in close proximity, and fruitless commitments.  You can't hang in there just because it's what you've always done, nor can you hope and hope and hope that things will get better when it's clear that is anything but true.  Sometimes the kindest action really is waving goodbye and meaning it.

Now, on to 2012...

1.  In continuation of taking PCOS more seriously, I plan to cook on a regular basis.

I used to love to cook.  I loved being in the kitchen.  I loved planning meals.  I loved flavors and textures and color on my plate. But when I focus on weight loss, I only focus on getting as much as I can for as few calories as I can as quickly as I can.  Which, I think, is sad.  My resolution to cook more often has more to do with enjoying something again than it does with weight loss.

Would I like to lose weight?  Sure.  But I'm finally coming to the point where I can embrace myself so I can move past this stupid mentality that has kept me stuck in a rut.  The facts are as follows:  my cholesterol is good.  My blood pressure is low.  I generally consume under 2000 calories a day (often under 1500 calories a day).  Most of those calories are not from a fatty resource.  I rarely eat fast food.

What I want to do instead is focus on creating a meal that I can actually enjoy.  I want to look at food differently.  Basically, I want to live my life differently.  Instead of valuing thinness, I want to value good living.  And part of that includes my vision of food.  How can I possibly view food in a positive manner when I generally come home and eat the first convenient item in sight?  Oh, and that's another part of cooking more regularly--finding a way to eliminate the majority of convenience foods in my life.  Not all, but some.

2.  I plan to be--let go when necessary and move on when possible.

Things were difficult in 2011--good, but difficult.  Like I said earlier, letting go is never an easy part of living, and I'm worse at it than most.  I hold grudges, get my feelings hurt and can't move on because I continue to play events in my head.  I need to remember some relationships aren't forever, and that's not always a bad thing.  Part of this resolution may also include spending less time with people who create ill will (purposefully or not).  Who needs more jealousy, selfishness or anger in life?  Not this girl. 

3.  I plan to watch my mouth.

Out of all the things I've struggled with (and the list is long and distinguished), language sits at the top of the list.  I'm not just talking specific words, though that is a consideration here.  I'm also talking purposeful speech.  It doesn't mean I'll never tell a joke again, but I want to be careful about belittling others--particularly those with strong feelings about personal situations.  It's happened to me, and it hurts when people are flippant with your life.

4.  Simplification continues.

For the first time in 6 years or so, I will not be leading a Bible study.  I'm still sad about it, but I really believe it's by God's design for this season of my life.  My church does offer small groups, and I will be attending one of those, and my mom and SILSheena and I are going to complete James:  Mercy Triumphs over the next twelve weeks.  I am also retired from singing, which is a sad blessing. 

I also plan to stay at work until four or four thirty every day to cut down on the grading hassle.  Since I have an extra class of sophomores, my grading load last semester was horrendous.  I graded until the very last day of school, and I need to commit myself to doing something 

My house is becoming clutter-free and organized so I don't have to spend every weekend doing a massive cleaning overhaul.  I'm working on the laundry problem.

I really just plan to spend less time on what doesn't matter and focus more on the things that make a difference in the end.  Oh, and reading--on my Nook.  Which is simplification at its best :)

Nothing revolutionary.  But I'm looking forward to 2012--without constantly looking behind me.  I remember where I've been.  Now it's time to move on.

Monday, January 2, 2012

internet issues

Sorry for my lack of update. I'm having internet issues, but I will update with a recap of last year's resolutions and my resolutions for 2012 tomorrow. Stay tuned.