Friday, January 20, 2017

It won't be easy

It is nearing the end of January and many new years resolutions are being broken and going by the wayside. I am among those failing to keep their resolutions. I don't really do resolutions. I do One Word, so there aren't a list of rules for me to remember. It is one word to remember that will guide me through the year. This year my word is abide. I took a circuitous route, but I got to the right word. It has already challenged me. I have no clue how time has flown so quickly over the last two weeks. As such my journal writing, Bible studying, and quiet moments, have slowed down. They aren't gone, but they aren't as frequent either.

I posted last week about the things that spoke to me to help reel me back in. It was good. This week I wasn't so emotional strung out, but I wasn't very focused on abiding or on joy. I did fall into complaining more than I would like. Mentally I recognized it sooner than last week, but verbally, I wasn't so quick. I still sounded like a whiny baby. I still have some things to work on.

I plan on getting a couple new pieces of jewelry. One that says 'abide' and one that says 'joy.' So I can remind myself all the time that I need to work on abide and joy. I have changed the wallpaper on my phone with the word 'abide' and with 'joy'. I don't think I have been quite as flustered with the stress of this week. So I am making progress at stopping before I get too far. I would really like to get to the place where I don't start down the road of stress, frustration, and complaining. Mostly the complaining. I don't want to be that kind of a person that is always complaining when situations get stressful. I don't want to be the emotionally draining friend, relative, or co-worker. I want to be one that encourages. I want to be one that lifts people up and helps them see the unforeseen as a new opportunity.

Becoming a better person is hard, but it is worth it.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why I Need To Abide

Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik

This past week I have felt myself get upset about various issues at school. It all basically amounts to the end of the semester stress and making poor decisions. The students were making poor decisions based on their stress and I was making poor decisions by being drawn into it. My kids have also been really emotional the last couple weeks as well. So emotions are running high all around me! And I keep getting sucked into it.

However, God has been speaking to me about it this week in multiple ways. I've even been listening a little as well. Wednesday there were SO many emotions running around and through me. I knew I didn't like it, but I couldn't figure out how to get out of it. It spilled over into Thursday as well. Then a real actual issue came up that sobered me. I have also been writing in my journal fairly regularly. I caught myself being dragged back into the emotions on Wednesday night when I was writing. So I stopped and focused on something good. I did that again on Thursday.

Another help has been The Book of Common Prayer. I am not Episcopalian or Anglican. However, I have been looking for a book full of prayers and such that are in an older writing style that really makes me think hard. I got the book for Christmas. There are many things in there that aren't what I'm looking for. So I'm skipping past those pages. I'm focusing on the pages that are what I want. So far, I've been looking at Venite (Psalms 95:1-7; 96:9,13). Several of the phrases there have been sticking with me. They keep reminding me how big God is. He is in control of everything and that is a good thing. I can be happy because he is in control. More than I can be happy, I should be happy. "Heartily rejoice in the strength of my salvation."

Then today I was catching up on podcasts and listened to a message from Chip Ingram from Friday just reinforced the whole thing. "If I'm wise I won't compromise my integrity." "You don't allow your behavior, relationships, finances, or speech to tell a different story than what you know is right." "Be at peace in one's relationships with others." "Issues are resolved and forgiven with others and with God." That was in the first 3 minutes of the podcast. Some hard hitting stuff there. My behavior and my words this week are telling a different story than what I know is right. I have not been living in peace. I have been all over the place emotionally and that is not peace.

There are things I need to work on. I have started the work, but I need to continue. I need to change my thought process and the words coming out of my mouth. I need to find peace within myself, so I can help others find that peace as well. Writing in my journal, prayer, and Bible reading are my plan. I think that's God's plan as well. Prayer and Bible reading is always God's plan. Feel free to check up on me and call me out when you hear me complaining or you see me in the broken record of emotional chaos.

More Jesus, less me. More abide, less chaos.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Rethinking my One Word 2017

A bit of business...New year, new plan for the blog. Not really for the blog, but for me. I plan to post here on Fridays and on my other blog, Books and Pens, on Tuesday. At one time I had a schedule and it worked. Then I was writing crappy posts just because there was a schedule. So I moved away from the schedule to wait until I had a good post to share. Then life got crazy and I stopped observing it, so then I didn't have anything to write. So I am going to try a small schedule. Hopefully that will help me be more observant.

For the last several years, I have not made New Years Resolutions. I have picked a word to focus on. This year I said I was going to keep my word from last year, Still. Then this morning I was reading my devotional and Scriptures that go with it. I came across the word Abide and it spoke to me deep down. Still, for me, is the absence of noise or movement. It was about creating quiet space for me to stop and God to start. I did need that. I do need that, but maybe I need more. Maybe I need a word that reaches deeper. Abide, for me, is the quiet space, but there is an additional layer of peace and comfort. It is the stopping, but it is also being okay with stopping.

I like this word. I am constantly amazed at how these words come to me. I don't really sit and think a lot. I go to church, read my devotionals and Scriptures, and let the words come to me. So far God has been okay with this plan because he just keeps giving me words.

So this year I will abide. And I will remember John 15:9. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love."

Sunday, January 1, 2017

One Word: 2016 Review and 2017 Reveal

So I got 11 days out of 31 in October, that's more than any other month this year, so I'll consider it a success. My desire for blogging has not diminished, but my time is limited. My teaching schedule is not as crazy as last year, but it is still crazy. Ben is not focusing real well in his class right now, so we are working on some new routines as well as keeping up with homework. I'm trying to spend enough time with Lily and Drew. And I'm reading quite a bit. So my life is full of things that I'm can't or won't give up.

That all leaves me tried and stressed. It leaves me going all the time. It leaves me the opposite of still. I have been taking some time to read about prayer and stillness, but I haven't enacted any of those things yet. But I'm thinking about it. So maybe that's a start. So as 2016 ends, I started thinking about being still.

So my One Word was a failure. In an effort to be still, I tried journaling and failed. I tried reading a devotional and failed.  I tried reading a book about listening, which requires stillness, and haven't finished it. I didn't even start it the book until October or November. I tried the YouVersion app reading plans and failed to read daily. I tried sitting down each evening with a cup of tea amd failed. I got a week at most of each of these things and then got busy with something else or forgot.

For Christmas I got a Book of Common Prayer with the idea that those words will make me think hard when I pray over them. So I have another plan of how to be still. I am going to try again at journaling.  I will keep up with the Bible reading plans even if I get a few days behind. Each of those things will require some stillnesss from me. I also got a Fitbit and have it set to alert me 30 minutes before bedtime. So I will have time to do these things. It might also alert me at the time to wake up. So I will have a few extra minutes in the morning as well. I hope those extra minutes will provide me with time to post on here a little more often.

So I believe I will keep the word Still and try again this year. Stillness in the presence of God is important and I need to get hold of it. So I will try again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Stop Shouting Please

Day 18 and I have missed several days. However, I am not the least bit concerned about it. I have written several days and even written decently on a few of these. I hope today can be one of those decent days because I have found so much poetry in my day today. I have heard from God today in a gentle loving way. There has been much drama in my life from various places in the last few to several weeks. This week has so far been blessedly free of drama. The freedom from drama has given me an opportunity to step back and see the people and emotions behind all of the drama. In seeing the people, I see the pain. 

When Adam sinned, humanity became broken and so did the world. This broken world full of broken people is painful. In our pain, we often lash out. We want to understand why, but that rarely happens. Then with our pain and our lack of answers we try to move forward. In our path forward we encounter people on paths of their own dealing with their own pain. Sometimes our pain and their pain are at odds with each other. Then we start shouting. We want people to hear our pain. We want people to acknowledge what we have been through as valid. Unfortunately, in our shouting we miss their pain and their story. 

So a little less shouting and a little more listening might go a long way. Sit quietly and listen. Things might end up better that way.  

As I sat and listened today, I heard several stories. A podcast about an explosive topic was not explosive, but simply listening and validating. An episode of Murder, She Wrote again dealt with a painful and confrontational subject with listening and understanding. (And of course a murder mystery that Jessica Fletcher solved.) And a video that my son, who is very interested in curse words, found is one of the greatest moments in acting because of the pain and frustration expressed in just a few words. All of these people are dealing with pain and anguish over topics that many people find reasons to shout about. 

But shouting doesn't get us anywhere. So stop shouting and start listening. Listen to people. Hear their pain. Have the courage to sit with it and with them. We will get so much farther that way. The world will be better because sharing pain and grief lightens the load. A lighter and more beautiful world is better for everyone. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Stress Levels Matter

Last night, I finally got the book review posted, so I didn't write on here. This is one of the tips I've learned these last few weeks. Don't pressure myself to do something that is not important to anyone, but myself. That's helped my energy levels. I have been drinking a more water and eaten a little less. That's helped my energy and the way my pants fit. All good things! (Anyone else hear that in Olaf's voice? My daughter is a Frozen addict.)

But did those tiny changes make that much of a difference? I'm not sure. It doesn't seem like that should make so much of a difference. So I started thinking about what else it could be. Less stress. I have had less stress in the last week or so. I have consciously decided to stop worrying about some things and other things have been resolved. So my stress level has gone down quite a bit. I didn't even consciously realize the physical toll the stress was taking on me. That's a big deal. I'm going to have to keep thinking about that for a while.

I have spent more time that needed playing games on Facebook and listening to podcasts, but I'm not going to beat myself up for it. I did accomplish things and my kids are with Nana for the night. Drew and I went out for some ice cream. So spending a couple hours on Facebook games and binging on true crime podcasts is good self care for tonight.

And good self care helps stress levels go down. So whatever your self care looks like, do that because taking care of yourself and managing your stress is a big deal.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I have missed 2 days, one on purpose and one on accident. Tuesday night I stayed up way too late to finish a book. A review on that is coming soon. I actually thought I had the review written and saved in my memo app on my phone. I guess I didn't save it, so the review will take a bit longer. Grr... But anyway, since I stayed up way too late on Tuesday, I went to sleep super early on Wednesday.

In the last two days, I have had more water to drink. Today I didn't get home until about 6:30 pm because I had 2 meetings, but I was not exhausted. I still played with the kids, got homework done, and was ready for bed.

I have been listening to a few podcasts and thinking about what to write. I haven't gotten much. I do feel like today was a success because I had a long day and still feel pretty good. Maybe I'm winning this war on tired.