Sunday, January 31, 2010

3 Chords and Jesus

Tonight, for the first time ever, I successfully played chords on a guitar! The G I got on my own. I shouted my exultation through the vent, and the Eggies responded with much cheering. Then Jonathan came downstairs and showed me how to play a C chord and a D chord! And an E minor, but I didn't take to that one very well.

This might seem insignificant, but as my last blog so fervently ranted, there is quite a bit going on over the next few weeks. There are things that need to get done but that I can't make happen any faster; I've also realized in the last day or two that the vague discontent I've been bemoaning is actually anxiety. I'm not sure how things are going to play out over the next few weeks, and while I want to hope for the best, I also don't want to be disappointed. I want to believe that 4.5 hours of video recording over the next two days will result in 15 minutes of quality video for my National Boards. But past sessions didn't accomplish this, so I'm going in a little jaded. I want to believe that the Young Life conference this weekend will be inspiring and edifying; I have no reason to think it WON'T be, but I don't want to go in expecting Gandalf's fireworks and end up with those little pop-its that are only fun when you put them under the toilet seat and wait for somebody to go in and sit down. I want to hope that going on Young Life Assignment will actually be a quality investment of my time and talent and treasure, but I'm afraid I'll spend the entire month missing my little people and distracted by the cute guys who love Jesus and aren't interested in me. (There. I said it. Now, let me earnestly insist that I'm NOT going on assignment to find a husband, but so help me if THAT isn't the button the Enemy pushes to distract and discourage me. Rat bastard.)

But tonight, with my three chords that could have passed for music (5th grade band music, but music nonetheless), I was reminded that good things come all the time. Whether through the application of my own choice or the open windows of Heaven, there IS good stuff in this season of "I'm not sure" if I have the eyes to see it. Like the orange lilies one of my Young Lifers brought me last Monday that have been blooming and wilting all week -- each blossom quite independent of the others -- there are blessings and challenges and losses, all in their seasons. May I have the grace to accept the beauty of today, deal with the challenges of today, recognize the losses of today, and do all of that with hope.

And, as my dear Elisa reminded me, hope does not disappoint.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5

Friday, January 29, 2010

1 Month Down

January. ¿A donde vas? The paradox of time seems so much more real to me this year. Each of the past few weeks has seemed both to crawl and sprint. February will probably follow suit, which is great because then spring will arrive and I won't have to cajole myself to find restorative beauty around me. The color grey serves its purpose, and I like it as a background for a good hoodie sweatshirt, but when it is the backdrop of almost every day's weather, it gets to me.

Another thing I've noticed about myself is my propensity to make lists and calendars when I'm feeling overwhelmed and crunched. In the past two weeks, I think I've made six or seven of them. In fact, I'm compelled to make another one right here on this very blog. I won't.... maybe. But I will say that, far from being depressed, February's schedule looks a bit manic: there is one weekend that wasn't scheduled "out", and I decided to host a Games Night that Friday.

Even as I write, though, I am reminded of a week this fall that, at its start, caused me to say "holy crap! How will this week ever work out?" That very mindset created stress that did not need to be there, thereby making what could have been a great week seem tense. Let me NOT do that for the WHOLE of February!!!! Is the month full and busy? Yes. Is it too much? Well, that has yet to be seen.

And I can't quite keep myself from doing this.......

Regular life: sit and listen and chat with God, plan and prep for English 9 and American Literature, plan and prep for weekly Young Life Club on Mondays, attend Worship Team practice and have morning coffee with Debbie on Wednesdays, have weekly friend times with Rachel/Susie/Lisa, hit the YMCA 4-5 times, attend Weight Watchers on Saturday and Franklin Hill on Sunday

In addition to my regular life the next five weeks:
This weekend: house sit
Feb Week 1: video tape for National Boards (AGAIN!!!!), Love & Respect Small Group starts
Feb weekend 1: Young Life Regional Conference (Fri-Sun)
Feb Week 2: National Board Meeting (at which I will show the video from Week 1 if it ends up capturing what I need to capture)
Feb Weekend 2/Week 3: Ontario Link Crew Conference (Sun-Wed)
Feb Weekend 3/Week 4: Regular Life
March Week 1: Assignment Team Training
March Weekend 1: Lisa's wedding

Okay -- so here's the thing. I love my life -- my regular routine. I have the margin I need to do it well. I can plan for Young Life, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, make good food choices. But when I squeeze out the margin by packing out the weekends and adding extra things during the week, YL becomes a stress, I skip my workouts, stay up late reading, eat bowls of cereal and ice cream ad nauseum.

But the kicker is, I seem to do this in cycles: once or twice a year, I create a schedule like this for myself. Like a dog returning to his vomit, so a fool returns to her folly. The challenge for me is that this is all GOOD stuff. I could back out of some of it, but I don't really want to. I want to get my Nat Boards, attend the YL conference and the Link Crew conference, be in Lisa's wedding, all that jazz.

Okay -- I'm not getting anywhere with all of this reflection on my life. I have nothing pithy or insightful to say about it. I'm glad it's Friday. I'm glad I have friends who GET that I do this every now and then and will let me spew my emotions at them. I'm glad for a job I love and that this too shall pass.

OH! But I don't want it to merely "pass". I want to be IN IT -- to be real and present and aware and a blessing to those I encounter, which I find difficult to be when my head is all wrapped up in how much I have to do.

So, here is my insight.... Thanks, Jesus, for songs that remind me of my heart's cry:

Jesus, be the center
Be my source be my light, Jesus
Jesus, be the center
Be my song, Jesus

Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in my sails
Be the reason that I live
Jesus Jesus

Jesus, be my vision

Be my help
Be my guide Jesus

Monday, January 18, 2010

Resolutions? We don't need no resolutions...

The new year has been a flurry!!! Good glory -- I can't believe January is half-way over. I meant to sit down and reflect upon 2009 before heading back to work, but (obviously) that didn't happen. I was inspired to do it when I ran across a file during my yearly computer cleanse: 2009 Goals. I'm not a big resolution maker; unmet goals offer a chance to try again, while unkept resolutions smack of a deeper character flaw. Me no likey that conotation.

So, I set goals instead, and they were to do the following:

1) Live in food/weight/body image FREEDOM. Not apathy or licentiousness – freedom. That will mean weight loss, but because of obedience and grace.
a. Eat when I’m hungry.
b. Exercise responsibly.

Reflection: Well, that didn't start out to well as the first half of the year included weight gain. But I joined Weight Watchers at the start of the summer, have kept up my activity level (thank you, YMCA), and have submitted myself to real accountability with Susie. Not the commiserating over bad food choices, but the gut honest this is what I ate and WHY. Dude -- so helpful. 2009 saw a 15 pound drop. Sweet.

2) Half marathon... if the foot holds up.

Reflection: The foot didn't hold up. I got up to 4 miles at one point but then the metatarsal started to ache. I may have used up all my running in 2006.

3) Pay off Car and ½ of Grad School

Reflection: Did it! BAM!!! Thank you, Dave Ramsey and the debt snowball plan!

4) 5 dates (real dates – not just eating dinner with friends)

Reflection: This one happened too. I made it because I was tired of having NO dating life of which to speak. This goal changed that, created the title of my blog (thanks to my small group that started using it as code for my romantic life) and is tied with goal 1 for producing the most angst, frustration, and learning.

When I found my 2009 goals, I thought "BRILLIANT! 3 out of 4 ain't bad! Let's set some 2010 goals!" And, ladies and gentlemen, here they are!

1) Live in food/weight/body image FREEDOM. Not apathy or licentiousness – freedom. That will mean weight loss, but because of obedience and grace. Utilize WW and Susie!
2) Successfully complete Take One by March 31
3) Pay off Grad School by September 1 and part of BC loan
4) Learn to play the guitar (well enough to lead music at YL, maybe even church!)

And the progress thus far is encouraging. I've got a video done for Take One, and I've purchased a beginner guitar and put new strings on it (thank you, Cesar!) The date goal is non-existent this year because I want to be done trying. If somebody wants to set me up, okay. If somebody asks me out, okay. But I understand now how great it feels to be pursued, and that's a feeling that's worth the wait. There are a few places in my life where the rubber meets the road in terms of my faith, and this is the one that recurs most often and with the most intensity.

So, then, let me bring to the forefront the biggest "goal" for the year and for life: to know Jesus more fully, to follow Him more closely, and to listen more intently. Being a physically healthy, Nationally Board certified, debt-free, guitar playing gal won't mean jack squat without His Presence in it all.