mindful

About once a week Colton and I will do a guided meditation on sleep before bed. It sounds hoaky, but its just relaxing techniques to calm the mind and stop thinking about the million little things that need to be done or things that happened that day. I recently downloaded an app on mindfulness with a few more categories and decided to do one on the way to work this morning. (Don’t worry, my eyes were open 🙂 )

I have some people coming into my room today that could be my principal next year, so I figured one on cultivating positivity could help keep me calm. It was five minutes of simply giving me things to think about or ways to think about them. After it was over, I kept thinking about how God calls us to being mindful so many times in the Bible.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” -Philippians 4:8

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” – Romans 8:6

I’m reading Psalm 16 right now and one verse says, “My body rests in safety.” This could very well be physical, but when I know I am safe, it eases anxiety and those wondering thoughts about whats to come. My body rests when I am mindful and actively turning my thoughts to things that are right and pure.

When I am overwhelmed with all the needs of my students – my body rests.

When I can’t sit in traffic for another minute- my body rests.

When I know there is more I could do to be better at ____ . – my body rests.

When evaluators come into my room and my nerves start racing- my body rests.

Today I will focus my mind on thoughts of peace, that come from The Lord, and that sink into my day. I hope you get that same chance!

 

 

 

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savoring slow

Illegible handwriting written on sticky notes are scattered on my planner, curriculum books, and desk. I forget to throw them away or there is just one thing on them that I still need to remember.

Its rushed, remembering all the things. We make lists and put reminders everywhere so we don’t forget to send the email, read the article, print and pass out homework (always need a reminder for this one) or call someone on their birthday. Feeling all together is really just an accomplishment in the task of remembering it all.

I’m a list maker and sticky note writer. I love that feeling of getting everything done on the list or sticky note. But sometimes, it makes me feel more scattered and more hurried (which, I often am too).

This morning, I’m feeling that pull. Its the tug to go, move, do, when all I want to do is sit and breath. There is always something I can do for school, but it can wait. There is always something I can worry or stress about, but it can wait. What cannot wait is taking the time to sit.

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I pulled open Psalm 16 this morning and was tempted to skip over the beginning. The second half is much more what I was wanting for the day, but that would have been rushing. While being tempted to not take part in the sacrifices of blood isn’t necessarily what was on my heart this morning, thinking about the dedication of the writer of this Psalm could be. Thinking about the turmoil going on around this writer, while he or she was trying to stay devoted, whether or not that is something directly related to me, is still something worth thinking about.

I’m on day 17 of this whole30 thing and it’s the longest I’ve stuck to something in a long time. I’m tempted to say that was good enough and rush to it being over, but who knows what can be found or learned in the sitting? Even when something seems to not be what we want or are wanting to reach for, I’m reminded this morning to not fast forward what is meant to be slow and savored, even if it’s not something we necessarily want to savor.

When there are lists and stickies all pulling you today, I hope you have the time to breath slow, even if it is just for a minute.

a poet wonders

On a run last week I listened to the podcast, OnBeing. Krista Tippet was interviewing Eugene Peterson, who most know as the man who translated the Bible into the Message. I’ve gone back and forth about the message over the years, but something I’ve learned is I usually feel differently regardless after learning more and “getting to know” the person or thing I had opinions about before.

There were a couple things he said that made me want to rush home and open a book, one of which being the Bible. I haven’t felt encouraged to read Scripture in a long, long time. Part of that comes from just not doing it, and part of it comes from having it read it and feeling like I’m not “getting anything” from it. I’m imagining most believers or pastors reading this and having lots of comebacks- you’re not reading enough or for a long enough time, you’re not praying enough, or you should journal/memorize/prayer scripture, etc.

I’ve walked myself through all of those conversations, tried to coach myself to get back in there, just do it! Nothing stuck, until I was reminded of the deep sense of wonder in The Bible. Something that always irks me is seeing those lists of versus passed around, like, “Here are 20 verses for encouragement, the best verses for teachers, the best versus for depression/sickness/healing/etc..” Maybe those verses in the lists were just what someone needed, and maybe when I read the Bible as a young Christian I would “get something” more often, but now I don’t want to use the Bible. Its not a prescription, or a book to just read what you like, and I don’t want to cheapen it by limiting one verse to one thing.

I’m reading a series called The Magicians after watching the first season on TV. These college age Magicians are at a school and find another world called Fillory. They thought the world was fiction, since it was the setting of children’s novels, and suppose to be beautiful and filled with talking animals. Its a definite allusion to Narnia, except when they get there, it is not what they were expecting. It doesn’t fulfill them as they thought it would, and as adults, they learn that life isn’t all fantasy and fun. I’m still reading the books, and while I understand what the author is doing, I would still rather read Narnia. I would rather believe in the wonder and camp out in the joy C.S. Lewis captures. I think this is where I am at with Scripture too. I can be grim about it not fulfilling me like it used to, or I could search again for the wonder of it.

Here is a clip from the podcast where Peterson talks about the Psalms.

And somebody told me that the Psalms were a good thing to read, so I started reading the Psalms. And I couldn’t understand them. “God is a rock?” What does that mean? “My tears are in your bottle?” What is going on here? And I just kind of struggled with that, but people had told me it was important to read the Psalms. And about a month into that, I realized what they were. And I didn’t know the term “metaphor,” but I realized what metaphors were. And so then I was off. And the Psalms were my introduction to poetry.

The psalms, and so much of the Bible, is poetic and rich. It holds depth, in a single verse, but more so read as the whole piece of what was written together. Peterson also talked about how he reads Psalms and uses them to pray. I was encouraged by the simplicity, but beauty in which he described how he learned them and learned to pray them.

He says,

But for years I have — the first thing in the morning, I have about an hour of just quiet and coffee. And — but I picked seven Psalms that I thought were, kind of covered the waterfront of what’s going on. And I memorized them. And I picked pretty long Psalms, so I’d have to work at it. And so, on Sunday, I do Psalms 92, which is a Psalm for the Sabbath. And then I go to Psalms 68, which is kind of a — it’s a collection of pieces of Psalms from different kind of settings, but when you read through the whole thing, and that’s a pretty long Psalm you realize all of these things kind of fit together if you’re paying attention.

We have so much to pay attention to. So much to wonder about. So much joy still left to be found. It doesn’t have to be another world, or a fantasy, its right here when we look.

 

 

 

a word for 2017

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New year’s has never been my favorite Holiday, but I enjoy the passing of it. It comes with a sense of newness, of turning the page and starting a new chapter. I love that part of it. I think that is part of the reason I was drawn to teaching- the new start each year and the times we get to re-set.

It is a time to think of what we want to let go of, to change, or to work towards in the new year. It is a time of hope for things we want to see or do in the new year, still full of possibility at the start. While I have probably not kept as many resolutions as I have made, I still love to make them. Over the years I have gotten better at keeping them, but still have a long way to go on my stick-to-it-ness.

Over the past couple years I have seen a lot of people choosing a word they want to focus on for the year, either in place of or alongside a resolution. When I was thinking about my resolutions, there was a clear theme coming through that seemed bigger than any resolution I could make.

Dedicated.

I went back and forth between the words “dedicated” and “discipline.” There have been times when I was learning a lot through discipline and about discipline, whether that be the Daniel Fast, training for races, or reading scripture on more of a schedule, I have stuck to a lot of those things. Over the last couple years however, I have been learning a lot about grace. Grace in ending something sooner than I said, grace in the lack of motivation to read scripture and journal daily, grace in not attending church, grace in the guilt I feel when I “fail” the things I set out to do.

With and for everything there is a season though, and I am feeling the pull back to the season of discipline. I didn’t choose that word, however, because dedication felt like more of a choice. While I am sure I will learn more about being disciplined, both having self-discipline, and relying on the Lord for it, I am choosing to dedicate myself to it.

My resolutions to do actually complete a whole30 (eye roll at everyone and their mother doing it, I know), read 20 books (or more!), attend church regularly, and write weekly, all fall under the umbrella of dedication. In times I know it will be tempting to lean in to grace, reminders of my word will help me push back. This verse has been coming to mind during these thoughts, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” – Matthew 5:37. My word, even promises to myself, need to be kept, or else whats the point of making them? 

Next year has so much possibility and potential. 2016 was filled with joy, grace, and fun for me personally, and a lot of challenges outside of my little world. I don’t know what it holds for my surroundings, but I know I have the choice to choose to stick to and stand for what I know is important. My hope for 2017 is for the same for so many walking into it with doubts and uncertainty, to choose hope and dedication to make 2017 the best year yet.

Happy New Year to you!

invisible

Every morning in first grade we answer a question and share our responses. Most of the time its silly and relevant to whats going on. Recently we talked about the best thing to do in snow, if we like whipped cream or marshmallows on our hot chocolate (both was the most popular answer and I supported them all in that), or what we would do on a snow day.

Sometimes though, I like to make them think just a little bit harder. One of our questions before break was, “What would be the first thing you would do if you were invisible?” I don’t remember most of their answers, but a few said they would eat a lot of ice cream, make a really big mess and not clean it up, or watch a show they weren’t suppose to.

I love asking questions, so of course I asked a group of friends we were with the same thing. Two said they would rob a bank, one said he would pull practical jokes on me, and another, who was in the same camp as me, would eavesdrop. How luxurious would it be to get to be as noisy as you want without anyone knowing? Without any strange glances or awkward eye contact, just uninhibited people watching and listening in. Where we differed is that the other person said they would want to know what coworkers thought, and yes, I would also, but I would be just as satisfied with any random person. That would probably even be preferred. I want to fill in the gaps of their stories with my own imagination, or put myself in their shoes for the few moments of eavesdropping and wonder what I would do if I were them.

I’ve been on break this week, so its left me lots of time to wonder. Colton and I have been talking about our dream jobs recently and while I love love love teaching (that extra love was because I’m break right now), I also dream of writing. Which, I talk about but don’t do a lot of. I’m too busy or tired during the week and then just don’t want to over the weekend. So I’m not making the time for it and building any writing muscle. Not that I think my writing is good enough, or I have the writing stamina enough to do something with it (yet!), but I know I want to try. Which, is why this blog looks a little different. I’m going (not saying hope, because I’m just going to do it!) to be putting some little stories on here along with my normal wonderings.

Last week, my students and I were learning about using our imagination. We read Where the Wild Things Are and created our own monsters. We created something out of a cotton ball to imagine it as a cloud in the sky, and then we created something out of our thumbprint. They were really fun activities, but they were also challenging for some. Some couldn’t think of anything to do, or they would do something, hate it, and want to try again. I even had a boy in tears because he couldn’t think of anything. Imagination, just like writing, is a muscle that can be strengthened. We can become more creative by being creative, and we become better writers by writing.

There are so many adventures, good questions, and deep thinking out there if we only listen. While, I may not be able to be invisible to get more ideas, I can notice and wonder. I can put something on paper and see where it goes, and the more I do it, who knows what could happen?

always good

The pressure of getting to know someone, of similarities and opinions, and dating just seemed like too much for me.

Every comment and conversation with the opposite sex was full of second guessing, re-thinking the words bouncing around in my head. Is it funny enough? Spiritual enough? Me enough?

It’s easier to say I’m taking time for myself. I want to really know who I am before I get into a relationship. I want to feel secure and confident in this person that I am to be in any situation securely. How will I respond to politics? How do I truly feel about the issues towering over our society- same sex marriage, abortion, black lives matter, etc..

How do I know what I truly want from my life at 24? Do I want to travel, be a writer, be a lifelong teacher, be a mom, work for a non-profit, be a politician, a college professor, who knows what else I could think I want to do at some point in my life? “Wife” was not a title I imagined having for a long while.

But here I am. Wife to Colton. Married. We’ve been at this thing now for five months. I realized today that our first thanksgiving we were dating, our second one we were engaged, and now we are married. We have known each other for so little, and yet we are building this life together. We are each other’s person- the one who knows us best in this world, the one we feel most ourselves around, the one we know and yet still have so much to learn.

I’ve heard people say it often- that they sometimes stop and it hits them that they are married to this person they are staring at, and the same rings true for me. However after that thought comes another- marriage is so good. Its changing me, subtly and softly, to the point where I look back even a month before we got married and I feel so different there and now. It happens slowly, in the everyday and in the promises we made and continue to make to each other. You are my first family now and we are in this together, always.

Its the always that is changing me, the steady and secure. Colton and I have talked openly about divorce and excuse me in my naïveté of five months of marriage, but it not being an option is the security I cling to. Its the freedom to say exactly whats on my mind without the fear of scaring him off. Its the freedom to share hopes and dreams of what our life could look like and pursue what makes us most happy and fulfilled. Its the freedom to disagree and think more deeply about things we are still thinking through. We get to grow together. I don’t have to know exactly who I am or will be in every situation, because we are finding that out together.

I’ve been thinking about this, and how similar it is to how God loves us and what drew me to him. His never changing nature and love regardless. Not that He is always comfortable and there to make us happy, but that whatever the circumstances, He loves. Whatever our thoughts and our challenges, He loves. He has given me the freedom to challenge myself on my own beliefs and to question, but still know that He loves me and is always there.

While He might not always be safe, He is always good. While marriage might not always be the fun, easy ride its been for the first bit, it will always be good.

 

 

on writing

There are so many times when I think, huh, I used to write a lot.

I used to write stories, journal, post a blog more frequently- between those, I usually wrote something everyday. Now, the only thing I typically write is when I model writing for my students.

I definitely miss it. I miss the creative part and the craft. I miss the thinking it forced me to do. Probably at least once I week I think, I should write something, only for that thought to carry over and over week by week and its months before something actually gets put on paper.

It’s no secret that writing takes time. The thinking, the re-writing, the motivation, and the muscle of it, takes work. For me, it also takes purpose. I want to know that what I’m doing means something, or could turn into something, and its hard for me to take the time to do it when that is not really the case. On a small scare, sure, but I don’t write creatively or try and get writing published elsewhere because I don’t know if thats what I really want from writing.

I definitely want to do something with writing (I think). I love the idea of writing children’s books, or even a more personal book- but if I did want that to become a reality, I’m not putting in the work now. I need to be revamping that muscle and creating the time and space to get back in the habit of writing.

Who knows what I’ll do with my writing- if anything. But why not try and find out? (or not, I don’t know!)

Anyways, if you’re still reading- kudos. This is a boring look into my brain on fall break.

Maybe you’ll see something (hopefully) more exciting on here soon!

The details of a moose.

It was an unexpected trail since we couldn’t find parking, and expectations were low for the first mile or so since the trail was covered with horse poop. But we kept walking, shaded by trees and occasional mountains peeking through, no one else seen on the trail. We stopped to snack near the top of a hill, sitting for a good little rest. Trees rustled a few feet away as we got up to leave and the antlers of the moose peeked through. We had no idea what to do- make noise so it knew we were there? Hide behind a tree? (My plan) Walk by? Run? FREAK OUT??? (Also my plan).

Mr. Moose kept walking as we hid behind the tree and pictures of those antlers coming right at us replaying in my head. He calmly walked away as if he didn’t just cause someone a heart attack and we continued on our way after a few deep breaths and possibly some tears. Once we got to the top of our hike and saw the panoramic views of mountains and lakes all around us, I could appreciate Mr. Moose. We were in his territory and it was our privilege to be there. I also really appreciated that he chose a different trail on our way back.

Whenever I’m unsure of where to read in the Bible, I always end up in Psalms. I lean in to the ones about the wonder and awe of our God. How He created the earth and how it echoes His character in every detail. When I don’t know what to pray or how to sit with God after a long time, I rely on wonder.

God, “who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” -Psalm 65:5-8

Mr. Moose was terrifying and beautiful. He had strength and stillness in his character, and has caused many hikers to be humble seeing him in his element. When I think about God’s power in creating the mountains, while stilling the oceans in the same breath I know this is where true strength comes from. Not from claiming to have power through screams and threats (building walls maybe?), but in the stillness and grace. He is terrifying in his power, but calms hearts and the turmoils of nations. He is grand enough to care about nations and single hearts at the same time. God is in the details and the panoramic views at the same time.

Whether it be a breathtaking mountain view, or the simple and intricate details of a flower, God is deserving of songs of joy. His character is etched in everything around us and I don’t ever want to stop standing in wonder at it. (But no bears, okay?)

worth the work.

The last flight I took from Tampa to Denver was delayed four hours. I didn’t pay for a seat, so I ended up in the middle of the very first row. I don’t particularly like sitting for four hours, but I do love the uninterrupted and unapologetic eavesdropping it provides. The older lady sitting next to me reminded me of my Gramma. She was tall and thin, stylish, and sitting as if she was both very calm and very anxious at the same time. I guess I wasn’t eavesdropping as much as I was trying to spy. She sat this way for most of the flight- the middle aged man on my right slept the whole time.

So I watched a documentary about sugar and peered over at her laptop as often as I could. She was writing fiction I assume, but it was the same details as her. She wrote about going to visit some man, looking over at the mountains and drinking a gin of tonic. I knew the gin and tonic and mountains part was true so I let my imagination run with her on the last part.

I was intrigued by her, because of her writing and her life I created for her. I wondered if she did things because she needed to write about them or if it was the other way around. Either way, the way she wrote was to capture the smallest of details. I remember her experience on the plane because of how she captured them. I remembered her because of how I captured her details in my head.

There are so many moments coming up that I know are going to pass too quickly and I’m going to want to remember every detail. I think that was part of the appeal when I decided I wanted to write everyday leading up to my wedding. (ha). I feel like I used to be very good about following through with plans I make. I love making them- new running plans, how I’m going to get work done, recipes.. etc. But recently I’ve gotten so good at letting myself off the hook. I have to keep doing the self work of knowing why and getting back to stick-to-it-ness and I think that is part of the big “why”. It takes work to stick to things. It takes work to remember moments and write the little details- even if it is just putting away the phone and noticing for a day. It takes work to not give in to every want, big or small. And it takes work to create a lasting habit or change.

Maybe the lady on the plane didn’t really want to write, she just wanted to look at the mountains, close her eyes like the man next to me, or watch a thrilling documentary about sugar, but she had work to do. It could also be a hobby that she can’t stop and loves doing, but you get my point. Its so easy to sit back and let moments and details pass you by. Its easy to play on our phones or watch TV or fill our bodies with whatever makes us feel good momentarily, but what takes work is what is worth the work. I am incredibly excited to be married and live life with Colton, but I also want to hold onto all of the details leading up to it. I want to do the work of remembering and capturing some how, the moments that make this life so worth remembering.

Not failure.

At my bridal shower last week, there were a couple people (family will always be the best!) who asked me if I ever thought about writing again. I hadn’t, but the thought of doing so everyday with the fast made me excited. I didn’t realize I missed it until I started again. I have learned so much about myself, my faith, and relationships through writing and if anything, I know this is a time to be learning as much as I can about all of those things.

Yesterday, I saw a quote from Bob Goff and quickly scribbled it on an index card before the first graders piled in. He said, “God isn’t surprised when we fail, He’s surprised when we quit. We’re not our successes or failures, we’re His.” It was on my time hop app, something I retweeted three years ago. God doesn’t care or love me less if I try to start a Daniel Fast and “fail” a million times over, but He does care about my heart. He cares if I quit because He knows my heart and He knows what is best for me. I also think he has hopes for me. What a thought- that the God who surrounds time, has hopes for me, not a plan that I have to worry about following, just hopes because He loves.

Psalm 24 says, “Who shall ascent the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not life up his soul to what is false and who does not swear deceitfully.”

What I am focused on during this time is the condition of my heart- asking why I am doing something, or what I am really trying to satisfy. Is is false idols and temporary things? Is it lies about myself or my worth that I’ve believed even for a moment? I want to wade through all of these questions and allow Jesus to fill all of them. He is the clean hands and pure heart.

I’m not scared of failing, which I definitely wouldn’t call this “fast” a success (yet!), but I won’t quit. I won’t stop trying and keep being willing to face hard truths. I won’t stop writing and getting back to Scripture to lead me through it.