Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Nails

Hammering more nails, but thankfully not with the flushed face this time, just with a desire to be thankful:

11.       For pasta.  Haven’t met one I didn’t like.
12.       For opportunities to fall asleep on the couch.
13.       For TV shows that make this uptight girl laugh, like “Modern Family.”
14.       For high school students who willingly spend 90 minutes a week with me.
15.       For a natural gift for writing discussion questions that help me learn about students and help them learn about themselves.
16.       For drowsy, morning cuddles with any of my three family members.
17.       That I look like my mom…more and more the older I get.
18.       For my fingernails; yes, I’m vain; see former posts.
19.       That I took “Keyboarding” in high school.
20.      For a little boy who says, “Don’t take a shower!  Cuddle with me for a long time!”
21.      That my son is able to speak.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

1,000 Nails

Today my friend Lindsay led our weekly staff devotional.  It was very good!  One of the things she shared is from a woman, Ann Voskamp, who found herself quite discontent with life, particuarly its busyness.  She decided to do something about her spirit of discontent.  She decided to drive out nails of discontent and to replace them with nails of thanksgiving.  We all know that you can't stop a habit; you must replace it.

A few hours after this devotional, I had that flushed face, knot in the gut, discontent feeling.  I'd vented to my husband, who both has my back and tells me the truth.  I gained a lot of clarity from that 10-minute venting session.  But I still had the knot and flushed face.

So, I started my list of 1,000 nails:  (I'll probably never complete the list; I'm really good at not finishing projects.)

I am thankful:
1.       For a husband and sister who hear my venting and love me anyway
2.       For big, blue eyes full of love
3.       For a baby’s giggle
4.       For a Nana whom I trust to watch my kids more than I trust myself
5.       That I get to influence lives…for a living
6.       For the gift of traveling—seeing, experiencing, and making memories
7.       For photographs
8.       That at least for now, my kids think the safest place in the world is my arms
9.       For a husband who knows what it’s like to do my job, where I do my job, with whom I do my job
10.   For an engagement ring that is more perfect than what I would’ve chosen myself

As I've said before on this blog, I especially stink at letting things go.  So, I'm reading this list over and over again--every time the pink flush returns to my jawbones.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Remember

A word study is a way of studying Scripture in which you look up the occurrences of a word or phrase where it appears in the Bible.  I tackled the word "remember."  It appears LOTS of times in Scripture.  I didn't read each one, and I especially didn't read each one in its full context.  It was not an exhaustive word study, but some common themes emerged.  I wrote a poem about it:

You remember
       your promises,
       your faithful servants,
       us, your people,
       our sins no more.

We remember
       rest.
       Your words;
       your commands.
       Your faithfulness,
       our faithlessness.
       Salvation from chains,
       guidance through the wilderness.
       The ones who came before,
       preparing our ways.
       You created us
            just
            like
            this.
       Your works;
       your worth.
       You.

Remembering
       grounds us,
       grows us;
       gives us hope,
       grants us wisdom;
       guides us ever back to you.

I paired this with a remembrance of Jesus through Communion.  I also paired it with some William Wordsworth; I'll post the excerpt later.  The Scripture study, the composition of this poem, the celebration of a Christian worship ritual, and the reading of classic poetry--it's a mosaic of who I am.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mentors

I’ve heard the word “mentor” a lot recently, in conversations, presentations, and e-mails.  A new year of small groups began in my student ministry last night—a new year of mentors matching up with mentees.  In some cases, it’s the 7th year a mentor (a.k.a. small group leader) and a student have done life together.  That excites me!  That makes me feel like what I do matters.
Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with Mrs. Kay Meredith, my 11th and 12th grade English teacher.  Mrs. Meredith was the kind of teacher who set the bar high, challenged you to be better than you thought you were, and listened when life was difficult.  We had writing Fridays that included breakfast and a coffee house atmosphere in which we could write.  She made me kiss my boyfriend in class as thanks for a gift.  She danced with my boyfriend at our prom.  She came to our wedding, and I think she danced with him there, too.
I entered my senior year of high school planning to be a math teacher.  I eventually ended up an English teacher.  The difference was the teachers.  I had a math teacher who set the bar high, but who didn’t personally care for his students.  I had an English teacher who set the bar high, who believed in me, and who held me when I cried in the girls’ bathroom.
I am thankful for an English teacher who encouraged me to take an AP class I didn’t think I was smart enough to handle; the course literally changed the direction of my life.  I am thankful for an English teacher who modeled setting boundaries and expectations, encouraging and empowering students to succeed, and authentically caring for teenagers.  Like a good mentee, I’m trying to implement what I’ve learned from my mentor.  I now have the immense pleasure of mentoring, and I hope to have the kind of impact Mrs. Meredith has had on me.  Love you, Mrs. M.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grateful for a Gift

I’m really trying to put that advice to write down my thoughts into action—two blog posts in an hour.
As I was leaving church one Sunday this summer, I received a gift bag.  I had no idea what it was for.  I opened it to find a worn and clearly used devotional for moms.  Inside was a thoughtful, hand-written, two-page note.  It was from a mom whom I’ve known for years—as a mom.  I’ve gotten to see her when motherhood has been its hardest, and I’ve gotten to see her experience the pride and joy that come with motherhood, too.  I was touched to tears as I read her note, and today, I’m trying to dwell on some of her words instead of the pessimistic inner dialogue of which I just wrote.
This woman, whom I’ve prayed with in some very difficult situations, has committed herself to praying for me.  I can find rest in that.  She has passed along to me a devotional book that has been her favorite.   I can feel honored by that.   My willingness to be vulnerable prompted her loving care of me with a gift and a note and some prayers.  That encourages me to continue with a vulnerability that I sometimes find painfully difficult, but hopefully healthy.
Almost every time I’ve interacted with this woman over the last three years, she’s reminded me to enjoy every second of these early years with my kids.  She reminds me that I will not be able to get these years back and that they are gifts, even when they’re challenging.  She reminds me that I can have a clean house when my kids are grown and out of it, but that it’s not important now.  She reminds me that my family is an important priority, not something to be handled so that I can go do important ministry elsewhere.
I am thankful for her and her ministry to me, even though she’d probably never call it that.

The First and Second Amendments

I recently took a self-assessment that revealed something not all that surprising—I am exceptionally bad at letting things go.  I ruminate; that’s what the results said.  Specifically, I “over-think problems,” and “dwell on pessimistic feelings.”  I was cautioned that such inner reflections could “encourage drug and alcohol abuse.”  Ha!  Ironically, I once had a doctor (the M.D. kind, not the shrink kind) encourage me to take up drinking to see if that wouldn’t loosen me up a bit.  True story.  Back to the results—I was encouraged to “write your thoughts down.”  So here I am.
I regret the last blog posting I made.  Someone pointed out that it was awfully cliché, and they were right.  As noted above, I dwell on pessimistic feelings, so I’ve dwelt on this bit of constructive criticism quite a bit, which has paralyzed me from contributing to this blog in a month. 
A couple of times in my life, I’ve been called vain—actually by the two people whose opinions I regard the most.  As I reflect on my last blog post, I see vanity and ruminations in it.  There are things I need to let go of.  Some of those things are vain. 
So, it’s all on the chopping block now.  I feel like I’m being dragged to this place, sitting down, hoping my massive weight will make the dragging impossible.  It’s not working, despite neglecting the gym for two months.  
Amendments to the last post:
I will let go of my desire to cook and to create healthy, yummy food for my family and me.  Sitting down and eating with my family seems to be impossible these days anyway, so why break my back to cook?  I will try not to feel guilty as I enter the world of Chef Boyardee, Tyson, and Green Giant.  I’m not there yet.
I will let go of my desire to look like a mom who has it all together, since that’s a lie anyway.  As I’ve ventured out into public with no make-up and un-done hair, I’ve noticed the world hasn’t stopped…and I am very uncomfortable this way.  Guess I still have some work to do here, too.
I am not happy about being in this place.  Honestly, I quite resent it.  I hope that a submissive spirit will come with submissive actions.  I hope growth will come.  I hope.