Thursday, October 28, 2021

LIght

 I've been feeling depressed off and on for a while now. 

I've never been officially diagnosed with depression, but I can always tell a change in my moods based on the seasons, and while I love the fall, I also can feel myself spiraling as we get closer to dreaded wintertime. 

I love sunlight. I love the feel of it on my skin, the warm glow of the blue skies in the brightness. 

Life has been tough for many of the people I love the past few years. 

I've learned more about mental illness than I thought I'd ever know, and have even felt inspired to try to make a difference in the lives of others. I still have a year or so to go before I complete my Psych Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification (I have to pass this semester, first... and it's been a struggle!)

Recently I was listening to a podcast featuring Dolly Parton. She was talking about when she left the Porter Wagner show, and how she wrote "I Can See the Light of a Clear Blue Morning". 

That how I feel right now. I've been in a good place the last few weeks. I'm always hesitant to say that, because I live in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I've realized that I'm focusing more on the light. 

Thanking Jesus that He is the Light of the World, and that His mercies are new every morning, so the light of a clear blue morning really can be realized. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Think

"As a man thinks, so he is..."

A great quote with lots of truth to it. 

I just wish I lived it out more... because let's face it. A lot of what I think isn't the best. 

I often judge myself for "stupid" things I do or "stupid" things I say, reliving moments over and over. 

I often judge others when I don't know the whole story. 

Too many times I open my mouth and spill out what I'm thinking, even if it isn't beneficial to anyone. 

The Bible tells us to transform by the renewing of your mind.. by changing the way you think. Philippians tells us to "think on" what is lovely and pure and true...

yet how often does my mind go in the complete opposite direction? 

I've really been thinking...
a lot about thinking. 

When I catch myself being my own worst critic, I've been trying to stop and pause and clear my head. 

I've been journaling my thoughts, and trying to clear out the negative. 

I don't want to be a Pollyanna (I don't know if I even know what Pollyanna does. I just know she's associated with rose-colored glasses, you might say)...

I know we have to be realistic...
but we also have to give one another the benefit of the doubt. 

We have to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. 

By pausing and holding our thoughts up to what we know to be true. 

And even if some days we have no idea what is even really true, we can pause to see if what we are thinking is really beneficial. 

If it's not... nip it in the bud. 


Monday, October 25, 2021

Always

One thing that I tell my nursing students is to never think in terms of absolutes. 

Every patient is an individual, with individual experiences, and their bodies adapt differently. Just when you think you've got a care plan perfect, something will happen to throw a wrench in it. 

I don't know why I don't practice what I preach...

because my mind often thinks in terms of absolutes. 

As in...

"You ALWAYS are late."

"You ALWAYS put your foot in your mouth."

"Why are you ALWAYS so socially awkward?"

"Why are you ALWAYS a disappointment?"

"Quitting is ALWAYs your way out."

You get the picture...

The truth is, I am a creature of habit, and some of those habits are not good. I do often skimp on exercise. I do often sleep late. I do often procrastinate...

but not ALWAYS. 

This all or nothing mentality has been my downfall in many things. 

I love to plan. Love goal setting. Love to think of how I'm going to improve myself (ha, ha!) 

And then... I miss a day of exercise. Miss a day of whatever "habit" I'm tracking and then... I ALMOST ALWAYS fall off the wagon. 

Today, I had planned my day. I knew I had class from 930-330. I knew I had some things I needed to do for work tomorrow. I knew I had Bible study. I also knew that I wasn't going to be able to walk many days this week, so I planned a walk. 

Here's an absolute for you...

when I plan my "to do" list, I always overestimate how quickly I can get things done... and that really is something that is an always. I never finish with time to spare. So, tonight, I had worked on a couple of assignments after work, and didn't account for having to change clothes before my walk. Nor did I think about having to grab something to eat. 

So, I went to the park and walked... and only got in 1.5 miles before it started raining... which meant I quit about 10 minutes earlier than I had planned... which meant I got in line at Wendy's with just enough time to grab a bite to eat and slide into a seat at church as they were starting the readings. 

So, perfect timing... but that surely doesn't always happen. 

Tonight, I'll just be thankful it worked out and roll with it. =) 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Path

 I love hiking. 

It's one of the places where I feel closest to God.

Standing in the forest, sunlight filtered by the tall trees, there's an ethereal feeling. 

As I hike, I often miss out with what is around me, because I tend to watch my feet. I've been tripped up by tree roots one too many times, so even though I know that as I gaze directly in front of me, I'm often not seeing the blooming flowers or ferns or greenery... I can't take my eyes away from the path ahead of me. 

I also like a path. 

What I mean by that statement is simple. I'm not one of those hikers who likes to go "off the beaten path". 

Several years ago, when we were hiking more frequently, we would often venture on more difficult trails that weren't trodden down by larger groups of people. While we usually ended up seeing some great scenery on those trails, I didn't enjoy making my own path. 

I guess that's kind of how I am in real life, too. I don't like to blaze a way. I don't like change and don't consider myself a leader, so you'll not find me trying things that haven't been done before. 

In one way, that is smart... cautious... safe....

but is life supposed to be safe? 

Maybe we aren't necessarily supposed to make our own path... rather, we are to look to the path that is laid out before us. We're told in Scripture not to look to the right or the left... eyes straight ahead... just like me when I'm hiking... although I don't think we're to keep our eyes on our feet. 

Rather, we are to look to Jesus... the author and finisher of our faith. He forged every path for us, and He's still walking with us. 

Let's keep walking, friend. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Still

I'm cheating, writing this one a day late...

Yesterday morning as I was driving to work I looked over and the moon caught my eye. Most days I miss the sunrise, because I like to sleep as late as I can, but the sky is usually still a quiet blue when I head into work. 

There's a spot on the left-hand side of the road heading into town, just past Hwy 52, where you can glance over and see between two hills. The moon was suspended in the sky, a pale silverish color still visible in the sky. Hovering just beneath, a wispy white fog... but it was underneath the moon... kind of like a table cover aligning the sky. 

My breath caught. Even as I was driving, I felt my heart be still. There was something so peaceful about that fog, the moon suspended, the light of the sun just beginning to appear over the mountains. 

Sometimes, we need to pause... to reflect... to still ourselves. To allow ourselves to fully appreciate and experience all that is around us. 

Being still is hard for so many of us... but I'm reminded that even the moon, that appeared to be just hanging suspended in the sky, still, isn't really still. The earth is constantly spinning, the moon constantly pulling, everything in motion... 

but there is a center of gravity that holds it all together. If that imbalance were to change, life as we know it would change. The earth would tilt on its axis and who knows what would really happen...

We must find our center of gravity, as well, so that even as we spin in the chaos, we can be still, spiritually. His name is Jesus. 

"Be still and know that I am God..." 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Afraid

 Last night my Pastor talked about perfect love casting out fear. 

I never considered myself afraid of things growing up, at least that I can remember. I never was afraid of the dark, I loved to climb trees and romp outside, and love roller coasters. Public performing didn't really phase me, either... one time a waitress gave ME  a tip for my impromptu belting of "Tomorrow" from Annie. 

As I got older, though, I became more afraid... more afraid of things that I didn't even really understand. Abstract thoughts, irrational things.. 

In the sermon last night, the point was made that fear didn't come until after the fall. Adam and Eve were in perfect harmony with God- perfectly loved- so they didn't have to be afraid of anything, and then, as soon as they realized their nakedness, they hid because they were ashamed... and maybe a little afraid. 

Afraid they would be seen. Afraid they would be found out. 

Aren't we most afraid when we feel vulnerable? 

When we start loving ourselves, though, and accepting God's love, we don't have to be afraid. 

We can cast all of our cares on Him. 

He's bigger than the boogey-man, in case it's been a while since you've watched Veggie Tales. 

This doesn't mean that we can throw caution into the wind. We are to fear some things... the Bible tells us that the beginning of wisdom comes from fearing the Lord. 

Wisdom is a precious commodity these days... 

maybe because we are all afraid of the wrong things. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Taste

 Today I had lunch at my desk as I frantically typed scenarios for skills checkoffs to be completed right after lunch. I always seem like I'm only one step ahead... if even one step. 

As I snacked on my nuggets and fries, dragging a french fry through ketchup and praying I didn't drop it on my white scrub top, I thought of how often I rush through things. 

Not just food, although I honestly do... eating on the run has just been a fact of life, dating back to dinner on the bleachers in a gym. And being a nurse, wolfing down whatever I could find that I liked in the cafeteria that could be eaten in 10 minutes before I had to go pick up another bag of blood or do another assessment or help take a patient off the bedpan (thank you, cafeteria staff, and nurse aides, and all those in the hospital that we can't do our jobs without!) 

Yes, I rush through experiences, always waiting for the next one. 

Rush through books because I want to check them off my list. 

Rush through time with family because... well, I have so much more to do. Not that family isn't important. They are THE MOST IMPORTANT... I just don't always treat them as such. 

When we wolf down our food, we don't give our salivary glands time to register the taste. I've honestly eaten before and realized when I was finished that I didn't taste anything... and it wasn't because my taste wasn't working. It's because I hadn't experienced it. 

There's something else that happens, too, when we eat too fast. We don't ever know when we are full, because we don't give our brain time to catch up to our body, and we just keep stuffing, and stuffing. 

If we take time to slow down and fully appreciate, we get a full sensation. 

And, again, that just doesn't apply to eating. When we pause to taste the joys of life... stop to smell the roses, if you will...

we realize how satisfied we can be. 

"Taste and see that the Lord is good." 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Effort

 Ever  heard the saying, "If she didn't breathe naturally, she'd never breathe?"

Sometimes I think that relates to me. 

I'm embarrassed to say it... but I have a lazy streak in me. 

As a kid, I much rather would have been sitting with my nose stuck in a book than do chores. I helped with the laundry, with straightening up my room, with dusting and vacuuming, but as soon as I could I was planted in another world. 

My Dad raised pumpkins and strawberries some summers growing up. We helped with the weeding and the harvesting, although I'm not sure how much help I actually was. Mostly I just complained about how hot it was and how sweaty I was and how I was getting "ate up by bugs" and was sure to get "bit by a snake". 

I complained because it was work. 

Work takes effort. 

From what I know of the Enneagram, I'm a 9, which means that it is far too easy for me to become a sloth. I hear those 9/s don't like conflict, despite what our husbands say, and part of how we avoid conflict is just by not putting in the effort. 

All my life, I've been a procrastinator. (Seriously, all my life. My Mom was in labor for a looooonngg time and I was still stubborn and had to be born via c-section. I've been late ever since). 

Mostly, though, I procrastinate on things I'm afraid will be difficult to do, or things that I think will take a lot of effort. 

Anything worth doing is worth putting effort into, right? 

Except how do we decide what is actually worth doing? 

In economics, there's something called a cost/benefit ratio. (Maybe. If there isn't, there should be, because it sounds good. Made YOU think I knew what I was talking about... unless your an economist. If so, sorry!) There's also some kind of formula that helps you determine a profit margin- what you're going to make when it is all said and done. 

When we're deciding if something is worth the effort, that's what we have to look at. How much is it going to cost us- not monetarily, but energy wise. Time wise. Are we going to have say no to something else? 

Then, what are we going to get out of ti? What's the benefit to us? 

And finally- is there going to be a profit? 

Oddly enough, these numbers can all relate back to money, but that's not what I'm talking about here. The greatest things, those things that are truly worth the most effort, really sometimes don't pay off. 

Relationships are hard. 

People are petty. 

But ultimately, people should be the priority. 

You'll never go wrong putting in an effort to connect with someone. 

Also, self-care... you'll never go wrong putting in an effort to care for yourself. 

YOU have to decide what is important. For me, I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadow...

actually, that was Whitney. 

I have decided, though, that my purpose is to glorify God and encourage others. That will take effort, and I won't reap the benefits always... but that's ok. The effort will be worth it. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Kind

 She sits on a porch swing breaking up beans into her faded apron. She's got a kerchief around her head and her hair is tied up in a bun. She has glasses perched on her sharp nose, and wrinkles so deep that her face looks like a roadmap. Those wrinkles extend into her hand as I watch them break the beans methodically. 

She pushes her foot back and forth as the wind caresses my arm. I'm snuggled up next to her as close as I can get without being in her lap, and still somehow she maintains balance and keeps breaking those beans. The cars fly by on the highway and there is a bird singing in the tree next to the porch. Even as a young child, I close my eyes and drink it in... the feel of sunshine, the taste of popsicle still sweet on my tongue, the feel of the wind blowing my hair, falling loose from the ponytail securing it out of my eyes. 

I rub my hand on her soft skin and listen to her hum softly. We don't have to speak, because the words are there, present just as close as the Holy Spirit. I don't know the song she's humming but it's some hymn, I'm sure, a silent prayer and praise to the One who created her and the beans and the wind and the sky and the tree and me... 

I open my eyes and glance up into her face, drinking in her smile as she puts the white plastic tupperware bowl onto the gray concrete porch. The dog lazily stretches on the rug in front of the door, lolling his tongue and following her movements with his eyes. She leans over and pats him on the head as she opens the door, and beckons for me to follow her. 

Just an ordinary day.... mundane, every day activities lived sacrificially for those she loved. 

Her dark brown eyes behind her large plastic framed glasses twinkle among the wrinkles, and in this moment, I see the epitome of someone who is "kind." 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Trust


 Today I stood in the middle of a gradually changing cover of green and stared up at a blue sky. It's amazing how much better I breathe in the woods, even as I huff and puff up and down the stairs and hills. As we pulled into the parking lot today and I stepped out, I took a deep exhale. I'm not sure if the soil was loamy or not, but it sure made me think of that word as I moved up the trail. 

Staring up at that blue sky, I felt small, but in a good way. The world often tries to make us feel small in a million ways... that we aren't enough in however you want to define "enough". I've heard that lie, and I've internalized it. I often feel small when comparing my accomplishments to others, which is crazy.

Today as I hiked I thought back to a few years ago, when I was in the best shape of my life and trekking through the woods for 10 miles at a time was nothing. I was short of breath today after 1 mile...

so much heavier than I was back then, but honestly a little lighter in spirit. 

There's a saying that goes the greatest weight you can lose is the burden of carrying the expectations of others, and I'm slowly getting there. 

Often the weight we are carrying isn't even that of realistic expectation... it's what we envision in our mind that others think. 

And honestly, we can't live up to anyone's standards. 

There is always going to be someone prettier... smarter.... more put together... a better cook... a better Mom... you name it...

but friend, here me on this. I don't fully believe it yet, but everyday I'm trying to convince myself. 

Nobody can do you better than you. 

You were put here for a particular purpose, as was I. I'm not sure what mine is yet, and that's been an ongoing struggle. I've been processing through a lot of doubt and questioning, and as the answers slowly begin to rise to the surface, I know that it's a good purpose, and even though I am inherently selfish, I know that purpose is not all about me. 

Trusting God is a lot like hiking. You set out in the woods, on a trail that may or may not be the right one. Your feet get dirty. You may stumble and fall over a tree root. You may lose your breath as you start up a hill...

but He has gone before you and made the crooked paths straight. Often when we stumble or mess up or get turned around or short of breath, it's because we've stopped trusting and have wandered off on our own path. 

I'm notorious for doing this. Something "looks" easier and there go I....

only to be discouraged. 

True trust helps us throw off that weight, though... because He's the One carrying it. 

It's hiking with the best guide, who has all the essentials, and blazes your trail AND packs your water and snacks. 

And when we trust Him, it enables us to feel the best kind of small, just as I did gazing up at those trees today. 

Trust Him, friend, even when you don't know how. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one step at a time... 

Keep hiking. <3

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Temporary

 Temporary. 

The picture that brings to mind can be positive or negative. 

If it's something you enjoy, it may make you sad, because you know it won't last. If it's a hard season, it may give you relief, because you can count down until when it is over. 

I don't always like "temporary" because I don't like change. I like to know what to expect, and when something is temporary... well, you don't. You also don't know how or when it may change. 

As I've been writing this month, I've been doing a lot of reflection on these pages about "finding" myself. I've been in a season of struggle for a while now, and while I know in my mind that it is temporary, it hasn't really made it much easier...

but each season of life is hard. Part of what makes it difficult is knowing that no matter what, there will be change. External change, yes...

but also internal change. 

Who I was 20 years ago... she's no longer there. 

There may be some characteristics of her... but I'm not the same. I've matured, and grown, and how I view things is now colored by experiences that I have had. 

The Bible tell us that if we are in Christ, we are being transformed from "glory to glory". The glory we get here on earth is temporary... you do something great, and everyone applauds and cheers, but things are soon forgotten. 

Christ, however, has eternal glory...

and He is working that eternal glory in us. 

This life is temporary. Temporary struggles. Temporary trials...

preparing us for the eternal. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Treasure

 Lay up your treasure in heaven...

where neither moth nor rust will destruct. 

This is a Bible verse, my paraphrase, and it is one many of us may recognize. 

There are many things we can treasure. Some value their homes, their decorations, their electronics. Other treasure jewelry, or cars, or other expensive items. 

There's nothing wrong with these things... after all, they are just things... 

but if we put too much emphasis on them, it can skew our view. 

Sometimes, we can begin to define ourselves by our possessions. 

I recently read a comment on social media talking about how Christmas presents would most likely be late... about how shipping and product availability has been affected by numerous elements of the pandemic. This is a true need, as many nurses could attest in the immediate beginning, when valuable PPE was unavailable. 

In our drive-thru, insta-moment culture, we expect results now. Online shopping has made our desires available at the click of a button. Delivery trucks mean you don't even have to go to the store to buy it. Buying "things" has never been easier...

if there are things to buy. 

And we waste so much money on useless stuff. I"m not being preachy here, because I have PILES  of books (that I treasure)... so many that I most likely will never read them all... but that doesn't stop me from buying them. 

I buy books because I value them. 

When we treasure something, we put an emphasis on it. 

When something is valuable to us, we prioritize it. 

We think about it more. 

We go out of our way to spend time in that activity. 

We put our resources into it.. money, yes, but in today's economy, maybe even more importantly, our time. 

As we continue into the fall season, through the holidays and looking toward Advent, may we remember what is most important and treasure that. 

Treasure the experiences. 

Treasure the moments. 

Treasure the memories, without always looking through the camera on our phone (I'm guilty!)

Treasure the eternal...

because that will last forever. 


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Toward

 Today I stood on a hilltop on a cemetery, looking out toward the horizon. I walked among the tombstones, noticing the dates. Some were no longer readable.

I thought of the poem "The Dash" (you can read it here). 

Many of the tombstones no longer had a dash carved in between the dates, but it is unspoken. 

That dash represents our journey. 

I want a dash on my tombstone, because it symbolizes who I was. 

We are all walking toward eternity. 

How we live, what we do in the in-between, is important. 

Not so much our jobs, or our hobbies...

but how we invest our time. 

Rather, in whom we invest our time. 

I'm not sure what I want my epitaph to say. 

We all seek validation on the daily, validation that we are important, that we are right. 

Sometimes, we even want to be seen as the victim. 

As we journey toward the date that will be at the end of the dash, may we not get so tangled up in what we are doing. May we instead concentrate on the day, the moment...

because even though we are always looking TOWARD something, we don't know if we will ever truly reach it... but we can take advantage of the moments we have. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Redeem

 Redemption is a funny thing. 

To redeem is to compensate for something bad...

Too often we feel like we have to compensate for something, an area where we feel less than, not good enough...

Today, as I was reflecting on this word as a prompt, I realized that there are some things that can't be redeemed... not entirely. And there are somethings that we shouldn't try to redeem. Some things should be considered lost causes. 

Then there are some things that we THINK need to be redeemed that really don't. 

For example, I still have guilt at times when I find myself not being productive. I feel like I should constantly be "doing" something... and there was a time when I would have got up and added something to my to do list when I felt like that...

but that's not something that needs to be compensated for. Some days, I'm not going to be my best and that's ok. 

The important thing is to realize that reality is...

we can't do the redemption work ourselves. We can try... 

but ultimately, we need a redeemer. 

We need someone to make the compensation for us. 

And even on those things that we may be able to rectify, we can only do that in His strength. 

So... shake off those feelings of inadequacy. 

Redeem your time by NOT focusing on worrying about tomorrow. Live for today. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Everyone

 Hey, friend... can I tell you a little secret? 

Have you ever had anyone tell you "Everyone says..." or "Everyone does..."? 

Have you ever logged on to social media and thought that based on the pictures and the posts that you see, everyone else was having fun while you are at home wallowing in self-pity? 

The reality is, how you're feeling when you're comparing yourself to someone else's highlight reel... 

well, EVERYONE else feels that way too. 

Ok, maybe not EVERYONE... but more people than you're thinking. 

There are no absolutes in this world. 

We are all unique, individuals with different interests and capabilities and likes and dislikes... each of us perfectly designed by a God who truly knows everyone. 

So don't let the internet convince you that you're missing out. 

Don't let the world tell you that everyone else is better. 

Be confident in the imperfect mess that you are, and remember that everyone has a bad day now and again. 

And we need everyone's own unique magic to make the world go round. <3

Monday, October 11, 2021

Above

 Earlier this month I wrote down a manifesto of some sorts, to help ground me when I am overwhelmed. 

Today, as I was walking, thinking of all I still needed to do yet didn't seem to have time to accomplish, I thought of this manifesto. 

Breathe. 

Experience- ground myself in where I am using my five senses. I was listening to a podcast about complacency vs. intentionality, and I focused on the words. I am complacent. 

A soft breeze brushed against my skin. The gravel crunched beneath my feet, one foot in front of the other. Solid ground underneath. Trees on either side. 

So I glanced above. 


It's hard to stay grounded when you gaze at an infinite horizon. Even here in the mountains, where the view of the sky is often interrupted, the awesome vastness can be overwhelming in and of itself... but it's a good sense of overwhelm. 

Leading me into my next step on my manifesto- praise. 

The blue beckoned my attention and the white, wispy trails of clouds were calming. I was reminded that the same God who created that vast sky, who painted it that very blue and who brushed the wispy clouds across, created me, too. 

When you feel overwhelmed, pause. Breathe. Look around. Gaze above. 

Then, focus within... 

He'll do a work if we will only allow it. 

Your will, Lord, on earth as it is in Heaven. 

Keep me focused on those things from above. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Establish

 My write 31 days "experiment" this year was just that... 

I didn't have a set focus. 

No 31 days of anything, just wanted to get into a routine of writing and force myself to get words down even when I didn't feel inspired. 

Writers write, right?

I'm using words provided by the Five Minute Friday linkup at Kate Montaug's blog, but usually writing more than five minutes, although as I go throughout the month I probably would not be opposed at setting a time for five minutes. Mostly, though, I'm finding that even using those words, I'm doing a lot of processing about who I am and what I want and what all that means for who I am. "Finding myself" if you would... 

Today is the first day when I really had no idea what I would write about. The prompt was "establish". I looked up the definition, and there are several different things establish could mean. 

One of the definitions of establish is "to bring into existence". I think that's what I'm trying to do. At 42, I'm having a bit of a mid-life crisis, questioning most of what I've "known" all my life. Through this month, and I'm sure for a lot longer, I have the desire to "bring into existence" a better me... to bring into existence who I want to be. 

Not that I want it to be fake, or made up, but more fully developed, I guess. 

So, I go back to my "manifesto" that I wrote at the beginning of the month. Learn to breathe fully. Learn to experience. Force myself to move. Read and write for the sheer enjoyment of words. Seek adventure in all things, because what is life if it is not a grand adventure? 

Bringing this "life" into existence, working to establish the life that I'm destined to live... well, it's just that. It's work. It's a lot of questions, a lot of thinking, of reconsidering. It's forgiving and seeking to live without bitterness, even against myself.  Not all of it is fun... but it will be worth it. 

At the end of every day, I want to be able to put my head on the pillow knowing that I didn't just sleep walk through the day. 

So, maybe this month will put my mind into a favorable position (another definition of establish) to be all that I can be...

or to at least accept who I am with my limitations. 


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Power

 


Words matter.

In grade school, we were often told the cliché, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” but that’s a lie.

Words can hurt… but they can also heal.

What we say matter.

What we think matter.

Knowledge is power, but what good is knowledge if it isn’t transferred to someone else?

Communication is the real conduit for power.

I often speak of Emily P. Freeman. She’s a mentor of mine, she just doesn’t know it. In her most recent book, she wrote a chapter about the importance of naming things.

Naming things… putting words to it.

If you can name it, describe it, you can harness it.

And if you can harness it, you can have power over it.

For the longest time, I have wanted to be a writer. I communicate best via the written word. I am my best self when I am getting words down… on paper, on the computer screen, on social media. I share not for “likes” or affirmations, but because I know that words matter, and as a reader, I know that the words of other people can make the words I speak over myself change. I hope to do the same for others.

Sometimes, when you put the words down in black and white, things don’t seem so scary anymore. Hope is found in the process, through clarification and revision and transparency. Words can serve to connect us, especially in this digital age.

Today, my declaration is that “I am a writer”. I may not ever be published, but I’m writing words here that matter to somebody, even if it is just one other person. Honestly, even if it just me.

What dream do you need to put into words today? Find a safe place. Write it down, even if it’s only somewhere that you can see. Then go back and read it over, and over, and over again until you believe it.

YOUR WORDS MATTER. SPEAK LIFE TO YOURSELF. And until you can, I’ll be here sharing my words with you. I’m not courageous, but this is my courageous fight… to encourage you, meet you where you are, and tell you to keep chasing your dreams.

Grace, my friend.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Complete

To define the word complete, you must first understand the intricate pieces that make up the internal you. 

We are all more than the sum of our parts, but you can't be complete until you consider how those parts fit together. 

Often we feel incomplete, lacking, unsure, only because we expect "complete" to look a certain way. 

To feel a certain way. 

Whole... Together... Unbroken...

Although really completeness lends itself to the idea of perfection... and perfection can't be unbroken, right? Because if something is broken it can never truly be made perfect again. 

At least that's what society will try to tell you. 

So, here we are, often in mid-life, looking back at the first years of our lives with a more complete since of the should've, could've would've idea... 
And life is completely full of regrets. 

Nothing seems complete, and we tell ourselves it is because we are only at the midpoint, that our best days are just ahead, and that is true in a sense...

Maybe we should stop concentrating on completeness... perfection... wholeness...

and instead appreciate the parts as they are, not as a sum, but individually, each unique experience lending itself to a better development of who we will become...

complete only when there is another date on the end of the dash that signifies the sum of our messy, beautiful chaos that is life. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Encourage

 




Today while riding down a backroad I thought of how life is full of twisty, winding roads. Sometimes the curves mild, and you get plenty of notice, but sometimes they are hair-pins. Sometimes the bumps in the road leave you feeling like you're on a roller coaster, with that crazy funny feeling in your stomach as you go flying over the hump. Sometimes, though, they just leave you sick to your stomach. 

It's always easier to drive in the sunshine, at least for me. 

Have you ever been on a long road trip, where it seems like you've been driving for miles? I can remember one time... I don't remember where we were going... but we didn't think we were ever going to get to a gas station. 

At times like those, there's something magical about a road sign showing a gas station. 

Sometimes, we all need a little gas... 

Humans run on oxygen and water and calories and sleep. Physiologically, if we don't have enough oxygen, our cells will die. It's why you have chest pain with a heart attack- your body is warning you. If we don't get enough water or calories, we'll die because our body won't have the energy to do what is needed internally to keep on ticking. Rest allows us to rebuild and heal. These things are kind of like the gas, oil, the battery, and the tires on your vehicle. You most likely wouldn't start off on a road trip without checking these essential elements. 

Mentally, we have needs as well. It is too easy to drive down life's roads and spin out... hydroplane... or get so lost that you don't know where you are going. Negativity can do that. Fear and doubt can do that. 

Sometimes, we can encourage ourselves. We can get our bearing and figure out how to get back on the right road, or at least how we need to go to be heading in the right direction. 

Most of the time, though, we need a GPS that speaks in an English accent telling us where to make a turn and when to make a u-turn.

That comes in the form of another person encouraging us. 

It's one of the reasons that I write and share, and try to be so vulnerable. I can't figure out how to find my own way, but I can look at your situation and see that you have hope. Too often we are too far below the clouds to see the hope ourselves. 

"En-courage"

The prefix "en" means to "put into" or "cover with". 

So, if I'm "encouraging" you, essentially I'm 'putting courage into you, or covering you with courage." 

Isn't that something we all need? 

So, tonight I want to encourage you. If you feel lost, figure out where you need to make a u-turn and do so. Get on a different road. You're never truly lost as long as you have gas! Keep driving, even through the rain. The fun is really in the journey. Sometimes, it's actually more about the journey than the actual destination. 

Take courage. Try new roads. Seek adventure. I'm proud of you, friend! <3

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

WHOLE

 Book stacks make me happy. However, I’ve found it harder to read here lately. My eyes get tired easily, and I can’t see the print sometimes, and I get distracted.




I used to be able to sit down and read a whole book in one reading. I couldn’t tell you when the last time I did that.
A few years ago I got obsessed with counting… everything. Well, most everything. Steps I took. Miles I walked. Ounces I drank ( not so good on that one). Words I wrote. Books I read…
Until it became about the accomplishment. I stopped enjoying it.
And those piles of books only reminded me of what I wasn’t doing.
What used to make me feel whole, what used to give me energy, only left me feeling like I had a hole in my soul.
Obviously I’m not just talking books here. Somehow, in my counting, I placed an emphasis in a person I thought I should be. The problem with that is that we can never reach the bar of expectation, so we are constantly exhausting ourselves trying to reach a bar that is just our if reach, the proverbial carrot dangling just at our fingertips.
And that exhaustion takes all the joy away.
So, for the next couple of days I’m putting up my phone. (I’ll still post one pic a day because im doing a writing challenge, and even though I wavy to stop being legalistic about numbers I do want to get some discipline about writing because there are some books in me that want to get out!)
I’m going to read for the sake of reading, the beauty of words on the page, thinking about what I read.
And I’ll be better for it.
Grace to you my friends… ❤️

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Patient



Today I meandered down a familiar path. It wasn't a serious walk, with the intent of getting my heart rate up (let's be honest, most walks now are not...). Rather, I had been teaching all day and I had a meeting at 6 PM so I wanted to get a little fresh air. I tied my tennis shoes, clicked the "Run" mode on my fitbit (even though I WOULD NOT be running), and headed out the door. My favorite podcast was playing and it was actually nice to put one foot in front of the other with no particular destination. The air was comfortable and it was overcast and I inhaled, deep. 


I glanced up to see a squirrel scamper up a tree branch and thought of how we each have our place in this world. One particular tree caught my eye. I noticed how it seemed as if the leaves had changed since even yesterday and thought of how it was a gradual progress until one day you wake up and the world is a brilliant orange, red, and yellow... until it rains or the wind blows and those leaves are being crunched underneath. 


Nature has a way of being patient that isn't part of our human makeup; at least, not mine. I don't like gradual, but I don't like change, either...a  contradiction of terms, I guess. Maybe it's the sense of lack of control that waiting entails... we sit there, not knowing if anything is even happening, and the uncertainty is the hardest part, for me, at least. 

And then, just like the leaves on the hillside, you wake up to find that things are different than what you expected. 

That can be a good thing or a bad thing. 

The thing is, those trees that are gradually changing... the process is the same, every year. There are things going on in the tree that we can't see. 

There are changes going on internally that we can't see in ourselves, even... a slow process of maturing. The tree can't do anything to speed up the process. Neither can we. 




 Patience is a virtue that I don't possess, and I've been told to never pray for patience... but tonight, on my walk, I was reminded again that God is in the process. He's in the details. He's in the waiting. 

And when the time is fulfilled, those seeds that germinated in the dark will burst forth, and you'll shine like the sun. 

We can learn a lot from nature if we just pay attention...

and be intentional about being patient. 

If only it wasn't so hard. <3

Monday, October 4, 2021

Comfort

There is a melancholy that settles deep 

and a hushing of the soul

as one looks to the impossibility of finding a true place. 

Comfort is a word just out of reach; 

we stretch 

and turn

and stand on our tip-toes 

and still it looms, 

just dangling above our fingertips. 

Yet there is something about that deep melancholy

that has intertwined the soul 

that makes the possibility of losing it strike fear...

we may actually take comfort in 

the uncomfortable

the sadness and the overwhelm

is it because we are really sad and really overwhelmed 

or have we talked ourselves into this mess? 

The masks that we wear now are only replacements for the masks we wore 

long before they were required, we painted them on 

with our "I'm fine" and "doing great" 

One day blends into another 

and before we know it the melancholy is an inept part of our being 

and we don't know how to shed the skin we are so uncomfortable in... 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

PEACE

Strangest looking sky tonight. On my way to town, coming down Shoulderblade Hill, I spied this rainbow streak.




Later on down the road, on the right hand side, another rainbow. Then a light sky after sunset, with clouds dispersed…

The writing prompt for today was PEACE and again it’s one I don’t relate well with. Maybe someone with a stronger faith than me can help us all out… seems like there’s a lot of perfect people out there that know all the answers. I’ve gone to church all my life and truly believe Jesus is my Savior, and His Word says He is my peace, but most days here lately it seems a little out of reach if I’m honest. I’ve tried changing some circumstances and still come up short. My heart hurts for many who suffer, most of us suffering in silence, our own version of the walking dead.
Peace does not mean a mere absence of conflict, and as I’m processing (sorry if I’m sharing too much heart on my sleeve, but again, several of y’all said you relate to my posts so I’m going to keep sharing until someone tells me to shut up)… I’m realizing that peace that seems allusive does not mean it isn’t there. Peace only comes after a battle, and more times than not in our world it’s a battle of the mind, the spirit. More often than not I lose, and some of my days are spent languishing away even as I stare the gift horse full of blessings in the mouth…
I am posting this because I refuse to quit. I don’t know what will come out of the darkness, sometimes one of our own making… but I do know He promises that the suffering of this world will be nothing compared to the glory revealed in us. There is hope, friend, and whatever we are going through, wherever we are, we are not alone, even if we feel it.

Praying grace and peace over you in whatever situation you are facing. Look for the rainbow… and as Dolly says, know in order to see that promise, sometimes we have to go through a little bit of rain. 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

CONTENT

 he sky is the limit, we preach.

You can do anything you dream of…
And so we push the belief that where we are…what we are… is not good enough in the present.
Today’s society actually pushes us toward discontent. We see everyone’s filtered perfection and the voices in our minds whisper, scream… “You are not good enough.” Our leisurely nap on the couch pales in comparison to those who are traveling the world. The good we did for our neighbor with no one knowing seems paltry compared to our friend who is changing the world.
As I wrote yesterday, the unsettling of our soul is uncomfortable, and prompts change. Change is good… but it is a fine line we must balance between changing to meet faulty expectations and changing because it is truly needed.
Tonight, may you be content to sit in silence, to ponder where you are and choose to see the good. It may not be exciting, but that’s ok. Adrenaline rushes eventually lead to exhaustion. And as you sit, May you also know when it is time to take the next step… for you. Not for anyone else.



Friday, October 1, 2021

NEED

I need some validation. 

I need some clarification. 

I need to figure out... well, lots of things. 

It's a winding journey I've been on for the past few years. I guess we are on a similar journey, of finding our purpose and figuring out who we are. 

I've laughingly said I've been going through a mid-life crisis... 

I wonder if it's just me who has no clue what they are doing in this life. I'm pretty sure the answer to that is "no". 

So, here I am, everyday, trying to figure out what exactly I need...

And how those needs fit into my place in this world. 

If y’all follow me at all you know I love a good planner. I love anything that gives me a semblance of control, because I so often lack it. I am GREAT at planning, but pretty soon the motivation wears off…
Today I sat down and reflected on the last nine months. I know we are all so very tired of hearing the “pandemic” but we live in a “pre” and “post” world. Even before, there was an unsettling in my spirit. These last two years, and even before, I have been processing and trying to “find” myself. You’ve read my striving and struggling… I try to be transparent… and you may read this and say “Here she goes again” BUT I honestly feel like somebody else may need to hear this.
This morning, as I do most firsts of the month, I stepped on the scales. I knew it would be bad, and it was. I realized that for the longest time I’ve not felt comfortable in my skin. I guess, while that may be unsettling, it’s a good thing, too. When we are uncomfortable, it eventually makes us move. It’s a sign of growing, and if we are stagnant, we die…
And as I say and thought and wrote this morning, I thought of how I’m sick of quantifying things. If you are reading this, I want you to know this. You are more than a number on the scale, more than the sum of your failures, more than all that you feel you aren’t.
Tonight, wherever you are, I hope you know that you are worth all of the hard work and overwhelm and doubt and fear that goes into figuring out your worth. Friend, don’t settle. Life is more than going through the motions. I’m not where I need to be, but I’m trying to make every day better. I’m slowly learning (or remembering, I’m a slow learner) that it’s not about what I do. Not about all I accomplish. It’s about something that the world can’t see.
Join me in this journey? To be? To love? To live?
Grace to you, friend… ❤️#last100days2021







Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 11)

This evening I managed to get in a mile before the skies opened up and the rain came. A couple of days ago I was walking and realized it was 0' dark 30 at 8 PM...  and then the next day Wallace told me he local mini-mart isn't selling ice cream anymore which means that summer really is over and there are no words for how sad that makes me. 

This quote made me think: "Grownups don't look like grownups on the inside either. Outside they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grownups.." The Ocean at the End of the Lane

As I pondered, I thought about how often I had muttered the words, "I don't want to be the grownup." There's a meme on the socials that says something to the effect of, "You look around the room for the grownup, only to realize you ARE the grownup." And let's face it, most days adulting is HARD. Mostly, though, what I took away from this quote is that we are all little children inside. Every person you meet, no matter what their age, is most likely still a little scared and insecure. They are caring their childhood experiences, good and bad, with them, and we all sometimes revert to that scared little kid. Give a little grace when you encounter someone who rubs you the wrong way. It may just be forced bravado.

Later in the same book: "I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I found joy in the things that made me happy."

Not every kid gets a good childhood, and I fully recognize that... but childhood should be full of innocence. Kids are generally more creative, have a huge imagination, and are optimistic. They also tend to forgive easily. Each day, let's strive to let a little bit of that child out. 

In one scene of this book, the character talks about dowsing.  It made me think of my Papaw Barlow, who "water witched". He'd take two dousing rods (of a special kind of wood, I think, although maybe it worked with metal later? I don't know... I forget stories) and then move around property. At the site of water running underground, the rods would cross and they'd know where to dig for a well. I'm not sure how they figured out as much as they did back in those days, but I'm in awe. What's something your ancestors did that you're proud of? 

Overdrive and library books- Yes, I do have trouble keeping up with reading and no, this will not help me in that in any way but did you know that our local public library (and many other libraries) loan out books for your e-reader? It's like magic. You sign in with your library card, so some browsing or search for a book you want, and then have it delivered... at any time of the night. Amazing, right? 

Books I Read: 

Canada by Mike Myers

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia- Elizabeth Catte- "No need to write a sad book or platform yourself constantly, just run toward your friends when they need you." 


You need to try: 

the podcast pictured above. It reads a Psalm a day, and then provides commentary, and the voice is so very soothing. 

Have a blessed week, friends! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 10)

Here it is, Tuesday again, and I can't hardly believe that. I also can't believe that tomorrow is the halfway point of September.  I've settled into a routine with school, but it's still overwhelming. Life in general is overwhelming. I'm sorry if you're tired of hearing that. 

With that being said, I am DETERMINED to learn to live in a way that is not an emergency. Life is too short to survive, and while I know it will never be pinterest perfect, I also know that we were made to experience life. 

Friday night I went to Billy Joel and introduced Caleb to some of the music of my childhood. Saturday I took a trip to Prestonsburg with him and ate at a Tex-Mex restaurant. I'm not a huge Tex-Mex fan, but the burrito Caleb had was as round as my arm, and it was nice to sit outside and eat while watching the sun set behind some Eastern Kentucky mountains. 

Books I've Read This Week: 

Kin


A full review at the end of this month but I'll leave you with this inspiration: 

 "My heart's deepest desire is that Kin will open the floodgates for dozens, even hundreds of memoirs from rural-born women who have spent years of their lives in churches and kitchens, who daily rise to the impossible task of negotiating their identity, power, and freedom. I pray for an embarrassment these riches, a deafening chorus of gorgeous, complicated voices loud enough to drown out the stereotypes and shame that have haunted our lives."- Kin, Shawna Kay Rodenberg

Let's tell our stories, friends! Especially those that others try to tell for us! <3

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Psalm 23: Lesson From Sunday School (Volume 1, Edition 6)

 Today my cousin Jordan brought the message at church. He spoke from Psalm 23, one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. 

Sometimes, the familiar loses its power. 

We become almost immune to the words. 

He talked about how these words were depicted on cross-stitches and in paintings, of a meek and mild Jesus cradling a lamb, with a piteous look on His face. 

As He read through the passage from the KJV, I had the NIT pulled up on my phone. 

I quickly grabbed my journal I use for notetaking on Sunday mornings and jotted down the comparisons. I'll share below. 

Jordan spoke about the role of a shepherd and how he served a specific need. He reminded us that David wrote from an area of experience, as he was a shepherd. 

Sheep are not the smartest animals. They often wander off, they try to go places they are physically unable to reach, they can't even find their way in their own pen at night, for goodness sake! They are prone to attack by predators because they are so easily fooled. 

But the Shepherd is there to lead them, guide them, feed them, provide for them, protect them. 

He then specifically talked about how God made a table for us in the presence of our enemies. If you want to think in terms of sheep, it's like a sheep is grazing in a green pasture, and there's a wolf standing there salivating on the other side of a see-through fence. He's there, but he can't get to the sheep. Most likely, in the case of the sheep, they aren't even aware that the wolf is there, because they are in the presence of their protector, the Shepherd. so they can graze peacefully. 

We aren't quite like that. A lot of times I focus on my "enemy" (the obstacles in my way) and can't even enjoy all of the blessings God has provided. Jordan likened it to us actually inviting our enemy to pull up a the table and have a seat. I've been guilty of that. Too often, I allow my peace to be snatched away because I'm focusing on all that is wrong with my situation. Jordan reminded us that Jesus has never said, "I don't know." The enemy of our souls comes to our table prepared with lies- lies like the other table looks better, or we aren't good enough to sit at the table, or we aren't going to make it (how often have I felt that one in recent years???)... but our situation does not change God's promises, and He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He goes before, protects from behind, and covers us under His wings. In this world we will have trouble but we are to take heart, because He has overcome the world. 

Read that again. YOUR SITUATION DOES NOT CHANGE GOD. There is nothing too big or small, nothing too hard, nothing too stupid, nothing too challenging. (See Romans 8)

He works all things for our good (Romans 8:28) for His glory. I forget that. I get focused on how bad the hard thing feels, and the next thing I know I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, just like a sheep that has wondered off.

How often have I been like a sheep gone astray! If you, like me, need a refreshing, take a few minutes to soak up these promises. And remember this. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, left the fold of 99 to save 1. That's you. That's me. 

Psalm 23- listen here to hear my favorite podcasters share Psalm 23. Or click here for a previous blog post on Psalm 23... but take a few minutes to read through my notes of the KJV and the NLT. Soak in His words. His promises. 

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want (I have all that I need). 

He maketh me to lie down (lets me rest) in green pastures (meadows). 

He leads (guides) me beside still waters (peaceful streams)

He restoreth my soul (renews my strength)

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness (He guides me along right paths)

for His Names sake (bringing honor to His name)

yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (even when I walk in the darkest valley)

I will fear no evil (I will not be afraid)

Thou art with me (You are close beside me)

Your rod and staff, they comfort (protect) me

You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over (overflows with blessings). 

Surely your goodness and mercy (unfailing love) will follow me (pursue me) all the days of my life

and I will dwell (live) in the house of the Lord forever. 

(Picture is from my HCSB translation Bible. I especially like the verse "He renews my life.")



Blessings to you, friend. <3


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 9)

 I almost forgot today was Tuesday. 

Yesterday was the perfect Labor Day, other than I did have to work some on an exam... and I have my first quiz in Advanced Assessment this week, and a quiz in Advanced Pharmacology next week, and I feel so behind...

but I left it all at the house and went hiking at the Gorge with my best boys and Ellie. It had been far too long since I had stood under a blue sky gazing at a vast overlook... at least vast for these parts... and I was reminded why so many say that it's easier to breathe in the wide open. I question why I allow myself to go so long without it. 

When I went to bed last night I had good intentions. I  knew I'd have a meeting and I wouldn't get to exercise in the evening, so I set my alarm to get up early in the morning. 

And then I reset it when I got up at 5 to go to the bathroom. 

And then hit the snooze button. 

I started the day with good intentions... but somehow they didn't stay that way. 

As I've reflected all day about my life, I am thankful for the blessings I have, but I also know for whatever reason I am still struggling. This is a season of discontent. It's been that way for a while now, and the harder that I strive, the more uncomfortable I feel in my own skin. I feel like I'm shouting at the sky sometimes, but the truth is, I have stopped even whispering. 

None of this makes logical sense... except that it is all about what you put in, what you feed yourself, and for far too long my diet has been social media crap. 

Excuse my language... but I've realized that the nastiness affects me. 

It has made me question my faith. It has made me question who I am and what I believe. I see the posts that some people callously make, and I hope that they aren't the only Jesus somebody sees... and then I realize that the same could probably be said for myself. 

I don't profess to have all the answers, but I also know that we are each put on this earth for a purpose. I've not figured out exactly what mine is... but I think it has to do with words. I feel in my heart that I'm a writer, and that God means for me to write... but I keep on saying "yes" to things I have no business saying yes to. 

And that makes me ask what I want to say yes to...

Yes to spending more time with the most important people. 

Yes to fostering real life friendships (I need some help with this one!)

Yes to taking care of myself (my blood pressure was up everytime a student took it today during physical assessment. I weigh more now than I ever have... and some of it is physical weight.)

Yes to doing things that I enjoy. 

I want to start saying no to things that make me feel inferior, things that I feel like I "should" do for whatever reason. 

I started asking myself today "What do you know that is true?" in preparation for a sappy facebook post and I realized that honestly, I don't know much that is true. 

Our society feels like one fat lie. 

I know that God is truth, but honestly what I'm seeing out of some people in His church doesn't feel like truth to me, and that's a huge struggle for me right now. 

I do know that He says if we seek Him, He shall be found. I just think maybe that for the last few years, I've been seeking Him in the wrong way. 

Seeking Him by trying to prove how good I am. 

Seeking Him by reading the Bible to just get through it. 

And, if I'm honest, I've been seeking Him after I've been seeking everything else. 

So... as I begin this next year of Lauren's story, I'm recommitting... again. 

I'll still get it wrong. I'll still miss the point. I'll still be selfish. I'll still hit the snooze button...

but I'm learning that no mater what I do, I can't be perfect, and that's ok. 

There is truth in being who you  are, all the glorious mess...

So, happy birthday to me. 

Sorry this tidbit was a little heavier than normal. Thanks for being there to help me process through. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 8)

 Been quiet around here the last couple of weeks as I've been adjusting to a new job, new classes, and trying to just keep my head on straight. There has been so much "heavy" stuff in our world, and my heart has been struggling. Due to that, I've decided to take a facebook break this week, and when I log back in, I'm only going to get on one day a week. I know it seems presumptuous of me to think that anyone even cares about that, but I do love my facebook friends. I've just got to learn to start loving my mental health more. 

Hurricane Ida has made landfall and we are getting rain, rain, and more rain here in Eastern Kentucky. Last night as I drifted off to sleep to the sound of rain on my tin roof I thought of all those still rebuilding from our flooding in March. I used to find rain peaceful at night, but now, as I empathize with those who spent nightime hours terrified, I can also see the sinister side. It's funny how our perspective can change. 

Speaking of perspectives, this weekend I spend a couple of days wallowing and honestly today I'm not feeling much better, but I know that it's all in perspective. I have decided (tonight, anyway) that I'm not going to get all caught up in what I DO. I'm just going to do my best everyday, minute by minute, hour by hour. I've been listening to The Next Right Thing podcast by Emily P. Freeman, and that's her premise.... what is my next right thing? So, starting tomorrow, that's going to be my focus as I go through the day... what is right in front of me. Not tracking. Not trying to be better than before. Not worrying if I meet a step goal or a writing goal or a reading goal... just doing it for what it is. 

But... I still have to track some things.. so... 

Books I've Read since the last time I wrote

1. Still Life by Louise Penny

A whopping 3 books for the month of August...

but new job. New courses. New classes for me. Reading for advanced pharmacology and advanced health assessment... so... grace. 

Give yourself some grace, too, friend. <3








Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 7)

Drink More Water

I have never been a water drinker, but I'm trying to do better. I've read that dehydration may cause migraines to be worse, and I drink way too much caffeine. I'm also trying to be a little bit more environmentally friendly, so when I helped Kami move I saw a water pitcher with a filter in her fridge and decided that's just what I need... so we purchased a Brita water filter pitcher and I have to say I love it! I fill up my water bottle before I leave, and then refill on campus at a water station. I've increased my water intake from 0 ounces to usually at least 32 a day (I know it's not great, but it's better than none). And I'm not drinking as much pop, either... 

Auto-save is REALLY the enemy- Technology is great, until it isn't. We use one-drive at work, and it has an auto-save feature, which you think would be great... but last week I was working on unit outlines using one as a template and when I came back in the next day they were all blank but one because it had autosaved as the last one that I had been working on. I learned my lesson, though... and turn auto-save off and also copy/paste the document into a new document before I start. 

If you're not talking to yourself, are you even being productive at work? 

I'm convinced the answer to this is a resounding NO! While I was updating the above outlines, correcting my mistake from the day when I erased them all, I had a full-blown conversation with myself... even providing answers. 

This week is the first day of classes for students. I have entered all of my teaching dates in to my calendar, and also all of my assignments for my NP courses. I'm a little overwhelmed, but one day at a time. I'm excited to be learning! 

What I Read This Week

This post is late getting written because I was determined to have something to put here. I just finished (literally ten minutes ago) the only book I've read this week- the second of August. 

1. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

A lot of heavy stuff going on in our world right now. Saying a little prayer for you, my friend. Thanks for reading. <3


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Lessons from Sunday School (Little Heavier Version Volume 1 Edition 5)

 Today I had a roomful for Children's Church. Aged 6 to 18, it's sometimes hard to come up with a lesson that meets all of their developmental levels. My heart is with the middle schoolers and high schoolers, I guess because middle school was such a hard time for me and then for the majority of my adult life I was tagging along behind buses full of high school girls. 

Today I taught from John 16:33, Romans 8, and Genesis 50:20. It's not your usual Sunday School lesson, but I want to share the main points with you today. 

We are living in what many consider to be a unique time, but we're told in Ecclesiastes that "there is nothing new under the heavens", so really we are probably going through the same things that generations before us went through; now we just have the technology and ease of information to take on the weight of the world instead of just our own little pocket. I do honestly believe we are living in "end day", because it seems the labor pains are growing closer and closer. More tragedy. More heartaches. More confusion. 

When I was young, I didn't want to think about living in the "end times". I can remember having a dream when I was in high school and waking up so scared. I had dreamed about the rapture, and saw people going up in the air, and I was left behind... but I also had conflicting feelings. I wasn't "homesick". I had things I wanted to do, and I didn't want to think about those things not coming to fruition because I was in Heaven. Selfish, hmm? Remember that's natural for a teenager... 

I also don't remember feeling overwhelmed like so many of our kids are today. Oh, sure, I was full of teenage angst, and was insecure, but I didn't obsess about worries. 

We are a worrying society. 

Jesus tells in John 16::, "In this world you will have trouble." Not too promising there, when you think about it. 

The heartache you're facing. The sickness you're loved one has just been diagnosed with. Your confusion about your life situation. 

You should have seen them coming.. but even though we KNOW we will have trouble, it doesn't mean we should allow these troubles to overcome us. 

Jesus goes on to say, "Take heart. I have overcome the world."

Before I was born, before any troubles came my way, Jesus overcame the world. And because He overcame the world, He allows me to be victorious in my battles. That doesn't mean that things will always work out as I want them to. It just means that I can have peace when I am troubled because He is my peace. 

I had everyone write down things that made them sad on a piece of paper. We then talked about how God can use those things for good, and how Joseph had many trials but it was for the saving of "many lives". I told them that they may not be able to imagine it now, but that all those things that made them sad can be worked for good if they love Jesus. 

Friend, you may need to hear that, too. Life is hard, and unfair, and we don't understand why bad things happen to good people. I don't understand the tension that is present when I think of God being in control but bad things still happening. Our world is reeling right now and I know it makes Him just as sad as it does me, but He has given us free will. We can't explain it, and it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I am trying to trust Him more. 

Romans 8:18, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Your sorrow, your troubles and trials, are temporary. As I type this, I'm reminded of an old spiritual we sang once in chorus, "Soon Ah I will be done with my troubles... going home to live with God. No more weepin' and a wailin'"'

I'm not going to tell you to make lemons out of lemonade or to make the most out of whatever you are facing. I'm not going to offer platitudes, because some of you are going through some heavy stuff. I am just going to tell you that Jesus knows. He loves you. And may you find peace in Him. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Five Minute Friday (A Day Late): Accountability

 This summer, I started writing again. 

I joined a writing group online, then participated in a peer group, and have joined several additional writing groups. I've been listening to podcasts on writing and have been talking myself through the steps needed to write the Great American Novel... or maybe just a non-fiction book centered around my travels around the Bluegrass State.... or then there's that thought that a book discussing primitive healthcare and midwifery in Eastern Kentucky would be fun to research..

While I'm not completely settled on WHAT I plan to write, I've been focusing on the habit of, well, getting in the habit of writing. If you follow me here, on this blog, you know I've been publishing at least on Tuesdays and Sundays. I've been "writing" more on Instagram, journaling my thoughts more intentionally there. I've also been starting my day "journaling" for 10 minutes, and closing it out with getting some words down toward said novel above. In July, I had a goal of 750 words a day, and while I didn't write every day, I did write some. In August, I increased it to 1000 words and joined a couple of accountability groups on Facebook. Knowing I needed to go log on and post my word count, or my progress, did give me some inspiration...

Until this week. Thursday and Friday I slept late, so no morning journaling. Thursday night I was exhausted, and last night I started working on editing some questions for a textbook company that I do as a job on the side (I decided that it did, in fact, count as writing). 

When I saw the Five Minute Friday word was accountability, I thought, "Well this is perfect." I lack self-discipline. It's one reason why it's so much easier for me to sit on the couch than to walk my 2 miles every day, even though I usually enjoy the walk once I get started. 

I don't usually do this kind of thing with my writing and I'm not sure I'll get a response but that's ok. If you enjoy what you read here, could you leave me a comment? Either here on the blog or on my Facebook page, and would you partner with me by asking me about my writing every now and again? It's greatly appreciated! 

What do you need an accountability partner for? How might I help you with that? 

Linking up for Five Minute Friday, a community that writes for five minutes on one topic and shares. I may have cheated this week because a. it's Saturday and b. I wrote for longer than five minutes. 



Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1 Edition 6)

 School Times

This week my newsfeed on FB and Instagram is full of going back to school pictures. I have to admit it's one of my favorite times of the year on social media, because even those kids dreading going back force smiling faces for one day of the year. I'm not going to say it, referring instead to it as Harry Potter referred to him who shall  not be named, but there's a lot of trepidation and uncertainty circling this school year. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the debates so I'm not going to deliberate here. Just know that I'm praying for you and yours. Will you join me in praying for our kiddos, their teachers and administrators and coaches and bus drivers and cooks and janitors and everyone else that makes a school system go round? It takes a village, y'all. 

Speaking of individuals in the school system, this is Caleb's first year as an employee of the Breathitt County School System. He'll be helping with intervention strategies at HTS and also is going to be a bus monitor. The "kid" never rode a bus except for ballgames, but he's excited. 

Kindness

Yesterday I heard this quote on a podcast, "We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in light of what they suffer.”― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It really resonated with me. It is far too easy to make assumptions based on a person's action (or inaction), but everything that we do is a direct result of an experience that we have had. Often, the saying 'hurt people hurt people" is so true. I encourage you to reflect on why a person may be behaving the way they are, without making assumptions, of course. Let's learn to err on the side of grace.

Speaking of kindness, in the last book I read by Karen Kingsbury she talked about her "You Were Seen" movement. You can order little cards to leave when you leave a good tip or notice something that a cashier, etc. has done. It gives them a little recognition and also gives them the message of Jesus. I love this. I've read before that Sunday after church are often the worst tip times and also when some of the rudest customers come into restaurants. Let me encourage you to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are all just trying to hang on here.. Again, err on the side of grace.

AM Routine/PM Routine

I am not a morning person, but I've been trying to set some habits to help my days go better. I've been drinking water as soon as I get up, listening to my Bible on audio, noting three things I'm thankful for, journaling for 10 minutes because I'm a writer and writers write, and stretching for 10 minutes.

Because failure to plan is planning to fail, I've started looking ahead to the next day and making out my to do list before I go to bed. I also write, again, for 10 minutes, and make a note of three things I've been grateful for that day.

I'm trying to get back into good habits at work. I've never been the most organized, but I have started taking the last few minutes of the day before I head out to straighten up my desk and make a list of what needs to be done the next day. I think I'll also start organizing any files and emails before I head out the door. 

What I've Read

I was afraid I'd have to record a zero in this category but I stayed up Sunday night until after 1 AM to finish Every Last One by Anna Quindlen. It was worth the late bedtime, but I had to take an hour long nap yesterday after work! 

Be blessed, friends. Do something special for someone this week. It doesn't have to be anything big. Just be a blessing! <3