Browsing "My Story"
Feb 17, 2019 - My Story, Uncategorized    2 Comments

Word(s) of the Year 2019

I am a word addict.

I spend an immense amount of time thinking about words. I choose a word or phrase each new year to tie my hopes to. I spend a large amount of time around New Year’s reflecting on the previous year and set hopes and goals for the future. Grit and grace defined 2018. They became my mantra. There were a myriad of situations that required me to demonstrate both grit and grace. They were well chosen words. And they remain on my wall as a reminder of the goodness, the striving, and the struggles that are always a part of the story!

I loved my words for 2018, and wanted 2019 to live up to the same awesomeness. I made a list of over fifty options and began to prioritize. I though one word had a good sound; it was fun to say. Another option had a secondary connotation that was lovely. A third would be easy to find on a t shirt (as I buy a reminder of my year, this actually was part of the decision!)

But I still couldn’t decide. There were just so many good options. So I decided to break the rules… and choose two.

Words of the Year 2019 (drumroll please)

Gumption

and Defiant Joy

Gumption is defined as the ability to decide what is the best thing to do in a particular situation, and to do it with energy and determination. 

I loved the idea of doing something with energy, vigor, perseverance and determination. There is a light at the end of my doctoral school tunnel, but it will take gumption to get through it. Gumption means working with integrity, doing what is right, and doing it whether you get recognition or praise for your work or not. I want to be a lady with gumption.

Defiant Joy has been a meaningful phrase for some time. There are an immense variety of irritants in life. We cannot escape from them, but we can choose what to do when they inevitably arise. I want to make pearls. I want to be an oyster. And when sand gets into the tender spaces between my shells, I want to spit on it and make a pearl! I hope to take all the irritants that come by way, smooth them out and make something beautiful. I chose defiant joy, because “the year of oyster mucus” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I bought myself a pearl necklace to commemorate this hope for myself. I pray for defiant joy in 2019. Defiant joy is not dictated by situations, it rises above, eye on the prize. Defiant Joy has gumption 🙂

2019, here we go!

Jan 8, 2019 - My Story    1 Comment

Hurricane Season 2018

My apologies for being MIA on the blog. I was busy surviving a five month long cyclone. I survived hurricane season 2018! Both the literal hurricane season and the figurative one that defined my life last fall.

Between August and December 2018 I worked full time, pursued a doctorate degree, completed residency hours, studied for a certification exam, trained an intern…. oh yeah, and taught a class for graduate students! Even when I list out such things now, my shoulders hike up!

When people would ask me how I was over the past six months, I would just respond what category of hurricane I was living through that day. I lived in Cat 3, but also hit Cat 5 a few times over the course of the semester.

Every time I became overwhelmed by my tasks, I had to remember that I did this to myself. No one forced me to go back to school, or teach, or take on extra tasks or skills. I chose this life. I chose this hurricane… so let’s do it! Let’s face the wind with grit and grace. Let’s know when to hunker down for safety. Let’s know when to share my supplies and rations and when to seek help from my neighbors for a metaphorical downed tree.

And , man, did I have lovely neighbors this semester. My students were encouraging, kind, motivated, and delightful. My intern kept me sane and did so much more to help me straddle professoring and therapying than she was required to. My friends checked on me regularly and reminded me often that my words of the year for 2018, Grit and Grace, were well chosen and would lead me through. My family celebrated every small victory and every step completed with me and reminded me that it was worth the struggle.

I still think the hurricane analogy was apt because I spent a ton of time inside (weather wasn’t inviting), ate weird pre-packed foods (since I didn’t have time to cook!), slept poorly (since I had too much to do), and needed a hearty clean up effort when the wind settled. But it was also such an encouraging “storm.” I was stretched and challenged. I was windblown, yes, but also thrilled! I even chose a hurricane as my ornament to summarize 2018.

Now my tree is complete!

As I look back on hurricane season, with just a bit of time and perspective between me and it now, I remind myself of the collateral beauty of doing something scary. I celebrate success and the thrill of surviving and thriving in new ways. I am stronger for having been through the storm. And I remind myself not to do it again! 🙂

May 19, 2018 - My Story    No Comments

High School Reunions

I was reminded of how much I’ve aged this week. I attended a Justin Timberlake concert with my high school buddies. This group of girls were gaga for *Nsync back in the day. We each had a favorite guy in the group and knew all the songs and statistics about our singing beaus.

Our high school career culminated with a trip to see *Nsync live in concert in the magical land of Orlando. We saved money, chose outfits, and begged our parents for a lift to Orlando to sing the night away. We were beyond excited. We cranked up the tunes and sang all the way there and back. We brought our own noise makers, dressed the part, and cheered incessantly. It was as if we’d been in training for this moment for months.

These were the girls who rode the tides of high school and college alongside me. We have been friends for the majority of our lives now! So when we learned that Justin Timberlake was coming to Orlando on tour nearly twenty years after our original experience, we HAD to go.

But my, how we’ve aged!

This time the preparation for the concert was a bit different. Two of us stopped to buy ear plugs. Two others made plans for toddlers for the evening. When we got in the car together (sitting in between carseats), instead of a boy band, a CD of nursery rhymes pumped through the speakers. All of us calculated how much sleep we were giving up by staying out past our bed times. Oh my, how we’ve aged.

At this concert, we watched as the young ones shimmied and danced, while we sat in our seats, still very much enjoying the show, just less rowdy than the last time! But the point wasn’t the concert. It wasn’t how close we got to Justin or whether he sang our favorite songs or not. This concert was more about celebrating us. We have kept up our friendship the decades and still remain friends and companions in this wild ride of life. Life is a journey. I reminded myself as I felt old this week that wrinkles, fatigue, and aging are not the enemy. I am proud to give up sleep and spend my time with these fine ladies. Plus, JT puts on a mighty fine concert!

Stay AAAIY! 🙂

Jan 6, 2018 - Book Review, My Story, Writing    3 Comments

Writers Write… And Publish!

I am a writer.

I have been for decades. I chronicled the triumphs and pitfalls of our family vacations as a teen. I am verbose and never have trouble meeting my word counts for assignments. Words are my friends and  a large part of my story. Because I am a writer. I truly do think best on paper. I must have an outlet for my thoughts, ponderings, curiosity, and insights.

Some of the best advice I ever received came from one of my favorite authors, Leigh McLeroy, who commiserated on the difficulty in writing and publishing, and the fact that those are two very different capacities. She said, “Writers write. Publishers publish. Don’t confuse the two.” So I write, honestly, faithfully, and frequently, and left the publishing dream for later.

But I have always longed to be published! To share my thoughts with others on a larger scale. In fact, I made a bet with my dad twenty years ago to see who could get published first. I am happy to announce that I won the bet with my dad. 

The talented and creative team of John, Abby, Margaret, and myself beautified, formatted, edited, and perfected my Bible study on the book of Jonah! I am a published author! You can find my work on Amazon.com! These are all dreams of mine. I teared up when I held the book that I wrote. That Abby and I labored over for months. That had to be formatted three separate times. The vulnerable stories I shared were labored over to made sure they say what I wanted them to. It was a labor of love, determination, and prayer from many, many sources. And, like a proud parent, I am happy to share it with you now. (Drumroll, please!)

 

Jonah: Salvation Belongs to the LORD

I remember it well: a bearded man in robes stuck on the flannel board next to a rotund, jovial-looking whale. Jonah. We’re dangerously familiar with it. But Jonah is far more than a fish tale. It is the story of a man, a servant of the Lord, called to go to his enemies. Jonah—though he is a prophet—is far from perfect, and it is perhaps more his failures than his successes that resonate with our everyday foibles and deep-rooted struggles. Although Jonah is the focus of our study, every book in the Bible is ultimately about God, His character, His glory, and His grand narrative that arches over all of our micro-narratives. We will trace this reality throughout Jonah in three major themes: God’s sovereignty, true obedience and repentance, and God’s love for the nations.

What you’ll find inside:

*11-week study formatted for discussion groups

*leader guide with schedule and format suggestions

*10 weeks of participant homework, divided into 3 days a week

*footnoted resources with scholars’ interpretations of complex questions

*optional culminating craft to reinforce the major themes of the book

Together we will seek to understand the God who works in and through imperfect people and to learn what it means to proclaim, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” If you are looking to start the new year off right, consider doing this Bible study! Purchase at the link above, leave me a review, enjoy my foibles, and reinforce in your heart that Salvation Belongs to the Lord!

Dec 31, 2017 - My Story, Quotes    3 Comments

Grit with Grace

Rhythms in life feel familiar and welcomed. Newness awaits. 2017 was the year of Wonder(Full). It was intended to be full of wonder, full of busyness, and wonderful. And it lived up to its name.


 

In 2017, I ran a marathon, got published, taught a course, completed a year of doctoral work, survived a hurricane, made new friends, saw many theater productions, laughed a lot, and served faithfully at work. It was a year of Wonder. I could share only my best moments, the highlights of 2017, and while they are wonderful, they wouldn’t be the whole story.

In 2017 I also had my heart broken, felt lonely, dealt with disappointments, and injustices. I cried a lot and worked through more than one midlife crisis.  I frequently wished for more wonder and less busyness in my life. I believe that all stages of life always contain both emotions: joy and sorrow. Triumph and disappointment. Progress and stagnancy.

As I choose sat down this weekend to look back on the year, timeline my life, and think of options for 2018, I wanted to capture that balance. I made a huge list of words — deep powerful, beautiful words. Some connoted fierceness and determination, others rest and peace and rest. I’ve decided on a phrase that attempts to capture both:

2018 – The Year of Grit with Grace

Grit means perseverance for long-term goals. Connotations include: endurance, fierceness, defiant optimism, courage, and strength of character. Grit captures all the hustle that this year will no doubt hold. I will be experiencing schedule changes at work, choosing and attacking doctoral projects, and balancing these and other obligations in all of life. It will take grit.

But it will also take grace. Grace with myself and grace with others. In the Christian tradition, grace means unmerited favor. It connotes elegance, attractiveness, favor, forgiveness, belonging, prayer, and blessing. I long for 2018 to contain grace as well as grit. To know that the tasks will be rapid and steep, but that there is purpose in the sanctification and refinement. I believe 2018 will be a year of refinement, defiant joy, and purpose. I have chosen I Peter 2:6-9 as the verse to support the Year of Grit with Grace. It reads:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Running with endurance is grit. Walking when you need a respite is grace. Hustle, yes, but also be kind to yourself. Expect to succeed, and deal redemptively with failures when they inevitably come.

Happy New Year! Here’s to a balance of stick-to-it-iveness and self-care. That’s Grit with Grace.

Nov 29, 2017 - Health, My Story    No Comments

Seeking Thanksgiving

Hospitals don’t get holidays.

Sickness doesn’t take a break, so hospitals have to keep working to promote wellness and health — no matter what date the calendar says.

I was thankful to have the weekend before Thanksgiving off this year to celebrate with my family. We’ve come to expect this “modified Thanksgiving” since I often work the week of Thanksgiving, serving the little turkeys.

I am thankful to let my coworkers have the day off to spend with their families. I am thankful for my job. I am thankful to wear funny headbands and try to make the best of a holiday where no one wants to be in the hospital: patients or staff. I see purpose in these choices and in my work. But I still sometimes dread going home after work on holidays. I work until after dinner time, which makes it difficult to attend any Thanksgiving festivities. Most of my in town friends were traveling or had plans earlier in the day.

I sought to find a place at someone’s table and it just wasn’t an option. I felt like a the holiday orphan. I had a choice to make here. Even though I got to celebrate with my family just a few days before, it still felt lonely to anticipate celebrating a holiday with leftovers eaten on my lap at home alone. Holidays are difficult. They are difficult if you’re alone. They are difficult if you’re with family. They are full of expectations and grand plans and often don’t live up to them. I wished that spending the evening alone didn’t bother me, but it did. I had a choice to make here, I needed to ask for help. I needed to share my need. To see who else felt alone and was looking for another option just like I was.

I was able to go on a last minute adventure to Disney with a coworker who was in the same situation as me. We had a Thanksgiving feast in Pandora, complete with Na’vi beverages. I ended up having a full and pleasant day. I am so thankful for everyone who got to celebrate with their families and friends on Thursday. If you were like me and separated from loved ones, for any reason, I fight for gratitude alongside you. I had to expend effort to seek thanks giving this year. I sought to practice defiant joy. I had to share my need.

I’ve realized more and more that giving thanks is not a natural tendency. It requires work. It requires a community to remind me of my blessings. It takes friends and family and coworkers to give hugs, phone calls, texts, and last minute Disney adventures to remind me that I’m not really alone. I spent my day seeking thanks giving, and it was worth it.

 

Nov 4, 2017 - My Story    3 Comments

What’s my age again?

I have no age.

My driver’s license boasts a birthdate, but my life experience varies widely.

This discussion has little to do with what I see when I look in the mirror, but more about the age I feel in my heart. In the past two months, I’ve had experiences that have made me feel decades different.  I got braces (making me feel like an adolescent), complete with shielding my smile and being aware of my jaw in novel ways.  I’ve also fallen in the shower, (necessitating the purchase of a shower chair for safety!) making my balance feel less reliable and me feel far older than I am.

I have no age. Or at least, not a consistent one.

When I ask children how old I am it has ranged from 6 to 100. And I feel that gap in my heart too.  I like to play and joke around and tell stories and be silly. I enjoy spending time with my little friends and entering their make-believe worlds. I wear costumes, including an inflatable T Rex for Halloween this year. I put flowers in my hair and like twirly skirts. One of my favorite hashtags is #DoctoralStudentPlayTime. I’ve been reminded of the importance of play as life has become more demanding with work and school and I have been up to the challenge. Because I am young-hearted.

And at the same time there is weightiness in my heart and an age in my thoughts. I dwell on philosophical queries throughout the day. I am intensely introspective and see beyond the surface of thoughts, actions, and words. I seek purpose in everything in life. I love words, wisdom, proverbs, and ideas and would much rather talk about real things, even when they are painful, than remain in surface pleasantries.

And even though these competing sides make me feel like I don’t fit in, I am so thankful for both sides. I am thankful that I can play and be goofy and cut loose and not take myself too seriously. And I am thankful that I can push deeper and take emotions, circumstances, relationships, and life seriously, recognizing the value and weight they each possess.

I feel like an anomaly. But I wouldn’t change it either. I want to be proud of my chronological age, and my ever-changing felt-age. I’m striving to own my peculiarities in this area and be proud of both my braces and my shower chair! I want to be proud of the knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained over the years, and also proud of the inner child that I’ve managed to let thrive. As I’m often reminded, life is about balance. Youth and maturity are both valuable, they each have their different strengths. How lucky we are to experience both.

Who wants to join me in dressing up followed by an in-depth discussion of Socrates’ writings?

 

Age does not depend upon years, but upon temperament and health.

Some men are born old, and some never grow up.     

Tryon Edwards

Sep 27, 2017 - Doctorate, My Story    1 Comment

My Three-Year Pregnancy

Before you ask, I am not really pregnant.

But I feel pregnant.

I am in my second year of a three-year doctoral program and I’ve begun to think of each year like a trimester. Perhaps this is just because I’m surrounded by little ones all day long, but the analogy works in my mind! Each trimester brings with it joys and pitfalls. Each with new challenges and changes. Here’s what I mean:

First Trimester: I read the books before hand. I planned to enter into this “pregnancy.” I felt prepared. But I wasn’t. My body underwent changes. I stopped sleeping. I had strange cravings. Morning sickness, projects, and anxiety abounds as the future feels daunting. How can I make it to the end? This is not what I expected it would be like.

Second Trimester: Currently, I’m in the second trimester, I have worked through the morning sickness, am comfortable with the idea of this pregnancy/program, and able to make plans to meet this little one. I’ve hit a good stride and the second trimester is magic. I’m far enough into the pregnancy to feel familiar with my new routines, but not so large that I am physically uncomfortable. I’m planning for the future, picking out nursery colors, and watching as my baby and project begin to take shape.
Third Trimester: The third trimester/year will arrive soon enough, and I’ll be more than ready to birth this doctoral project and get this kid out of me so I can sleep again! I am sure I will have “senioritis” and the need to feel finished with this program in the coming months and years and will need encouragement to finish with grit and grace. I will be anxious for the “post-natal” phase of life to begin.
Even as I write this, I know that the post-natal/post-graduation phase of life will bring with it new challenges, joys, pitfalls, and changes. Life seems to be in a constant state of transition. Always seemingly just out of the reach of stability. But that doesn’t make it bad. My dad has reminded me ever since I can remember that each phase of life has its joys and drawbacks. None is inherently better than the other and I can learn from all of them.
Learn from the struggles. Accentuate the good. And keep living the adventure of life.
I’m trying to take his advice. So I continue to eat healthy, sleep when I can, exercise, go to the doctor and care for this little bundle of doctoral joy that I’m currently maturing during my three-year pregnancy.
Moms, what did I miss in my trimester analogy?
Aug 2, 2017 - My Story    1 Comment

Level Up!

Do you anticipate or dread birthdays?

For me, birthdays bring up such mixed emotions. I often feel grateful for another year of life, adventures, and sanctification. But some years bring up feelings of ennui. I ask myself, “What do I have to show for myself this year?” or “Why doesn’t my life feel like I imagined it?”

This was one of those years.

I turned 35. That felt like a significant number. Yes, I am pursuing another degree. Yes, I have wonderful friends & family. Yes, I have people in my corner who love me. But sometimes, in my downcast moments, I can concentrate on what I don’t have. I wish I had a guy in my life.  I wish my ovaries didn’t twitch so much, wishing for a little one of my own, not just the cuties I get to serve at work each day. If I have a baby in the future I will be officially considered a “geriatric mother” and although I know many women who have had children later in life, that diagnoses scares me because I am well acquainted with the risks.

I dreaded this birthday for several months. But I had two choices: to isolate and wallow in ennui. Or to be honest about my disappointments and then choose to concentrate on gratitude.

I chose the latter. I bought a new outfit, organized a few birthday celebrations, and surrounded myself with people who could both be honest about life’s disappointments and also celebrate heartily.

I even had a theme: I don’t get older, I level up!

34 was an important year for me. I began my doctoral degree. I moved houses. I went on adventures. I chose joy and wonder in the face of obstacles. I chose to play, even at 35, I’m not too old to be silly. I prayed and journaled honestly about how much I was dreading this year and this age. I shared the fears I had, both legitimate and imagined. I organized a day full of playfulness including friends, special meals, and an escape game!

I ended up having a wonderful birthday. I received love through hugs, texts, messages, phone calls, and laughter throughout the day. I believe I was able to experience the beauty of this day because I was willing to go through the valley of disappointment honestly. Life is not what we expect it to be. It is not perfect. But that does not mean it is not wonderful!

Here’s to the year of wonder. Level up!

The Mercy of Confusion

I have been co-leading a Sunday School class this semester on hermeneutics, or the interpretation of scripture. It has been a delight to read theological material again, discuss ideas in the Bible, and basically getting my mind blown weekly by our analyzation.

Last week we were diagramming Genesis 11:1-9, the Tower of Babel scene, which moves slowly inward, has a sharp turning point and then widens again. See if you can identify the shift:

1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

This passage is familiar to many, but we saw something new in it. In the beginning, everyone had one language and they were seeking to draw everyone together and make a name for themselves. By building a tower to reach heaven, they were trying to be in control of their future.

But the Lord came down. This is the turning point of this chiasm and story. He interrupted their work, confused the language, and scattered the workers. It seems  a shame. They had worked so hard. No doubt they had the best architects of the day for this project, but they were working for their own names, not for the Lord.

The Lord interrupted them; He saved them from themselves.There is some good that would happen if we all got together and spoke the same language, but there is a great likelihood for evil as well. Through His work and language changes, He spread the people over the whole face of the earth, created cultures, clans, traditions and rituals that would not have existed if we all spoke the same language. He prevented us from trying such a building project again. He reminds us that He is in charge.

This is the mercy of confusion. God interrupts my plans, he breaks down my tower, he confuses my language. I may be frustrated in the short-term, but I cannot see what He is protecting me from or how He is intervening to make something even more beautiful in the future. He is merciful. He is good. He intervenes even in my small building projects with grace and love. I often worry about the future, but I’m trying to reframe my thinking and realize that my current confusion, might just be the mercy of the Lord.

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