Plans

2013-04-02 15.15.35

Months ago I fantasized about going to Hawaii over spring break.  Or somewhere tropical.  Anywhere warm with a beach, really.

I did not leave the chilly, spring-faking midwest.

Last week, as I was planning my trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law for a few days, I thought I would bring a big bag of work.  I would read about teaching reading, and make next week’s lesson plans, and finally correct some social studies tests that have been taunting me.

I didn’t open the bag.

I packed running clothes.  I planned to finally run outside, in the daytime, no treadmill, just run wild and free, not counting minutes or speed.  Walking when I feel like it, and running when I feel like it.

I just put all the running clothes, clean and unworn, back into my dresser.

What did I do?

I ran errands with my sister.  Target, Lowe’s, the doctor, etc.  Running errands is actually fun when we do it together.

I read.  And read, and read.  I finished a library book.  I am halfway through a borrowed book.  I started a new “daily devotional” type book.

I drank tea.

I soaked up the calm and quiet of an empty house.  Why is that so much easier when it’s not my house?  In my house, there is always the noise of the TV or music.  In someone else’s house, I hear the quiet before I automatically turn things on.  I can’t take a lot of quiet…I would NOT make a good cloistered nun!  In fact, I have found myself sharpening pencils at work because the loudness of it is soothing to me in the middle of a really bad day.  I play music loud when I need to soak up pain and fear and exhaustion.  I love the loud bustle at the gym and it takes my stress and frustration right out of me.  But in the busy-ness of the school year, my soul cries out for a little more balance between loud and quiet.  A few days like this in between the weeks of crazy.

Lest you think I was alone the whole time…  I spent time with my sister and brother-in-law.  Carried boxes with them.  Unpacked a few of those boxes.  Built basement shelves.  Talked.  Cooked…not really.  Went out to eat…a lot.  Cleaned the oven.  Cleaned the fridge.  Cleaned the walls.

I spent time with Jesus.  I was reminded that every single thing I can see, every relationship I have or will ever have, everything I own, every plan I make, every accomplishment I achieve … all of it is temporary.  And I was reminded that it’s okay, because I already have my forever.

Advertisements

Weather

thunderhead

I love the weather when it’s…

Nope, I just love the weather!  🙂  It seems that it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or there’s a foot of snow on the ground, or if it’s 90 degrees and sunny, I always soak it up like I’ll never see that kind of day again.  I soak up the sunshine…I soak up the rain…I soak up the heat or the cold…I soak up the feeling of the first sunny day after a huge snowstorm…  I think I’m meant for a climate with the changing of the seasons, because I love any kind of weather that we haven’t seen for a few months!

Today it was warm and partly sunny, with a few thunderstorms here and there throughout the day.  (Sounds weird, right?)  But that meant that during the partly sunny moments, there were lots of huge, puffy clouds and thunderheads to watch!  The photo you see above is the very last one, rolling out to the east this evening.  Beautiful!

Time and Happiness

We spend a lot of time waiting to be happy.  Especially at this stage in life, we all seem to be waiting for something.

I’ll finally be happy when I get married.

I’ll be happy when I get a promotion.

I’ll be happy when I have a baby.

I’ll be happy when I finish a masters degree.

I’ll be happy when I buy a house.

In every season of life, it’s tempting to put all your hopes of happiness on the next thing, whatever it may be.  But here’s the thing…we are blessed and cursed in this world with a thing called time.  In fact, lots of people seem to be running around living like we are neither blessed nor cursed with time.  They just want to get through the time.  We want to just get through today, or this month, or this year.  Sometimes we don’t even know what it is we’re waiting for!

But as I said, time is a blessing and a curse that we have.  We get one shot at this life.  Many of us have heaven to look forward to, after we get through all our days.  But as far as we know, whether we’re happy in this life or not, we don’t get to have it over again.  If we don’t enjoy today, we will wake up tomorrow and we won’t get today back.

Not to disregard the importance of remembering the past and preparing for the future, but we live in the present.  So, what have you done today to live, not just get through it?

My answers?  I took a walk this evening when it was 82 degrees as the sun was setting.  It was beautiful.  I soaked up the sun and the warm air.  I love weather!  Pretty much all of it.  I love the changes in the seasons.  Today I just adore the heat and the sunshine, and I’m thinking about swimming and laying out and all sorts of warm weather things!  The fact that it was cold for a few months makes me absolutely passionate about today!

I am in love with Chinese food from HyVee.  Weird, right?  🙂  But I’ve had it probably six times in the last two weeks or so.  Always sesame chicken or general chicken.  Yum!

I guess that’s it for today…but at this moment I can honestly say I am blissfully happy!  🙂

Presents and Gifts

gifts

I love presents!  I love shopping for presents, making presents, wrapping presents, giving presents, opening presents, watching people open presents.  I’ve decided the trick for shopping for presents is that you have to let go of the idea that you’re going to find the perfect present.  The recipient will appreciate the present because it came from you, their beloved friend or family member.

And then, I don’t mind if you return it or sell it or re-gift it to someone else.  If you can’t use what I gave you, or you already have one, or whatever, please do use it however you can, to get something else or to pass a thoughtful gift forward.  Tell me or don’t, it’s up to you.  This present, this thing, is my gift to you.  But the gift is whatever you make it.  Please, take my present and enjoy it.  My gift to you is the enjoyment that you might receive from this present.  Or, please, return it to the store.  Exchange it for something else.  In that case, the gift is the opportunity to go shopping for something you would enjoy.  Or, save it until you think of someone who might enjoy it, and then wrap it up and give it to them.  In that instance, my gift to you is the joy of giving a gift to someone else you love.  Just, whatever you do, take my present, and turn it into a gift from me.

How do you spend your time?

The only thing that has any currency, the only thing that’s worth anything in the world is your time.

–Rob Thomas

There’s a reason the expression is “spend your time.”  Time is valuable.  The time you spend here, you don’t have anymore to spend there.  How do you spend your time?  Do you spend it on that which is important to you?

My sister Sarah and I were having a conversation tonight, discussing contentment.  One thing we talked about was that we often try to fix discontent with stuff to fill time.  “Activities.”  “Interests.”  “Hobbies.”  But then what you end up with is many obligations that you don’t really care about, and no time to do the essentials like laundry and grocery shopping.  This lack of time for that which you can’t do without leads to stress, which of course, breeds discontent.

In my personal experience, one example is cooking food.  I enjoy cooking, very much.  But on a busy day, I go to work and have an obligation or two in the evening, cooking for myself becomes an obligation, a chore, a dreaded task.  The reason?  I feel that when I go grocery shopping, I must have on my list the ingredients to at least one brand new recipe.  I also feel that since I know how to cook and I like to cook, everything should be made from scratch.  It saves money, and it’s healthier, and I know how to do it.  But those methods, cooking from scratch, cooking things I’ve never made before, take more time.  On a typical weeknight, time is at a premium.  So I need to decide, what is important to me?  If I make something familiar, easy, and that I already know I like, it breeds peace.  On a lazy Saturday, or on the random night when I do have time and interest to do so, I can always take a special trip to the store for any missing ingredients to a new recipe.  But on the routine shopping trips, it is better for my situation to stock up on food that doesn’t cut so much into my time “currency.”

Another example for my life is scrapbooking.  I like having the scrapbooks, the organized and stored memories.  But I don’t particularly enjoy doing it so much that it makes it worth the time investment.  So I’ve found that posting my pictures on my blog is a much better time investment for me.  It doesn’t take long, it doesn’t take cutting and gluing, I can easily add my own little descriptions of what happened and what I want to remember, and I can look at it whenever I want.  For my time, for what’s important to me, that’s best.

On the other hand, what is something that is very important to me?  Honestly, it depends on the day.  You know that.  We are never the same today as we were yesterday.  But usually, playing my piano is at the top of my list.  Why?  I don’t know.  Do I need a reason?  It’s important to me.  That’s all I really need to say. 

The other thing that is worth my time is exercise.  I get in bad habits of not working out, but the benefits are so worth taking the time.  I sleep better, I actually need less sleep, I feel better, I don’t really get sick when I’ve been working out regularly, I eat better.  I feel better.  That’s really the payoff.

So, what’s important to you?  What is worth spending your very valuable time?  Only you can figure that out.

SUMMER!!!

Summer…summer…summer…summer…What time is it?  Summer time!  It’s our vacation…

Okay, so I watched High School Musical 2 with the girls yesterday.  🙂  That song is stuck in my head.  So is sunshine, hot weather, swimming, laying out, ice cream, brightly colored flip flops, sun dresses, sleeping in, being outside at night, water slides…SUMMER!!!

I love being a teacher!  I get to experience the joy of summer for the rest of my life if I want!

Today I slept until 9:00, watched t.v. all morning, had some lunch, and then finally took my shower.  Now I’m off to run some errands, including looking for a new summer dress for a wedding I’m attending next weekend!  Yay!

Joy & Pain

Thank you, my friend!  🙂  Tara is the best, isn’t she? 

I’m feeling a lot better today.  My para was back at work, little naughty and I had an okay day, and I got a good night’s sleep last night.  I played sand volleyball with some church friends tonight, and the sand and the sun were just glorious.  But…I have something sort of…pathetic and embarassing…to add.  I watch t.v. on dvd as my background noise at home.  That’s why I never really see any new shows, because for me, it seems much more enjoyable to watch t.v. that has no commercials.  I tend to watch an entire series, in order, over the course of however many weeks or months of time it takes.  And, it’s not even like I really watch a whole lot of it, it’s just on in the background as I’m doing laundry or paying bills or whatever.  But there seems to be a place in each series where life stinks for the characters for awhile.  In Friends, Rachel and Ross break up.  In Grey’s Anatomy, Derek’s wife comes into town and ruins Meredith’s life.  In Dawson’s Creek, Pacey breaks up with Joey, and is really mean to her in the process.  And in One Tree Hill, I am currently to the place in season 2 where Haley is about to leave Nathan to go on tour.  Things get pretty dark for awhile.  It’s like I’m scared to keep watching because I know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  At the same time, I can’t just skip ahead to the part where Haley comes home, because it won’t be as good unless I feel the pain.  There is an episode called “How a Resurrection Really Feels,” where Haley and Nathan finally express their love for each other again, and watching that part of the story feels good…but only because it’s felt bad for so long.  If I skip ahead to that part of the story, it will feel nice, but I won’t feel the joy of the healing relationship…fictitious though it may be!

For me, there is a parallel in real life.  I have always loved the duality of life…the sweetness and the sorrow, the pain and the joy.  I don’t want to always be happy, because it doesn’t mean much if there’s nothing to contrast it to.  Do I enjoy the pain?  No, I suppose not.  Look at how I behaved yesterday.  Clearly, that was not an enjoyable or satisfying experience.  At the same time, I tend to embrace it when it happens.  As you could see yesterday, I didn’t want to feel better.  I was basically looking for things to make me feel worse!  I couldn’t fake joy if I tried.  But the joys of today were so sweet.  Every joy that is experienced in life is sweet because there is also pain to be experienced.  Otherwise joy would be nothing.