Sunday, September 7, 2014

Something About Cleaning

 Every time I clean I can't help but feeling there's something innately spiritual about it.  Don't get me wrong, cleaning is one of my least favorite things.  It's right up there with paperwork, and brussel sprouts.  My natural cleaning-bent is to spread out clutter, not pick up after myself as I go, and then go on a giant cleaning spree out of necessity usually brought on by impending visitors.  Or when I will clean, I will clean just enough to keep people from judging me.  Sometimes I even go to extreme lengths to make my house appear cleaner than it actually is.  I have to think that there is some correlation between the way I clean the house and the way I keep my heart clean.

My heart needs constant upkeep.  I walk around in a broken world with a broken mending heart.  I think this is what Jesus was talking about while he was washing his disciples feet.

John 13:6-10:  "He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

My heart has had a bath.  I have been made clean from the moment I accepted Jesus as my King.  The Holy Spirit takes up residence in me ensuring that there's a point of uncleanliness I'll never reach again.  It's just that each day I think thoughts, say words, and take actions that are, well, dirty.  And I consume.  I consume media that tells me it's all about me, all I need is more stuff, I should do whatever I feel like doing.  I hear lies from an enemy that wants to kill and destroy me like, "You are not beautiful.  You are not loved.  You are not valuable."  I watch the people around me do things that seem fun and harmless, but that ultimately lead to destruction and heartache.  My heart needs daily cleansing.  My feet need to be washed.

Basically, Philip and I hadn't been keeping up with the daily cleansing of our home.  So, we made a plan for keeping it clean.  We discussed how often each chore will be done, and who is responsible for what.
It seems that along with our little triplex rental, my heart has been getting a little funky lately.  I have been spending time in the word and prayer approximately three days a week.  Sometimes I keep myself just "clean" enough so that people won't judge me, or I put on a show to fool people into thinking I'm clean.  Kind of like using (if you will) *spiritual* dry-shampoo and perfume on days you don't have time to shower.

This sort of cleansing isn't going to cut it anymore.  In college I spent time with God each day and one day a week I spent an extra long amount of time with him.  However, I had so much more free time in college.  As I've transitioned into life after top ramen and all-nighters, it's been tough scheduling in a quiet time.  My only really free time is in the morning, and after 4 PM (5:30 during soccer season, just call me Coach).  I've got planning, and grading, and a husband that likes to be fed and have my attention once in awhile.    My goal is to get to five Quiet Times a week.  I know this won't happen overnight, but I am going to work towards it.  I believe that it is a worthwhile investment.  I've observed that on days when I unplug and get alone to connect with God everything in my life--my marriage, my attitude, even my lessons--tend to go better.  If you think of it, pray for me because I know that forming this habit won't be easy.  Let's just say, discipline isn't my spiritual gift ;).  Here's to the pursuit of a clean heart and home.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Resting with Intentionality

I believe in doing everything in life with intentionality.  Even things that seem trivial like rest.  After surviving my first year of teaching (I'm not really ready to talk about it yet) I finally have a good chunk of time to rest.  Now what do I do with myself?

In the past, I have used all my down time to peruse Facebook, and Pinterest, or space out watching TV.  Now, those things are enjoyable and restful in moderation.  However, I think I squeeze the most out of my rest times when I use them in different ways.  As an introvert, to truly rest I also need some think time.  Television and mindless internet surfing are brain-numbing activities--which sometimes, I need!  But if I stick with my default rest mechanisms I think that I will look back on this summer with a tinge of regret.  So I am making a plan for using my rest well.

Here's how I want to rest this summer:

Read!  The irony of being an English teacher is you don't really have time to read for fun during the school year.  You're busy keeping up with the kiddos' reading.  This summer, I vow to read books because I want to read them.  On my list are  Great Gatsby, The Divergent Series, The Fault in Our Stars, I am Malala, and Blue Like Jazz.  Here's hoping I get through at least a couple of these.

Write!  For me, writing is reflective and that is one of the things that I find the most restful.  It helps me to look at my life and see value.  I also am optimistic enough to believe that I have important things to say, and that my writing could potentially benefit someone else.

Create things!  I enjoy making things.  It helps me to feel at peace.  Being creative is a huge part of my personality, so I think I feel like I am in my element when I am creating something.  Plus, this is another thing I had a hard time making time for during the school year.

Be with Jesus!  This is probably the most restful activity, though it might require the most effort.  When I spend time in the word and in prayer I rest on a soul-level.  I am currently going through the devotional "Thirsty," for the second time and it's still so good!  One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to hit a park with some iced chai and spend time with God in the sunshine.

Be outside!  I love the outdoors.  However, there are two pesky barriers that often keep me from venturing outside.  1.  I am always cold.  I hate being cold!  So when it's cold outside (and we're talking Chelsea-Standard of what cold is) all I want to do is hide under a blanket with a warm beverage.  2.  I have a deep fear of bugs.  Seriously.  I don't think they will harm me, I just don't want them to touch me.  They creep me out.  It's so beautiful during the summer, that I am willing to risk the second barrier to enjoy scenery and warm rays.

Be with my husband!  I am an introvert, so I enjoy resting alone, but I also feel so at rest when I am with my husband.  I love to cuddle up on the couch surrounded by snacks and watch a movie with my beloved.  I also enjoy quiet-coffee shop conversation, and slow strolls through the park.  Ahhhh.

Don't worry, I also have some things to get done this summer like chores, finishing a giant research paper, and working at summer school (just three days a week for three weeks), but in the meantime this girl is getting her rest on.

How are you resting this summer?  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Break Wear

Spring is a time for florals and bright colors.  Breezy skirts and long dresses.  Fun prints and whimsical accessories.  This week we were on Spring Break (one of the best teacher perks) and went on a little Vacay to the lake.  I couldn't wait to slip into my springy duds.


Floral Headband:  Forever 21.  Foxy Sweater:  Old Navy.  Fun printed pants:  Gap (anniversary gift from hubs).  Oxfords:  Maurices.




P.S.  I may or may not have spent most of the vacation here.

 If you're going on a boat, you should probably wear nautical stripes, a floppy hat, and some Sperry's.



Floppy Hat & Cardigan:  H&M.  Maxi Dress:  Nordstrom Rack.  Statement Necklace:  a cute shop in Leavenworth last Spring Break.    





We mostly shopped around this day, so I didn't get too many pics, but I had to take one in front of "Whaley's."  My best friend in high school used to call me Whaley.


Shirt, skirt, and scarf:  H&M.  Flats:  Penney's.


Peplum Tank:  Forever21.  Necklace:  online somewhere, I can't remember.  Jeans:  Papaya.  Cardy:  hand-me-down from sister.  Shoes:  Maurices.


At the museum, I considered adding this hat to my ensemble.


Or this one.


I had an amazing week, and am stoked that warmer weather is finally upon us!

What are you wearing this Spring?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Treasure Hidden in a Field


"I see you standing before a field.  You are looking out at it and you see rocks and broken glass and wonder, 'Is there anything good in here?'"  my pastor said.

A couple of weeks ago I did something that I'd never done before:  I became a member of a church.  I've been involved in churches most of my life, but my spiritual foundation is largely rooted in organizations outside of the church such as Ross Point Camp, and Campus Crusade for Christ.  When we settled in Moses Lake, we decided to take a step of faith and get plugged in to a local church.

On new member Sunday they brought Philip and I up, in front of God and everyone, to pray and speak over us.   The pastor described this picture of us standing before a field.  Even though this field didn't look impressive to us, he explained, it was the field to which God had intentionally brought us.  Most importantly, we would find treasure in this field.

It reminded me of another field that Jesus spoke of.  He said "The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."  (Matthew 13:44)

If you were to ask me to sell everything I own in order to buy Moses Lake, I would look at you like you were a crazy person. Because the truth is, this field looks less than impressive.  For one, it is filled with sage brush and cow manure.   It looks nothing like the field I imagine when I think about finding treasure.  I was kind of hoping my field would have more diversity, more excitement, and hopefully Target, Ikea, and Panera Bread, too.

The truth is that the "field" really doesn't matter.  According to Jesus' parable, it is all about the treasure.  Could this field be hiding something?  Something that would fill me with so much joy that I'd run off and give away my books and clothes just to get it?  If my pastor is right and Jesus wants to use my husband and myself to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth than it doesn't really matter where I live.  Jesus alone is what makes life worth living.  His glory is treasure.  I will seek that treasure, no matter where it happens to be hiding.

Which field are you standing in?  Are you willing to give everything to seek God's treasure?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Easiest "DIY" Ever Done

I used to cringe when I heard the words, "arts and crafts."  That phrase alone was enough to make me avoid women's ministry like the plague.  When I thought of crafts I thought of cheesy, ugly knick-knacks that middle-aged women made usually involving their cats.  Those types of projects seemed pointless to me.

Then I found Pinterest.  I realized that I could make legit decorations.  I could use crafting as an inexpensive way to make my home cute, trendy, and personalized.   Since then I've made several crafty things--still I prefer to call them "projects" or "DIYs."

If a DIY is too complicated, though, count me out.  I tend to like projects that are mindless--the kind I can do while watching TV.  I craft to relax.  I can't handle things that require too much precision or skill.

So when my husband unleashed me in Craft Warehouse, I kept these things in mind while looking for a project.  I thought about buying burlap, or a mason jar, or chalkboard paint, or a picture frame but then I saw them:  artificial succulents.

I LOVE the way succulents look.  But, I have not had much luck with planting the real deal.  I had heard they were easy to grow--aren't they native to the desert or something?  So I thought I'd give it a try.  Well, my poor succulent didn't make it longer than a week. Apparently I am less nurturing than a desert.  So why not have a fake one?  Succulents almost look plastic anyways?

This was so easy that I don't even know if you can technically call it a "DIY," but hey, I could have just bought something similar at IKEA so I'm counting it dang it!  My project required only three materials, and less than three steps.


Step one:  Place succulent standing up inside the pot.  Step two:  fill with rocks.  Step three:  admire.


Here it is on a desk in our room.  Oh, hey, that's another craft I've made.  A giant letter "A" with covered in old hymns and modge podge.  Easy-peasy.  


How do you feel about craftiness?  If I can do it, you can do it.
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