Breath of life I breathe you in

IMG_3544Today was one of those days when the schedule you start off with in the morning doesn’t end up being the one you stick to.  Each morning I tend to think through my day and plan it out a bit.  But today, my plan went out the window.  By the time I got home after youth group tonight, I hadn’t done my reading yet.  So I climbed into my bed with my bible and journal and I opened it up to Genesis.
A few weeks ago I wrote about finding rhythm in my crazy messy life.  I’ve made some good changes and have surprisingly stuck to them thus far, two and a half weeks in.  One of those things was to follow a reading plan and read through the bible in a year.  I picked a plan that has 5 readings per week, which I thought was good enough since I have never really done something like this before.
And so far, I’ve made it.  I’m going into week three feeling good.  I’m figuring out this whole Bible journaling thing, making it work for me.  And I’m learning a lot, diving into God’s Word.
But the biggest thing to come out of this time has been my One Word for the year.  Our church (like many churches) has been doing One Word for a few years now.  It’s been a really good process for the last few years.  I have/God has picked some good words over the last few years that have really helped me grow as a person and in my relationship with Him.  My words have included: Stand Out, Bold, Gracious and some others that to be honest – I cannot remember.
This year I really wanted a good word.  One rich with meaning, one that was going to push me (but not too hard) and one that was really truly from God.  So of course, in my listening, I started telling God a few options.  Maybe heartbeat or just heart, or love, or … or…  what about …. Then one day it just happened.  I was reading Genesis, my second or third day on the reading plan and the word almost jumped out at me.
In the context of the story I was reading, it wasn’t a profound word.  But it popped out, as if I had some sort of mental highlighter that was causing it to become neon yellow.
So when I finished the reading of the day, I pulled out my journal and started reading.  I did a quick word search to find where else it popped up in the Bible and found this verse in Hebrews:

For the Word of God is alive and powerful

And then a section from Ephesians 2:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

And I started journaling, almost like a note from God to me, calling to me, challenging me to believe that He is ALIVE.
I mean I know He is ALIVE.  I know that he is at work in the world all around me, but sometimes I don’t live that way.  Sometimes I don’t place that trust in him.  I’m too afraid that I’m going to miss out that I start to hedge my bets with my own money.  But the reality is that we can’t miss out on what God’s doing if we are really looking for it, if we are conscious of the Spirit’s movement in our lives.
So my word for the year is ALIVE.  I’m accepting the challenge of living in the truth that God is ALIVE rather than living in the fear and stress that I have to make it happen on my own.  In my life, in my ministry, in my relationships – He is ALIVE and gives me life.  He makes me ALIVE in him.
I’ve always been pretty good at seeings his work in retrospect.  I mean hindsight is 20/20 right?  I’ve never been very good at slowing myself down enough to hear his voice in the midst of everything.  To feel his prompting and see his hand at work while it’s still working.
Since that first week though, he’s been revealing new things to me each day.  It’s almost as if he’s saying, “I’ve been here all along, just waiting for you to look my way and see my hand at work.”  And I’m just now noticing all the ways he surrounds me each day.  I give it up to him and he shows up … each time.  In ways I never would have expected.  But he does.  And I am beyond grateful.
I can’t wait to see what else he has for us this year.

When we were young we were little but we didn't know it

This week’s #FridayFive is coming in under the wire … I say that because as I type this, I am packed up and ready to leave on a winter retreat with my Jr Highers.  A weekend at our denomination’s camp, with other jr highers from our conference, for an intentional few days of worship and fellowship.
Kelly, over at Mrs. Disciple posed this week’s #FridayFive : Five Adjectives about You.  So here we go, I’m cheating a little bit because since my mind is in retreat/youth ministry role, I’m going to share Five adjectives others have used to describe me, and Five Adjectives that I use to describe myself.  The way that others see us has the ability to change the way we see ourselves, sometimes we have to fight against that in order to see who God has created us to be.

#FridayFive: 5 Adjectives about Me

5 that others have used to describe me:
Easy Going
I heard someone once say that the best thing about me was that I was easy going.  I’m going to take this as a compliment, even if the circumstances that surrounded it weren’t really a compliment.  I do have a “go with the flow” type of personality, which I think is what he as getting at when he said it.  I picked up this habit a long time ago and for the  most part, I like that about myself.
Another thing I’ve heard said about me (rather than to me) is that I’m Intimidating.  Sometimes it’s in the realm of relationships with guys – I’m too intimidating for them.  Other times it’s with friends.  I’ve been described as brooding, when I was younger.  I have this tendency to be up in my head – over analyzing everything – this sometimes comes off as stand offish to those who don’t know me.
I’m not sure if this is actually an adjective.  Every personality test I’ve taken has told me that I’m someone who enjoys taking care of others.  It’s partially what led me to being a pastor.  Partially why I love being an aunt and a godmother.
I have always been loud.  I’ve quieted down over the last few years, but my “quiet” is an average person’s loud, so I guess that still makes me loud.  I’ve been shushed a lot in my lifetime, especially in public.  I’m also told my laugh is really loud and distinctive.  I’m still on the fence as to whether this is good or bad.
Stubborn/The Princess
This one comes from my family.  I’m the only girl in my little family of origin and the youngest.  That’s where the “princess” nickname came from – my brother was always lamenting that I was never in trouble while he always was.  We have this hilarious story about the time that I accidentally backed up through the closed garage door and he got yelled at.  He would say that my stubbornness got me preferential treatment, I would say it was because I was the cute one. #YoungestSiblingsUnite
5 Adjectives that I would use to describe myself
One positive aspect of always being up in my head is that I self critique a lot.  I tend to over analyze all sorts of situations, but it also has helped me to understand myself better.  Understand why I act certain ways and what needs to be changed about my behavior.  I come to these realizations about my life and I try to make the change that makes it better.  I love this about myself.  I love the new found self-confidence that God has given me in my older age.
I’ve seen a lot of life.  A lot of things have been challenging over the years.  But this has made me deeply compassionate.  Deeply loving towards others.  I have a lot of empathy for the pain of others.  I try really hard to see things from others’ perspectives because I think it makes me a better person, a better pastor. 

I know this one’s true.  I don’t think I’m a princess though – but I do know I’m stubborn.  Most of the time I think it’s a good thing – it helps me to stand my ground, to stand up for what I believe in.  It means I don’t let others walk all over me or over others.  I’m a justice seeker. …But I also realize this makes me a little difficult to deal with.
I think this is different than compassionate.  I have a high capacity for love.  I love easily and I love hard.  It helps me in friendships – they seem to sprout out of the ground.  But a high capacity for love means a high capacity for pain.  It means that when I get hurt, I get hurt hard, and it makes me retreat into myself a little more.  But I work on it, I lean into God’s love to help me love others better.
I am deeply deeply protective.  Of others, and of myself.  Sometimes to a fault.  I protect those I love by being loyal and caring for them and by standing up for them.  I protect myself by setting boundaries in my life.
What are 5 adjectives that others have used to describe you?  What does God say?  What do you say?

C'mon get rhythm

While I was in Denver for Christmas I had dinner with one of my closest and oldest friends.  We’ve known each other since college which means she’s been by my side through a lot of life.
We really cemented our friendship back then because we were both living at home during college and commuting to school via bus.  She’d get on the bus down by her house then a few stops later I’d get on.  She’d save me a seat and I would entertain her with my naive and immature antics.  She was the kind of person who got up early, ate a well balanced breakfast, stopped for coffee and calmly boarded the bus and chose a seat in the front.  I was the kind of person who barely woke up on time, rushed to get ready and clamored on the bus with a diet coke and pop tarts in my hand, collapsing in the seat next to her.
I wish I was kidding.
While we were catching up, we were talking about our routines.  She’s a really structured person, still – and I’m still mostly a hot mess.  I mean I’ve grown a lot, I no longer drink diet coke at 7:00 a.m. But I still have a hard time with this mysterious thing people call rhythm.
I’ve long surpassed the time when a rhythmless life is acceptable, but I blame it on two things – being single/childless and my job.  I don’t have a normal 9-5 and there are no kids around to dictate my schedule.  Therefore, I make up my own and as I’ve learned about myself – I have fairly little discipline in my personal life.  I mean the big things I can handle but going to bed at a reasonable time?  Not sleeping in too late? Not watching too much TV?  There’s not much hope for me there.  (That’s a little bit of a joke.)
The problem is my weekly schedule has no real structure.  Sure there’s a meeting or two that happens every week but for the most part, it changes week to week.  At least 1-2 nights a week are late nights at church but it’s never the same two nights.  I have the freedom to work from home or a coffee shop – which is great, but sometimes too much freedom makes it difficult.  Scheduling regular times to work out, cook, clean, do laundry etc has become a challenge.  I think, I have plenty of time to do that later in the week and then it never happens.
But alas – we are in a new year and it’s time to make some resolutions right?  No – I’m still not a resolution person.  But people all around me are starting new things, so let’s see if I can!
I’ve tried a lot of different techniques over the years that work for a couple weeks and then don’t anymore.  I’m still not sure how I’m going to do it, but that’s part of the adventure right?
Here’s my list of things I hope to get back into my life on the regular:
Taking care of myself physically
This encompasses a lot of different things.. vitamins, work outs, sleep and cooking myself real meals.  These are all things I struggle with but know I need.  I need to eat better and spend less money on going out.  I need sleep (duh!).  I need to work out, more for my sanity than for anything else (and there’s a gym in my complex!) And I need to get back into taking my vitamins – especially vitamin D.  Moving from Colorado to Illinois was hard if only because of the lack of sunshine here.  If you struggle during the winter months – vitamin D really does make a difference!
Less TV, more other things.
Living alone means that sometimes I use TV as background noise.  I find myself struggling to find something to watch and then not actually watching it.  So one thing I’m going to try for a season is not turn the TV on before 6:00 p.m. with the only exception on ONE of my days off.  Let’s see if replacing TV with music helps me to not go crazy in my quiet apartment.  (And don’t tell me to enjoy the silence – I don’t and I just can’t do it.)
The other piece of this puzzle is to listen to more podcasts, more regularly.  I have gotten into the habit of listening to some while I get ready and while I drive and it really changes out I interact with the world.  I’m currently listening to the Relevant Podcast, Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, Serial and to keep me laughing – Heather Dubrow’s World.
Uping my Spiritual Life game
One thing I’ve been really lacking in my life is intentional time in God’s word.  (What?!  But your a pastor! How can that be?)  I’ve fallen into that trap that a lot of pastors do – I only read the bible when I need to for work.  Sure, I read other books and devotionals that reference the bible, but actual time with the bible – it’s very limited.  So this year I’m joining a challenge set by one of the women I follow on Instagram – to read the whole bible chronologically in 2016.  I got a new journaling Bible for Christmas so I’m pretty excited.
More writing
And of course – like I say every time I post – I’m going to write more.  Hopefully I will be chronically how I do with getting these things into my life.  Plus I will keep up with the #FridayFives.
Here’s to trying to find rhythm to my hodge podge lifestyle in 2016.  What are you trying new in 2016?