Friday, May 26, 2017

Just Do Today

My father in law passed away the day of my previous post. It has been an unusual few weeks of trying to find a new normal. And in some ways it felt like our world is falling apart. Not because of grief, but because so many things are changing. Things that are completely unrelated to my father in law are changing and I don't know what to think about it all. I don't know what direction God wants us to go. I don't see what the future will hold. Drew and I keep telling each other, "Just do today."

The books I was reading have gone to side. I'm playing the time wasting game on my phone and binge listening to 3 podcasts. I'm having trouble focusing on my books or writing long enough to get anything accomplished. So I haven't posted in a while. I will get back to a routine sometime. Maybe after the school year is over, I can get back to this.

One quick thought to leave you with ... you never know when it will be the last one. I have heard this idea more than once, but it didn't really hit home until recently. We often celebrate the first of something, first steps, first kiss, first day of school, etc. However it is the last of something that goes unnoticed, but probably means more. I was rocking Lily to sleep and thought I probably won't realize when it is the last time I do this. I certainly didn't realize Easter dinner would be the last one with Eddie. So take one day at a time. Stop and enjoy the day. I know it sounds cliché, but actually living this out every day is not easy. It is a challenge to not get caught up in the stresses of the day or the stresses of tomorrow that creep in. It is a challenge to not focus on the future and the problems that might be there.

So I challenge you to focus on today. Just do today. See if it makes things better.

Image result for matthew 6:34
Photo Credit: Decals for the Wall


Monday, May 8, 2017

Something to Make the Hard Times Better

Three weeks and I haven't posted anything. Life has been busy. I have started this post multiple times and then something comes up and I can't finish it.

These past few weeks have been hard. I want to tell you all the ways it has been hard. I want to tell you all the people who have helped or offered to help. I want to tell you the conversations that I have had. The life changing conversations that I didn't expect to have this early in life. The small comments made that have been so encouraging. The small comments made that got under my skin. I want to tell you about the small quiet moments that have spoken peace into my soul. I want to tell you all the ways I have grown so far. But I'm afraid they are too raw and will be hurtful.

So I will tell you two small stories about my kids and this time. A couple weeks ago when we found out that this was really the end my husband was at the hospital with my father in law. We decided to take the kids to see him one more time. I had to prepare my kids for what was going on, so I started talking. I think God gave me the right words. We got to the parking lot and my son jumped out because he thought he was going to get sick. He didn't, but this proved he is an anxious kid and sometimes that anxiety is manifested physically. He wore his sadness on his face as we walked in to the oncology department. A nurse saw him and asked him why he was sad. His answer was heartbreaking. "My pawpaw's gonna die." Then he started crying again. I hugged him and teared up myself. The nurse was obviously sorry she asked the question and I felt sorry for her too. Daddy came out of PawPaw's room and gave hugs. He gathered up his courage and went in to the room. He chatted with PawPaw and said goodbye.

Lily, being only 3, doesn't really understand this. She just catches on to a few phrases and then repeats those. With luck, she adds her thoughts to the end. One of the things I said in my explanation was to ask if my son remembered how PawPaw lost his hair. That phrase she latched on to. So as we were walking out of the hospital and back to the car, she said, "PawPaw lost his hair and we are going to go find it for him." Both my son and I laughed.

Her laughter and joy and simplicity has made this trying time much better.



If you feel so inclined, we have set up a GoFundMe to help pay medical expenses as well as the final expenses we will be facing. Thank you. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Stomach Gymnastics

Seventeen days have gone by and I haven't posted. I have had a few thoughts, but nothing that I can capture and get on to this screen with any kind of logic or flow. I have been busy and will continue to be busy until the end of the month. Prom is at the end of the month and I'm the Prom Committee sponsor. For the most part, it has been a good experience. But now we are getting down to it and there is so much left to do. I'm stressing out because I just don't know if it will all get done or not.

You know when your stomach starts to do gymnastics as you think about the stuff coming toward you? That is where I am right now. I'm trying really hard to be positive and okay with not perfect. But so far I just keep thinking about the ways I can fail. So I haven't been writing anything because I can't think of anything except all the ways I can fail.

Um... I started this post a week ago and hoped that I could conquer this. I have for a few hours and sometimes even a day. Then it comes back. I'm now on Spring Break and having difficulty sitting still because I feel like there is still so much to do.

So I'll just post this and find a way to sit still.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March is #trypod month

So about a year or so ago I finally downloaded a podcast app and started listening. In typical Andrea fashion, I subscribed to about 40 of them. Some of my original ones have gone and new ones have come, but the number is still about 40. March is #trypod month, as in try this podcast and see what you think. I don't think there is any way I could narrow it down to a handful that I like, so I'll just list all the ones I listen to weekly.

True Crime
Already Gone - She is from Michigan and mostly focuses on Michigan. She has good cases, many of which I have not heard before. And her voice is very soothing.
Casefile - This host is from Australia and has cases from the US, Australia, and the UK.
Criminal - This show mostly has interviews with people who have been convicted or affected by crime. It is mostly kept pretty light and brings an interesting perspective to exactly what a criminal is.
In Sight - The hosts are from Australia and Kansas City. so the cases vary as to which contient they are on. Many of these shows do not overlap their cases.
The Generation Why - Aaron and Justin have been around for a while. I love their common sense looks at these cases and mysteries.
The Trail Went Cold - Many of these are lesser known cases. The host is a big Unsolved Mysteries, so many of the cases were on there originally.
The Vanished - This is dedicated to missing people. She often talks to family members of the missing. This one gives us a close up look at those who are affected by these cases.
Thin Air - This is another missing person podcast. The two hosts of this trade off cases. One week is Jordan and one week is Daniel. They do great research on this one. 
Thinking Sideways - The trio of Devin, Joe, and Steve discuss true crime as well as other mysteries around. The three of them have great chemistry that make listening very enjoyable.
True Crime Garage - True crime with a couple big personalities. They also have a book recommendation every week too!
Twisted Philly - This is obviously based out of Philly, but often extends to the rest of Pennsylvania and sometimes New Jersey. Some true crime, some paranormal, and some cool history. And the host is honest and makes it interesting.
Unexplained - This one is more paranormal than true crime, but the host does a good job of telling us the stories.
Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories - These are true crime stories with parts reenacted by actors. It is an interesting combination of story telling and radio play.

Life Encouragment/ Advice
Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers - This is obviously for teachers. It has good advice that is generally pretty easy to enact.
At Home with Sally and Friends! - This is mostly for mothers and it is really encouraging.
Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram - This is for Christians and helps with daily living out of your faith.

Stories

Lore - True life scary stories from history.
Myths and Legends - Telling the stories of myths and legends from around the world.
Remarkable Lives. Tragic Deaths - Stories of the lives of important or famous people. Part story telling and part voice acting.
Stuff You Missed in History Class - Historical things you may not have heard of, but really should learn about.
The Memory Palace - Historical stories, as in historical facts told in a story format.
The Peripheral - Stories from people's lives that aren't mainstream.
This American Life - Stories about one theme from all over the world.
Who We Are - It started as Career Day, but it is more about people telling how their career became important to their life.

Old Time Radio
Old Time Radio by Misfits Audio Currently playing X-1 episodes.
The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio - Boston Blackie, Richard Diamond, Johnny Dollar, Dragnet, and many more detective stories.
Suspense OTR - Episodes of the radio show Suspense from back in the day.
Westerns OTR - Old radio western shows, like Gunsmoke, Doc Six Gun, etc.

Books
Professional Book Nerds - A podcast about books from Overdrive, a library company.
Sophomore Lit - A podcast talking about literature some people read in high school.
The Baby-Sitters Club Club Two middle aged guys reading The Babysitters Club books and analyzing them for all the literary value in them.
What Should I Read Next- Tell Anne 3 books you like, 1 book you hate and what you are reading lately. She will tell you what you should read next.

Wrestling
The Steve Austin Show - I weirdly like his observations and opinions about the professional wrestling industry.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stress Doesn't Have to Win

I had a post ready for Monday, but I'm just not sure about it. So I'm going to leave it in drafts awhile longer.

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

This week has been so long and so stressful. I stayed an hour longer at work most days grading because Friday was the end of the quarter. Several other things also happened. The kitchen faucet broke. I forgot to feed Ben breakfast twice this week. 2 library audiobook holds came in this week and 2 ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) came in this week. I also already have 2 library books. Ben and Drew started soccer practice this week too.

So it has been crazy!

However I haven't given in to the stress. I have been stressed and upset, but I haven't given in to it. I noticed that I was getting into a spiral of stress and thinking about how stressed I was and then getting more stressed. I didn't let myself sink into that spiral. I stopped that and came up with something much more productive to tell myself and I moved on. It felt like a victory. I think I am abiding in Christ and I am reaping the benefits of that.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lily Turns 3!

Lily is 3 by Slidely Slideshow

A couple years ago I wrote this post. It is that time of year again, Lily's birthday.

Most people notice her curly red hair right away. I think she likes that because she doesn't like anything in her hair, no headbands, no ponytail, no barrette, no nothing.
Others notice how she chatters. Several months ago my husband was asked when she will turn 4. People think she is older than she actually is because of her height and her vocabulary.

What do I think about?
I think of how often she laughs. She wants to be tickled often. I think of how she insists on feeding herself. Only in the last few weeks has she started accepting food when I'm holding the spoon. And even then it is only because I'm making noises and she thinks it is funny. She loves eating chips, mashed potatoes, and meat. She loves drinking milk or juice, lots of milk and juice. She loves reading books. She will pick them and tell herself the story. Sometimes she hands me the book and wants me to read it. The library is one of her favorite places and that makes me so happy. She loves to color, but only with markers. I did get her to color with crayons on Friday when I was coloring with crayons at the library. However, at home she will only color with markers. If I suggest something else, she will not accept it. She has an opinion and does not mind sharing it! If you don't agree with her, she is likely to yell at you, tell you to "Stop cheating me!", or turn her head away and refuse to look at you. She wants to do whatever her brother is doing unless he suggests it. She loves picking flowers and playing with her baby dolls. She loves the color pink, but I think teal . She loves to jump. In fact after children's time this week at church, she jumped her way back down the aisle to our seat. She still doesn't want to cuddle, unless Ben is getting a hug or a cuddle. Then she shoves him away and takes a cuddle. She loves the soundtrack Sing and Frozen. We often listen to those as I am rocking her to sleep. She loves her blankets. She can't fall asleep without at least 4 of them. She doesn't like going potty on our toilet at home. We have tried and she did once, but she says it scares her. So we are impatiently waiting. Mostly I think about her zest for life and her happiness with her world.

I am lucky to be her mom.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Leave Some Space

Photo Credit: Ian Sane

So I'm doing really good at updating my other blog about reading even if I am a day or so off, I get something up there. However, on this one, I'm coming up empty. I have had a thought or two about what to post, but then by the time I sit down, the idea has completely flown away. I also have been struggling with writing in my journal as well. Again I think about doing it when I'm not at home or near my journal. Then I get to home and have the time and the thought has flown away. I don't think it is a coincidence that I am struggling on here and with my journal writing. I think both of those things tell me that I am not paying attention. I'm going through life, but I'm not really sitting to capture my thoughts.

Life has been a bit busier with birthdays, conferences, and my daughter getting up early. I have also checked out too many books from the library recently, so I'm feel like I'm constantly reading against the deadline. Most of these things are not much of a reason to be ignoring my reflecting space. The only one might be my daughter getting up early. She has started getting up about 5 minutes before my alarm. So there is no time to get her back to sleep, so she is just up with me while I"m getting ready. I don't have a sit down focused reflection time in the morning, but I do use some of the quiet time for thinking. Even then, that doesn't offer much of an excuse. I have several other hours in the day, but I just don't make time for reflecting.

Why?

I guess I feel like I have too much to do. I can't take time to stop because then I won't get those other two or three things done. I need to prioritize. I know me. I know if I start sacrificing here, then I'm going to start stressing more and putting more and more on my to do list. I'm going to start feeling like I need to accomplish everything instead of putting some things off or just saying no to some things. Abide is my one word for the year and it picked me because I need to be okay with the stopping. I find that I am running the risk of not leaving space for myself. That is not a good place for me to be.

So even though, I didn't have lots of good thoughts, I sat down to write anyway. I made myself reflect, so I can start capturing more reflections. I made myself leave some space.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

My Way



Recently I have heard this song referred to in two different sermons by two different pastors. Both sermons mentioned this song as a kind of anthem to selfish materialism. I can see why that comparison is made, but I don't think of the song that way. To me when I hear the line, "I did it my way." It is an anthem for rebellion against the societal norm that pushes us away from God. "I stood tall." I stood against the things telling me to bow the world's system. When my way is God's way, then the words become synonymous. I know that isn't what Sinatra meant, but when someone puts their work out in the world the consumers are going to interpret it personally. There is a whole literary theory about it, reader response theory. And yes there is more to Reader Response Theory than just this simple interpretation, but the sentiment fits.

Mentally I recognize that I look at thing differently than the average person. However, in the everyday walking around, I often forget this. So hearing these 2 pastors whom I respect refer to this song in the opposite of my thinking made me realize that I look at things very differently. I genuinely look at the "secular" music, books, art, etc. and interpret it through a filter of my Christianity. I believe the talent that these people are given is from God and they unconsciously bring him into their work from time to time. I believe God is there to be found in these things even if he isn't "supposed" to be there. Not everything, not every piece, but sometimes.

I thought you might enjoy my observation for today.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Things Saving My Life Now

For the past couple years, Modern Mrs. Darcy has been writing a post around this time of winter about what is saving her life. I think about these things often because life is hard and it is so easy to focus on the bad things and the things that are draining your energy. So I take time to stop and think about the things that are giving me energy and hope and brightness, these are things that are saving my life.

1. Sleep- I haven't gotten enough of it a couple days this week, but in general I have been focused on getting to bed on time and getting up on time. Going through the days feeling rested makes a big difference.

2. Leggings - In the last few months a colleague started selling LuLaRoe, so I bought a couple pairs of leggings. Then a couple more and a couple skirts. I now have clothes that are comfy, pretty, and make me feel good. Feeling good in my clothes is a big deal.

3. National Park Pictures - Most people are complaining about their Facebook feed being full of politics or yelling or something. I don't have that problem. Most everyone is hidden on my Facebook page. For the most part, I see my mom, my husband, Disney movies, and National Parks. And the National Parks post SOOOO many gorgeous photos!! Seeing the beautiful landscape that our nation has been blessed with is saving me.
See?


4. My One Word -  Every year I pick One Word for the year. This year my word is abide. I have set the lock screen and background on my phone with reminders. So even looking at my phone for some reason is a reminder of who I am working to become. This week has been CRAZY busy! 3 long meetings, and 2 parent nights. I haven't had as much quiet reflection as I would like, but I know the work I have done in previous weeks has helped. Deep inside I'm not agitated and flustered. I'm at peace.
Image result for busy is a choice stress is a choice joy is a choice  Image result for abide in my love wallpaper


Overall this year I am so much better off than last year. I am not so desperately clinging to these things that are saving my life. I am holding them looser because I am holding on to the peace of Christ.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oh the possibilities!

So it is Sunday night and not Friday. Oops. But I'll get a post in this week. And what a week it has been!

Photo Credit: zach Mccarthy


Drew and I were both down with a stomach bug this week. Drew's car was down with a bad transmission until late this week. And I was piled under a mountain of to do lists at school. But we made it through.

As Monday approaches, my mind is filled with a whole world of possibilities. My school schedule for next year looks as if it will include English 3. The possibility alternately terrifies me and invigorates me. I want to share a love of reading. language, and writing with them. But how do I fit all the amazing authors(not already covered) into one year? Oh the possibilities! For success and for failure.

I have also been asked to help at with a women's retreat at a local Spanish church. I have never had a Bible study at church in Spanish. I have only been to a church service a few times in Spanish. But I can speak Spanish in conversation fluently. Again, oh the possibilities! For success and for failure.

This morning I was asked to use my Spanish for church purposes at some point in time if things fall into the right order. I'm obviously being vague because I don't know how much I should or should not say. But trust me, it is out of my comfort zone. It provides a wealth of opportunities for success and for failure.

So the next handful of months will be full of possibilities. It is going to make me uncomfortable. It is going to make me excited. It is going to make depend on God. I have no clue how I will accomplish any of these things. I suppose because it won't be me accomplishing these things. It will be God accomplishing them through me. I certainly don't have the abilities all by myself.

Letting God use me is a scary thing, but without fear, nothing great will be accomplished. So I will move forward in fear and in confidence because God is with me and before me. In the end, I will be a better person, a stronger Christian, and closer to God.

Friday, January 20, 2017

It won't be easy



It is nearing the end of January and many new years resolutions are being broken and going by the wayside. I am among those failing to keep their resolutions. I don't really do resolutions. I do One Word, so there aren't a list of rules for me to remember. It is one word to remember that will guide me through the year. This year my word is abide. I took a circuitous route, but I got to the right word. It has already challenged me. I have no clue how time has flown so quickly over the last two weeks. As such my journal writing, Bible studying, and quiet moments, have slowed down. They aren't gone, but they aren't as frequent either.

I posted last week about the things that spoke to me to help reel me back in. It was good. This week I wasn't so emotional strung out, but I wasn't very focused on abiding or on joy. I did fall into complaining more than I would like. Mentally I recognized it sooner than last week, but verbally, I wasn't so quick. I still sounded like a whiny baby. I still have some things to work on.

I plan on getting a couple new pieces of jewelry. One that says 'abide' and one that says 'joy.' So I can remind myself all the time that I need to work on abide and joy. I have changed the wallpaper on my phone with the word 'abide' and with 'joy'. I don't think I have been quite as flustered with the stress of this week. So I am making progress at stopping before I get too far. I would really like to get to the place where I don't start down the road of stress, frustration, and complaining. Mostly the complaining. I don't want to be that kind of a person that is always complaining when situations get stressful. I don't want to be the emotionally draining friend, relative, or co-worker. I want to be one that encourages. I want to be one that lifts people up and helps them see the unforeseen as a new opportunity.

Becoming a better person is hard, but it is worth it.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why I Need To Abide

Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik

This past week I have felt myself get upset about various issues at school. It all basically amounts to the end of the semester stress and making poor decisions. The students were making poor decisions based on their stress and I was making poor decisions by being drawn into it. My kids have also been really emotional the last couple weeks as well. So emotions are running high all around me! And I keep getting sucked into it.

However, God has been speaking to me about it this week in multiple ways. I've even been listening a little as well. Wednesday there were SO many emotions running around and through me. I knew I didn't like it, but I couldn't figure out how to get out of it. It spilled over into Thursday as well. Then a real actual issue came up that sobered me. I have also been writing in my journal fairly regularly. I caught myself being dragged back into the emotions on Wednesday night when I was writing. So I stopped and focused on something good. I did that again on Thursday.

Another help has been The Book of Common Prayer. I am not Episcopalian or Anglican. However, I have been looking for a book full of prayers and such that are in an older writing style that really makes me think hard. I got the book for Christmas. There are many things in there that aren't what I'm looking for. So I'm skipping past those pages. I'm focusing on the pages that are what I want. So far, I've been looking at Venite (Psalms 95:1-7; 96:9,13). Several of the phrases there have been sticking with me. They keep reminding me how big God is. He is in control of everything and that is a good thing. I can be happy because he is in control. More than I can be happy, I should be happy. "Heartily rejoice in the strength of my salvation."

Then today I was catching up on podcasts and listened to a message from Chip Ingram from Friday just reinforced the whole thing. "If I'm wise I won't compromise my integrity." "You don't allow your behavior, relationships, finances, or speech to tell a different story than what you know is right." "Be at peace in one's relationships with others." "Issues are resolved and forgiven with others and with God." That was in the first 3 minutes of the podcast. Some hard hitting stuff there. My behavior and my words this week are telling a different story than what I know is right. I have not been living in peace. I have been all over the place emotionally and that is not peace.

There are things I need to work on. I have started the work, but I need to continue. I need to change my thought process and the words coming out of my mouth. I need to find peace within myself, so I can help others find that peace as well. Writing in my journal, prayer, and Bible reading are my plan. I think that's God's plan as well. Prayer and Bible reading is always God's plan. Feel free to check up on me and call me out when you hear me complaining or you see me in the broken record of emotional chaos.

More Jesus, less me. More abide, less chaos.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Rethinking my One Word 2017

A bit of business...New year, new plan for the blog. Not really for the blog, but for me. I plan to post here on Fridays and on my other blog, Books and Pens, on Tuesday. At one time I had a schedule and it worked. Then I was writing crappy posts just because there was a schedule. So I moved away from the schedule to wait until I had a good post to share. Then life got crazy and I stopped observing it, so then I didn't have anything to write. So I am going to try a small schedule. Hopefully that will help me be more observant.

For the last several years, I have not made New Years Resolutions. I have picked a word to focus on. This year I said I was going to keep my word from last year, Still. Then this morning I was reading my devotional and Scriptures that go with it. I came across the word Abide and it spoke to me deep down. Still, for me, is the absence of noise or movement. It was about creating quiet space for me to stop and God to start. I did need that. I do need that, but maybe I need more. Maybe I need a word that reaches deeper. Abide, for me, is the quiet space, but there is an additional layer of peace and comfort. It is the stopping, but it is also being okay with stopping.

I like this word. I am constantly amazed at how these words come to me. I don't really sit and think a lot. I go to church, read my devotionals and Scriptures, and let the words come to me. So far God has been okay with this plan because he just keeps giving me words.

So this year I will abide. And I will remember John 15:9. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love."


Sunday, January 1, 2017

One Word: 2016 Review and 2017 Reveal

So I got 11 days out of 31 in October, that's more than any other month this year, so I'll consider it a success. My desire for blogging has not diminished, but my time is limited. My teaching schedule is not as crazy as last year, but it is still crazy. Ben is not focusing real well in his class right now, so we are working on some new routines as well as keeping up with homework. I'm trying to spend enough time with Lily and Drew. And I'm reading quite a bit. So my life is full of things that I'm can't or won't give up.


That all leaves me tried and stressed. It leaves me going all the time. It leaves me the opposite of still. I have been taking some time to read about prayer and stillness, but I haven't enacted any of those things yet. But I'm thinking about it. So maybe that's a start. So as 2016 ends, I started thinking about being still.

So my One Word was a failure. In an effort to be still, I tried journaling and failed. I tried reading a devotional and failed.  I tried reading a book about listening, which requires stillness, and haven't finished it. I didn't even start it the book until October or November. I tried the YouVersion app reading plans and failed to read daily. I tried sitting down each evening with a cup of tea amd failed. I got a week at most of each of these things and then got busy with something else or forgot.

For Christmas I got a Book of Common Prayer with the idea that those words will make me think hard when I pray over them. So I have another plan of how to be still. I am going to try again at journaling.  I will keep up with the Bible reading plans even if I get a few days behind. Each of those things will require some stillnesss from me. I also got a Fitbit and have it set to alert me 30 minutes before bedtime. So I will have time to do these things. It might also alert me at the time to wake up. So I will have a few extra minutes in the morning as well. I hope those extra minutes will provide me with time to post on here a little more often.

So I believe I will keep the word Still and try again this year. Stillness in the presence of God is important and I need to get hold of it. So I will try again.