Longings for 2016

In early December, I took a half-day retreat at Sustainable Faith Indy.  I was led upstairs to a simple, quiet room with a large window looking out onto the neighborhood street.  I read through Luke’s account of the birth of Christ and was left to ponder how all the persons of the story of Christ’s birth, brought forth a particular light.  Every character had distinct longings.

So do each of us.

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After I spent some time in Scripture, I grabbed a piece of blank computer paper and a pen.  I started to list out some of my longings for the upcoming year.  I make a distinction between longings and resolutions.

Resolutions are something that I typically force myself to do, after seeing some deficit in myself.  

Longings are what I truly desire.  What I really want.  They may be something I work towards tangibly, or something I must wait for.  

Here are a sampling of my longings below:

  • Set up a writing schedule and stick to it. 4-5 hours of writing per week. Keep blogging weekly. Comment on others’ blogs, potentially guest blog. Seek out a writing community.
  • Start a family recipe box. Try new recipes often. Listen to my body, what I crave, what I need, what foods I can incorporate back into my diet.
  • Embrace lazy days. Full of movies and music and being home without guilt or the need to be doing more.
  • Find a healthy rhythm of hospitality.
  • Stay near to suffering, my own and other’s, but not let it drive me to despair.

 

Take your time.  Your longings do not have to be written out in one sitting.  But I hope this year you will ask the ongoing question, “What do I long for?”  Does your life reflect what your true longings are?

Journey with me friends, both in the art of lament and love.  We have much to learn, much to gain.

What are your longings?  Describe the experience of writing out your longings.  

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What Do You Want Me To Do For You?

This year on Mondays we are going to be sitting with gritty questions.  I hope that you will interrogate reality deeply with me, for we all must ask ourselves hard questions in order to grow and change and hope.

At the beginning of the year, so many of us are focused on goals.  Even insightful blog posts point out that there’s more at play than just sheer willpower when writing out New Year’s resolutions.  At an emotional level what goes deeper than goals are longings.

Goals keep us striving, while longings tug at our emotions.  

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What do you really want for 2016?  What do you really want in this moment?

At first when I was getting comfortable with answering that question, it seemed selfish.  We just came off a season of giving–and if we’re honest, while it is nice to receive gifts, receiving can be very difficult.  Giving makes us feel good, helps ease our conscience in a way.

Sit still in a quiet place for a few minutes, breathing deeply in and out.  Let yourself dream about what you really long for.  Picture this in your mind.

After you’ve settled with this image, imagine the Lord entering into this conversation with you.  He’s sitting beside you looking into your eyes.  He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”  

How do you reply?  What emotions do you feel as you hear this question?

Write down your answer on a piece of paper.  Read your longings often.  Share them with someone you trust.  Come before the Lord as your true self, with your deepest longings.  He’s the one who gave you these longings in the first place.

If you’re comfortable, share your longings in the comments.  I’d love to keep this conversation going.  I will be sharing my process of writing my longings, and share some specific ones on Friday.

New Year News

Happy New Year friends!  I hope you’ve had a restful and joyful holiday break, enjoying family and friends, traditions and new adventures.

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I wanted to write a post letting you know about some changes happening on the blog.  First of all, I’m going to attempt to write twice per week in 2016.  You will see posts on Mondays and Fridays.  On Mondays, we will be exploring the theme of powerful questions, how to interrogate reality in your own life and in work or personal relationships.  On Fridays, I hope to write about an element of self-care or purposeful habits.  Please feel free to comment and share my posts with friends.

As you enter into this New Year, either with anticipation or trepidation, may you live calmly seeking to bring your true self to the world, willing to be human and make mistakes, but to engage with the world fully.

May you cultivate compassion for yourself as you set New Year’s resolutions.  You don’t have to be perfect.  You don’t have to get everything on your to-do list done.  Just show up everyday.  That will be enough.

A Year In Review

I want to end the year reviewing some of the highlights of 2015, some things that I’ve posted about, and some things that I haven’t.  I hope you also spend some time to think about the blessings of 2015, ones that are obvious and maybe even ones hiding in a dark corner.

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-Going to a Michigan vs. Purdue basketball game in W. Lafayette for my birthday

-Being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s

-Going to a Penny and Sparrow and Josh Garrels’ concert

-Visiting my sister at Grove City for a sister trip and at graduation

-Visiting Chelsea in Memphis

-Celebrating that Chels went into remission and moved to Indy

-Living with two different families in Indy

-Working at Vision Academy and Dyslexia Institute

-Hosting a “I’m getting healthier” party in May

-Eating at several local restaurants

-Traveling to Chicago

-Sharing my testimony at Redeemer

– Attending a liturgical church and Tuesday night sermon discussions at the barn

-Starting my spiritual direction course

-Taking a poetry class

-Participating in 3 different retreats

-Completing one year of blogging

-Tweaking treatment plans, slowly getting healthier

-Watching plenty of Gilmore Girls and Parks and Rec

-Shopping at farmer’s markets

-Baking for fall and winter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends!  Be on the look out for more thematic writing in 2016.

What are your blessings of 2015?

Christmas Prayer 2015

I started a tradition of writing a Christmas prayer or poem every year.  I wanted to share this year’s with you.

 

Because of Your tender mercy,

the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us

 

You give light to us who sit in darkness, in the shadow of death

and to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.                                                   

 

You bring us home from our wanderings

to dwell securely and hear Your voice.

 

We wait for the day the wolf shall dwell with the lamb

but show us those moments of peace even now.                                            

 

You promise a safe dwelling,

bring to mind thankfulness for safe people and places.

 

Allow us in the safety of our relationship with You

to be a person of safety for others.

 

Let us taste sadness, so we can savor hope.

May we know you as One who suffers alongside.

 

Let us feel the loneliness of waiting

so we learn to wait eagerly, with deep longing.

 

Come, Lord Jesus.

Come, and keep coming.

 

Thank you for making your dwelling in us

For allowing this broken body to be your place of safety.

Amen.

New Holiday Staple

This weekend I went to a Christmas dinner party.  Everyone was asked to bring their favorite holiday dish.  And I honestly asked myself, “What’s mine?”

I decided to depend on a dish I just made for Thanksgiving: Sweet Potato Casserole.  It was my first time contributing to Thanksgiving dinner–and everyone loved it!  And the best part of it, is that it’s so easy.  Minimal ingredients, minimal work, just time for chopping and baking.

Here’s what it looked like pre-baking:

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You can find the recipe here.  Happy Christmas cooking and baking!

Winter Thoughts

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“Winter here is a demanding season-and not everyone appreciates the discipline.  It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy.  And yet the rigors of winter, like the diminishments of autumn, are accompanied by amazing gifts.

One gift is beauty, different from the beauty of autumn but somehow lovelier still: I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow.  Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things.  Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter-it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring.  Winter is a time when we are admonished, and even inclined to do the same for ourselves.

But for me, winter has an even greater gift to give.  It comes when the sky is clear, the sun is brilliant, the trees are bare, and first snow is yet to come.  It is the gift of utter clarity.  In winter, one can walk into woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground they are rooted in.”

-Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak pg. 101

Advent

As I sip a home-ade mocha in the wee hours of this Saturday morning, listening to Bing Crosby and the rain pitter-patter on the window, I’m resting in the fact that it’s Advent season. A time for me that used to be filled with endless Christmas parties, Secret Santas, and hoping that I didn’t forget to give someone a gift.  But I’m learning to embrace the stillness and beauty and declare that my deepest desire is that Christ be here, in my midst, in our midst.

 

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Don’t get me wrong, I still love making Christmas cookies, decorating, watching Christmas movies and sending out cards.  I get extremely nostalgic around Christmas, yet I don’t want nostalgia to drown out the present.  The present spent with mornings in the Prophets (Jeremiah 23 and Isaiah 11), reviewing my longings from this past year and starting to voice my longings for this upcoming year.  Dusting off my hymnal from the bookshelf and sitting with Christmas hymns.  Taking chilly morning walks.

I want to wait well.  I want my heart to ache and long for His coming.  I want to name my limitations and not criticize myself, knowing that Christ came as a baby.  I want to more deeply accept that Christ came for me.  That even as I know his deeply penetrating love, I see that He came for the rest of creation.  He desires that all of us dwell safely.

What do you desire from this Advent season?  

 

Thankful List

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons: a short work week, yummy food, football, Black Friday tradition with my sister, watching Hunger games movies the past few years.  It’s an opportunity to relax and unwind without all the commercialism.

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While I don’t want this to go on and on, I do want to reflect on what I’m grateful for in this past year.

  • Officially receiving a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. The ability to move forward in my healing journey.
  • Walking many Indy neighborhoods.  Enjoying the fresh air of many mornings while I wasn’t working.
  • Two families who let me live with them for several months each.
  • Friends who let me talk in circles as I lived into all the questions and fears I had about my vocation and chronic illness.
  • Year-round farmer’s markets in Indy.
  • The ability to return to work. Now working in a more sustainable way.
  • Spiritual Direction training and community
  • Buying meat and fish in bulk 🙂
  • A new apartment to call home and living with my best friend
  • Chelsea is still in remission

Have a lovely Thanksgiving week, friends.  What are you thankful for?

Unemployed Adventures

This past week I decided to dive in and enjoy the beautiful weather and my last week off work. (This week I’m starting tutoring at the Dyslexia Institute.  I’m really looking forward to it.)

One day I ventured off into historic Irvington, a neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis.  I walked the Pleasant Run Trail, drank coffee and rummaged through old books at BookMama’s, buying a few poetry collections.

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The next day I drove to Bargersville, a southern suburb of Indy and enjoyed wine tasting at a local winery with a friend from my Sunday school class at Redeemer who reminded me to keep writing.

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I enjoyed getting the kitchen messy by making beef and butternut stew along with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I re-read Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine and got excited to keep cooking.  I started reading Anne of the Island and thought back to Anne Shirley re-runs yearly growing up.

Several times throughout the week, as I would pause and think about ups and downs of the last year, and simply say, “I feel content.” Life is not what I thought, but I’m content.  I’m someone who loves adventures, books, walking, nature.

I felt free to be, to simply enjoy and delight, to take life slowly.  

I’m still someone who prizes efficiency, checking boxes off the list, and I need to be reminded to just be.  To enjoy. To delight. To leave my schedule behind, or throw it away.

These unemployed adventures help ground me to the present moment, that in paying attention to the moment truly does give me joy.

What adventures have you taken recently?