Just Wait

I was all set out to bring back my Bold Intentions.  Because I haven’t done them in a while–on the blog or in my life.  Well, I take that back.  For the first time in 5 years of marriage, my husband and I are actually on the same page and have been doing three sets of Bold Intentions over the 2015 year.  But that’s a story for another time.

I haven’t really been doing a lot of personal goals.  I’ve been taking a lot of small steps, and I’ve definitely seen fruit (finally!) come from practicing discipline, but to me, those small steps are not the same as goals.

Here’s the thing.  There’s a lot going on right now about goal setting and doing work and chasing your dreams and getting your life plan and then planning it to action and then actually acting on it.  Everyone’s got dreams, right?  Everyone wants to be doing something more than what they’re doing right now.  Everyone has hobbies and passions and ideas and so now there’s a plethora of information about how to take one of those hobbies or passions or ideas and turn it into a goal and then turn it into a plan of action.  We wouldn’t want all those hobbies or passions or ideas to sit in the back of your mind without you doing nothing about it, right?  Because that’s the ultimate “sin,” isn’t it?  To not do something about it?

I’m coming up on a year of motherhood.  A year that I feel simultaneously relieved and anxious about because this has been a tragically hard (and terrific!) year and parenting has really only just begun.  At the end of a very easy first year of marriage, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “If this is marriage, we’ve got this in the bag!” and then fist bumped each other.  But at the end of this first year of parenting, we looked at each other and said, “If this is what parenting is…I’m going to need a nap.”  In the last five years of marriage this has most definitely been the hardest year–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

So how am I supposed to be reaching these goals?  How do I turn a hobby into a plan of action?  How am I supposed to have an entrepreneurial spirit when my body aches from moving all the time?  How the hell do I get that bikini beach body the magazines tell me I need when I spend free time playing Old Maid?

just wait

I’ve been told many times by many people that if there’s a “trend” or something that a large majority of the population is doing or liking, I automatically won’t do it or like it purely to be different.  I’m not sure how true that is.  When there’s a large group of people doing something, I’m more likely to immediately question the communal thinking and then decide for myself.  It just so happens that oftentimes I decide differently.

Just like everyone else, I, too, have been swept up in this goal-making frenzy.  But instead of getting all excited and feeling my heart beat fast with nervous anxiety, I start to feel panicky.  My palms sweat.  I can’t catch my breath.  Homeostasis fails me.  And instead of questioning whether I should get caught up in the craze or not, I just allowed myself to make lists and charts and plans, thinking that that’s all I need to get my body to calm down.

Lately I’ve felt very much like a failure, in a lot of different ways.  I feel like I’m failing as a wife when my house isn’t clean or when my husband yearns for time with me and I don’t respond to him.  I feel like I’m failing as a mom when I feed my kids cereal for dinner because every.single.dish is dirty or when my youngest wants to snuggle but I don’t respond because there’s too much other stuff to do.  I feel like I’m failing as Caitlin when I get home and don’t do anything “for myself” (unless it’s Netflix after the girls are asleep) and if I do it’s not anything “productive.”  And then I feel like a failure when all I want is time for myself but I have three other people depending plus a dog depending on me for survival.

This morning I made a list:  All The Areas I Feel Like a Failure and Why and What Small Step I Can Take to Do Something About It.  And I wrote it all out.  And I decided I would write until my hand cramps and my mind can’t produce any more failing thoughts and I’d have it on paper with all my small steps and I would just work on those.  At the end I went over my list and realized that there were really three categories:  My Spirit, My Body, My Home.  There was no category labeled My Dreams, or My Goals, or Me Time.  It’s full of simple things like not talking to Jesus, not doing morning yoga, not cleaning my bathtub.  And when I lay it all out, as long as the list actually is–and it is long–it’s not overwhelming and it’s not really life-draining.  Actually, it’s just a list of life-giving things I should be doing on a regular basis.  Like washing dishes.  Folding clothes.  Cooking dinner.

So here’s my giant Bold Intention for the summer:  JUST WAIT.  I’m going to literally put every thing on hold–any passion, any goal, and hobby, any dream–and just wait.  I’m going to settle in my comfy chair in the mornings and pray.  I’m going to play Old Maid until I get one hundred paper cuts.  I’m going to scrub the dishes until I form callouses.  And I’m going to love all of it.  I’m going to enjoy every crumb I get to pick off the floor and every time I get to hold my husband’s hand.

And I’m going to pray for grace every time I begin to feel like I’m failing again.  Because of all the steps to take, I’ve got to get at least that one right.

Advertisements

Obedience is the Most Important

There are some mornings when I’m reading my Bible, that I get a glimpse of a peacefully calm life where everything is peachy keen and I’m floating around wearing rose colored glasses with a dopey smile on my face.  Because that’s what God can do for you.  Let you know that everything is A-OK.  That time with him can be calming and peace-giving to your hectic soul.

But then there are mornings when I’m reading my Bible that God takes the ideas I’ve formed over the last 27 years and blows them up in my face.  I can see these ideals laying in a pile before me, and I see a grenade careening to the air hitting the pile with a thud the second before the mushroom cloud ascends and everything is obliterated to dust.  Because that’s what God can do for you.  He opens your eyes to see that while you didn’t necessarily have His Word wrong, you also didn’t see the bigger picture until that moment when he destroyed the old to make way for the new.

Like today.

Hebrews 5 talks all about how Jesus was called by God to be a High Priest; to die on the cross for my eternal salvation.  I’ve heard this a bazillion and one times every time I sit in a straight-backed church pew.

But what no one has ever told me before was that Jesus was in agony over his role in the Gospel.

I knew that He prayed to God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane that He would be delivered from the cross.  Obviously that didn’t happen.  I really thought that’s all it was. A simple, “Do I have to?  Really?  Okay then, I’ll do it.”  I had no idea that he cried, he pleaded, he sent up prayers of agony that His Father would release him from His calling.  And God heard him.  And instead of releasing Jesus from death, He allowed Jesus to learn true obedience through His suffering.

That’s when it hit me.  Discipline, Suffering, and Obedience are not neat little ideas wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string to be given as presents.  No.  Instead they are abstract and complicated thoughts that have been put into a blender with the setting on high and have been pulsed so hard you can’t extract one without also pulling out the others.  I can’t have suffering without also learning obedience and discipline.  I can’t learn obedience without going through suffering and using discipline.  I will never be disciplined until I go through suffering and learn true obedience.

For Jesus, in this particular example, it was obedience to His ultimate calling.  He wanted out of what He had been preparing for for 33 years.  He didn’t want to suffer humiliation or death.

I hear a lot about this calling Jesus has placed on all our lives.  That we must obey the calling.  That we must go forth and do it.  That we must not be scared or use excuses but to know that He has called us for a reason.

And I believe it all.  But I also think that we’ve started captializing it and putting it on a pedestal and shrouded it with fog machines and stuck a spotlight on it and preached it so many times that the Calling gets all the focus and all the attention.

But what about the day-to-day?  What am I to do when God has Called me to His plan, but right now I still have to clean poop off the floor.  What do I do about my Calling when I spend 40+ hours a week in a classroom teaching students–a calling unto its own, but perhaps not The Calling.  What about those times when I’m being called but I literally don’t have a single dish, utensil, or pan that is clean in my house?  Do I pursue my Calling then?  Or do I pursue my latex gloves and a sponge?

obedience

It might sound a little crazy, comparing suffering through my daughter’s potty training to the suffering Jesus felt when He was told to go die for the world, but that’s what it is.  Suffering.  And perhaps spending three hours cleaning things that are just going to get dirty again isn’t going to save the world, but it is being obedient to my Jesus, who has called me to be a wife and mother alongside my other Calling.  And you might scoff at the bags under my eyes formed from getting up early every morning, because who isn’t tired, but to me I’m suffering from lack of sleep.  But I’m gaining discipline every time I obey God’s call to read my Bible.

I think this is something worthwhile to keep unpacking:  Obedience in the form of Suffering and Discipline.  And I’m starting to think all this talk about intentionality, discipline, and thriving in the midst of toddlerhood is overshadowing and belittling what is Most Important. Obedience in the day-to-day mundane.

 

The Art of Practicing Discipline

One thing that I’ve been praying for lately is discipline.

This may sound way too over dramatic, but there are some days where I feel as if the day has run me over and I am left sprawled on the pavement, my limbs spread out and bent at weird angles, blood coming out of my ear and pooling on the ground, and all I can do is wonder How the hell do I get up from here?

As I’m lying there on the rough concrete and let my mind do a quick flashback review of how I got to that point and I can almost always point it back to a lack of discipline.

discipine

I’ve always thought of discipline as “not cool.”  Like, if I want to fit in and be popular, discipline is not the attribute that I want to possess.  But now that I’m an adult, I see it being more terrifying than anything else.  It’s an attribute I so desperately want to attain, and yet it encompasses so many parts of my day–the big ideas and the minutiae–that I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to have even a smidgen of it.  It’s too hard to fail at it, ergo, I shouldn’t even try.

But I know now that this is not true.  As I search my soul and my heart to determine what the most important things in my life are, I’m realizing that discipline is an absolute necessity if I want to be intentional in the areas that call for my present state of mind.

Here’s the thing, though, the Thing That Keeps Me From Getting Up:  What exactly is discipline and how can I attain it?

Because I recognize that I am a failure.  I will massively fail at discipline when I attempt to do it on my own.

But God.

But God lifts me up and gives me grace and shows me that spiritual discipline is merely forming a habit that will repeatedly point me back to Him.  Spiritual discipline involves having God–not me–in control of everything, and that all of my actions should continuously point me (and others) back to Him.  And with God, I literally can’t fail.  Because perfection can’t ever be attained.

I’m learning that everything can’t be important, and I’m finding that in the area of discipline the same holds true.  I have a list of a zillion different areas I crave to be disciplined in.  But I can’t do it all at once.  Being disciplined in some areas is more important {right now} than being disciplined in others.

For example, not making my lunch the night before means I’m rushing the next morning and I’m spending time doing a menial task instead of eating breakfast with my family.  It’s not the absence of a lunch I miss in the morning when I’m driving to work.  It’s the absence of spending time with my family, which is one of my Most Important Things.

And when I figure out what’s most important to my soul, {Family} and then I figure out what’s preventing me from making it actively important in my life {not making a lunch the night before}, that’s when I figure out the Most Important Disciplines I need to have right now.

So I’m practicing.  I’m practicing discipline every time I make a lunch after my daughters are in bed.  I’m practicing discipline every morning when I wake up before 5:45 in order to spend time with God.  I’m practicing discipline every Saturday when I make it a goal to do all errands and all cleaning so that I can relax with my family on Sunday.  I’m practicing discipline every night I get everything on my to-do list accomplished so that the hour before we go to bed I can spend that time intentionally talking to my husband.

And knowing that not everything is important is what gives me the courage to slowly get up off that pavement and start again.

I think, just maybe, I’m back. Maybe.

I completely understand the appeal to blogging for moms.  I finnnnally get the whole “mommy blogger” scene.

MOMS NEVER HAVE ANY TIME ALONE.

And yeah, okay, I totally understood that from the very beginning.  I mean, kids are living things that need you’re attention.  And that they take more effort to grow than plants.  And you can’t really just leave them all day long like you can a dog.

But man I just had no idea how much non-existent “me” time I get.  Sometimes, on my way home from work, I take a quick pit stop at Sonic and stay there long enough to finish my drink.  And that 20 seconds (because as soon as I get it, I start missing those tiny people who won’t leave me alone and I guzzle it down) is about all I get. Sometimes.  Because two tiny people means all the Sonic slush money goes to buying them things to keep them alive. Like shoes.  And underwear.  Because someone keeps peeing in all the clean ones…

But the internet sure does make it easier to have space to yourself.  A little tiny corner of the world where you get to decorate it and not have anyone tell you he doesn’t like flowers, or have matchbox car wheels drug through the paint before it’s dried.  A small little place that doesn’t know that you’re currently wearing clothes that have lived on the floor for the last week because all those dirty, tiny underwears take precedence in the washing machine than your shirt.  Even if it does have some sort of smear from one of those petite hands that stay dirty all.day.long even though you haven’t fed it anything in hoursss.

I totally get it.
MOMS.  YOU ROCK.

But that’s not why I’m back.  I’m not back here stringing words together because I just want a little bit of time to call my own.  I’m not sitting at the library once a week while the husband sits at home playing with our children so that I can play around with my very own toy that is kept far, far away from grubby little hands (that apparently stick playdough in the headphone outlet).

NO.

I’m here because in January 2015 I said YES to God.  I told him I wanted him to MOVE me out of the position I was STUCK in and into the position HE wanted me in.  I was finished with making excuses.  I was tired of where I was at mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  I needed some action verbing in my life.

So I said YES to a new job.  I said YES to a new house.  I said YES to scheduling, routines, and hard work.  I bought an actual erasable wall calendar so that we could schedule all our work times–and I hate those things.  The husband and I say YES to financial peace and financial discipline every Thursday night when we sit down to budget our money.  I say YES to my kids every time I say no to social media, tv, or other escapisms.

And God has moved.  He has moved me into an area of life I had no idea I could be a part of.  An area of life in which I thought would never have space for me.

But in this season of saying yes, and doing the hard work, and keeping up with the moving and not getting stuck, I have been prompted to say YES, once again, to this tiny little corner all to myself on the internet.

And I have no idea what it’s going to be

I know what it will not be.  I know it will definitely not be a place for me to get stagnant in.  It will not be a place where I fall into the trap of comparison.  It will not be a place for me to escape to.

This is simply a place I’ve said YES to.  For the time being at least.

And I make no promises about what you might fin

Cheers, September

September

Oh September, I have waited and waited so long for you.

I’m continuing working on Fall’s Bold Intentions, which is great because my August goals didn’t go over so well.  1 Corinthians didn’t get finished (almost there!), glider cover and pillows never got sewn (in my defense, I lost that piece on the machine that keeps my thread in place), and I think I woke up all of 15 minutes earlier than kids (barely enough time to finish a shower).

So of course, all those things are rolling over into September, with the goal of getting them done THIS WEEK, so the rest of September I can focus on other things.

Like MOVING.

We’re officially counting down over here, and we’re at 21 days.  Exactly three weeks from now, I’ll be boarding a plane with a one-way ticket, jetting off to the last place I ever wanted to move (back) to and staying for an indeterminate length of time.  As excited as I am for this new adventure and that God has allowed us this fresh start after such a long, long year, I can’t help but wishing that God would allow us to stay, or to move us somewhere different–bushes of Africa perhaps??  But instead of whining and moaning and throwing a self-pity party, I’m sucking it up, because I know with all my heart our little family will be much better off because of this move, and it’ll be easier on all of us if I get in on the fun, too.

I’ve already made contact with a Thrive Local group in my area and I’m looking forward to attending my first meeting.  I’m trying to reconnect with some high school friends to help ward off any feelings of alone-ness that might happen.  And I’m stocking up on essential oils to help us transition environments and to keep my hormones balanced and mood lifted.  Because when you’re 26 and moving back to your hometown to live with your mother, you’re both going to need lots of help keeping those emotions in check.

So September around here is full of to-do lists and appointments and address changing and service canceling.  Though I’m not looking forward to going to the dentist or getting my haircut, I’m making myself not add anything else on my plate, besides what I didn’t accomplish in August.  I’m just trying to keep the semblance of a schedule, keep a semblance of paleo eating happening, and a semblance of normalcy in the midst of boxes, lists, and movers.

Because 21 days.

Fall Bold Intentions {& August’s Goals}

I’m starting over with this whole “bold intentions” thing and going at it from the angle I originally went at it with.  And that’s to define some big picture “goals” or “to-dos” that will last as long as I need them to last. 

Because if I was to be honest, this next season of ours could be full of just to-do lists.  Like selling the house, packing our stuff, yard sales, moving, making last minute doctor appointments, returning stuff that isn’t ours, cancelling internet, etc. etc. etc.  And all those things will definitely get done, but I don’t want this month or next to be all about the to-do list.  I want it to be all about living intentionally.

fall bold inentions 2014So for the fall–an appropriate way to describe the season as it was a brisk 65 degrees outside this morning, and I saw some leaves falling off a tree yesterday–here’s my great bold intentions:

  • Have Patience. With my husband, with my children, with the move.  I need to be patient first, and speak second.
  • Receive Grace. There’s a lot that I’m failing at right now (who doesn’t feel this way?) and I’m letting my flesh try to take over and control the situation rather than allow Jesus to come in, give me grace, and allow me to continue.  If I were to be honest, I exactly know my faults and I’m afraid Jesus will chastise me for them.  But I know that even if He would do that, He would do it out of love and still extend grace to me, so I’m working on allowing Him in more.
  • Do More for Me. It’s that part of the season where I’m so wrapped up in what’s going around me that I’m forgetting that I was a whole person before I entered into it.  I’m being “Mom” without being “Caitlin.”  On the rare occasion when I do have time to myself I don’t even know what to do.  I found myself asking the question, “What did I like to do before this?” and I honestly couldn’t answer it for a while.  So I want to do more for me.  Read some books, do a project, write on this blog, whatever it is, just more for me.

That’s basically it.  Any more and I’ll drown in the to-doness of it.  And of course I have to ask myself the question, Practically speaking, what will I do to try to accomplish these things?  And here’s where August comes in.

august 2014In August, I hope to:

  1. Finish studying 1 Corinthians, a book laid on my heart and I’ve been studying it for a while.  I’m taking it slow, so though I may not finish I want to at least get deep.
  2. Wake up before the kids. I was actually really successful at this one for about a month, and then they started waking up at the same time I did.  So instead of making them wait in their rooms until a certain time, I’m going to try to get up earlier, at a time when I know they won’t be up, and spend time just doing ME things:  take a bubble bath, play on pinterest, read the Bible, read a book, do some writing, anything that will help me to wake up and get some of my own energy out before I start the day with them.
  3. Cover the glider & make some pillows.  I already bought the fabric and supplies to cover the girls’ glider and make some pillows for our bed, so I need to just do it.  I cut out and pinned one part for the glider two nights ago, so now I need to sew it together.  I feel as if I can get these two projects done I’ll be on my way to becoming a whole person again.

The rest of this list includes all the aforementioned appointment making, scheduling, and condo selling, so I don’t want to put too much on my plate than what I already have.  And I expect September to be much of the same.  But that’s fine with me.  I’m going to take as long as I need to accomplish these intentions and these goals, with the hopes that I’ll be better all-around for it.

May Bold Intentions

So my emo-ness the last few days?  Turns out I was getting the worst migraine ever.  I came home throwing up yesterday because my head hurt so bad.  Once I took my magic pill (prescription, not illegal substance fyi) not only did my headache go away I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.  To say I feel better today is such an understatement.

Once again, I’d like to divide up this month into goals and bold intentions.  Goals meaning to-do list things that I can check off, whereas bold intentions are a little more abstract and meant to develop myself more as a person.

may

May’s Goals:

–Become a Mom!  (Seriously,  this better be the month.)

–Make the pillows for my bedroom redo.

–Make the welcome books for future children.  This really should’ve been done a while ago, but I keep putting it off.

–Write 1000 words a day.  This is two fold, meaning by the end of the month I hope to have written the equivalent to 30,000 words (either here or on the actual book I’m working on).  I know some days will be more and some days will be less, but by setting this goal I’m really just hoping that I write more.

May’s Bold Intentions:

–Start forcing myself out of my introverted shell.  Meaning, I want to focus on Biblical community this month–community for the sake of Jesus–and to do that I need to really get out of my own way so that I can let other people come in.  I plan on starting slowly, but I’m hoping by the end of the month I’ve re-established some friendships, made some new friends, and at the very least I talk to the person checking me out at the grocery store.

–Start the James bible study I printed out. You can find it here if you’re interested in doing it, too.  This seems more like a to-do list activity, but I’ve been itching to get deeper into the Bible, rather than the reading and journaling I normally do.  Our women’s DNA group is reading James this month, so I’m hoping that will spur me to also complete the study.

–Ease my way into a refined sugar-free life.  Really, this is a major step I want to take in just getting healthy altogether, but I figured I already started Paleo, might as well keep things going with the food.