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That Leap of Faith

This has been one of the longest years of my life. And yes, I know it is only March 24th.

Here’s the thing. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I am less than happy at my job. And by less than happy, I mean checking my phone every few minutes on Sundays to see how much longer I have before Monday hits kind of unhappy. I can’t remember, and don’t feel like going back to check, if I have mentioned this before, so I’m going to say it again: About a month-ish ago – possibly two – my husband asked me how I would feel about quitting my job and just taking a month off to write.

Guys. I freaked out. Never mind that I’ve always said (in very blasé tones) that the eventual long-term goal was to write full-time. This was a real suggestion. And I immediately rejected it. For many reasons. No, I was NOT going to randomly quit my very well-paying job just because I was unhappy without another job lined up, and actually WRITE full-time. I mean, who DOES that? How irresponsible would I have to be in order to do that? Most likely, the entire world would fall apart without me in the career field. What a suggestion.

The following month was like one of those roller coasters in amusement parks that people take Dramamine for before getting on. No, of course I wasn’t going to quit without another job. No, I was not going to take a month off to write. **go off into dreamland for a minute imagining quiet days at my desk being thoroughly productive and miraculously getting hundreds of things published by the end of it and realizing I was supposed to do it all along** No, I would not be so irresponsible. Think about the money I make. The bonuses. The benefits. What would happen if – well – if ANYTHING happened during that month?

And – that’s when God started working on me. Why don’t you want to take a month? I don’t want to be irresponsible. Why? Because . . . I make a lot of money. What happens if you don’t? I might not be considered successful. So you base everything on what others think? Um. Noooo. What if I ask you to do it? **silence as utter panic hits** Why are you so afraid? What if something goes wrong? What if we don’t have enough money? What if I don’t find a job? What if people criticize me? I’m the responsible one – I’m the one everyone looks at as an example. What if I . . . fail? At what? At everything. At writing, at finding another job, at – everything. What if I make our life hard? We just bought a house, we have all these repairs. At this point you might as well just imagine the conversation going on and on as I listed all the things that could or probably would go wrong. And then: So, you are saying you don’t trust Me to provide what you need? Have I ever failed you? **silence again because I know He hasn’t. Ever.** What if I want you to do this as a leap of faith? So that you remember I provide all you have – it is not what you do that provides it – it is what I do. There’s no way it could be your will for me to do this. Why not? Because. . . it’s what I’ve always wanted. Therefore, it can’t be right.

You could have heard a pin drop. I could almost feel God shaking His head in disappointment as so many verses (or summaries of them) floated through my head. About His love for us. His plans for us. As how everything I’ve always wanted, He has made come true for me – college, career, living in DC, buying a house. . . etc. Why would I ever believe He wouldn’t allow this dream to come true as well? It showed me so much about myself.

After many many days of this back and forth – I finally surrendered. I could trust God to provide for me. I could do something I thought people might judge me for doing. I could do this. It still took a lot to actually make myself quit my job. But I finally did. Last week. My last day is April 3rd. And although it was like the summer wind floated over me and lifted all the stress from my shoulders, don’t think there wasn’t still struggle and questioning. But you want to know something interesting? This week, as I still struggled a little – no longer with the idea of God providing, whether I found a job or not, but wondering if I had made the right decision, wondering if I’d misunderstood and in general this overarching fear – I hit a chapter in the book I am doing as my devotional yesterday (Fervent). And it was called “Confronting Your Worries, Claiming Your Calling”. Yup. Guys, my eyes still want to well up when I read that. And the chapter was about a successful woman who was terrified of following something she felt God calling her towards. You know what that was? Cutting back on her career to write. Would you like to guess some of the questions going through her head? What if I can’t do it? . . . What if I do get some stuff written, start to feel pretty good about it, but nobody likes it? What if the financial adjustment we’ll need to make in order for me to do it means my kids will have to give up some of the activities they love [in my case, read: means my husband and I have to give up the lifestyle we love]? What if it all ends up being a total waste of time and energy? And, most compelling of all: What if it’s all just some sort of ego trip or head game, something I’m projecting onto myself?

I almost thought Priscilla Shirer was secretly talking about me, not one of her friends. And then? The rest of the chapter was about doing it anyway. About not letting the enemy paralyze me and obeying God anyway. It was almost like – permission. Since then, I haven’t really worried about it. And, granted – that WAS yesterday, but STILL.

So anyway. That’s that. Come April 3rd (or technically, the day after), I’m officially taking a month off to write. Be praying for me!

Oh, and, P.S.? Almost as soon as I fully surrendered, God gave Daniel a new job paying him enough that we will be just fine on one salary – not our previous lifestyle, obviously – but we will be fine.

New Year Goal Time!

Okay. So, I know I promised New Year’s goals ages ago and I’ve told so many people about them and typed them out so many times that, frankly, I’d kind of forgotten I hadn’t shared them here yet! So here they are in a nutshell, so that you can all ease your curiosity.

  1. Lose 20 pounds.
    • Yes, I know I always have weight loss on my goals. But here’s the difference. Usually I make it a goal to REACH my weight goal for the year. This year, all I want is 20 pounds. half a pound a week. Which equals about half of my ultimate weight goal. Maybe this more obtainable goal will actually happen?
  2. Write More.
    • Specifically: Write 2 books of 50,000 words each, get one thing published, edit DIL and submit for publication, and write the equivalent of three short stories a month. And, recently added, write a collaboration novel with some friends.
    • I know. this seems outrageously ambitious, but I’m tired of putting writing on the back burner, and I have calculated out the exact number of words I need to both write and edit per day in order to obtain this. I”m already behind (partially due to moving), but that’s besides the point.
  3. Spend More Time in Prayer
    • I say it a lot. Prayer is important. Possibly the most important thing in your spiritual life. Why, then does it always fall to the last of my priority list? So my goal this year is to spend a minimum of 50 minutes in prayer a week. about 10 minutes every weekday. I would hope to reach more than that, but it truly is amazing how low a priority it seems when I’m working on packing or writing or making food or a million other things.
  4. Be able to do 10 push-ups.
    • Based on how well this has gone so far, I’m thinking I should lower it to five push-ups. Or maybe 1. Really, I’d feel accomplished being able to do just one full, real push-up.
  5. Write in blog on regular basis.
    • Yes, this means you. My goal is to write a blog post here every second and fourth Wednesday and a blog post in Ingleside every third Wednesday (I know that one is supposed to be more of a spur of the moment, share every day life, but sometimes you just have to schedule things to remember to share every day life!).
  6. Learn Calligraphy.
    • This could probably be more accurately described as “improve handwriting to the point that I can read it myself”, but I have a calligraphy book with which I an attempting to accomplish this, so “learn calligraphy” it is.
  7. Learn 15 constellations.
    • Knowing the constellations has been a lifelong goal of mine. You’d think that by now, in my thirties, I’d know more than the big dipper, Orion, and Cassiopeia. But nope. I always sit down and try to read a book on how to learn constellations and figure it all out before attempting to see stars in a city sky. So I took a new approach that thus far is working quite well and I have no idea why I haven’t done this before. I am learning one constellation a month. I look it up, where it is, and go out and search for it. I even downloaded a star app that I can lift up to the sky and it shows me what constellation I am looking at. Sure enough, I’ve already learned to identify Taurus and Gemini. Not that I know every star in the constellation, but in general the shape and where it is, yes.

So, in case you didn’t catch it – I am in the middle of moving. To a real house. Outside the city (though in the suburbs). This has had a negative effect on my New Year’s Goals. Well, that and my normal lack of discipline probably. But when you start getting super stressed because you can’t fit in the daily assignments for your New Year’s goals and working out and making food and a stressful work environment every day, then it’s time to cut something. So, for the next week and a half, I’m cutting everything except food and packing (and now that I’m thinking about it – I should also keep prayer in), and I’ve made more progress packing than the previous four weeks combined. And have been far less stressed. So I think it’s reasonable, and, come the first week of March, I’ll pick back up. Because, as my best friend once told me (paraphrased), we don’t have to always wait for the first of the year to come around to make a goal for a new start.

People laugh at me because I am very predictable. In many ways, at least. Every year, I make innumerable New Year’s Goals. Every month, week, sometimes by the day, I write schedules and lists. I have made menus since I was 15 or younger. I schedule out my life as much as possible. I pursue every single interest – but rarely until it is mastered because the next thing grabs my attention and I move on. Oh, yes, there are people who laugh at me. Not cruelly, but . . . accommodatingly . . . almost patronizingly. They know it is me – it is what I do. I am a Type A.  I live off schedules, I try the next fad to lose weight, I make goals, I . . . well, you get the idea. It always hurts a little bit whenever I sense that laughter in someone’s tone. The underlying, She’s at it again, when I discuss my New Year’s Goals or the multitude of checklists I’ve made in an attempt to FINALLY reach them. The amused shake of the head as I buy another notebook, another self-help book. It always hurts – just a little, strikes at some place deep down inside that I then bury so I can laugh along with them – often even cracking my own jokes at myself for trying that next thing, that next attempt to master life. All the while, wondering inside just how much of a failure I am for always, always trying, and rarely succeeding.

But. When I allow myself a moment of Grace. When I step back and look at all my frail attempts at – everything. And most especially when I read L.M. Montgomery’s Emily books, I know exactly why. It’s because of this:

I italicize the last verse because that in particular makes something in me swell up. With tears, and hope, and desperation, and ambition, and . . . understanding. Someone somewhere understands.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t actually care if I get “fame” – it’s more the writing my name with true and honored fame. And I don’t care if it’s on earth or heaven – it just means that . . . I’ve climbed that path. I reached that goal. I’ve succeeded.

At what, you might ask? Well, at life. There is so much life everywhere. It’s why I try so hard to do everything. Because I might miss out on something otherwise. Music makes my heart fill up, so I try to learn music. Stars make me remember the glory of God, so I attempt to learn constellations. Miniatures bring me sweet memories and gladness, so I finger them in passing, thinking about how someday I will collect and even make miniatures. Dolls remind me of dress-up and dreams, so I collect them. And writing. Well. Writing makes me feel like I can live a thousand lifetimes, and experience all the world, and bring someone else that thrill of joy and hope and escape, and it makes me feel like it’s the only time in my entire life I can say things the right way. And, yes, I realize there isn’t a syllable there about glorifying God – but – the thing is, I almost feel like ALL of that is glorifying God. Every piece of that joy and experience and heavenliness makes me look up and say “God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world” along with Anne of Green Gables and Robert Browning.  When I write, when I ask God to guide my pen, when I legitimately try – I feel the pleasure of God. I feel a rare peace fill my soul.

I guess I just want to do my utmost to live the life God has given me to its fullest and the only way I can see to do that is by checklists and schedules, and trying new things, and always trying – even when I don’t succeed. Even when others look on in amusement.

I’m not saying I have done things right. I’m not saying that I’m not a failure for having never succeeded at any of my hobbies. But I am saying that . . . I know why I keep trying. And that, I think someday I will succeed. That God is working with me on the staying part of trying, and someday it will happen. Even that, in some sense, I am succeeding just because I am trying. But until then, and even through then, I’m going to keep climbing the Alpine Path.

Gentiana 'Shot Silk', Gentian, blue flowers

Just a bit of thought

I’ve been intending to do a New Year’s Post and I still intend to – but I have this super detailed plan I want to complete before I discuss it, so this is just a hold-over post to note what’s been up.

  1. I was sick through New Years and it was almost more stressing to me that I didn’t have the mental capacity to create my New Year’s goals prior to the year starting. This is still an element of stress in my life, which makes me think I need to reassess my priorities since I feel like I can’t “start” my New Year’s goals until they ARE carefully plotted out. I even had to convince my psyche that it was okay to take time and kneel down and pray before I had “officially” noted my goals for praying this year. I have major issues.
  2. We have officially started the moving process. I felt well enough last weekend to scrub about three quarters of the kitchen, and hope to get much, much further this weekend. But I also have a church event, a dentist appointment (to get another crown), and my goals to finish! Yes, this goals thing is really stressing me out. Speaking of which, Daniel and I are also taking a few hours on Sunday to go through our 10-year plan progress and financial goals and reassess our budget after buying a house. That will be fun. Assuming I’ve finished my New Year’s goals and therefore am not secretly thinking about those instead.
  3. I’ve been having work issues. As I think I may have mentioned before. Currently they are looking at moving us all to shift work. And by looking at, I mean they are. We have a pilot on Monday. On the bright side, they are not going to force me into “second” or “third” shift, AND I have high hopes this means no more on-call. However. This also means the end of any flexible hours, and I suspect, the end of telework days, though that has not been confirmed. So, I have been looking at getting a new job (yes, even more so than for them putting me on-call). But God hasn’t given me any clear guidance on that and I’m trying to use wisdom. I did have a thought the other day though. I was talking to God about how much I hate going into work, and how I know I am far too ungrateful about this amazingly well-paid job He gave me and asked Him to please help me with an attitude adjustment. Now, this isn’t anything new. I’ve talked to Him about it before. Thought about it before. Known quite well my fleshly issues in this regard. But this was interesting because, the thought flashed through my head, “You have figured out how little you have to do in your job to still do your job. Why don’t you figure out how MUCH you can do?” I thought that was actually a pretty cool way to look at it. So I’ve been attempting that the last few days at work, and, not saying it’s going to last, but so far I’ve been much happier mentally, even if I don’t have time to do everything I actually want to. I mean, all these analysis items have been occurring to me that I could work on, thereby furthering my experience and expertise AND having fun doing it – And I haven’t been able to yet because I am doing three jobs because both my coworkers are out, but just the attempt to do AS MUCH as I can at work instead of AS LITTLE has, I feel, just helped me feel better about myself as both a person and a Christian. I still think God has plans for me to move on shortly. But until then, I’m going to try and remain grateful for what He has given me and give it my all.

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For anyone else doing NaNo, you can tell it isn’t going super well. Weirdly, I seem to be a little behind on the 43,000 words I am supposed to be at . . .but for how many days I have skipped writing, this actually isn’t that awful. And, I know I should just be laughing at myself right now, but I”m still going to try. . .. I think. 😛

I have had a couple great writing nights. My friend, who is doing this with me, came up with an awesome game that combines Hallmark movies, wine, and writing. A drinking game, if you will, but without doing actual shots so we can still write. She came up with this very impressive list of items that dictate when you get to take a sip of your drink and write words. So, you start that Hallmark movie, and then you watch for the cliches. For instance, every time it snows, you take a sip and write 10 words. Every time someone has a deadline by Christmas, you take a sip and write 25 words. Every time someone goes Christmas tree shopping, you take a sip and write 50 words. Every time someone overhears part of a conversation and misinterprets it, you take as sip and write 100 words. Every time you spot a common overarching theme, such as pretend boy/girlfriends, you take a sip, set a timer and write for 10 minutes. You get the idea. Obviously those aren’t the only criteria. The guidelines are 2 pages long. But, I”m sure you will be shocked to hear that in the course of watching one Hallmark Christmas movie, we generally get a minimum of 1,000 words done. Maybe I should just do that from now until the end of the month . . .

Anyway, I”m mostly checking in here to let anyone struggling with the last pages of their novel know about this awesome way of getting word count in and to let those who are struggling to get past the first HALF of their novel know that they are not alone.

Good luck, NaNoers!

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NaNo (10,280) and Life

I have gotten little done for NaNo, though I have every intention of catching up at some point. It’s always hard when you have visitors. I once again don’t like what’s happening in my story, but rather than rewrite it, I’ve decided  to make my character a little older and see if that helps fix it – without actually going back and changing the beginning, since the whole point of NaNo is to just write, and if i get caught up re-writing, I’ll never get done.

It’s a beautiful day today. In the 60s, and our first day playing Christmas music. Playing Christmas music, with windows open, while baking, seems rather odd, not going to lie. But also nice. I would positively be enjoying today, if I wasn’t dreading this week so much.

My company is doing an critical infrastructure exercise this week, which means longer hours, and a lot of work that I am not confident I can do well. For those of you who have been following me for awhile, you know that I did exercises for 4 years. So, what’s the big deal? Well, this is the first time I”ll actually be participating in the exercise rather than running it. I mean, our company is running most of it, but my team personally is mostly just participating, so I’m very unhappy about it. I’d rather be in control telling others what to do. Ha – does that sound like an Enneagram One, or what?

Anyway, I just finished making a cake for work tomorrow that did not rise and tastes funny, so Daniel and his mom went to the store to get a couple ingredients for me to try again. So I am taking a few minutes to sit on the porch with a light shawl, take turns writing this, and staring out into the beautiful weather and try to tamp down this feeling of dismay within me that is impacting what should be a great day.

Just to ramble a little more in my effort to figure this out. I think I am dreading this week, yes, but also we have not a single free weekend between now and New Year’s, and we are starting house-hunting next weekend, and I have three more trips (two personal, one business) between now and New Years, and we just found out our car needs like $3,000 worth of repairs (it’s worth $1500), so I am sure all that is also impacting my mood. I suppose it could also be a lack of introvert time.

I’m so glad I went on that cruise, though. Can you imagine if I’d gone directly from work trips and finishing school to regular workdays without a break that involved sunshine, water, and best friends? I’d probably be an emotional wreck instead of just internally frustrated at my calendar.

And now I’m going to stop using this like a journal and just say – good luck to all you Nano-ers! I hope you are further along than me!

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NaNoWriMo Day 8

As you may already know from our Ingleside blog, my friend and I started NaNo off right this year – with a 3-day cruise! That’s right! And, while the first day we wrote all of 500 words, we more than made up for it the second day, and were well on track by the time we went back home.

Of course, then life interferes, and now I am behind again. The fact that my mother-in-law is currently visiting may be impacting that as well. I am at just under 9,000 words so far – which means I am, what, like 2600ish behind if I assume I write everything I need to today (big assumption?). Definitely could be worse!

For the record, I am attempting to write another sappy romance, and it isn’t going super well. I’ve already had to start over once because my brain is so determined these are going to be serious books, despite the setting being a cruise ship. Can someone please have a talk with my characters and tell them to get back in line?

But I am pressing through with my second attempt and seeing if I can restore it to a light-hearted tone (not going well) because I don’t want to start over again. I just need to remember the art of writing-without-thinking. Not an easy task. They should give out awards for that.

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