What I Wish You Knew About Me

Who Am I?

I am in a year of seeking to Belong. I want to belong in my own skin, I want to feel like I belong in Lebanon, I want to belong in my community. It may surprise some of you to know that I do not feel comfortable most of the time anywhere. I am a highly sensitive person, and noise, smell, and the general environment around me throw me off very quickly. I have been working very hard to modify sensory input for myself over the past two years as I have learned more about myself. I have learned that I cannot change these aspects of myself, and I am striving this year to find the beauty in the way God has created me rather than always praying I could be fixed.

This year I am in the process of taking out old dreams and dusting them off to see if God intended for them to be put away. Rather than live in regret, I am taking the time to unpack myself, get to know myself, and hopefully fall in love with myself.

moravian

Getting To Know Me

This past year I read a set of books on the History of the Moravian Church. My paternal family is Moravian, and growing up we were a part of the Christmas Love Feasts and whenever I was asked what denomination I was I would reply Moravian. Saying “nothing” sounded lame, and while I didn’t really know what it meant to be Moravian, I felt that it made me a part of something bigger to say Moravian. To claim a nondenominational church was to be a part of something much smaller. In my reading this set of books, I was thrilled to find so much commonality between my life and their history. Moravians are the founders of the 24/7 prayer movement, first missionaries to many areas of the world, and not bound by building their own churches, but rather intent on unity among denominations. These are all values I share. One of the pieces of the history that struck me was the Moravians created a textbook that was sent out to all Moravians which contained verses for daily meditation. This was a boon to the missionaries who could find comfort in the knowledge that they were reading the very same verses as their brethren in every other part of the world.

Bonhoeffer-Pastor Martyr Prophet Spy.jpgIn a biography I read this past year of Bonhoeffer I found, much to my delight, that Bonhoeffer also discovered these textbooks and he required all the students at his secret seminary Finkenwalde to practice meditation with them. As I set goals for myself to get to know myself, to be more intentional, to learn to pray as an intercessor again, I realized there were many aspects of what I wanted that did not have a measurable aspect or restriction of time. These are habits I want to grow in for the rest of my life. So, I bought myself that textbook, it is still published every year with verses from the heart of the Moravian Church, Herrnhut in Germany. They are called Moravian Daily Texts, and I get no stipend if you click through and order, but I would love to share this tradition with you. I am loving it. I am following Bonhoeffer’s plan of meditation using the Daily Texts as my verses each day as he did.

P.S. The amazing Bonhoeffer biography was called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas. You should definitely read it.

I Love Running

The second part of myself I am dusting off is running. I am a runner. I run from conflict and I ran in track in junior high. Last week I was waiting with Davy for the bus and was so cold I started to jog in place. It felt so nice, that when the bus pulled away with Davy inside, I decided to run home. So, I ran up our driveway and then up the stairs. I was exhilarated and happy, smiling, and ready to laugh out loud. Immediately I researched the couch to 5k plan and added it to my workout plan, which was to begin the very next day. I will be sharing more about this in the coming weeks as I establish it as a habit, and please feel free to join me as I work through the 9 weeks.

I am planning on running in a 5k in Tucson in September.

Lifelong Learner

There is always more to learn about our kids, friends, spouses, and selves. I am on a journey to do just that, and learn where I belong in it all. It is shaping up to be a great year.bonhoeffer-pastor-martyr-prophet-spy

 

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3 Ways I am Making Room for Abundance

Limiting Date Nights to Weekends

The first semester I was really loving my routine of Davy going to bed early, and having time to watch movies or play games with Louis late into the night. I would groggily wake up and get Davy on the bus and then go back to bed for several hours to make my 7 hours of sleep. This semester, though I am in a season of effective morning time, and I just can’t stay up all hours on school nights. So, my bed time is 8:30, right after the kids’ 8:00 bedtime.

I am missing the extra time with Louis, but everyone is benefiting from my good mood and the house being cleaner. For some of you reading this, you are not carving out a date night each week, so hearing that I had up to seven nights a week with Louis in our previous season may be surprising. We both knew that it was a routine not meant to last, but it might be something you want to try rather than lessening your time with your loved one.

Front Loading my Biggest Goals

Every year I make big, year spanning goals. My repeated goal of reading the entire Bible is the main one. This year I am looking ahead and recognizing that I have big things coming–starting a Masters program being the biggest. So, I am putting the goal of reading the entire Bible early on. I am spending my mornings reading large sections of Scripture, following a 90 day Bible Reading Plan. Yikes! Once I finish this, I will have the extra half hour to make changes in the next season of life.

My blog posts are slacking, so along with my goals for blogging, I have frontloaded this goal by creating a list of writing prompts and starting an accountability group to check in with me on whether or not I am writing. This will lead to having lots of content to edit and work with, and I can start building momentum from there.

Finally, I am starting (after I shake this terrible chest cold) my workout plan. The 90 Day Challenge with Bikini Body Mommy and the 9 week Couch to 5K combined will give me a big kickstart on my weight loss and health goals. Then I can reevaluate after the 90 days.

Carving out a Weekend

Louis and I are big proponents of guarding the Sabbath. We sit down each week and make sure that we have a day other than Sunday that we are taking as a Sabbath. Additionally, this year, we are not planning things on Sundays so that we have an entire extra day for flex, and we are doing the same for half of Saturday. Whereas Monday is Grocery Day, Tuesday—Arabic Class, Wednesday—Staff Meetings, Thursday—Skype Meetings, etc. Friday through Sunday do not get assignments or tasks to fulfill each week so that as stuff comes up we have space, but also to learn to say no. Friday is our go to Sabbath, and Saturday is half Home Project day, and Sunday is church. Other than those labels, nothing goes regularly on the calendar for those days.

So far this has not once meant we actually had those days off, but it has given us the space to say yes to things we would otherwise be too busy for.

Peace

In this season I am seeking peace and happiness, charging up for the coming work ahead. These three adjustments have been pivotal in my finding calm in my days and nights, and helping me be a better mom, wife, and a better me.

Merry Christmas

This is Day 11 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge!

Here are some pictures from our time with family and friends so far this holiday season:





This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence

My Take on BuJo (aka Bullet Journaling)

This is Day 10 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge!

BuJo aka Bullet Journaling

This year is marking the start of my calling what I do by the name everyone else is calling it. I have been effectively moving toward a bullet journal or using a bullet journal my whole life without calling it that. So, now I have succumbed to the trend, and I am calling what I do a bullet journal as well. Basically, a bullet journal takes the hundreds of journals, planners, calendars, notepads, scratchpads, etc. that I have scattered about and combines them all into one journal. Through a bit of organizational ingenuity I am able to keep everything in one place. I just started my newest bullet journal since finishing up my previous notebook as my practice starter. I took a bit of time to create a new table of contents like index, add in trackers for my goals for the year, book list, weight loss tracker, and a few other pages. I loved the calendar I wrote through the holiday so I am still bringing my previous notebook around opened to that calendar page, but by January 16th I will be fully into this new bullet journal.

Looking Back

There are quite a few pages that I would like to use in blogs, review and analyze, and make use of their ideas from my past notebooks. So one project I am going to be working on is to figure out an index for all my notebooks and sort of digitize the ones I want to have overseas with me. Once I realized I basically already bujo, it is fun to look back at notebooks through that lense and see them not as crazy messed up flittering thoughts, but to see that I can have basically all of who I was at that moment as best I could have written it then. It is quite fun.

Analog Archiving

Since we left my computer in Lebanon with its fried battery, so I can hopefully get a cheap new one for being a mobile student of Rutgers University this coming year (YAY!!! I got accepted this week!!!), I had already been moving to analog. Paper and pens. It is so much fun to sit outside with a notebook and fun, colorful pens and just write. I don’t write as fast I type, of course, but it gives me time to think and process, and see what I am thinking without the easy backspace to erase thoughts I don’t want to admit I have. Bullet journaling is so helpful in analog because I can have it with me whether I have internet or not, whether the electricity is working or not. I think I may need to invest in a booklight so I can write when it is dark, though. When I pin something on Pinterest there is a small chance I will actually go back and look at that pin and then follow through with doing the project. However, to take the time to write something down is a big step toward doing it. Being able to see it more often because it is right there on a page I am looking at repeatedly to reprioritize has also moved me into action. I have spent far less time on internet fluff since focusing in on my bullet journal, and it has allowed me to work out ideas that on a computer screen just seemed to push me into a sterile white corner of confusion.

Passion

Writing with my hands, feeling the muscles get sore, and watching the pen glide across the page has helped reawaken my passion for writing. I am also getting so excited to use the bullet journal to take notes on books that I am reading in my hands (now that I am in the States I am taking advantage of non ebook reading), and I am just really enjoying living out this traditionalism. I hope that this excitement roots itself deep inside me, and I plan to continue growing in my organizational habits as I add university classes to my daily life.

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence

The One Essential To My Holiday Meal Plans

This is Day 9 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge! All caught up! What I am learning through this challenge is how to set myself up for success. It isn’t always the time or the planning, it is sometimes just the environment. I can set aside the right amount of time and have my coffee and even be inspired to write. But my daughter had a tooth come in last night and fall over screaming in front of me while I began typing. No work could get done well! I am planning on creating a study space for myself by walking down the hill to the seminary so I can study and write every day when we get back to Lebanon, and right now I am taking the time to notice which distractions affect me. Noise, obviously, but also too many plans left up in the air. If I sit down to write and keep thinking about what I need to do, or what I wish Louis was doing, or how the kids are still awake and it is nap time, I can’t write anything. Finally, I am learning to take a deep breath, and just write. To put aside whatever worry, knowing that I am only going to take about half an hour to put out a post. This lesson is teaching me a discipline that other people have mastered, but now I am learning not to worry.

Holiday Dinner

What emotion rises in you when you hear that phrase? I have never been in charge of a holiday meal until I got married and volunteered, but my sister has often been in charge of cooking the holiday meals. This has had its highs and lows as any one of you who has been around holiday meal planning, shopping, cooking, and serving can relate to. When I got married, I wanted to help out with the meal more, so I have taken on a few meals here and there at the holidays. Since I am now enjoying cooking, and have gotten much better at arranging foods to all come out at the same time hot and ready to eat with a table already set, Davy and I have been planning to have our holiday meal tonight, on the 23rd. Davy is giving Louis’ parents two guest passes to take him to the Desert Museum, and we are serving up a fancy dinner.

Timing

How am I sitting here writing three blog posts in a row at noon if I need to be cooking? Because I opted out of the cooking portion. I looked at the traditional meal, and decided that rather than learn to make brisket, I would order from my favorite place, Famous Dave’s. So I get to sit and write blog posts, the kids get to play with their grandparents, and all the stress of cooking gets to happen in a different building. I am very excited, and would love to have pictures of the wonderful serving plates and bowls I bought to make the meal look fancy, but I get to finish this post hours before I even order the meal.

Family

As I shared earlier, I like to focus on the intentionality of traditions, and we want to focus on letting Davy give the gifts he has been so excited to have for his grandparents. We are going to focus on being together and talking and relaxing. I can have fun decorating with gold and blue and drinking coffee throughout. It is going to be a good, calm, family focused holiday for us this year beginning early!

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence

Outliers: A Book Review

This is Day 8 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge! Yesterday Louis and I went out to a hockey game and I completely forgot about it, so I didn’t get a chance to write. I am learning through this challenge about writing during times of great flex. I feel most relaxed to write well at night, but I need to prepare ahead of time to make the time to write late at night.

 

Outliers

 

 


This book is such a good book. When it first came out I was so excited to read it, but forced myself to wait until the month I had it in our budget to purchase a book online. I LOVED the book. The whole purpose is to look at success and to take apart the ideas that we hold to of there being these excellent people who come from nothing and have no help along the way. The book is excellent and worth reading, and in this short post I won’t be able to do it justice. For me it was wonderful to look at the different aspects of making excellence in the multiple case studies he shares about. The writing style is so easy to read and makes the statistics understandable while not sacrificing the numbers and purpse of data.

Greatness

I truly believe Louis, my husband, is meant to be great. So, for me reading this book was also helpful in looking at his life and how to support him. One of the main points the book makes about greatness is that it takes about 10,000 hours of real practice to become an expert at something. I began to think about what Louis spends hours and hours doing. Theological application is one that came to mind. Even before he became a Christian, my husband was thinking through those ethical dilemnas and working out religious problems. People is another one of Louis’ expertises. He has spent years studying the people around him. Malcolm Gladwell explains that to hit that 10,000 hours takes about 10 years, which is how Louis can be so good at these things at a young age.

Highly Recommended

As I said I can’t explain it all in this short post, but you should read the book for sure because it was an excellent and important book. As I am moving into the New Year and making goals and plans, I want to become a better me. I have great aspirations for creating a life for myself of independence and purpose. I want to move forward with focus and intentionality. I want to belong in my own skin. I want to love myself and learn to be happy. As I read Outliers I also spent time thinking about my own expertise. I have spent at least 10,000 hours reading. I was thinking about this and getting down on myself for not being better at English. But it occurred to me, that like the post earlier about never throwing out an idea, I have a vast web of connections through reading. I have learned about people, the way people think, and now use those ideas in my own writing.

I was able to look at a lot of things analytically through this book. The book taught me to read between the lines in any story of someone rising to greatness in order to see the help actually received along the way. No one can do it on their own. We all need community as well as passion. So exciting to think about.

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence

I Never Throw Anything Away

This is Day 7 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge! I know this post is 2 days late. Sometimes the best laid plans are just laid down and walked away from. The post isn’t as put together as I would like, but that is part of this challenge is to put a time limit and just write.

Holidays

When there is a holiday coming up we see all the blog posts and Pinterest walls start to fill up with traditions to incorporate for that holiday. I get excited about ways my kids can get involved in different holiday traditions, and we spend time thinking through how we can make our own family traditions in Lebanon or, if a holiday is shared between our two cultures, adopt a new tradition. I gather these ideas, and never throw one out.

Christmas Tree

One of the benefits of my never throwing out an idea is that I can keep a wide variety of opinions in my head. This allows me to see the lack of intentionality when making a tradition. If you ask people what decorations are essential to Christmas, many people will say a Christmas tree. Within some people who are in the know about the origin of the Christmas tree, you will have the follow up question, “So you celebrate Saturnalia?” Yes, the use of a Christmas tree stems from a pagan culture, and most of us don’t even think about it. So, on Pinterest boards and blog posts I will see people debate over whether or not we should change the tradition.

Intentions

As with everything I think that there is a great deal to be said for knowing the history of things, but also to having intentionality. We should not be making our parenting choices willy nilly. Nor should we be throwing judgments at other people. We can stand back and say, this Christmas tree thing sure does mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. We don’t have time travelers from the time of Saturnalia being the biggest holiday here to be offended by our gross commercialization of their holiday, so we need to make decisions for our own families with love and grace.

Santa

We decided early on that Santa and the Easter Bunny were just not tall tales we were going to focus on sharing with our kids. Davy is so emotionally invested in people that we knew it would be tragic for him to get into Santa, and then the next year for Santa to be a different person whose lap he sat on. He would notice. We don’t deny the existence of Santa, but share that he is a story and lots of people like to dress up as Santa in order to remind us of the story. I like to think my son is dressed like Jesus to remind us of the story there as well. There are stories that should be shared, and there being a man who wanted to give poor children gifts is an inspiration to us all. The desire to give our families and friends gifts is a good desire. And for many parents who live consistent lives in the same home and can keep the illusion of Santa truly coming to their house, good for them. It doesn’t work for us, but we are holding onto all the ideas for traditions with or without Santa anyway.

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence