Monday, January 26, 2015

My Yes and No List for 2015 + What Fires Me Up + My Word for 2015

Ok, ok...normally I only blog about once per week, but I'm home today with a fever, and feeling super inspired by other people's blogs, photography, Pinterest, and so forth. So inspired! Plus...I'm trying this new thing where I don't worry about the approval of others. And if people scoff and think it's wrong that I wrote another blog post the-day-after I wrote a different one, well...I'm choosing to focus my energies and thoughts on things that give life, not destroy life.
Thought for the day: Isn't being you COOL? I mean, you are the only you that has ever existed + will ever exist. Ever. Growing up we see quotes and hear people say "Be yourself." But what does this mean? For me, it means to stop agreeing with everyone just to save face and instead assert my true opinion and make things messy. For me, it means to stop hiding parts of myself that I love about me!, like the fact that I love Taylor Swift... 
Victory in Jesus! He has made me victorious through him. And because of that, I have freedom in Christ to delight in how my heavenly father has crafted, molded, and shaped me. There are more things of course, but I love that I am finally embracing what it is like to be me and think for myself, to read articles or blogs with a critical mind instead of a sponge-ish mind that soaks it all in as find what educational philosophies work for me, even if they don't work for not feel ashamed of the passions and desires and dreams that God has given me, but to embrace them.

Here is a link to my Pinterest board of inspiration above. A lot of the pictures on this post are from it. I challenge you to create your own for yourself, or to even make a physical one in your classroom, office, bedroom, anywhere that you can see it and feel alive. One of Lara Casey's challenges was to create a pin board on Pinterest of things that motivate you, fire you up, stir your soul, bring you I did that today. And let me tell you. Every time I look at it I get energized, invigorated, and excited! 2015 is going to be a good year- and I say good meaning that it is good because GOD is good, and is for my good, even if that means God's definition of good is not our human definition of good.

This has been something I have been reflecting on for a few weeks, the idea that God's definition is different, and BETTER!, than our definition of the word "good." You often hear people tell others who have had good fortune or things come their way or a beautiful story "Wow! God is good." But you rarely hear someone telling a story of hardship or broken-heartedness or tragedy and hear someone say "Wow...God is good."

But the truth is, he is. God is constant and he never changes. He is good, forever. Even in the trial, the sadness, the brokenness. God is in the business of repairing and redeeming broken things. And, he uses the brokenness in our lives to teach us beautiful lessons that we wouldn't have been able to learn otherwise.

Moving on to my Yes + No List for 2015: I must say that when choosing things for these lists, as well as my list of things that fire me up!, I had to be really careful to weigh everything through truth and not just flippantly choose things. For example, I know that drinking an ice cold Coke on my way home from work is something I love doing and maybe could have made it in a list down there somewhere, but when I got to the core of it, I realized that Coke can symbolize my need for control, caffeine, release and relief. Reality?: I'm sometimes finding satisfaction in a fountain drink...and even though Cokes in and of themselves aren't bad or sinful, the way I was treating them and viewing them at times, well, was. So it did not make the list of things that fire me up because it is something that needs redeeming. I think we have to be careful about that. I think we have to really view everything with a mindful, thoughtful lens, because the next thing you know, someone could put on their "Yes" list that they are going to stop coming home every night to their spouse and go out with their friends to bars and raves, because it makes them feel alive...or smoke marijuana every day because it gives them a high. We have to weigh these things and think if they truly bring us life, joy, satisfaction. The answer is going to be no. Even good and healthy things, like exercise or adventure, can sneakily take the rightful throne of Jesus in our lives. So, as I reflected on each of the following pieces, I asked myself: do I view this as a gift and good thing that comes from the Lord, that he has given to me to enjoy? Or do I view it as mine, something I need apart from him? Asking myself this helped me to formulate my thoughts and sort through the rubbish to find the treasure.

My Yes + No List for 2015:
Here are the things I am saying YES! to in 2015:
-leaving school at a decent time, between 4-4:30, so that I can have enough time to beat the traffic, spend time with those I love, actually cook dinner, and have a life outside of engage in ministry, meet new neighbors, spend time with the Lord...the opportunities are endless here.
-working out after school with some coworkers that set up an after-school workout time when the new year began. I want to say yes to at least 1 day a week so that I can build friendships and workout with a group of people + do things I wouldn't do myself.
-yoga, yoga, yoga. I want to go at least 2 days per week. I love the energy it gives me and I view it as a gift from the Lord to get to pray to him as I meditate and take care of the body he has given me.
Namaste, my friends. This picture does so much in my heart. Andrew and I have talked a lot about adoption lately...our hearts have been stirring. We don't know what that means or if it ever will be, but just looking at this picture stirs it within me again. Other than adoption, this picture shows a smiling child in the midst of brokenness. True joy is not found in fleeting circumstances, but in the constancy of Christ.

-chronological Bible reading plan: I've never read the entire bible, nor have I ever been good at reading plans, so Andrew suggested to do this one together. We are still on target and are excited to study the word together.
-women's event planning at church. I have said yes to help plan our women's gatherings and our yearly retreat, and I have loved the beginning of this process.
-more family time. Our brother and sister have graciously pointed us towards this, and helped us recognize that our priorities have been off as far as how we spend our time with others. Even though we love our church family and our friends around us, our biological families will always be there with us throughout our lives, and it's important to invest in those relationships just as much, if not more, than with our church family and friends.
-a wall calendar that Andrew and I can physically see so that we can daily know our schedule and let our yes be yes when we make plans, instead of forgetting about them. Our phone calendar is out of sight/out of mind unless we open it up, and I just made a great photo calendar from Shutterfly that was on sale yesterday. Time to keep up with our schedule better!
-adventure! Andrew and I have decided that since the clock is ticking towards our future family growth, and as a way to invest in quality time in our marriage, we want to plan at least one adventure or fun activity per month this year that we do together that is more outside of the box that what we normally do. Next month, we are going to the ballet, and in March, we are going to see Stevie Wonder! When spring comes and the weather gets better, I know that we have more outdoor type adventures ahead of us: some things on my mind are camping (I've never done it!), hiking/mountain climbing, water rafting, and more. In June, we are going to Chicago with our friends Josh + Christin to explore the windy city we've never been to and to see U2 in concert.
-babies! We are saying yes to beginning to start a family in the year 2015. :) Whatever that looks like, we are putting it into the Lord's hands.
-paying off student loans. It has been 5 years since I graduated from TCU, and it's time to get these loans taken care of. Andrew and I have a plan now that he is back full-time at work to pay off debt aggressively, and we are excited to attack it before starting a family. We want to continue to be good stewards with what God has given us, and this is one way we can faithfully pay off debt that is owed while reflecting that our true eternal debt has been paid by Jesus.
-cooking more at home. Part of coming home at an earlier time is being able to cook more for Andrew and myself. We spend money on groceries but then the week escapes us and we end up throwing food away. We want to cook more at home to be healthier but also to be more responsible with our finances.
-being more intentional with writing letters & phone calls. I have an amazing mother who has always been a letter-writer. Her siblings and family are all letter/card senders, and my aunt Susie has always been a letter/card sender as well. I think that this is a beautiful practice that is escaping our generation, and I want to write at least 1 letter per month to the woman I am writing to who is in prison, as well as to 1 family member who is at a distance. I also want to make phone calls to the people I love who are far away, like my grandmother, cousins, aunts and uncles, and my old college friends. I called my friend Keri, a girl I was super close with in college, the other day on my way home from work, and we caught up for an hour. It was life giving and precious to talk with an old friend. I want to not just blast Taylor Swift on my way home but use that car time to invest in people's lives and maintain relationships.
-being a better aunt. I want to intentionally spend time one-on-one with my niece and nephew this year. I have always spent time with them and played with them when the whole family gets together, but last year when I got to teach them both private swimming lessons, it was so much fun to get to have that quality time with them! I want to invest more in those relationships, just like my aunts and uncles invested (and continue to invest) in me. Andrew and I hope to get to take them out for ice cream or to the mini-golf course or to a movie- just anything to build lasting bonds with Sami and Ben.
-blogging/writing/reading. It is so life giving to me to blog, write, and read, and to read other people's blogs and thoughts and books. I am saying yes to giving these things time in 2015.
-getting my lesson plans done during the week, and not on the weekends. This will save me time on the weekends to enjoy life outside of school and give more time to other things, and it will also help me feel more prepared for the week to come.

Here are some things I'm saying NO to in 2015:
-staying late at school. I'm just going to stop. Staying late feeds my need for perfectionism and control, things that are NOT life giving nor pleasing to the Lord. You have to start somewhere, and this past Friday, I cleaned and tidied up my classroom, sharpened pencils and picked up a little trash, organized my desk, plugged in iPads, and LEFT. at 4:00. No questions asked. I took my laptop and books with me and then lesson planned this afternoon for a couple of hours. I'm not saying that I want to always take work home with me- but driving home in horrible awful traffic around 5:30-6:00pm has been the death of me, and it has taken at least 45 minutes-an hour to get home. Not to mention, by that point I am overworked, overtired, and don't want to cook + go out with friends + counsel someone + anything. I am ready to just say NO to staying late everyday at school. I never am that productive anyway after school, and end up wasting a lot of time in between tasks. This will help me to pursue the Lord, my marriage, and relationships better, and will help me not feel a twinge of frustration towards my job.
-overcommitting ourselves during the week. Andrew and I want to say NO to having something on the schedule every single night. We are saying no to being over-busy and over-scheduled. We want time for ourselves/our marriage, for our family, and our friends- but in that order. The current order has been for friends/others, then ...not any of the others, really. And that's not how it should be. WE LOVE OUR FRIENDS! But, we need to be better about this.
-social media overload. I love Instagram, Twitter, and sometimes Facebook- but they can suck my time and life away. They can also feed my insecurities and make me feel like my life isn't good enough while comparing it to others. Not life giving! I have started to say NO to social media on the weekends, when I'm in the car with Andrew, or when I'm spending time with others. Just taking it out of my weekends has allowed me to spend the time I would have scrolling through newsfeeds and pictures to do other things, and it has also helped me break the habit of always opening up an app when I have a spare second.
-chasing perfectionism and control. All reasons explained in my post yesterday and in this post. It's time to stop chasing things that don't bring life and start chasing things that do.
(^Oh, do I love Ed!)
-needing the approval of others to feel secure. I want to get out of the habit of needing approval from my administration, or my students' parents, or my church leaders, or my family, in order to feel that I am doing a good job. I know that I am committed to the things I do and deeply passionate about them, and I want to truly live out the verse: "Everything you do, do it for the Lord, and not for man, for your reward is in heaven" (Col. 3:23).

Now, for the things that fire me up, that set my heart ablaze, that pour water on my thirsty soul:
-the thought that "Jesus is better"
-developing and molding the minds of young children
-the excitement of a science experiment
-long phone conversations with family + friends
-the seasons changing, and spring coming
-Andrew and I reading the word together
-praying for God to open and bless my womb, and the fruit within it
-the musical stylings of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran
-learning from my educator PLN on Twitter
-a good book, usually read in one sitting
-breathing through a good yoga class
-theological conversations with others, discovering things about Jesus together
-laughing and joking around with my sister, who is my best friend
-going on dates with Andrew, or cuddling up for an episode of Lost in our home
-waking up to the sun on the weekends
-going on walks and seeing friends + neighbors in Fairmount along the way
-swooning over my friends' babies, and getting to hold them or play with them and celebrate their sweet little lives
-coffee or tea dates with girlfriends, like my boba tea shop date with Bethany yesterday!
-encouraging notes or words from others, or giving those to others
-dancing, or watching others dance
-singing, or watching others sing
-texting a friend and them shooting you straight with love and truth
-a glass of red wine with Andrew or a good friend out on a patio somewhere

-the feeling of crying and desperation, and remembering that the ultimate healer is right there with you
All of the things above are good and beautiful gifts of life and love that God has given to me, and in each one of them I see glimpses of him- his creativity, his kindness, his mercy.
Do you know why I posted that picture right there? That my friends is a loggerhead sea turtle. Their mothers lay their eggs in the sand and bury them, and when they hatch they must fight for their life by running towards the ocean and making it into the water before a bird, animal, or other sea creature snatches them up. Out of several eggs, usually only 1-2 of these baby turtles make it.
They have to fight for their life.
This image is meaningful to me because I want to fight for my life, too, and to do that I need to chase things that bring life, and stop chasing things that don't bring life. I want to fight to be intentional with life, instead of just letting things happen out of habit. I want to make. things. happen.

What is your word for 2015? What would make your yes/no list for this year? Making these lists and reflecting on last year and focusing on what I want for this year has been so life-giving for me. I encourage you to do it, too!

On my next post, I will be thinking through some radical changes and goals I want to be making this year, as an educator, wife, sister, and friend. For now though, I am going to go read some of the book Andrew and I have to read for this weekend's church planting conference, and rest up so that I can go to school tomorrow. Happy Monday!

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