Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Spiritual Plan for Summer

I want to focus more on Jesus here. After all, the whole point of starting this blog was to pursue a more joyful attitude, and what better way to be joyful than to talk about my Savior?

Reality is doing a summer series on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We're three weeks in (out of 12), and it is already rocking my world. One thing that Britt encouraged everyone to do at the beginning of this series was to make a spiritual plan for the summer. He said, "If you don't have a spiritual plan, you can be sure you will accomplish nothing."

Ouch. But really, he's so right. After last fall's women's retreat, I was so excited about Jesus! I had just started reading Abide in Christ, and I was diligent about reading it (along with my Bible) almost daily until I finished it. I figured I would take a week or so to ruminate on what I'd learned from that book, and then start on another one I had also gotten during the retreat. Fast forward to today (eight months later) -- I never picked up that other book, and I've rarely picked up my Bible except during church or my weekly ladies' Bible study. My lack of a "spiritual plan" this year has definitely been felt.

So I know I need to be a lot more intentional about my walk with Jesus. I'm going to start by reading a book called Hearing God, which I have started and abandoned at least three times in the past several years. It's about time I finish it.

I'm also going to start working on memorizing the book of Philippians. My goal is to have at least the first chapter memorized by the end of this 12-week series at Reality. (My ultimate goal, which is on my Thirty Before 30 list, is to memorize the whole book by April 2015.)

I just really want to get back into a daily rhythm of waking up and giving my first thoughts to God. I want to grow and be fruitful, and I know that won't happen without intentional action on my part.

Another thing I'm really excited about is revamping my ladies' Bible study. Lately it's been kind of scattered and inconsistent, and the other day I felt God urging me to pursue a more structured gathering. So in the fall (probably right around the time that the summer series ends), we'll begin a study called Stuck by Jennie Allen. I'm so looking forward to this new endeavor, and I can't wait to dig into it with a few amazing women of God.

I have this wooden plaque on the wall in my bedroom with 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NLT) on it. It's something I really want to embody - a joyful spirit in Christ. But on its own, this verse sometimes feels like an impossible command. Yet when I read it along with the next three verses (in the HCSB), I get a glimpse at how I can be that joyful person:

16 Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Don’t stifle the Spirit.

It takes continual prayer and thanksgiving, and a deliberate choice to allow the Spirit to move in me. 

So in a nutshell, my spiritual plan for this summer is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19.



Give thanks. 

Don't stifle the Spirit.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fifteen Ways Joe and I Are Different

Inspired by PW, here are 15 ways Joe and I are different from each other.

  1. He likes to sleep in on our days off.
    I get up fairly early on our days off. (According to Joe, I hate sleep.)

  2. He drinks coffee, with lots of add-ins to make it taste NOT like coffee. (He prefers Starbucks.)
    I drink tea with milk and honey. (I prefer Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.)

  3. He believes dessert should have no nutritional value whatsoever. ("Fruit is not dessert!")
    I love desserts with fruit on/in them!

  4. He never dog-ears, highlights/underlines/writes in, or bends back the spine of a book.
    I do all of the above.

  5. He excels in math and computery stuff.
    I excel in English (and therefore feel justified in making up words like "computery").

  6. He loves sushi.
    I hate sushi with a fiery passion.

  7. He hates potatoes unless they are covered in ketchup (in which case he considers them merely a mode of transportation for the ketchup to get into his mouth).
    I love potatoes and almost never use ketchup.

  8. He keeps his email inbox organized and never has more than a few "unread" messages.
    My inbox is a hot mess. (No, seriously.)

  9. He farts really loudly, but usually they don't smell. (The same cannot be said of his "number twos.")
    I am queen of the SBD.

  10. He loves cold, fog, rain, and wind.
    I would rather fry in 105 degree heat.

  11. He drinks single malt whiskey.
    I drink wine, tequila, rum, beer...and single malt whiskey.

  12. He doesn't like Mexican food. (Well, mainly he doesn't like beans and rice, which come with just about anything you order at a Mexican restaurant.)
    I love Mexican food. (And beans and rice.)

  13. He grew up in a Foursquare church.
    I grew up Baptist, and later non-denominational.

  14. He hates hiking (unless we're in Scotland).
    I love hiking (especially in Scotland).

  15. He has never had a protective case for a cell phone, and has never dropped one or cracked the screen.
    I have ALWAYS had protective cases for my phones, because I drop them all the time. I've still managed to crack two screens.

And despite all these differences, we are still the best match for each other. We're better together than apart, and we have plenty of similarities, too. Life is way more interesting and exciting when you get to spend it with someone so different from yourself!

Saturday, June 15, 2013


As if I needed ANOTHER form of fitness to become obsessed with...I bought a Groupon for ten classes at a new place in town called Airobic Fitness -- that's TRAMPOLINE fitness, you guys!

This is how I felt after class. Awesome and silly!

I went to my first class this morning and have decided a few things:

  1. This is a really fun way to burn calories and even get some strength training in!
  2. The guy who taught the first class reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite -- pretty awkward, but also pretty cool in his own way.
  3. I am fairly certain that by the time I finish my ten classes, I will be able to teach this class...and I may want to!
  4. This is not going to help me sort out All The Things. But I'm feeling a little less "Ack! Help! Waaa!" about it, so...good?
I could write a lot more about this, but I've got All The Things happening today, so it's time to shower and get on with the next one!

Friday, June 7, 2013

All The Things

I have a lot of interests, hobbies, passions, activities, responsibilities, obligations, plans, dreams, aspirations, goals...let's keep it simple and just call them Things.

Like, seriously, I have a LOT. of. Things.

And I know I'm not the only person who struggles with finding a balance between all their Things. But sometimes I feel like maybe I have too many Things and I should eliminate some of them from the Things Database altogether. (Or, as I mentioned to Amy the other day, maybe I should create some sort of rotation for my Things, where I can focus on a few of them for three months, then switch it up to some others the next three months, and so on. Except obviously that's silly because Things don't just let you put them neatly in a corner to wait until you're ready for them again.)

Let me just give you an idea of how many Things I have (though I'm sure I will forget at least five Things that are equally as important or exciting or unavoidable as these):

hiking marriage book clubs
spinning work singing
group fitness social life baking
martial arts cooking wine tasting
running jewelry making movies
crocheting cleaning concerts
reading games sleeping
small group blogging exploring Santa Barbara
Bible study reading blogs learning Romanian
quiet time/devotions volunteering dancing
church teaching spin crafts/DIY projects

Lately I have been realizing that I REALLY do not have my Things prioritized very well. (For starters, I didn't even include "watching shows on Hulu" in that list, and I do an embarrassing amount of Huluing.)

But here's what happens:

  • I realize I haven't done Thing X in a long time and think, "Boy, I should get back into that soon."
  • I wonder where in my schedule I could possibly fit Thing X without either losing my mind or losing out on some other Thing I'm currently immersed in.
  • I think, "The obvious first step is to stop watching Hulu shows (duh), but somewhere in my schedule I do need some form of downtime, don't I? So what's really so wrong with keeping up with a few shows?"
  • I try in vain to squeeze Thing X in with all my other current Things.
  • Certain Things start falling to the wayside, usually starting with sleep, or devotions, or cleaning.
  • I get frustrated, and I pull back from a whole mess of Things at once and just curl up in my little shell and do stuff that takes little to no effort or interaction, like reading or watching Gilmore Girls on DVD for the umpteenth time.
  • Eventually I start adding Things back in, but I never really manage to figure out a better system, so this cycle just keeps repeating itself.

I don't want to just drop some Things all together, forever. Like, I really do want to teach spinning classes someday, despite the fact that I have only attended a few classes this year and have not made any efforts to get in some practice time as the pretend instructor. And I really do want to go to martial arts more regularly and go up a few belt levels. But can I do both of those Things, realistically? Ever? (And I don't even wanna start talking about how much money I pay for TWO gym memberships, neither of which gets used enough to justify even having ONE of them.)

Can I be passionate about hiking, spinning, martial arts, group fitness, dancing, and running all at once? I know that the most logical answer to that question is, "Of course not - you're not superhuman."

But I am passionate about all of those Things, and those are just the fitness-related ones.

I remember my college pastor once saying something about asking God for a bigger plate when you felt like you had too much on it, but what does that even mean?

All I know is, I have a lot of passions and I can't keep up with all of them. And whatever I am doing now is not really working, because there will always be a chunk of Things that I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job at maintaining. Namely, lately, I feel like I'm letting a lot of stuff take priority over me and Joe, and he should be my number one Thing!

Step Zero has already been accomplished, which was to quit the snooze button. At least now I am no longer in a habit of setting an alarm too early and wasting the first hour of my day fitfully snoozing, which inevitably would lead to lacking energy for the entire day. So, progress! I guess?

Step One is obvious: Quit Hulu or at least reduce it down to like two shows a week.

Step Two is what I haven't quite figured out yet. Should I map out my entire schedule for the week/month, allocating time to each Thing and forcing myself to stick to this rigid system until it starts to happen more naturally? I mean, to some extent I have been trying to do this. I maintain my schedule using Google calendar (which syncs with my phone), and it is WAY more organized than it ever has been before. (It's even color-coded.) But how extreme would this system need to be? And would it take the joy out of all my fun Things?


For the record, this is one of about 37 blog topics that have been floating around in my head lately.  Theoretically getting one post written may help me get on a roll with writing a lot more of the others, but we'll see. I have been having some headaches lately, and I don't know if it'll help to write more and get everything out of my brain, or if it'll hurt more because SQUINTING AT SCREENS and ANALYZING EVERYTHING TO DEATH and stuff.

Funny thing is, I remember not too long ago when I felt like I had basically no serious passions or interests in life and was all, "What is my purpose? What am I doing with my life? Why am I so lame?" And now I feel pretty awesome in a lot of ways; I'm confident in who I am (most of the time), I have some amazing friendships, and I've accomplished a few great things recently. But did the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction? Is this a case of "Be careful what you wish for"? Or is there an answer that will let me keep doing all (or even most) of the Things?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zoo Brew!

Last Saturday, I went to a ridiculously fun event in Santa Barbara called Zoo Brew.  It's a fundraiser for the Santa Barbara Zoo, which is privately funded and therefore survives because of community support and events like this. So what the heck is Zoo Brew, you ask?

It's an annual event where 20+ breweries from the area show up to provide tastings of their (mostly) delicious ales. You get a commemorative tasting glass, unlimited samples, and "special animal encounters." (Unless you count the employee dressed in a giant giraffe costume, I'm not sure what they meant by "special animal encounters"...)

Anyway, tickets for this event sell out literally the day they go on sale, so I was really glad that Michelle reminded me to get mine, or I would have missed out on all the fun. I definitely hope to make this a yearly tradition as long as I live in Santa Barbara. It was just...SO...stinking...FUN!

I'll let the pictures (and captions) tell the rest of the story.
Here's our group! Ethan, Anna, Chelsea, Michelle and me!

EVERYONE had some variation of a pretzel necklace (I guess we missed THAT
memo), but this guy's made me happy because it had beef jerky strung on it, too!
That's what I'm pointing at, although you can't tell from the angle of the photo.)

We found some co-workers (like D on the left) and also met some complete
strangers (like the guy on the right). The great thing was, everyone we met
acted like old friends!

Another co-worker (A in the blue shirt) found the fabled penguin, so of
course we had to get photographic evidence of that encounter!

The penguin wasn't the only zoo animal we met! Ethan was super stoked to meet
this giraffe. (Please note Ethan's kindred T-shirt.)

Michelle and I found this wild meerkat! (Which apparently got mistaken for an
otter by a lot of people. Really?)

Gator AND Bill Murray in one shot! YES.

Moose! And I think the girl in stripes had a tiger hat?

And the official "special animal encounter" -- a "real life" GIRAFFE!
Yep, we were excited about this one.

Then there was this dude with a thousand cats on his shirt.

And what event would be complete without a Charlie Sheen T-shirt?

Did I mention that almost every one of these pictures with random people
in animal costumes/attire came about by me walking right up and shouting,

Cuz, yeah. That's basically what happened.

And no one ever denied us the chance to take photos with random strangers!
(Except the police detail that was there keeping the peace. They said no thanks.)

Only at Zoo Brew can you wear a shirt with a cow on it and make instant
friends with everyone around you.

Eventually I discovered that the zoo was selling pretzel necklaces.
GENIUS! Obviously this happened.

But before that, I did manage to make friends with a guy wearing lederhosen
who gave me one of his big pretzels.

And to commemorate our first (but SO not last) Zoo Brew, Michelle and I
got matching hats! (On the back, they say, "Drink Beer. Save Wildlife.")

So. Much. Fun.

Next year I'll try to rope Joe into coming along! Maybe he'll wear a full-body costume just to avoid getting a sunburn. (Har har.)