the post that started out serious and ended silly

I would have made it to church tonight if we had started Duncan’s algebra final at 5:30 instead of 6:00.  Because it is an online class, once you start a test you cannot exit until you are finished.  He did the test, I checked it and he made a couple of corrections before submitting it–right at 8:00.  I’m glad he’s finished, and am proud of his A, but rather bummed that I missed mass tonight.

I don’t write often about mass.  I write about observing the sabbath, going to church, lunch with our small group, etc.  But I’m realizing I don’t write much about being Catholic.  For a while I’ve had a the desire to do an in depth study of church doctrine and history.  Perhaps I can write about the things I am learning during my studies.  My husband is a historical guru–of both church and non-church events.  He pours through thick books about the reformation and fathers of the early church.  He reads page after page of historical biographies.  I’m thinking I need to add a little depth to my reading time.

Because I don’t actually know who reads this, maybe I should try to clarify my denominational status.  And maybe that should be saved for another post.  A post dedicated to my testimony of my Christian faith.  Yes. That sounds good.  For another night.  This week.  I promise.  (I think.)

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I’m considering my goals/resolutions for the new year.  I will certainly be addressing the amount of time I spend opposite a screen of any kind.  I will also be addressing the amount of time I spend at the gym (and will even be practicing that one a bit in the next couple of weeks).  I will have goals in other areas, too–nutrition, spiritual, intellectual, social.  What are you planning to accomplish in 2011?

————————in other news—————————–

I need do to a bit of work to prepare for my last three days of teaching before Christmas break.  We’re going to have a birthday party for Jesus!  I’m picturing frosting, sprinkles and Christmas carols with preschoolers.  Fun! On one hand, I can hardly believe we are this far into the school year.  On the other, I can certainly see progress in my little ones–making eye contact and smiling, taking independent steps, talking, following directions, drinking from a straw cup–I’m so proud!

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I haven’t done laundry this weekend, yet.  It’s probably necessary unless I’m going to teach class in a bridesmaid dress tomorrow.

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I haven’t finished Christmas shopping, yet.  It’s probably necessary unless I’m going to give away my bridesmaid dresses as gifts.

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I really do own things other than bridesmaid dresses.

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I have shoes that match.

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I’m signing off now to eat a roll and drink some diet coke while I make some lists.  And maybe a phone call or two.




Sometimes, what’s missing


 from the picture

 makes all the difference.

 And there you have my evidence of my non-restful Sabbath.  I don’t have any before pictures to show you, but to illustrate how different the room looks I’ll give you two quotes from my stepsons.

Duncan: The living room looks weird.
(His answer when I asked if he’d noticed that I did some work yesterday afternoon.)

Riley: Is somebody coming over?
(His reaction when he got home from football practice today.)

Here’s to making this our new normal!

Disclaimer: I didn’t work all that hard on Sunday.  Need evidence?  I did zero laundry, my kitchen is still a mess and the bathtub could use a good scrubbing.

But the living room…ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

New habits

I vaguely recall saying that this week was supposed to be back to normal.  If that’s the case, I’m changing normal, setting new priorities, and holding myself accountable.  I am writing this on Sunday afternoon, just after two o’clock.  We have just arrived home from church.  In this case, Sunday School, church, lunch and the grocery store.  We need to leave in about two hours to head back to church. And in that case, mass, youth mission trip meeting and a new class about theology.  

For the most part, I blog about things happening in my life for a few reasons:  1) to keep a record of what this chapter of life looks like 2) to communicate to my friends and family (and strangers) the details of my life 3) to reflect and live with purpose and sometimes even 4) to entertain my small (but growing!) blog audience.  I think this post is mostly to record my reflections and also to share what I’ve learned and how I’m making adjustments.

Today is reminding me how much I crave a quiet and peaceful Sunday.  I will promise again to write soon about the two churches I attend, but for now you should just remember that I do attend two churches.  We are part of a Sunday school class at one church, attend services at both churches, and are considering attending an additional class on Sunday nights.  Sometimes that seems like a lot of church.  Honestly, it’s tempting to talk ourselves out of one or the other at times.  Especially on a day like today, with only a little down time at home before it’s time to go back again.  Which is exactly why I want Sundays reserved for the Lord…no grocery shopping, no lesson planning or goal writing, no errands or major cleaning.  When I have the mindset of Sunday being a day for the Lord, it’s not nearly as tempting skip a class or a service or a meeting.

To understand how I got to where I am on this particular Sunday, we’ll have to back up a few days.  I really did work my tail off the week before last on that silly half million dollars thing.  So I went into this week intending pretending to be back in a normal routine.  And then, I went right ahead and scheduled two events for Tuesday after work, one for Wednesday after work, at home Thursday night but cooked dinner for the whole family plus the mother-in-law, and one more event for Friday after work.  Oh yeah, and somewhere in there I stayed up until 2am because I thought I should get some additional work done.  I totally enjoyed my week—don’t get me wrong.  I attended mass in support of a former co-worker, I enjoyed chopsticks and fellowship, I chatted and ate with a new friend, I sat at the table with a bunch of Zerbe men and a grandma, and I snuggled a niece.  And that 2am night?  I didn’t really start working until after midnight, because I chatted with my husband about lots of heavy stuff until then.  So really, tons of fun stuff…just not so much a normal routine again.

Which led to yesterday– after sleeping about 11 hours on Friday night, I still felt wiped out on Saturday.  I managed to take several naps throughout the day (in between loads of laundry, of course) and even went to bed before 11pm.  And that’s all I did.  No grocery shopping, housecleaning, lesson planning, goal writing etc.  Just recovering.   Well, the laundry was no small task, it was simply the only task.
So Sunday became the grocery store day, and the lesson plan and goal writing day—with a dose of temptation to skip mass and theology class tonight.  But I’m not going to do it.  We’re pushing through the day, accomplishing the necessary tasks, and getting a good (not guilty feeling) start to the week.

And my commitments to this week ahead?
-Be in bed every night by 9pm. The goal of being in bed by 9pm makes it pretty likely that I’ll meet my actual goal of being asleep by 10pm.
-Wake up every morning at 5am. I do enjoy having a quiet morning before I start my day.  Waking at 5am means I can take the first shower, I have time for breakfast and time to pack lunch.  I also have time to empty the dishwasher and fold laundry.  I can also leave early for work.
-Go to the gym 4 times. It has to be scheduled or it doesn’t happen.  Between 5 different school schedules, sharing a car with my husband and adding in extra activities it has taken this long into a new school year to feel like I can set a realistic work-out schedule.  This week it seems possible to go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday and Saturday.
-Eat a healthy breakfast and pack a healthy lunch each day. Historically, I eat healthier when I’m working out.  There’s just something about sweating on an elliptical for an hour and then eating McDonald’s that just doesn’t feel right.  Plus, I cringe to think about number (or lack) of servings of fruits and vegetables I had last week.
-Leave work at 4pm each day.  This might be tricky, but it’s possible.  I’ve seen it done!  I have more planning time than any public school teacher I know.  But, I also do more individualizing than any public school teacher I know.  And still, there is always more that can be done.  This week, I am going to work hard to use my time wisely.  I will likely be at work early some mornings and I am willing to work through my lunch break in order to complete my tasks and be ready to leave at 4pm.  At some point, (soon I hope!) this will be necessary in order to be a good mom to the kids we want to adopt.  Now is as good a time as any to practice for that day.
-Spend every evening at home.  This is not a realistic expectation for every week, but it’s one I am committed to this week.  After being gone nearly every night for the past two weeks, I know I need to devote some time to home.  I also am looking ahead to the following week when I’ll have my out-of-state siblings in town and will want to be free to spend my evenings with them.

And there you have it.  I’m excited about the commitments I’m making.  I’m hopeful to have some writing time during the week, but I certainly look forward to writing about the restful Sunday I will be enjoying just one week from today.

Edited to add:  I actually wrote this post on Sunday afternoon.  I am actually posting it on Sunday night.  Yes, it is past 9pm.  Yes, I know that was one of my new habits for the week.  However, I did finish all my LLH paperwork and I didn’t play on the internet all day.  AND, I’m fairly sure I’ll be asleep by 10ish.


Tomorrow I start my 12th year of teaching, which is actually pretty unbelievable.  I’m so blessed to be doing what I do, but seriously I thought I’d probably teach one or two years.  Then, I’d get married have babies and live happily ever after…in California.  Yep.  That’s what I thought.  I’m so glad God guided my path in this unexpected direction.  It’s been nice.

A new school year brings about resolutions, just like a new calendar year.  Those of us in education get sort of mid-year do over as far as setting resolutions goes.  As is classic for me, tomorrow begins my new school year and I do have great intentions of purposely planning some new habits.  I haven’t exactly formulted all of those habits yet, but I will.  By next week.  Or so.

One resolution I am sure of is a renewed promise to myself to observe the Sabbath.  I’ve touched on this subject a couple of times in past writings, and have made little victories in creating my day of rest.  I’m looking forward to forming some life changing habits.

We’ve done a pretty good job of keeping our home clean and mostly clutter free for the past several weeks.  It really does feel better when things look better.  I had a few small-ish projects I wanted to accomplish during my break and decided to tackle one of them this past Wednesday night.  The night part was probably my first mistake.  Although I’m generally more of a night person than a morning person, emptying the hall closet at 9:00 pm probably wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had. 

And so it sat for the next three days.  I had gone from a clean house I was proud of, to a coffee table and two couches covered with randomness.  Oh, I picked at it here and there.  I wondered if bug spray expires and if newspaper clippings from 1997 were seriously worth keeping.  I didn’t want to just throw things back in there without organizing and evaluating…that was the whole point of the project.

But last night, I did it.  I finished going through everything and putting it all back into the closet.  Well, not all of it, of course.  Some things were trashed forever:  hair products that never really worked; some things were consolidated: my niece’s craft materials squished into one small container rather than a half filled large one; others relocated to separate area of the house: my bath salts to the bathroom (genius!) and still others in a pile ready to leave the house: including a three hole punch and my old straightener.

The closet’s not perfect, but at least I know what is in there and where to find it.

This is all to say that I was determined to finish the job before Sunday.  I also cleaned my kitchen and cooked 4 pounds of ground turkey.  I put in the hard work on Saturday (and to be honest, the early hours of Sunday) in order to have a restful day today.  It’s obviously not very realistic to think I will do no work on Sundays, but I am looking forward to days that are relaxing and refreshing rather than hurried and stressful.  This morning, I got up first to take a bath.  When the others were getting ready, I put lunch in the crockpot.  We went to the early service at church and came home after Sunday School.  It took me about 40 minutes to finish lunch.  The five of us sat at the table together for the first time this week.  I’m looking forward to regular schedules and dinners together as the school year gets underway.

Because I started with a clean kitchen, it was easy to keep up with dishes as I was cooking.  It was no big deal to clean up after lunch, and as I sit here typing I hear the magical sound of the dishwasher running.  Ahhh.

I’ll spend the afternoon lying in my bed or sitting on the couch.  I’ll do some blog reading and perhaps more blog writing.  I’ll think about my other resolutions.  I might even look at my curriculum book.  It’s not really working if it’s what I choose to do on this hot summer day.  We’ll have a family cookout at my sister-in-law’s house tonight and spend a little more time with the Lord this evening.  It is after all, His day.

while you’ve been waiting

Thank you to the dozen or so readers that have stopped by my blog each day during the last week.  I didn’t mean to neglect you.  It just happened.  Well, LOTS happened…

–the little sister had a baby girl, calling for 4 hours of driving to spend a little over an hour gazing at her beauty, in the middle of the cleaning frenzy*
–the house did get cleaned (mostly) and assessed (successfully)*
–an end of the year video was created and milestones were celebrated*
–sleeping less than 4 hours on a Tuesday night required sleeping many hours on a Wednesday evening
–followed by a nearly 14 hour workday on Thursday (LLH parent meeting=laughing with coworkers at the front desk)
–the littlest sister went into labor Thursday night and pleasantly shortened my workday on Friday with the meeting of yet another niece*
–game night occurred with MUCH laughter
–delivered 3 roses to the newest girl in the family*
–spent a couple of hours at work on Saturday morning making up for the hours I spent in the waiting room on Friday
–picked up stinky boys, backpacks and bibles from church camp
–changed a tiny diaper on my couch (well, on my niece on my couch)
–got teary in church thinking about the people who do back to school shopping for kids without families*
–talked excitedly about some girls I have never met*
–celebrated a friend’s continued successful pregnancy*
–crossed my fingers as I threw a bunch of stuff into the crockpot
–read from Colossians at church, substituted the word worship for stewardship on accident
–stayed up ridiculously late on a school night
–started my last week of school, minus a boy on his way to Shreveport but plus a girl home from Memphis*
–taught all about the letter P: pajamas, pancakes, puppet show, pink paper Ps with purple polka dots, polka music, pizza, pink lemonade, playing, praise & worship, prayers
–napped on the couch, ate dinner cooked by the husband

*things I should elaborate on.  soon.  ish.

I’ve been to China twice in the past 4 months and have yet to share much about it.  I hope to do a series of posts and create a video to really share what we did.  In the meantime, I will share small pieces of China via photos at the end of my posts.

This picture:  I took it in China in June to remind me to pray for the orphans that sleep on these sheets at night.


I wouldn’t say I did a great job of observing the sabbath, but I certainly had a day of rest.  In fact, I’ve had about 3 days of rest.  Oh, I’ve done a few minor things around the house but nothing of any real substance.  While my body is in the habit of waking up for work, I’ve managed to train it to get a good nap in each day that I’ve been off work.  Today was no exception.  We went to Sunday school and the late service.  The scripture we studied in class was from 1 Samuel and it was about how Saul wasn’t patient enough to wait for Samuel and he took matters into his own hands.  Really good scripture (isn’t it all?)  and teaching about being patient and trusting God when you are making decisions.  Our pastor, Deron, is starting a new series and today he talked about the fruits of the spirit.  He made the point that the group of 9 can be divided into 3’s…love, joy and peace–deal with your relationship with God; patience, kindness and goodness–deal with your relationship with others; faithfulness, gentleness and self-control–deal with your own self.  He also reminded us that all the fruits are for all Christians, that they come from the Holy Spirit not from any worldly thing or person.  I’ve got a couple in particular that I want to work on…or more importantly, pray for the Spirit to strengthen within me.

After church we went to the grocery store.  I know.  I know.  Ugh.  I try not to do it.  It’s actually my least favorite time ever to go, but I didn’t make myself go on Friday or Saturday and frankly we were out of food.  We came home, put away groceries, fixed sandwiches for lunch and then took a nice,  long nap.  Ahhh…glorious.  We spent the evening at our church picnic.  It was so great so see so many people we know.  It’s nice to fit in.  The food was fabulous, fireworks were fantastic and my good friends were there to celebrate with me.  Plus, my husband looks cute basking in the glow of fireworks.

A day free of stress, observing the sabbath, even with time to myself tonight for some writing.  I’m certain it helps that I have one more day off before returning to work on Tuesday.  I’ll start to think about my work week tomorrow.  But tonight, I’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep and look forward to beginning my work at home in the morning.

Observing the Sabbath

I’ve been saying for years that I want to observe the sabbath.  I don’t really enjoy a Sunday full of pressure and tasks that must be accomplished.  I’m pretty sure God doesn’t want me contemplating skipping a church service because I have too many other things to do or I’m simply too tired.  Because of the unique nature of my church attendance, I can easily spend 6.5 hours driving to and attending church service, LIFE group and mass each weekend.  Granted not each of those things happens every single weekend, but I would say more than 80% of the time that’s how I spend my worship time with the Lord on a Saturday/Sunday.  That surely seems like a big chunk of time.  But, if the point of my Sunday is to spend it resting in the Lord, I can hardly think of a better way to spend 6.5 hours than in organized worship.

So yes, for years I have been planning to observe the sabbath.  What’s holding me back?  I would have to admit that the most accurate general answer is a real lack of organization and misaligned priorities in my life.  To actually spend the day with the Lord means the grocery shopping, the laundry, the lesson plans, the class newsletter, the house cleaning, etc. must fit into another time during the week.  It’s about organization and priorities, it’s about planning ahead, it’s about saying no and it’s about making the decision to be different.

I’ll go public now and state that next Sunday will be a day with the Lord, celebrating the freedom of living in the USA, enjoying my family and church friends, and I will do my best not to let my mind wander back to my to-do list during the day…especially during the service.