Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saturday worship and Sunday morning coffee.

We're smack in the middle of another cold snap here in Western Michigan.

Or ... colder snap. Because, ya' know, it IS the end of January. It's winter. But temperatures will be in the single digits the next couple of days with more snow piling on top of the more than a foot (and several feet where it's drifted) we already have.

A handful of churches in the area cancelled services today because the road commissions just haven't had time to clear everything, and once the snow is pushed back it reveals a layer of ice underneath. Treacherous.

I was bummed. For as much as I wasn't looking forward to going out in the weather, I really need to be "fed" among my church family. I can study the Gospel on my own any time, but it's not the same as hearing it surrounded by my people, who encourage me to live it out every day.

Alas, there is plenty to keep me busy here at home. Yesterday I was the one doing the feeding of my peeps, and it was my own style of worship. I cooked and baked - and prayed - all day. With Steve having been off work for a couple of months we are stretched pretty thin on the financial front, yet we have so much for which to be thankful.

We are well fed. We have a roof over our heads and a warm home. We are together as a family, healthy and able-bodied. We are surrounded by people who love us and provide a support system others only dream about. And so much more.

We've been confined to the house a lot lately with sub-zero wind chills and nothing extra in the budget for outside entertainment. It gives this over-thinker too much time to over-think. Lots of opportunity for the depression and anxiety I fight every day to weasel their way in. So I fight harder. Some days I give in to the urge to sleep all day. Some days I all but ignore my family and escape into someone else's world via books or the Internet. Or TV. And I don't even like TV that much, but I've come to feel a certain bond with the cast members of The Big Bang Theory.

It's bad, y'all.

But not today. Today we have fresh pumpkin bread to snack on and I hear productive activities all over the house calling my name. My morning coffee is kicking in and I know I better wrangle that energy into something good or before long I'll think the snowbanks are closing in on me.

Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And so it begins.

It's Day 1 of a New Year! Happy happy. Welcome to 2014.

Do you have plans? Resolutions? Goals? Anything of the sort?

Or are you of the mindset that any day is a good day for a fresh start?

I fall somewhere in the middle. I love the idea of folding up the previous year's wall calendar and hanging up a brand new one. I appreciate a clean slate. But I also think just like the start of a new year is a great time to make changes, so is the start of a new week, or month, or season.

With that in mind, I wasn't too hard on myself (or my family) when the house was still in a bit of holiday chaos as the four of us rang in the New Year together. Each day will be a chance to make progress toward improving myself and living a better life ... and part of that is accepting the fact that everything doesn't have to be in perfect order all around me before I can work on me.

If I were to choose a focus for myself for this year it would be this: mindfulness.
noun: mindfulness
  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
    "their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
  2. a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
This is going to take some work for me, which seems funny since as a journalist it's my job to observe and be aware of my surroundings, to take it all in without judgment. But in my personal life I often find myself overwhelmed - with information, options, responsibilities - which leads to a lot of mindless eating, anxiety (which doesn't help anything), "paralysis by analysis," and generally just feeling not as satisfied with my days as I could be ... and I think as God would want me to be. I think there are a lot of areas in my life that will benefit from me simply being more aware, acknowledging how I feel in a particular situation without automatically reciting my old standby (and often negative) self-talk.

I'm ready for some positive personal growth. Strengthened faith. Better relationships.

And yes, maybe a little less chaos around the house. But that might have to wait until the kids go back to school next week.

Let's do this.