Thursday, December 30, 2010

Decide. Commit. Succeed.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." -Proverbs 16:3

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." 
-Colossians 3:23

 Do you think those are cheesy ways to begin a list of I-want-tos for a new year? Me too, actually. I bet blogs all across the land are speaking these very verses over themselves in the name of growing and following and becoming better. Well, me too, then. I'll speak it over myself.

I want to be better. A better servant, a better listener, a better cook,a better daughter, a better hugger, a better leader, a better talker, a better confronter, a better example, a better friend, a better lover, a better yogini, a better dancer, a better go-getter, a better sister, a better laugher, a better companion.

I want to be more. I want to be more obedient, faithful, loving, grace-filled, forgiving, compassionate, easy-going, understanding, accepting. 

I want to add er to all that I am: Kinder, gentler, freer, funnier, stronger.

And I want to do things I've never done. Because if I've learned anything this year, it's that I can do things I've never done. I may learn to love it, I may give it up; it matters not. The point is, I can always use new hobbies.  
Things to Accomplish in 2011 
(Think of these like Jack Sparrow would: as guidelines, not set rules)
  •  Have a 15 minute morning devotion before I get out of bed
  • Learn to knit
  • Own a pair of great boots
  • Run a 5k
  • Read my textbooks
  • Get a summer job
  • Cook five new recipes
  • Read 12 books
  • Try two new vegetables
  • Eat an apple a day
  • Talk on the phone more (instead of text messaging)
  • Discover new music
  • Go out of my way to perform acts of service
  • Make homemade lemonade
  • Talk to my mother everyday five times a week, just because I can
  • Have intentional conversation. Lots of it.
  • Have some lots of spontaneity 
  • Travel somewhere above Kentucky

If I don't complete all those bulleted things, I'm telling you right now, I'm okay with that, because that's just what they are: items on a list, things that don't matter unless I choose to give them life. But the other stuff- it matters, either way. It matters because I am a servant, a follower, of Jesus Christ. It matters because I am a leader, because people watch me. It matters because I am about to be given 365 opportunities to make decisions and to wake up and put my hands in the Lord's. Some days I'll succeed, some days I won't, but if I don't grow at all? Well, then 2011 will be a waste of more hours than I care to calculate. If I don't further the kingdom in the next 12 months, then I'm just taking up air, not fulfilling my purpose. The incredible thing is that my purpose isn't yours, and only I can do it. My place is me-shaped, and I was meant for it. And if I do all of that and come out with a few homemade scarves and a glass of lemonade, well, then, I couldn't really ask for more.    

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I'd say 2009 was the year that catapulted me into adulthood. It was during that year that I made one of the biggest transitions of my life, and certainly the biggest one of my life thus far.

2010, then, was the year that I embraced who I am becoming. I'm so different than I ever thought I might be, and I think I've surprised others, too. I didn't know that this is who I would become, but I wholeheartedly embrace the identity God gave me. This was the year that I really felt like an adult, at least as far as decision-making goes. When I have a job, things will be different. A husband, a baby, a retirement funds- all of those things scream "responsibility," and I'm not ready for any of that, but what I was ready for was driving in Atlanta traffic. I was ready to commit to earning an education. I was ready to do my own laundry and buy my own groceries and cook them on my own stove.

I was ready to become a part of a church that God had picked out for me, and to find my way into a group of people there. I was ready to understand how important sleeping and sweating and putting good fuel into my body really is, and to decide to make good decisions regarding that. Yes, 2010 taught me a lot.
Things About 2010 That Make Me Proud
  • Since May 14, I've worked out 5-6 times a week. My body is more toned and stronger and more capable. Sure, it's smaller, too. But I fuel it well and it responds. This adventure opened my eyes to a healthier lifestyle that punches heart disease and diabetes in their faces. And it has taught me that I can also punched the stereotypes that I've concocted for myself in the face, too. Uncoordinated? Always. Unathletic? Weak? Afraid? Not hardly. 
  • My grades showed my professors, my scholarship providers, my parents, and me that I wasn't joking around about this college thing. I'm there to learn. I learned. And I did a darn good job of it. I'm entering Spring 2011 with a 4.0.
  • I crossed several things off my Happy List (which is really just a bucket list): 
      • Make a Real Snowman 
      • Paint a Canvas 
      • Eat a  peanut butter and jelly sandwich
      • Take a Yoga class
      • Own a fantastic little black dress
      • Take a spontaneous road trip
      • I read more books, including, but not limited to The Harry Potter series, Catcher in the Rye, The Joy Luck Club, and The Hobbit.
      • I relearned how to appreciate my own company. I had lots of drives and lots of nights and lots of classes when my comrades were lacking. I learned how to pray with my eyes on the road, how to appreciate a blanket and a movie and a cup of tea, how to wander around a neighborhood and be perfectly content in the world God created- for me.
      • All too often, I withdrew from people instead of stating my feelings, and I'm not proud of that. But I learned the importance of saying "We need to talk," "It hurt my feelings when you...," "I've had a bad day and I need some time," and, most importantly, "I'm sorry."
      • I challenged myself spiritually and God showed up. I Bible studied in groups, and I discipled with a mentor and I had quiet time with coffee and I prayed and I did all of this with faith and my God took my hand. He confirmed again and again this truth: 
          • "Come near to God and He will come near to you." -James 4:8 

      Tuesday, December 14, 2010

      The Semester I Really Learned

      I started out with all sorts of ideas about how this semester would carry out. There was a sweet balance of "been here, done this" and "everything's so new" that day I moved myself in for keeps.I wasn't new at this; why, a year before I'd been shaking in my khaki shorts as my family hauled boxes and bags into 315 Riverside East. And still, the idea of living in an apartment with my best friends kept making me smile all day long. It felt so surreal. Words like perfect and freedom and laughter kept slipping themselves into my thoughts. And in the end, it was perfect and free, and people, there was a lot of laughter. But what else there was took me by surprise. It shocked me. It made me angry.

      Basically, I'd never experienced the stress that such a large load of school inevitably induces. As the girl who showed up on test day in high school and aced it and somehow found her way into not one but two Freshman Compass classes (read: "Write an essay on the difference between high school and college") her freshman year, things like studying for more than one night before the test were foreign to me. But this year, I had whole weeks where I didn't move from my spot on the couch, weeks where I felt guilty for breaking for dinner because "I have stuff to do!" Weeks where I would find myself, mid-Biology notes, thinking about my Human Development test and suddenly, there would be tears that I would whisk away, hoping none of my roommates caught a glance. Weeks that I took out way too much of that stress on way too many people who never deserved a lick of it. And I regret that.

      I pulled out better, shinier grades this semester than I ever have before, which affirms what I knew all along: if I put the work in, I could and would get it done. But I learned that I don't want to live in a world where being destressed is a foreign idea, where, more often than not, I feel guilty for taking dinner breaks. I took that lesson and learned and dropped a class next semester and signed up for yoga. I feel that I am guaranteed a less stressful existence in the start of 2011.

      So, that is my spiel about that. What's up next is all the crazy wonderful bits that I got swept up in, as well.
      August 2010
      moved in, threw Joanna a rockin' Birthday dinner, started class, revisited Summer Snow, learned how to cook black beans

      September 2010
      Went to the lake for Labor Day 2010 (again), Fell in love with Alabama football (again), suffered Round 1 of tests, found out just how wonderful our balcony really is
       October 2010
      Went to Lake Guntersville for Fall Break #1, remembered how liberating it is to (occasionally) skip class, carved pumpkins, became half of a Halloween costume called "Can and A Bowl"
       November 2010
      went to an away game (Tennessee), went to the Harry Potter premiere, went to a square dance, went home for Thanksgiving, met my goal of finishing the Harry Potter books
       December 2010
      I finished strong. And it was awfully hard to say good-bye.  
       At the end of it all, I learned a lot. I learned that allopatric speciation occurs when one species turns into two because of geographical barriers. I learned that widowed men remarry 5 times more often than women. I learned how to build a wrench out of shapes in a computer program, and I tried to convince everyone that Grendel wasn't really a monster. I learned that most of the time, you get what you put into it, whatever it may be. I learned that productivity comes in all kinds of different ways, and that sometimes, unproductive productivity is more important than dishes or homework. I learned that people are more integral to this life than anything else, save for Jesus, who is a person, anyway. I learned that eating together brings you closer to the people around your table. I learned that sometimes, you have to start the conversation. I learned that at the end of the day, I a bold, and that whoever is loving me has to like that sort of thing. I learned that running away because you're scared is a terrible reason to run. I learned that I'm more of a yogini than a runner, anyway. And in yoga, I learned, you have to breathe through the pain. I learned that a family never means "ideal." Instead, a family means "acceptance" and a family means "selflessness" and a family means "I'll hold your hand" and "Please, don't be perfect." And don't worry, I took that lesson to heart.

      Spring 2011? Bring it on.