Table (Five Minute Friday)

Table.

Hm.

I’m not sure what to write. I have lots of thoughts about Thanksgiving, but they’re all too personal and too wrapped up in others’ stories to share here. So, instead of thinking of the table as a place to eat, and eat with others, I’ll write instead about the table as a place to work.

Working is something I really struggle with. Well, it’s probably more honest to say that I struggle with this idea that I’ve had since I was tiny, that once you’re an adult you just always want to work and are super responsible and all that. (I know. HA!) But even though, I, as an actual adult, have realized that of course that isn’t true, I also still expect that of myself. I’m easily frustrated by myself and how much I’m not getting done, even while I’m also very willing to take breaks every two minutes to check emails and social media and all that nonsense. I want to use my life well, and screen time for screen time’s sake isn’t that. I want to do good and pure things, things that reflect well of God, and becoming an Internet zombie is not that.

So this post is really about what I’ve realized, coming away from the table, being inspired by all the people sitting around the table and seeing my own lacks. In the best of ways!

The table was a good place to be, and will be in the future. It’s a good place to be now, too.


 

This was written as part of Five Minute Friday, which is a wonderful coming together of lots of beautiful people writing about one word every Friday. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of that table, and can’t wait to keep doing so!

Advent

(source)

As a pastoral intern, I’ve been swept into the whirlwind that is Advent from the inside for the past two years. It’s a season I’ve never thought much about other than the weekly lighting of the family Advent wreaths when I was growing up. Even now, I’m not entirely sure what Advent is about. I think of celebration, but also of waiting and expectation and darkness. We have to get through darkness and hope that feels more like disappointment before we can get to the celebration. It’s about real life, and how it’s not all the perfection of that Christmas card, because so much came before that moment (and let’s be real. We all know that, after a long journey, giving birth to a baby, and just the general presence of animals, that that scene was NOT that picture perfect!) But I’ve never done something for Advent, other than the family wreaths, and I think this is the year to change that.

No, our Advent wreaths are neither this neat nor this color-coordinated. Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent#/media/File:Adventskranz-1.Advent.jpg
No, our wreaths are neither this neat nor this color-coordinated. (source)

A few days ago I wrote about work and inspiration for Five Minute Friday. And since then I’ve been thinking about work and God and just what I want from life–what I’ve been called to do by God. Social media addiction isn’t part of that. A tiny attention span isn’t part of that. Not taking seminary or my jobs seriously isn’t part of that. So, as a way to prepare and cleanse and live in the real life moments, I am committing to a discipline of focus this Advent: on God and on my work.

These are my goals for Advent, then, the ways that I hope to simplify in order to help me focus on what’s important:

  • Continue what I’m (mostly) doing–journaling every night, praying daily, and reading the Bible every morning–as a way to focus on God.
  • Try to see God in each day. Perhaps every week I’ll post some of the most memorable places I’ve seen God?
  • Spend at least an hour every day (except my Sabbath) writing.
  • Work on my focus. That means so many things for me: less empty social media time, not allowing myself to be distracted from one task to another, reading and writing and working well (I’ve clicked over to various other pages at least ten times since starting to write this post! Clearly this will be difficult). I don’t want to turn this into a mindless to-do task, that has to be done OR ELSE, but I also want this to actually happen. So my goal is to work on one thing at a time for long periods of time, while still taking breaks (just not excessively!).
  • Focus on others: buy justly-produced products, donate time and money, and pray for others.

Maybe these are too many goals for a month, but I’ve been feeling distracted and shattered lately. The season of Advent is a good time to practice waiting, to practice living each day well as preparation for what God is doing. I hope you’ll join me on this journey, whether you create your own Advent practice or not!

Dwell (Five Minute Friday)

I’m in the thick of finals week, and one of my papers is far, far from done. Every time I’m not working on it, a little bit more panic builds up. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to not be working on it. Breaks are good. Getting water to drink is good. Not being a hermit and actually talking to people is good. Taking time to pray is good.

This final is currently all-consuming, but it’s not the ultimate good. It’s not the most important thing I’ll ever do. It’s just another final!

I woke up this morning from a dream about frantically writing a paper. I woke up nervous about everything I’d like to get done today, and about how much I’ll probably get done today. Before I’d even turned my light on, though, I felt surrounded by God. “I’m right here. You can do this, because I’m right here.”

Today isn’t a day I feel capable of dwelling in God, but God came down to dwell with me.


 

Five Minute Friday is worth taking a break for. 🙂

(If you’ve never heard about Five Minute Friday before, head over to Kate‘s and check it out! She posts a word every Thursday night, and we write about it for five minutes. It’s lots of fun!)

 

 

What I’m Loving Wednesday

As I’m in the thick of finals week, I thought I’d do something a bit more fun today!

Things I’m loving today:

  • Finals week! Yes, really. It’s a lot of work, but I do enjoy the work. I enjoy the looming deadlines, in that I tend to actually get things done. It’s serious enough that I work pretty consistently, and I like that. When I do settle down to work, I’m always glad that I did. Work is good, whatever my lazy, avoiding self would like to tell me. Besides, it’s all papers now that my only test is finished, and that means writing!
  • That finals week is almost over! Yes, I’m actually enjoying writing my final papers, but I’m so excited to have a week off to spend time with family, to work more on my own writing, and just to clean and organize. My poor apartment needs it.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I watched this Pride and Prejudice adaptation when it came out, but it finally felt like the right time to rewatch it (and its short episodes would be perfect for short breaks if I could only watch one at a time!). It’s beautifully written and acted; I love all the characters, and they feel so real, especially now that I just hit the 70th episode where things get serious. I’m also watching all the episodes from all the character’s vlogs in order (on this playlist), which is something I didn’t do last time. I’m now regretting it, because they add so much to the story.
  • Fall weather. The weather this week has been like a rewind to last month. I left the house without a coat and didn’t regret it! And it’s been clear skies, with just enough wind to blow the last of the leaves around, framed everywhere with bare branches.

What are you all loving today? And any suggestions on good literature web series for after I finish The Lizzie Bennet Diaries?

Stories and Reality

I’ve been obsessed lately. Like, staying up until 2 am, thinking about nothing else, pushing aside more important things obsessed. It’s a bit scary, actually. It’s nothing I want to be obsessed with; I know there are better ways to deal with life, that something else is going on below the surface here.

I’ve been obsessed with stories lately. Stories told on any medium: books, web comics, movies, TV shows. Stories about everything from zombies to crime fighting to grad school. Stories that I like and stories that I’m not all that sure I do.

That’s the key, isn’t it? I’m not all that sure I like any of these stories. I’m not all that sure this is what I really want to be doing; there are so many things I could be doing instead, things that are much more worth doing and things that are much more urgent than rewatching that show I loved ten years ago. Something else is going on.

I love stories, of all kinds and shapes and sizes. That’s why I write, after all; I want to tell stories, too. As J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote, ““Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” That’s the beauty of stories; they show us the reality behind the veil, the reasons for hope.

But sometimes they really are just an escape. A false escape? There is beauty and reality here, in the present moment. Who doesn’t like to daydream about being brave, seeing new places, having exciting things happen? I certainly love it. Especially when I’m caught in the daily routine and faced with the realities of repetition and hard work, I certainly love it. I’d much rather imagine that I’m flying over London thanks to a spell than face the fact that I have a book to read for class. I’d much rather watch my favorite character save the world for the fifth time than write that paper. It’s easier. It’s more pleasant.

It’s easier to take part in others’ stories than craft my own.

I’m tired. I don’t want to face the reality of doing dishes. I don’t want to face the reality of all the hard work I’ll have to do to write my final paper. I don’t want to face the reality of how much life scares me. Everything’s so much simpler in a fictional story. I long for that simplicity.


I have no solution. There have been a lot of ups and downs. What can I say? Life is hard sometimes, especially when you try to avoid it.