Three Years

Ricky and I celebrated our third anniversary last Wednesday (November 28).

Three years.

It’s enough time to…

… practically learn how to read each other’s minds.

…just be scratching the surface of appreciating having a person who is always there to support you.

… have developed some traditions of your very own.

… have felt annoyed at each other.

… have realized that the honeymoon stage can go on and on and on if you let it and you nurture it.

…. have had several homes together.

… have been so mad that you refused to leave the car and come into the house. (I don’t even remember now why I was mad.)

… have laughed and cried and done both at the same time together.

… no longer even think about how loudly you are “honking” when you blow your nose.

…have developed good and bad habits together.

…have been selfish and generous to each other.

…know that sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to turn over in bed and face the other person during a hard conversation.

…have learned how to be completely honest with each other, and to accept criticism as caring and constructive.

…have really and truly become a part of each other’s families.

…have felt the pain of “being on different pages”.

…have seen each other be excellent and, well, less-than-excellent.

Three years is enough time to learn that it is a beautiful thing to be bound together.

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Photo Credit: Unfrozen Photography

What about you? What have you learned and experienced in your years of marriage or other forms of relationship with your fellow humans? Co-existing and relating can be quite an adventure…

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And the Winner Is…

Good evening, everyone!

Obviously, I am going to start this post by announcing who the winner of the Bible is.

The winner is…

ROSE K. MARTIN! Congratulations! I’ll be in touch with you, Rose.

Click the following link to see me do the draw.

And the winner is…

Thank you to all of you for participating. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments, and was blessed by your desire to share with and serve others. Thanks for taking the time to participate! I wish I had a Bible to give to each one of you, but Ricky says I’m not allowed to buy any more.

I did want to make just a few comments about “The Plea” part of last week’s post. After I typed the post out (but before I published it), I was very undecided about whether I should actually post it or not. I eventually decided that I would post it as an experiment- the experiment being whether or not I could actually be that blunt about what I want for this space without feeling pushy or selfish.

As it turned out, I felt both pushy and selfish, whether I needed to or not. I guess I’m just that sort of person.

So now, I have decided to make a rule that no one is allowed to comment here. Ever.

Just kidding.

That would be extreme.

But I did want to clarify that I meant for last week’s post to be an invitation to feel comfortable commenting and sharing your thoughts here- not a command. The last thing I want is for you to feel guilty for reading but not commenting. There is no obligation to comment.

But I will say this.

I had several people tell me that they really enjoyed reading all your comments. And I did too. You guys are very wise, and I’d love to keep hearing from you every now and then.

I plan to be here no matter what though- comments or no comments.

Thanks for reading and encouraging!

 

 

The Plea and the Christmas Giveaway

Yes, this is a giveaway. But first you have to read the beginning of the post. There will be a quiz at the end to make sure that you did. Just kidding. No quiz. 

Just read the post, okay?


The Plea

Allow me to be perfectly honest for a moment, although I feel a little bit bashful about what I am about to say. This has been brewing away inside me for some time now.

Blogging is such a weird thing to do.

I struggle with it.

I mean, how very presumptuous and arrogant of me to write out my thoughts and assume that someone else is interested in them.

And how very obnoxious of me to post the link on Facebook and Instagram! How much more “in your face” could I possibly be? Who do I even think I am?

I disgust myself.

I’m being dramatic. However, I do think the aforementioned thoughts and they weigh on me in varying degrees depending on things like my current life circumstances, hormones (of course), and the topic of what I wrote. Whether it is “spiritual” or “non-spiritual” makes a difference for me, as I don’t want to clutter your mind with things that aren’t beneficial.

I guess that what I’m saying is that blogging feels self-centered to me. It’s me writing about my life and thoughts, and there isn’t even anything extraordinary about my life and thoughts. It feels like I’m pointing a spotlight at myself and yelling, “Hey, everybody! Look at me!” If you know me in real life, you might have an idea of how uncomfortable I would feel with that scenario playing out for real.

I’ve been doing some thinking about whether it is possible for blogging to not be self-centered. I spent some time considering the bloggers whose work I enjoy reading, and it turns out that although they each have their unique voices and niches, they’re pretty much doing the same thing that I’m doing… writing about their lives and their thoughts. Go figure.

And yet something struck me as being different about their blogs. I think I might have finally put my finger on it.

To me, their blogs felt like a community and a conversation, and to me, mine often feels an awful lot like a lecture.

(Keep reading! Don’t give up. That give-away is still coming.)

Now, there are several things that need to be acknowledged at this point. I shall make a list.

  • I am not good at discussion. Particularly not initiating or leading it. I’ll just admit it. I want this blog to be a place of discussion, but I have no idea how to pilot this thing, you know? But don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll all survive.
  • I am not good at asking thought-provoking questions. I would love to be able to produce deeply theological posts, with many, many footnotes and evidences for my statements. But that just isn’t the way my mind works. I tend to share things like poetry or stories or inspirational (hopefully?) things. I recognize the possibility that sometimes conversation may not happen because my writing did not prompt it or inspire it. I understand that, and I’m okay with it.
  • There are a bunch of you who have faithfully read my writing and commented over the years, whether those comments were on the blog, through email, or in person. That has meant so much. There are those of you who have begun contributing in these ways more recently, and that’s been exciting and fun for me too. Thank you.
  • If you read my blog, but don’t comment… it’s okay. It really is. I get it. I tend to be the same way, although I am trying to grow in this area of participating online, rather than just consuming. My intent is not to guilt you into grudgingly commenting. I just want you to know that if you read a post, and happen to have a thought or a question, I would LOVE to hear it and other readers would too.
  • When I speak of comments, I’m not meaning that I expect compliments from everyone. That wouldn’t be exciting for anyone. (Except me, I guess. Hehe.)  I mean comments that start with things such as, “In my experience…” or “I’d like to challenge the idea that…” or “One thing I’m taking away from this is…” or “My opinion is that…” or “I have a story about…” or “God is teaching me…”

I guess that what I really want is to learn from you guys, and for us all to learn from each other.

That is all I shall say on this matter, except that I have a plan to coax you out of your cozy nooks and crannies. And that plan is…

The Christmas Giveaway

In honour of the approaching holiday season, I am going to be giving away this beautiful brand-new ESV Bible. (The one pictured in the photos below belongs to me. I have one that is still packaged that will go to the winner of this giveaway.) If you (or someone in your life) appreciates pretty lettering, space in the margins for notes, and beautiful, thoughtful artwork… this is definitely the Bible for you.

I think the pictures will pretty much speak for themselves.

I mean, just look at this Bible!

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It has a beautiful, soft burgundy cover.

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Each book of the Bible has its own beautiful opening page, with artwork that pertains to the theme of the book. At the back of the Bible, there is a section with explanations for why the artists chose the design that they did for each book.

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There are full-page illustrations, as well as lovely lettering in the margins scattered throughout this Bible.

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Pictured above is the back cover. I feel that this verse must have been inspiration for the artists who worked on this project, because I really feel that their goal was illustrate the beauty that is found in Scripture.

Here’s how you can enter, as well as a few notes and guidelines.

  • To enter the contest, you need to comment here on the blog. (NOT on Facebook, NOT on Instagram, on the BLOG). In your comment, please share one thing that you plan to do/hope to do to create meaningful moments in the upcoming busy-ness of the Christmas season. There are no wrong answers here, folks! I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas.
  • Each person who comments will have their name put into a bowl. I will pull out a name (with my eyes closed- obviously) to determine the winner. Each participant will have one entry in the draw. (You may comment even if you don’t want the Bible, bless your heart. Just make sure to specify that.)
  • The giveaway will be open all week. It officially closes November 25, at 11:59 p.m. I will post the winner on the evening of November 26.
  • If you do not live close to me, you may still enter. We’ll figure out a way to get it to you, whether that is shipping or super strong carrier pigeons.

Okay! Comment away! What can you do to create meaningful moments (with God, with your family, etc.) this Christmas season? 

 

Monday

Yesterday was a Monday.

One of those dreary, weary, bleary days.

 

A day for being lost.

A day for being in my own world.

A day for not being able to smile.

A day for having no words.

A day for being sure that the circles I’ve been thinking in are going to get me nowhere.

A day where dreams felt far away from coming true and that hurt and made me feel like I am not even certain what my dreams truly are, or why I want what I want.

 

So you see, I wasn’t really in the mood to set up a Christmas tree yesterday.

But I had said that I would do that with my two Monday kiddos, so the three of us tromped downstairs and found the box containing the Christmas tree. With declarations of “Christmas!” and assorted bits and pieces from “Deck the Halls”, we scampered back up to the classroom.

Imagine my surprise when we opened the box and I realized that some assembly was required. I have never dealt with a full-size Christmas tree before, and did not realize that they came in so many different pieces.

(It makes a lot of sense now that I think about it.)

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At the moment, this just added to my feeling of being overwhelmed by life. However, there was no turning back at this point, since those children were so very excited about it (and already taking all of the branches out of the box).

I grudgingly began assembling the tree.

When I was partially through connecting the second layer of branches, I clued in that not all of the branches were the same length.

(This also makes a lot of sense, when you consider the general shape of a pine tree.)

I made a few necessary adjustments and then carried on.

Things were feeling generally chaotic- Christmas music playing, one child fascinated with the tree branches and the other wanting to take my blood pressure. Plus, people kept trying to decorate the tree before I was finished setting it up.

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I wasn’t really feelin’ the Christmas spirit.

In the midst of all this chaos, I heard a little voice say something that seemed too good to be true. I stopped what I was doing, and the owner of the little voice stopped what he was doing, and we looked at eachother and I said, “What did you say?”

I had to be sure, you see.

He said it again, all cute and sweet and smiley. “I love you, auntie!” My heart just about melted. I felt completely unworthy of his love. I told him that I loved him too.

And later, I lifted him up high because he wanted to be the one to put the star on the tree. He was so very happy to do it, and I was so very happy to be able to help him do it.

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Once his feet were on solid ground again, he tried to help his classmate get as excited about the star as he was. “Star! Star!” he kept saying, while hopping around and pointing up to his star.

But alas, she was still busy playing with the blood pressure cuff, and just would not join in. It didn’t dampen his enthusiasm one single bit.

After experiencing all this, I felt just a little bit better about life.

Yes,  life is complicated.

But it’s also pretty simple.

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Experiences, Tips, and Thoughts from a Half-Hearted Runner

This past spring I ran one kilometer to see if I could do it without stopping. Let’s just say that I’m not really a natural runner. I’m becoming okay with that. It may not be one of my strengths, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it and enjoy it.

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Here is a collection of my experiences, tips and thoughts about running.

Experiences 

  • One time a squirrel and I almost simultaneously ran each other over. It was traumatizing for everyone involved.
  • Skunks do exist. I know this because I saw them on someone’s front lawn right beside the sidewalk while I was on a run. I have not yet run into the Loch Ness Monster, but I confess that I hope she also exists.
  • Due to my personal schedule and the limited number of daylight hours at this time of year, I have been going running in the dark. I initially felt a little bit weird about this, but quickly caught on that everyone and their dog are out walking in the dark, so it can’t be too dangerous. If everyone else is doing it, that means it’s a good thing to do, right?
  • While running, I do a lot of thinking. One time, I was so lost in my thoughts, that I ran right past the street where we live and didn’t clue in until I started running out of street to run on.
  • I like to imagine that while running, I look all long and lean and athletic. However, one time I caught a glimpse of my shadow on a fence that I was running past, and it looked more like Gru from Despicable Me than long and lean and athletic. Sigh.

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Tips 

  • You don’t have to stop running to rest. I learned this from Ricky. If you’re tired, just run more slowly. You don’t have to walk to rest. I know. I can’t believe I had to be taught this. I wonder if it applies to other areas of life too…
  • Set little goals to work towards. Sometimes my goal has been to go running ten times in the month. Sometimes my goal has just been to break my own record for speed. This month, there’s a certain number of kilometers that I’m aiming to run.
  • Use an app to track your progress. Runkeeper does the job well for me.
  • Give yourself rewards. I’m serious. I haven’t met my running goals for the past two months, and therefore, no rewards for me. (It’s quite tragic.) But I sure do hope that I meet November’s goals because I definitely do want this month’s reward.
  • If you take a Kleenex with you, your nose won’t run. However, if you do not take a Kleenex, your nose will run.

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Thoughts

  • There’s something rewarding and empowering about knowing that your own two feet can run you from Point A to Point B without needing to stop.
  • Your huffing and puffing sounds louder to you than it will to anyone that you run past. Probably. Right? Also, huffing and puffing is a natural part of running. At least that’s what they tell me.
  • What is annoying is when your legs feel tired, but your brain just won’t let them quit. There have been a few times that my brain has gone into that mode. Often, though, my legs and my brain are on the same page about quitting. (Hardcore is not a word I would use to describe myself. I am often all too willing to quit.)

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Here is my concluding thought:

  • I don’t run super far, and I don’t run super fast. I don’t even run super regularly. But the way I figure, something is better than nothing. Also, my goal isn’t to be able to go fast or far. My goals are to spend time outside, move my body, and challenge myself to be disciplined enough to do something that doesn’t come naturally to me. But you know what? I have gotten stronger. I don’t know if it was a physical change or a mental change, but I can go farther and faster than I used to. It feels good and it makes me want to keep going. And so I think I will keep going. Even though it’s November.

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Photo credits go to the coolest and nicest Ricky Martin ever. 

Journey

I have always wanted to be a jogger, and this past summer, I started to take that desire a little bit more seriously.

I didn’t do as much running as I should have,

But also,

I did more running than I would have if I wouldn’t have done any running.

That’s my way of saying that since May 5, I have gone out running thirty-seven times. (And that’s all the statistics you’ll get from me, folks. Don’t even ask for more.)

I am going to be sharing two posts on the topic of running.

Today, I’m sharing something that I wrote way back on May 9, when I was just starting out with running, and the whole process of convincing myself to go was a pretty big deal. This post also contains photos from where we lived before we moved that I felt were too pretty not to use somewhere, but didn’t know exactly where to use. Since the majority of my thirty-seven runs took place in that beautiful little town, it seemed like this might be an acceptable place to use those photos.

Next Monday, I’m going to share “A List of Confessions, Tips, Experiences, and Thoughts from a Half-hearted Runner”.


 

Let me tell you a story about a girl who never knows when she can trust herself.

It probably begins years ago, when she was a child, but for the purpose of this story, it begins on a Monday morning, at 5:45. The alarm goes off, and the girl’s legs are still stiff from the two previous mornings of exercise, and she decides, “No. Not this morning. I’m tired, and I already hurt.”

She stays in bed while her husband gets up and leaves for his run.

But at 6:12, she sits up, oddly alert for having been dozing.

Maybe I will go after all.

So she gets up and gets ready. But by the time she’s ready, it’s bright outside, the husband is back, and the street is full of cars going to work, even though it’s only 6:30. The girl sits on the cold steps out in the fresh morning. She could still go. But there’s not that much time, and she feels weird about all the people driving to work seeing her running.

The girl decides not to go running, but she can’t stand the thought of officially giving up and going inside, so she sits on the steps and feels a bit like crying, and also a little bit proud that at least she is not still in bed sleeping.

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Tuesday morning comes, and it’s 5:45. It will be a busy day with teaching, a bridal shower supper, and a board meeting, so she already isn’t planning on running. How wonderful to just know that she isn’t going running. She feels very free as she goes back to sleep while the husband leaves. At 6:11, she sits up.

Really? Again? She gets out of bed and gets ready to go, not even knowing if she’s actually going to run this time.

Something inside her soul is pulling and poking uncomfortably, and so is something in her stomach, and she sits on the edge of the bed. Time is ticking and the mental agony is increasing because she WANTS to go, but her stomach…

It starts to feel better, and she decides to go. Maybe just a walk. No running.

This whole exercising ordeal is so mentally uncomfortable and exhausting for her, and she wonders if maybe she should give it up altogether. For the sake of her sanity.

She goes. The cars drive past, and it’s 6:37, but she is going. There comes a point where the road turns to gravel, and she starts to run. She only runs one kilometer, which doesn’t sound like much, and it isn’t. But she runs with the husband’s words pounding in her heart to just try. Don’t walk. Just run.

It turns out that she can do it. Without dying even once.

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As she climbs the hill on her way back, she sees the tinges of green on the trees. A closer look brings brand new buds into focus- slowly, slowly coming.

When she sees this, the girl who never knows when she can trust herself remembers that life isn’t about achieving something all at once.

It’s about

One by one

Step by step

Better by better.

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Hiking Philosophy

I have always liked the idea of hiking, but haven’t always liked the actual hiking.

The idea of traipsing through nature was appealing, but my legs… they’d get so tired, and it wouldn’t take long for me to just wish to be done with the hike. It always felt like, in order to hike properly, one must move briskly towards the end point. To me, taking breaks felt like a shameful thing that revealed my weakness.

I have a new hiking philosophy now.

And it is this:

For me, hiking is not about how far along the trail I make it.

It’s not about moving quickly.

It’s about stopping to sit in the places that are beautiful. It’s about sitting there for as long as I want to, without feeling guilty about not making any headway on the trail.

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Come to think of it, for me, hiking is mostly about sitting.

(Now I’m just making fun of myself.)

(But it’s true.)

The following photos were taken at Rattlesnake Point on Saturday, October 20, by myself and my fellow sitter/hiker, Ricky.

 

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Photo credit: Ricky Martin

 

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Photo Credit: Ricky Martin
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Photo Credit: Ricky Martin
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Photo Credit: Ricky Martin