Over and Out

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

December 16, 2014 via my sister :)

The last few weeks have been a WHIRLWIND. We finished up School House Rock and after we rested up from that, I decided not to worry too much about figuring out our "new routine" because I knew my trip was coming up. 

The last few weeks have been FULL. We got the house back into shape after coming and going at all hours of the night and day during the run of the show. I finished up the sixth Harry Potter book (and failed to post my latest reads post). I'll tell you this, six is my FAVORITE!

We played volleyball and I continued meeting up with my mid-week group when I could. I said yes to a spontaneous walk with my friend Annika. We went to trivia night at a local pizza place and took third overall!

The weather warmed up and I puttered around in my garden and made my first trip of the season to the dump with the odds and ends I picked up. I obsessed over diligently worked on the two pieces I'm entering into a writing contest. And like a crazy person, agreed to have a movie night at my house.

Now, it's Tuesday. I'm flying out to MA and I'll be gone for a few weeks. I meant to schedule posts, but then decided not to. I'm soooo out of whack that I only JUST packed my bag this morning. Yes...Hours before my plane leaves. I really hope I didn't forget anything.

So, I'm off. I do have ONE post scheduled for later next week. Thanks for putting up with my "schedule".

I'll see you when I get back!!! 



On Rest: Part Two

Friday, March 17, 2017

May 6, 2014
If you missed Part One, you'll want to go read it now. :) If you read it, then let's pick right back up where we left off! 


So, there they are, pleading with Jesus to send these people away. And Jesus does what He always does. He is moved by compassion for the people, the work His Father is doing, and the concern He has for these men He has gathered to disciple. It's not about rest. It's not about food. It's about the Gospel. A lot is happening here. I don't want us to miss it. Jesus responds to them with a simple sentence. I can imagine the smirk on His face and the gentle tone of His voice. In Mark 6:37, Jesus answers the disciples' pleas like this, he says, "You give them something to eat."

They answer the same way we would. The place is desolate. The crowd is massive. They came here to rest and they are probably just as tired and hungry as the people Jesus has told them to feed. They answer Him accordingly and He tells them to go see how many loaves of bread they have. I think He does this because He wants them to know exactly what is about to happen. They come back with the report, "Five, and two fish." Jesus tells the crowd to sit in groups. He looks to heaven and says a blessing and then gives the food over to the disciples who pass it around to the people. We're very familiar with all of this. We know that everyone got fed and that there were leftovers. We may have even clung to verse 42 which tells us that "they all ate and were satisfied." We know about the five loaves, the two fish, and the 5,000 men.

What I missed and what you may have missed was that the people did not go there intending to teach or feed anyone. They went away to rest at the command of Jesus. They had been working and burying the man sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus. Times were tense and they were more than ready for an opportunity to recharge. What I missed all these years is that Mark 6 teaches us how to treat rest. It teaches us that it's important. It teaches us that it requires a desolate place. It teaches us that it gets interrupted. It teaches us that we need to know how to respond when interuptions come and it teaches us what can happen when we respond the way Jesus does.

They obeyed. They tried to reason their way out of one of the most famous miracles in the history of Jesus's time with them. They acquiesced and obeyed more. The crowd that had gathered was satisfied with the words of Christ and the food He gave them for their bodies. The disciples aren't done yet. We keep reading and we watch as another famous experience takes place. They get back in the boat while Jesus dismisses the crowd and stays behind to pray. The wind rises up against the men in the boat. Like so many of us, they are taking the scenic route to a lesson Jesus is trying to teach them.

It never tells us if they ever got the rest Jesus originally called them to seek. What it does do is show us what the disciples would have missed out on if they would have had their own way. If Jesus and His disciples would have sent that crowd away or hid from them or headed up onto the mountain, one of the most encouraging stories we share with one another never would have happened. The disciples would have got their rest, but those 5,000 men and whatever women and children were with them wouldn't have the testimony of the time they were taught and fed by the Messiah. The disciples would have rested and been recharged. They would have had time to pray. But, they would have missed out on an opportunity to be used by God. When Jesus calmed the wind and joined them in the boat, the chapter begins to come to its close. What follows is a sad declaration of the state of their hearts.

We can read Mark 6 and learn so many things. On my most recent read through, I've learned that:

Rest is vital. If the Son of God needed it, then we certainly need it. True rest requires peace and quiet. We have to silence the voices around us and in us and go away to a desolate place where we can be alone with God. We live in a culture that praises introversion. We are all about self-care and treating ourselves. While we can all use a lesson on what true rest is, we don't have to be taught to value rest or to seek it.

Rest is almost always interuppted. Jesus was interuppted time and time again. He couldn't ever truly get away. In Mark 6, the disciples are interuppted. We are interuppted. The phone rings, the children ask for something, the neighbor knocks on the door or calls over the back fence. Our own minds turn to other things and the rest we set out to get vanishes. Interuptions come and we've got to know how to respond. If it wasn't for Jesus, the disciples (and the 5,000 and those of us who have come after them) would have all missed out on something God was about to do.

I've got one more post to share with you in this series...Until then, would you tell me about a time your rest was interrupted as well as the good work that God allowed you to accomplish because of that interruption?



The First Half

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Today is my "half-birthday". As of today, I am half-way through the first year of the second half of my 20s. Say that ten times fast. In the days surrounding my 26th birthday, I put this post together with plans to share it on whatever day March 12th fell on. So, here we are. It's spring-winter. Time is flying, just like it always does. I'm closer to 30 than ever before and it's really starting to sink in. 

Turning 21 (the oldest bday picture I have on THIS computer)

Early in the day on September 12th, I realized that the first half of my 20's were officially behind me. I started thinking about what they held and what I learned and, well, everything.

During the first half of my 20's I...

Lived in seven bedrooms in four towns in three states.

Finished college.

Worked in the fields of healthcare, food service, agriculture, education, business administration. This is a fancy way of saying I was a live in caretaker and nanny, part of the kitchen crew at the ranch, on a list of emergency help at the coffee shop, tending gardens everywhere I went, tutoring, teaching kindergarten science for a semester, completing student teaching requirements for K-8th grade, and teaching 6th and 8th grade, and working alongside my Mom to keep up the books at my Dad's office.

Learned a ton about gardening. Alice and Heidi and Dennis and Al and Jay all taught me so much.

Faced depression.

Bought my first DSLR and learned to shoot in manual.

Started painting my nails again. Fun fact: I stopped in junior high because I let one of my friends convince me it was for little kids even though I knew her older sister ALWAYS had her nails painted.

Re-embraced my love of the color purple. Again, I let the dumb things my friends said about it being a dumb color convince me that it really was. See the theme here? Growing older teaches you how to care a lot less about what people think and say.

Made a list of classics to read and made a good dent in it.

Gave up on finding a stylist and learned to cut my own hair. The way I take care of my hair is soooo much different than it was when I entered my 20's. I cut it every 8 weeksish. I wash it two times a week. I let it air dry whenever I can. And...I put coconut oil in it as a deep conditioning treatment.

Got really good at being alone.

Learned to say "no" when I needed to, "yes" when I could, and to look for ways I could serve people well when they needed a little extra help. These three things pretty much shaped the first half of my 20s and I hope they are habits that I continue for the rest of my life.

Joined a church for the first time in my life.

Put my writing out there. Won a prize for it. And kept at it.

Tried new things that people thought I would NEVER do. Some things: went on a 21 mile bike ride after not riding a bike for 7 years, went bow hunting, ate goat (and bear and venison), rode a ride that I promised myself I would never ride, shared recipes, went square dancing, went to midnight premiers (The Hobbit 1 and 2 and Star Wars).

Got super into geocaching.

Drove 13 hours straight. In a blizzard. Oh, the things you'll do to see a brother you haven't seen in three years. It was BEYOND worth it.

Learned to write my own recipes.

Implemented the capsule wardrobe thing and loved it.

Made a brand new group of friends three times over (and four if you count blogging, but that one was so easy, it hardly seems worth noting). Since turning 26, I've settled into yet another group of new friends.

---

Sometimes it's easy to look at where we are and to be discouraged about where we thought we would be. None of us know how much time God plans for us to spend here. The minutes turn into days which turn into months which turn into years. I look around and am amazed at what God has done with the 26 1/2 he has granted me so far.

The same goes for you. Whatever age you are now is one that you have made it to by His grace. The relationships and heartaches and successes and failures all passed through His hands. He is in the business of making Himself known throughout all the earth and even if you can claim nothing else, living to pursue Him is a grand adventure!

Here's to a second half that is as full of Him as the first half was! For me. For you. For all of us.



On Rest: Part One

Friday, March 10, 2017

January 11, 2017

For the last few months I've been spending time reading the Gospels. I'll give you a quick snapshot of how my time in the Word works. I choose a book to focus on and then I make why way through it reading anywhere from a few verses to a handful of chapters at a time. I begin each "session" by journaling, then I switch to reading, and then I alternate between reading, copying down key verses, making notes, and praying until I'm out of time. This usually goes on for about an hour or so.

About a week ago, I made it to Mark 6. Mark is the third gospel that I've read in the last few months, so the details of many of the stories are starting to become familiar. I've noticed that this has freed me up to focus less on the WHAT and more on the WHY of each one. When I came to Mark 6, I read about Jesus being rejected in His hometown, Jesus sending the disciples out with the clothes on their back and a staff to call anyone who was willing to listen into repentance, and then I read about the death of John the Baptist. I reached the end of verse 29 feeling the weight of the faith that these men must have had and the heaviness that must have settled onto their shoulders as they faced each of these events.

Then, in verse 31,  Jesus tells them it's time to follow His lead. He says to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." The verses that follow tell us that they got into a boat and headed to such a place. I was marveling at this Scripture and wondering how I had missed it during the countless times I've read this book. I've studied Jesus's habit of going away by Himself to pray over and over again. I've tried to figure out how how He knew it was time and just exactly what He did while He was away. I've tried to imitate Him and cling to the Father the way that He did...Here, in Mark 6, Jesus was teaching His disciples to do the thing that I'm convinced sustained Him during His time on earth. So, I'm reading along and thanking God for finally showing me this. I'm copying down the verses and settling in to read what comes next.

Maybe you already know what comes next or maybe you've disconnected these accounts the way that I have. I'm sorry to admit that it's highly likely that I skimmed over verses 30-33 during my previous encounters with this chapter.

Jesus recognized that the disciples needed rest. He tells them to go away to a desolate place to rest for a while. They obey. They get in a boat and head out. A lot has been going on. Some of the most trying days of their early ministry have happened. They are tired and hungry and they must be looking forward to this rest. Then, comes verse 34. They make it to shore and a crowd had figured out where they were going and was gathered together waiting for them. Jesus gets out of the boat and begins to teach them. Get this. Jesus tells the disciples to rest and they are interrupted. The crowd stays gathered. The teaching goes on and on. It grows late. The men who were tired and hungry are more tired and more hungry and the desolate place Jesus told them to find would be the very place they are in except that all these people won't go away. The disciples ask Jesus to send the crowd away to find food for themselves so that the disciples can get to this "rest" they came to this place to find.

What's about to happen is the account of the time five loaves of bread and two fish fed 5,000 men until they were satisfied. Get this. The story they taught you about in Sunday school every year happened because people who were seeking rest in a desolate place were interrupted. I'm still going over all of the implications of this story. The fact that Jesus knew exactly what they were going to find when they reached that desolate place is weighing on my mind. The emotions the disciples must have been feeling are the ones I find myself relating to. The point of the whole encounter is something I do not want to miss.


And since this post is long enough already, I'm going to leave you hanging. We'll pick up part two next week. Until then, I'd love to hear about what you're reading and what God has been teaching you through it! 

You Might Enjoy

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

January 11, 2017

Since the middle of February I have been consciously collecting a list of things that will help me (or have prepared me to) DO this thing called BASKING that I've set out to do in the year ahead. If I'm honest, the occasional blue skies and the sun poking out from behind the clouds are my steadiest reminder, but there are things along the way that have done a lot of work too.

Here are some resources that have prepared me for 2017:

A sermon: The Glory of God in the Good Resolves of His People by John Piper - I'm not sure how many times I've listened to this sermon, but I've had it on my iPod for two whole years now. It's a theme that's on my mind often. I wrote about it here and it influenced the word I chose to focus on last year.

A book: Grace For the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman - I've read Freeman's blog for YEARS. She writes the way I long to write, connecting her faith to the most ordinary of moments in her everyday life. I read this book a while ago, but it was in its pages that I finally GOT what it was for Jesus to be about His Father's business. This book made me DIG around in the Bible. It encouraged me to look to Christ's example as I sought to BE a Christian. This is NOT another women's book about "letting go and letting God". It will breathe TRUTH into your soul and it will  challenge you to stand firm.

Some prose that reads like a poem: Scrolling through instagram one day back in October, I came across these words by C.S. Lewis (it turns out they were taken from a section out of Mere Christianity). It goes like this:

NEARER

"If you want to get warm
             you must stand 
            near the fire: if
           you want to be 
               wet you must get 
           into the water.
             If you want joy, 
                    power, peace, eternal 
              life, you must get 
                  close to, or even into,
        the thing that 
 has them."
                         - C.S. Lewis

Here are some things that are keeping me focused in 2017:

A playlist: Bask 2017 - This won't be for everyone, but it's the kind of music that I can't help but be grateful to have in my life. These songs have been encouraging me and teaching me and challenging me for years. Hit shuffle and ENJOY!

A plan: Stay in the Gospels - In light of the task this word spurs me onto, I felt the best place to go was to the example of Jesus Christ, Himself. So, I've been spending time with Him in the Gospels. I started with John, then moved on to Mark, and I'm going to start Matthew today. I can't remember who said it, but a theologian of old encouraged every Christian to always have their thumb in the Gospels no matter what other Scripture they were focusing on. In different seasons, I've attempted to do that.

Resolves: Going for walks in silence. Keeping a list of prayer requests handy and going over it or checking back in with the people that have asked me to pray. Journaling out Scriptures and lessons and prayers and preaching the Word to myself. Staying in touch with friends and listening to the stories of grace that they have to share or the burdens of faith they are carrying.

Is there anything you would recommend to me? 

What are some things that have been pointing you to God lately? 





An Encouraging Resolve

Friday, March 03, 2017

Today I am going to join Renee for her link-up.  There is a new theme each month and this time around the theme is encouragement. Renee is the wife of a guy who sounds like one of the good ones, the mother of two little ones, and one of THE most encouraging people I've ever crossed paths with on the internet. She is really good at fostering community, connecting with people, and being 100% honest about how things are going.

February 23, 2013
Well, I sat down to write this earlier today and ended up typing up what turned into a 9 page document that was close to 2500 words long. I think it's really good, but it needs polishing and I'm not sure that a blog is the right place to share a piece like that. So, I'm trying again.

It's Friday night and I just got back from the grocery store. I live it up, you guys. I also went to the mall today. I was hunting for a navy cardigan or a reasonably priced dress. I came back empty handed. I spotted one navy cardigan, but it was more shrug than what I had in mind. I did try on a dress, but then I realized that it looked like a cheerleading outfit from the 70s or 80s. I put it back (I know you were wondering).

There were a number of older couples shopping together. The men wandered aimlessly while the women pulled different things off of the racks in order to inspect them. The music was not only annoying, it was actually raunchy. I may have reached the point I never thought I would ever reach...I felt like every single one of those men. The clothes were ugly, cheaply made, and over priced. The music was horrible. I walked from department store to department store and found that each one seemed to have the same wares to offer.

Tonight, at the grocery store, things were different. I noticed that most of the shoppers seemed to be men and many of them had their kids in tow. There were some people who came by themselves and every single one of them was walking with the kind of slow purpose that many of us make it to the end of the week with. I made my way to from the meat counter to the dairy section and then weaved through the aisles until I made it back to the produce. While I was shopping, my friend Abigail texted me a time or two and I smiled as I typed out my replies. As I headed to the check stands, I noticed that it was starting to get dark outside and for the first time all day I felt the need to hurry up.

How does any of this connect to the theme of encouragement that Renee selected for the link up? If I'm honest...I'm kind of wondering too. Today, I passed human being after human being. I tried on a dress that some of them made. I listened to song after song that entire groups of people worked to write and record and produce. I overheard tidbits of conversation. I waited in line. I exchanged smiles and silly jokes about Route 66 and the Autobahn. The same can be said for you. You rub shoulders with so many people each day. You may be lonely. You may be so busy that you fall into bed at night. You may be sick. You may be having the time of your life.

Wherever you are, whatever the days have been holding for you, there is a resolve that can inspire your entire outlook. It's from the first verse in Psalm 34 and it says, "I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Just four verses later, it goes on to say, "Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed."

Today, I worked on a piece of writing until I ran out of time. I learned that I'm not crazy about the mall these days. I went to the grocery store dragging my feet after seeing my brother and sister off to their play.

As I reflect on the day, I realize that what made today different was that I was blessing the LORD. His praise was in mouth. I can't say for sure whether or not I looked radiant, but I can promise you that it's my deepest hope that people see His glory reflected in my very presence. I have full confidence that my hope in Him is SURE.

That's pretty encouraging. I hope you think so too.

2017 Reading Challenge

Thursday, March 02, 2017

 
I never intended to become a book blogger and I still don't, but you can continue to expect a handful of book related posts each month. Between gaining access to larger libraries, joining goodreads, and deciding to participate in numerous reading challenges I have turned into quite the reader. I've always loved books. I've always been the kind of person who chats books with anyone who is up for it. Now, I can honestly say that I'm EXCITED about reading.

As I looked through various reading challenges for 2017, none of them appealed to me. That's when I decided to come up with my own.

My 2017 Reading Challenge is to: read one book a month that I choose simply by looking at the cover. It doesn't matter where the book comes from, but I need to know next to nothing about it. My plan is to take myself to the library near the beginning of each month to browse until something catches my eye.

I designed this challenge because as much as I enjoy planning ahead in my reading life, I also really enjoy the seasons where I just read what looks or sounds good at that moment. I've gotten away from that kind of reading and this challenge will ensure that at least one book a month will be selected in this way. Even if my reading is planned, my 2017 reading challenge will force me to fly by the seat of my pants at some point each month.



I'm looking forward to posting about my progress as the year goes on. I usually wait until the end of the year to do a recap, but I'm thinking that I might dedicate one post to each book. In the meantime, you're invited to join me in my challenge!

Now for some printables:

Click HERE for a bookmark (set your printer to 3.5in x 7in paper and then trim it down to size).

Click HERE for a page you can paste into your bullet journal. 

If those links give you trouble, click HERE.


Happy reading!

Have you ever done a reading challenge before?

Are you going to join in on this one?

Currently: March 2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

March 1, 2017
Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk. The sun was high in the sky and I could actually feel its warmth on my face. When this happens, the day I wait for all winter has arrived. It was the last day of February and it was finally time for me to haul my camp chair out to the garden to read by the side of the warm house. I poked my head around the corner to see a perfect patch of grass waiting. Armed with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and the book I'm currently reading, I settled into my chair. 

The snow is still coming down. It will be months before I scratch around in the dirt. But, my days of reading outside have returned! I'll remember this winter as the one that taught me to truly enjoy the snow and even the cold. Whatever happens to make the sun's warmth reach us is happening and I'm ready to bask in it. 

Watching: Some things I hope to watch soon are the new season of Grantchester (Come on, England. We Americans want in on Sidney and Geordie tooo!), The Help, Spiderman with my youngest brother, and Hidden Figures with my Mom.

I have this horrible habit of forgetting about movies by the time they're on DVD. Every year, I tell myself I'm going to start a list...Some current ones on that list: The BFG, the new Bourne, Collateral Beauty, and Fences.

Eating: Lettuce/mayonnaise/cheese sandwiches on toast, poached eggs with toast, cheese and green onion omelets with toast, pancakes, and all of this. I suppose these things are better than the grilled cheese sandwiches with chips and ketchup that seemed to be my lunch more often than not in January.

Saying: "Please clean up after yourself." "When can I go to ___?" "I miss you." "Are you keeping this or can I throw it away?" "BASK, Victoria." Have anything to add to this list?

Wearing: My hair in a bun held up by 3 or 4 bobby pins (a new trick I learned recently). Shades of red and gray on my nails. My black skirt or a pair of jeans with sweaters and vests and long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts.

Posting: New recipes. Words for you soul. Blogging strategies. Book lists.

Linking up with Anne and Carrie.

What are you currently watching, eating, saying, wearing, and posting?