Essay 12 of 52: Rest

It's a snow day today.

Classes are cancelled. Work is cancelled. Practice is cancelled and all I can see is white. Snow is such a balm to this mountain girl's heart. I grew up in the woods of New Mexico. I grew up with no backyard boundaries and pine trees and snow on Easter Sunday. And there is nothing more comforting, more peaceful, more home, than snow.

I love snow days because they feel more like a pause than anything else. I might play catch up a bit, but more than likely, I am completely lazy. Staying in bed until noon, making pancakes, watching movies and baking cookies. The world stops for a moment and there is no guilt. That's the golden part - no guilt.

I pride myself on being someone who says "No" really well. For the most part, I don't over-commit myself. I'm social, but I have a very close circle of friends, most of whom live far away. My days are quiet and habitual. But am I allowing myself to fully rest?

A few weeks ago, I read something by Jess Connolly that really stuck with me. She said, "Rest means we stop trying to make ourselves well and let Him make us well."

It stuck with me.

For a long time I thought an empty calendar equaled a restful life. That is not the case.  Resting doesn't always mean being still and being still doesn't always mean resting. What are my thoughts? What am I focusing on?

And this is where my One Little Word comes into play again - Release.

Releasing, for me, is true rest. It is releasing myself from the guilt of a quiet afternoon when chores could be done. When dishes sit in the sink, crusty and old from last night. When I actively choose to share my heart with the Lord, instead of mentally redecorating my house. When I release myself into Him, I find real rest. The moment is actually physical. I feel myself literally loosen - like I've been holding my breath, holding my burden.

This weather, this calm, is such a good reminder to let myself rest. True rest. Not just binging on Netflix for hours, but connecting myself to truth. To release.

You know what's funny? This post was supposed to be about work. How writing is work and you have to push through and work when you don't feel like it and how work is ..... you know. But as I waited for my computer to load, I looked out the window. At snow. And I remembered how the working comes easily to me. But the resting? That is my true work.

Essay 11 of 52: teaching, but not a teacher

Yesterday, a few of us at work were sitting around chatting. I love that kind of stuff. I was talking to one of our newer co-workers who I don't know very well. I find her fascinating because I can tell she has LIVED. You know what I mean? She's taken chances and moved across the country and seen things and had important jobs. She seems like she has so much hiding under the surface and -- I respect her.

So we're talking back and forth and in the middle of our chat, she looks at me and says, "Have you ever thought about teaching? I think you would be a great teacher."

My initial reaction was delight. I love compliments. Verbal affirmation all the way.

My second reaction was disappointment.

I don't want to be a teacher. I tried subbing and I hated it. (Yes, I realize that subbing isn't actually teaching, but I still got a pretty good grasp on the life of a teacher.) My sister's a teacher and I see how tired she is, how the bad attitudes and the constant struggle of discipline weigh on her.

What a bummer to be good at something I don't really want to do.

A few hours later I'm at home, curling my hair for date night, when it hits me: I'm already a teacher. Since when was the classroom the only place teaching occurs? I love teaching, I'm good at it, and I'm already doing it.

I've taught Zumba, an experience that I loved. But I hope that when I was showing dance moves, that I was also teaching girls how to be sexy - no matter their size. I hope I was teaching confidence and security. I hope I was teaching that exercising is fun and doesn't always start with running five laps on a track.

I've been a camp counselor for fourth graders all the way to teenagers. I played volleyball and tether ball and four-square. I made countless friendship bracelets and listened to Taylor Swift for hours on end. But I hope that when I was with my sweet campers, I was teaching them too - how to be happy with their body, how to talk to peers, how to dance with abandon. I hope they listened when I shared my past hurts, struggles, and victories.

I was a youth intern too, the last two summers of my college years. I took girls to breakfast and played Catch Phrase and went repelling. We went to midnight premiers and on mission trips and hiked 14ers. But I was teaching them too. I hope I taught them the importance of prayer, of faith, of a personal relationship with Christ. I hope I taught them to laugh and cry and that as women, they are enough. Not too much, enough

But there is so much I still want to teach.

I want to teach my children. I want to show them how to be thoughtful, imaginative, and faithful. I want to encourage my babies to be thankful, be thinkers, and most importantly - to be themselves while allowing God to slowly refine them into the people He wants them to be. I know I will be teaching them regardless, but I want my example to be a good one.

I want to teach Sunday-school. I want to meet those middle-school girls right where they are and be honest. I want to watch movies with them and go running and be silly. I want them to know that middle school is survivable. I did it! I made it through. I want to teach toddlers and third-graders. I want to build on the foundation their parents have forged.

I want to teach young wives how to cook. How to prepare healthy foods for their family and husband. I was blessed to have a mom that taught me, but I know that's not always the case. I want to welcome them into my home and my marriage and let them see reality, but also see grace.

I want to teach women about Jesus, about being sinners and needing grace. I want to model encouragement and I want to really listen when they speak. I want to help women learn more about the Bible, how to study and what to read and how to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. I want to teach by writing, but I also want to teach by doing and being - there in the moment. 

But mostly, I want to teach these things because I want to be these things.
Who said a true vocation requires a paycheck?

Essay 10 of 52: Ugly

Can I be honest?

Sometimes marriage brings out the worst in me. Sometimes I am selfish and bitter and fickle.
And I hate that.

Typically, when I'm writing my weekly essay, the subject comes easy. I write about thoughts I've had, conversations that have taken place, what God has been teaching me. It is comforting to take the running ticker-tape in my head and let it move through my fingers - recording that week. That moment.

But this week, as I sat down to write, all I could see in myself was the ugly.
It had been a rough week.

Writing about the ugly and the everyday is very hard. It's hard to admit to yourself who you really are - how low you can stoop, how loud you can get in an argument. Every time I thought about sitting down to write, I didn't want to sit face-to-face with my demons.

Tyler and I were talking at dinner the other night about Jesus. I've been reading through the book of Mark this month and I confessed to Tyler how much I struggle with reading through the Gospels. I know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are filled with incredible stories of Jesus, fulfillment of old prophecy, and the ultimate love story. But sometimes, all I see is how far behind I am. How much I am lacking. I see my own failure.

And that's not very much fun to read, is it? I do so much better with Psalms. David gets me, y'all. But Jesus? I can never add up. Ever.

But it isn't until I'm immersed in my own failure that I can really see grace. How desperately I need it. How hopeless I am without it.

Yes, marriage brings out the my worst, but our marriage is also refining me. Scrapping away the yuck to reveal something Holy. Something beautiful. So I'm praying that I keep seeing the ugly. But that beyond that, I see what covers me. I see Jesus.

Essay 9 of 52: Sleeping Arrangements

Tyler is back in the thick of school and that means something significant - We don't go to bed at the same time anymore.

You might be single, or an "old" married couple and think this is no big deal.
But it is to me. 

Last night as Tyler and I were brushing our teeth, it struck me how much these small moments mean to me. The standing side-by-side as we take out our contacts. Walking through the house, turning off lamps and putting up shoes. Pulling back the covers and turning on the ceiling fan. All these seemingly insignificant moments have grown into something habitual and sacred. So when Tyler is up studying for a test and I'm standing in front of the bathroom mirror alone, it is one of the loneliest feelings.

There's something about pillow talk, isn't there? Just like gathering around the table for dinner, I never know if our bedtime conversation is going to be a quick set of back and forth comments, slowing moving into grunts, or if forty-five minutes later I'll be exclaiming at the time. There is a bit of magic in the surprise of it, the closeness of it. Out of all the countless things Tyler and I do together, getting into bed at the same time has to be at the top of my favorites list.

In July, Tyler will be leaving for an 8-week internship in the Washington D.C. area. My mind is over the moon about this opportunity. This is a highly competitive spot and I am bursting with pride and excitement about what this job will do for our future, for the doors that God has been opening and reaffirming. But my heart is aching.

The loneliness I feel now, when Tyler is studying two rooms over, will be nothing compared to this summer. I know that those eight weeks will be some of the hardest and longest weeks in our marriage. But I also know that we've survived worse. We've been separated by an ocean, a fifteen hour time difference, and months and months of time. And we made it. We're here.

So I will keep relishing these small moments, the quiet day-in-and-day-out of our routines. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one and tonight will be blessedly homework free.