Tag Archives: stress

I cannot even begin

to describe the way things are over here. As most of you know, our little fam joined a mission organization and we are relocating to the exotic midwest, to immerse ourselves in several countries within our great country, to continue down the rabbit hole of working with Muslim African refugees, to be changed into people who care more about our neighbors than we do a 401k, to live in community with other Christians who have been doing this a lot longer than we and have and who have not let the seeds of bitterness take root, we are going because we ourselves are the mission field, we need Jesus so much to pull us out of this morass of the pursuit of happiness, which has come at a great cost to all of us.

 

In our other not-online lives, we have spent the past month living with my parents, having coffee and dinner and drinks with so many of our beautiful and beloved friends, church family, real-and-true blood family. My grandparents came up for a week, which was good and sorrowful, both of them in poor health, my grandma unable to find so many of the words she wanted to use. Saying goodbye was very, very hard. My sister and her husband and baby are coming today, and we will all be in the house together, a ramshackle mess of love and expectation and laughter and loss.

 

We have been working, in our own weird ways, to raise financial support so we can live this life we are being called to, and it has been kicking my butt in so many ways. The vulnerability of this position has not been lost on me, and it has been a struggle to communicate what we are doing, to ask for help, to be a gracious recipient. We are currently at around 30% support, but we are leaving in a week anyways. I have no idea what is going to happen, and I am not lying when I say this one is rather the least of my worries right now.

 

I signed a book contract yesterday, with a lovely new publishing company (more on that later). They gave me a year to write a book, and this also is contributing to my vision of the great blank canvas that is life after next week, a life in which everything has changed.

 

The next few days are filled with goodbyes, which can drive even the most devout to drink ( . . . coffee, of course). Saying goodbye to friends and family has already loomed large, but I am also saying goodbye to the people I thought were my ministry all along but who turned out to be some of my very best friends.

 

A week from today I will be driving with my sister across the country (the husband and the baby will be flying–with my mom along for the ride as well). Our transmission is acting funny. The check engine light is on.

 

So there it is, in a nutshell. I have had dreams about tidal waves/tsunamis over taking me for the past several nights and I just looked it up on the internets (so it must be true). According to several websites these types of dreams means that I have a lot of emotions that I am pushing to the side, and that I am on the brink of a big life change.

 

Um, yeah. You could describe my life like that. I can feel the tsunami coming.

I am just not ready to face it quite yet.

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eye twitch

First things: my new column is up. Extremely inspired by the Mike Daisy/Invisible Children debate, I decided to go ahead and look my own savior complex square in the eye. I am learning lots of things over here. God never ceases to surprise me.

This is the week of giving up stress, no? So I went to a cabin in the woods with two girlfriends over the weekend. It was very cabin-y. We warmed ourselves with a wood stove. It rained. We drank coffee and watched a large, muddy brown river roll by. We took some slow jogs. We ate a lot of food. We watched Mad Men. We, all three of us, read the Hunger Games (Team Peeta 4 Life!). We had feisty and interesting conversations.

While all of the above does not necessarily sound spiritual, it was all very restful. I am unused to cabin vacations. I am used to planning tons of adventures into what little time you have off and it isn’t a successful trip unless you come home exhausted from all the fun. Cabin time is different. You don’t actually do anything.

I liked it. It was perfect for some times of quiet, relaxation, prayer, and reflection.

But, of course, it wasn’t perfect. I am doomed, doomed I tell you when it comes to vacays. When I left on Saturday night, the baby was fine. That night, she got really sick. The next two days were filled with phone calls from the husband telling me the latest temperatures (104!) and me getting very very anxious. Like, developing-an-eye-twitch anxious.

It really was ridiculous. There was nothing I could do. The baby was surrounded by people who were watching her and taking care of her. I tried to relax but the anxiety was always there. The horrible thoughts ranged from what if the fever gets higher to my baby only wants me when she is sick to ohmygosh what if she dies in the middle of the night. Crazy thoughts, right? I think all moms get them, and it really sucks when they do.

Me and the girls stayed up late talking and then I went to bed. But I couldn’t sleep, because of the aforementioned thoughts. So I got out the Common Prayer book and read the Compline prayer. I am hardly ever up late enough to warrant it, but there I was. And it was lovely. It was the perfect prayer for those who are up in the middle of the night, due to fear or anxiety or sadness. And I started to really get why liturgical prayer can be so important. Sometimes, you don’t know what to say. You don’t even know what you need  at 12 o clock at night, when your baby is really sick and you are so far away. But saints have been praying for many years before, and they will be praying after you as well. I joined in the prayers, and they comforted me.

I came home last night and the baby woke up feeling much better and happy to see me.

 

These rhythms and streams of the contemplative life don’t come easy. But the more your life revolves around following God, the more it seems you are going to need a lot of prayer. So I am happy to be trying in my little way to be in a place where it natural and normal to live and breathe in the language of common prayers.

 

 

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The Great Lent Experiment: Week 5–Stress

image from commonprayer.net

The no spending week was a little difficult. A lack of options can be frustrating, and like a bad diet can make you want to go out and binge. In all honesty, I did cheat several times this week. One: we bought scones and cinnamon rolls and coffee after my 15k. Because come on! I deserved it (see my American thinking here?). Also my mom gave me money for H&M for my birthday and I bought a pair of pants and a shirt.

But other than that, it was time to get creative with our free time. We went to the library a lot. Used our passes at the children’s museum. Went for walks, made coffee for lots of people over here. It was a busy week, and not really having any excuse to go out and buy anything actually fit in rather well.

This is an area of my life I want to continually scrutinize and give up control over. I think doing a week like this periodically would be very, very good for me.

And now, on to this week: Stress!


Ok, no joke: I am excited about this week. Just last night I finished my last class and so I am heading into Spring Break mode. The anxieties in my life right now are all over the map, some being very small (I need to shampoo my carpets!) to very big (we have no idea what we will be doing in 5 months!). I am having a hard time sleeping. I am having a hard time being a pleasant conversationalist. I am a little stressed.

But how do you give up stress? You focus on something else. Specifically, Jesus.

I have always been terrible at praying, with my thoughts often turning to the random and mundane instead of the spiritual and uplifting. But I am excited for this week to be centered around structured prayer. The hubs and I bought Common Prayer and we are going to be doing morning prayers (also know as daily), midday prayers, and evening prayers. Not too overwhelming, but a nice bit of structure for this evangelical.

[note: you don't have to buy the Common Prayer (a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals) to participate. They have a great website with the prayers for every day listed, along with scripture readings. Go here to check it out].

This week really is going to be perfect, as we have some big decisions to make and need a ton of prayer. Plus, I will be going to the coast for a couple of days (without the hubs or baby–eek!) and am excited for the chance to pray more (case in point: while trying to do the daily prayer together this morning, the hubs and I were interrupted by a screeching baby clinging to our legs, one who was very tired due to waking up at 11pm and 5:30am–may He protect us through the storm of toddlerhood indeed).

So here is the recap for the next week:

Week five: Stress
Use this week as a chance to get rid of stress, and to identify those areas of your life where you are holding on to anxiety. The most crucial element of this week is to find a time to spend in prayer for significant portions of the day. As we learn to relinquish control and let God be in charge, we will no longer let our lives be ruled by stress.

Practical Fasts:
Commit to picking a space for every day where you commit to spend time in prayer.
Pick one day to be a Sabbath for you and your family and find your rest in Him. (Variations on the Sabbath abound–we would encourage a time for prayer and joy and rest and solitude, whatever that might look like for your family).

Prayer:
Use resources like the book of Common Prayer for ideas on when and what to pray.

How was no spending week? Do you have any resources for times of structured prayer? I would love to hear them!

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