Monday, 29 April 2013

12 Things I learned in April

Emily's Freeman's, "Chatting at the Sky" is a blog I've really been enjoying. Each month, she blogs about 12 things she's learned that month. They're fun to read and as I was reading hers today, I thought... I should do that! I like the idea of taking some time to reflect over the month. So here are 12 things I learned in April...

1. Moving is a lot of work! We just moved to a new suite this past week. Why do we have so much stuff? I don't like having a lot of random  stuff and I want to get rid of things we don't use and don't need. 

2. Meal plans for the week are a necessity. If I don't write out a meal plan and then grocery shop for that meal plan, we will eat out and spend more than we should. 

3. I need girl talk. Sometimes when life gets busy, time with my girlfriends falls to the wayside. Making that a priority this month has lifted my mood and helped me process some things. I am blessed with amazing girlfriends and I want to make more time for them!

4. I love routine and consistency. I got offered a full time teaching position for the fall (thank you Lord!) and I'm super stoked! Mostly, I'm looking forward to the routine of being with the same kids every day in the same classroom. 

5. Vacations are important. The beginning of this month, my hubby and I got back from a week long vacation in Phoenix. We both could not believe the difference we felt. We were better able to handle our work loads and even just the emotional stresses of our jobs. I need regular time away with just him. Seems obvious, but it had been a surprisingly long time since we'd had time away together.

6. The Voice is better than American Idol...I like how they focus more on the positive (coaching them) than the negative (judging them). But if I start watching a show like that, I'm hooked. If I don't want to get hooked to a show, I shouldn't watch even one episode! :)

7. Too much social media is overwhelming. I love facebook for many reasons, but I don't need to check it more than once a day. Also, twitter is cool. But again, once a day is more than enough.

8. God's presence is sweet and I desire more of Him. We went to the Chris Tomlin & Kari Jobe concert in Seattle. It was awesome! God's presence was so near.  I know (head-knowledge) that he is with me, but I want to be more aware of his presence in every moment of my day.

9. Planting potatoes is a fun way to spend a Wednesday night. Our youth group had the opportunity to serve at "God's Little Acre" this month. They donate produce to food banks and their heart is all about others. There are amazing places to serve in such practical ways right outside our back doors. 

10. I am super proud of my husband! I've always been proud of him, but right now he is working on his Masters of Divinity part time and working full time. I love that he has drive and motivation and I want to help and encourage him as much as possible. Anyone with a spouse in school knows that it can be tough. But, I want to work at being more thankful for the fact that he has this opportunity and to encourage him in any way possible towards this goal (yes, even if that means editing 15 page papers late at night when I have to work the next morning.) :)

11. Adoption is awesome. Lately, some friends of ours got their referral to adopt from Ethiopia. It was pretty amazing watching their journey and then finally seeing that it's all happening. I believe in adoption and I think there are few things that so purely express God's heart.

12. I love to write. Even if something I enjoy isn't a major part of my day job, I should make time for it.

What have you learned this April?!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Am I Growing?

Lately I've been struck by the significance of the word Growth. Spring is the most captivating of all seasons in terms of new life and growth. The beauty of growth is so tangible this time of year. This got me thinking... If growth on the earth is this breath-taking, how much more will our growth bring glory to our Creator?

There are different kinds of growth. Growth can be physical. Grownups always say to children, "You're growing up so fast!" Or sometimes we grow physically when we train for a marathon, start lifting weights, etc. There's also emotional growth. This kind of growth happens as we gain a maturity in the ways we react and respond to different people and situations. Intellectual growth happens when we feel our minds have been stretched in some way, whether that means we've mastered a new language, instrument, or completed a course. There's relational growth. This happens between husbands and wives, friends, family, even aquaintances. We learn how to treat others and how to respond to each other's needs. We also experience spiritual growth. Spiritual growth happens over time. Sometimes it happens quickly, but for most people, spiritual growth is a journey. I grow the most spiritually when I am spending time alone with God, digging into his word, and stretching myself to lead and disciple others. Of course, there are other areas of growth too.

When I was younger, I was guilty of often saying "I'm bored." (As if it were my parents God-given calling to give me something exciting to do!) Reflecting on this now, I think it had more to do with my personality than me being an annoying child. :) I remember my Nana used to say something that I really did not like hearing: "If you say you're 'bored'" she'd say, "you're probably a boring person." Ouch. As I reflect on this statement now though, I can see some truth in it. It's easy to become stagnant. Stagnant means "Having no current or flow...showing no activity...dull and sluggish." For some reason, I've been feeling kind of "blah" (bored/stagnant) lately. It's not that life isn't good. But I know that I haven't been as excited about it lately. Instead of appreciating all of the wonderful things in my life and the exciting things God's calling me to, I find myself complaining more easily, feeling down more often, and overall feeling a sense of stagnancy.

I've discovered that I am a very growth-focused person. Feeling stagnant is the exact opposite of how I want to feel in life. I take great joy in life when I am growing in some way. When feel caught in the same-old, same-old, I get, well... bored! (This doesn't mean that some things in life aren't necessary- yes, the laundry, dishes and grocery shopping all have to get done! And I'm okay with that.) What I'm referring to is growth and change within.

So what now? How do I get the "current" moving? I was talking to somebody about this recently and she was saying I need to give myself permission to need growth in my life. She suggested making a "growth list"- anything that brings me joy, energizes me creatively, stretches me spiritually, etc. So that's my next step. Maybe next time I'll share some items on my 'growth list.' :) Some questions I'm going to ask myself are, How am I using my gifts? Could I trying something new? Am I challenging myself in some way? Am I learning new things?

Maybe you're feeling bored or maybe just not as thrilled about life right now for some reason. Consider asking yourself, "Am I growing?" Maybe even a small goal towards growth will help put the oomph back into life! What would you put on your 'growth list?'

"They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem." Psalm 84:7

"Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better." Colossians 1:10