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Boundaries

Hi all. I apologize for how long it has been.  I’ve been insanely busy with school.  In fact, right now, I should be reading the last 60 pages of a biography on Andrew Jackson and then starting the 5 page paper I have to write over it.  Did I mention that it’s all due tomorrow at 12:30?

All right…I know that as Christians, we’re called to be compassionate and merciful to others.  But that definitely doesn’t mean allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of.  We have to draw the line somewhere.  The Bible teaches “tough love” in a few places, such as the “spare the rod, spoil the child” proverb.  But how do you know where compassion and mercy end and tough love begins?

I guess I’m looking for Biblical reassurance that I’m doing the right thing by not giving someone my notes.  Last semester, a girl in my French classes missed around 3 weeks.  When she got back, the professor volunteered me to help her out.  She came over and told me an elaborate story about why she’d been missing class, as well as her elaborate life story.  I thought that some of those things could happen to one person, but it didn’t seem likely that all of those things would happen to one person.  This semester, the same girl is in my French class.  This time, she’s missed 7 weeks of class, only coming to take her midterm.  It has been discussed that there’s really no way for her to pass the class at this point.  Anyway, she called me this morning, asking for help.  After making a quick call to the professor, I told the girl that she should talk to him.

I avoided her today in class by constantly being involved in conversations with other people.  And I feel a little crummy about it, but I was worried that I wouldn’t know the right way to handle it if she asked me point blank to my face for help.  It’s not as though she said my name or said something directly to me and I ignored it; I just made sure I was always otherwise engaged.

Did I do the right thing?

My roommate is another source of aggravation, but a good friend challenged me to go this past weekend without talking about my roommate.  I thought that was interesting because I don’t usually talk about my roommate with my parents.  Anyway, I didn’t talk about the roommate this weekend and I felt really good.  I’m thinking of making it a standard practice over the next 25 days.

That’s all for now.  I need to work on that biography.  Hopefully things will soon calm down and I’ll be  able to write more regularly.

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Simplicity

All right.  This word doesn’t entirely describe me and my life like I wish it did.  My room is beyond cluttered.  And I haven’t hung up any clothes in a few days.  And I have papers and other reminders of my life as a student.  But I feel like I’m living a more simpler life right now.

I’m not sure what the cause of this is, but I like it.  Granted, I have school for 3 hours a day and then 5 hours (or more) of homework each day.  Not to mention a recent rash of study groups (I still can’t get over how someone who prefers studying along as much as I do wound up in so many study groups this semester), which though beneficial, have taken up quite a bit of my time.

But I have been taking from 9-10 off each night for me.  I have been shutting off my computer around 8:00 or 8:30, which is good because I won’t spend part of my reading hour checking emails.  I’ve been getting up just a half hour earlier to do some yoga.  My prayers and introspection have been more…more.  I mentioned this in a comment on Kaysie’s blog yesterday, but I need to repeat it here.  Someone asked me whether I would rather love the one I was with or be with the one I love.  I considered making a joke about being with no one.  Then I realized that I do need to love the one that I’m with right now.  It’s me and Jesus and I need to love both of those people before I can love anyone else or be love (in the romantic sense) by anyone else.

Lately the thought, the hope of a relationship has been on my mind.  Not with anyone particular, mind you, but just in general.  This leaves me wondering whether it’s just the seasonal change or perhaps something has been changing in me this long winter and God is warming up my heart for something special.  Obviously I won’t know until I get a boyfriend whether God meant for me to have one soon or later.  But that’s OK because I’d rather my relationships be in order and in line with God’s wishes.

Next week at Bible study I think we’re going to cover the Proverbs 31 woman.  I’m looking forward to this so much.  I think it will be really beneficial to know what God wants of us as women.  It’s going to be kind of interesting in a funny way because there is one guy in the Bible study (and he’s dating one of the girls).

I guess I’ll do an update on books right quick.  I’ve been reading Lolita, Journals (of Arthur Schlesinger, who worked in the Kennedy administration and wrote a bunch of books), and the Story of Edgar Sawtelle.  All of them are really good.  I’ve been reading Lolita before my first class each day (because I show up for my first classes about 30 minutes early so I can read), Journals in between classes and at lunch, and Edgar Sawtelle has been my before bed book.  I haven’t gotten very far in Edgar Sawtelle, but various things keep popping up (such as my mom calling).  Maybe tonight I can get a good lead going.

Marching Along

Once again, it has been nearly two weeks since I have last written.  I’ve been so busy with school that it’s ridiculous.  And it’s only going to get worse before Spring Break.  I had a French midterm yesterday and I have a book review due today.  After today, in the next 10 days, I have 4 tests, 3 papers, and a book discussion.  And then I get a week off from school, which I am much looking forward to.  I only hope that I don’t have the same problem I had last year at spring break, which was a migraine to end all migraines.  (It was the first one I ever had and it lasted for 10 days and included a trip to the hospital)  Luckily, this year I have migraine medicine prescribed to me by my doctor to take at the first sign of a problem.

But aside from all of the business, amazing things have been happening to me.  I started attending Mass on Sundays.  I also went on Tuesday.   And I went to an Ash Wednesday service.  Then there was an amazing Bible Study (more about that later) on Thursday.  As you can see, I’ve been spending a lot of time with God and God’s people and it has had an amazing effect on me!  I have been much calmer about school and life in general.  I’ve been reacting to things rationally.  God has even afforded me some time off from school where I can relax, even if just for a couple of hours.

Last week’s Bible Study was wonderful.  It was just the pastor, another girl, and me.  We ate with the couple that cooked dinner for us.  They were really nice and asked questions about our lives and it was just great.  The food was also really good.  (Interesting to note, I have not yet had something that I didn’t like at Bible Study dinners, even though I have been a little bit leery of trying some of the food)  After dessert, the three of us adjourned to the study while the couple cleaned up.  The pastor said we could discuss the next Sunday’s reading or we could talk about something else.  I had a suggestion.  My Bible has a chart about the Beatitudes that includes Old Testament verses about it, worldly values that get in the way, and the way to cultivate that Beatitude.  We went through the chart and sometimes discussed what each verse said and made connections to our lives.  It was great.  I feel like I got a lot out of it.

When it came time to pray, since it was such a small group, the other girl and I opened up about some of the problems we’ve been having and discussed them amongst ourselves and then prayed about them.  It was delightful to be on such an intimate level with someone.  And it was nice to have some reaffirming feedback regarding my thoughts and reactions.

I feel like I found a new friend in the girl that was there with me.  She says she’s used to having her friends come to her with their problems.  But I really hope that she can open up to me about her problems.  That’s something that always makes me a little sad.  People will ask me for advice on shoes or something equally unimportant, but never about serious things.  (Note: That’s an open invitation for any of you to email me about anything you’re going through and I will try to help you)

Aside from this spiritual experience, I’ve started having another.  I’ve decided to wake up a half hour earlier each morning to do yoga.  It’s just a quick little routine that varies each day.  But I’ve already noticed a change in the way I feel and think.  It’s a very special time for me because everything is quiet and I can feel God’s presence even though I’m not saying a word.  I’m just concentrating on my breathing (and a little bit on getting the poses right).  It’s so rare for me to have that stillness of mind, but I know that it’s a gift from God.

All in all, I’m trooping along as we travel from February to March.  I may be a little out of step with the world, but I feel that I’m in step with God and that’s the important thing.

Have a blessed day!

Two Weeks Later

I can’t believe that it’s been two weeks since I’ve last posted!  Time has been flying out the windows for me.  I have hardly had time to sit and think, let alone get bored (although I do get bored when I’m doing my homework and in class) from a lack of things to do.

I wish I could say that things are better now, that I’ve gotten my act together and have been spending more time with God.  But that would be lying.  I just don’t know where to begin.  I like things to be orderly, so having a plan of some type would be good.  It would be great for some Heavenly body to say, “Here, read this first and then read that.”  Because I would know to read this and then that.  And maybe something like that would come to me if I would open my Bible more often.  I know that most of my stress and frustration is caused by not spending time with God.  (For some reason, that made me think about this poem [at least I think it’s a poem] about not waiting around for Death, so Death waited around for me)

One of the things I remember vividly about my parents’ church is the pastor advocating taking one day a week off because “you can get more done in 6 days with Christ than you can in 7 without Him.”  It seems like the times that I’ve tried this, I did get more done.  Probably because that leisure allowed me to think with a clear mind and I was able to remember what needs to be done, what should be done (but isn’t necessary), and what could be done.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I need to stop and smell the roses sometimes because pretty soon new challenges are going to present themselves and I’ll be spending a while thinking of how to surmount those.  If I can get to this point where I have peace, I will be able to take on anything…

I’m about to update my reading challenge page, so check it out.

Let the games begin…

I’m not sure what I would do without my friend C.  She’s so great to talk to about anything really.  OK, maybe not anything, anything, but definitely a lot of things.  (I think she’d be shocked to find out about some of my skeletons)  Last night we talked for a long time about religion and our personal walks with God.  She’s about where I am: knowing that God is around, but not having the time and not making the time for Him.  I started out doing pretty well with reading the Bible each night and doing those Thankful For cards, but with time it began to be a chore, just one to cross off my list each day.  And that’s definitely not how I want to feel about my relationship, my quiet time with God.

I want it to be something that I don’t have to think about, something automatic, but not in a robotic way.  I feel like spending time with God, either reading His Word or talking to Him, should just come naturally to me.  I don’t want to think about doing it, but I don’t want it to become a mindless, thoughtless activity.  Does that even make sense?

I guess it’s something that I have to just start doing and start small and eventually it will happen on its own, without my having to force it.

I’ve come to this point where it feels like things aren’t going so well (I won’t go into details though) but I know that God has brought me to this point.  I know that right now I don’t have a boyfriend and I’m pulling back a bit from my friends because I have this tendency to rely on them to either take care of my problems or distract me so I don’t worry about my problems.  And right now, I don’t have that crutch.  God is telling me that I need to be relying on Him.  But I don’t know where to start.  I know that it’s perfectly acceptable to go to God when I’m at my lowest and ask for His help and love, but that seems like such a crummy way to go to Him.  I haven’t done a good job of building a great relationship with Him when things were going well in my life (although I always knew He was there and was the reason things were going well, but I just didn’t talk to Him) so it doesn’t seem fair for me to turn to Him when all I’m doing is asking.

I fully realize that one of the problems in my last real relationship stemmed from my co-dependence on my boyfriend.  And I know that that’s an unfair burden to place on someone else and it also goes contrary to God’s message–I should have relied on God and not my boyfriend for things.  So part of me is thinking that if I make it through all of this by relying on God and not on man, then I will be ready for a real relationship.  I’m not saying that it will happen immediately, but by making God first in my life when I really need someone, then shouldn’t I be able to make God first when things are going well?

I know that it’s time for me to stop thinking about it and just start talking to God and He’ll show me what to read.  I can never forget this time one of my old friends was having a hard time falling asleep and he started praying and some verse or psalm popped into his mind and he looked it up and it had something to do with sleeping.  God will show me what I need to read.  I just have to sit back and stop trying so hard for force something.

Wilderness

I think I’m in a wilderness, searching for the right path, for I’ve strayed from the path I was following.  And I’m running and searching frantically for some sort of guide, like a trail, to know that I’m going the right way, or at least headed in a general direction and not going around and around in circles.

I know I feel this way because the past two weeks, I’ve been taking everything onto myself and not asking for help.  I haven’t had the time to enjoy life, enjoy a book, enjoy the warmth of a hot bubble bath.  I keep complaining about not having found a routine yet, but I actually have one.  I wake up, make coffee, check my email, make replies to posts on GoodReads, eat breakfast, go to class, eat lunch, go back to class, check my email, make replies, do homework, eat dinner, do more homework, go to bed.  There’s no reading of books I want to read.  There’s no spending quality time with God.  There’s no spending quality time with myself.  I wrote a post for my other blog about how I feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

And I don’t know how to remedy this.  I can’t not go to class.  I can’t not do my homework.  And it’s unfortunate that doing my homework ends up taking so much of my time.  I barely, if ever, get all of my homework finished before going to bed at night.  So, I’m already not getting my homework done; I can’t imagine stopping it to do something else, no matter how rewarding, for an hour or so.  I don’t really understand why my homework has to take so long to do.  In theory, it’s not that much.  But reading those pages takes so long.

Lacking Inspiration

Hi all.  I feel like I’m lacking inspiration.  I have a hard time making it through the Old Testament days of the week, but I really like reading Matthew and Romans.  I feel a little trapped.  I’m in the city right now, but it’s not where I want to be.  I definitely don’t want to go back to my college town.

I really want to be in nature.  I want to walk beside a beautiful stream and everything is green and the sky is clear and the dirt is brown.  I want to sit next to a lake without the annoying buzz of boats and jet skis (or whatever those things are called).  I want to have an escape like Thoreau had Walden.  Somewhere to go and be inspired.  I don’t necessarily want to write, but I want to see something, somewhere beautiful.  That doesn’t really sound like any place in Oklahoma.  More like what I imagine Colorado to be like.

I wish my family had a lake cabin or had one available to us.  But most people I know that own them have TVs and internet and phone service.  I want a place with a bed, a desk, a bookshelf, electricity, running water, a bathroom and a kitchen and that’s it.  I want to be able to see God’s creation around me and write about it if I want and go on long hikes and read a lot.  That is the ultimate relaxation vacation to me.  Just me and God, doing what we do best.  (I imagine God is a reader; I don’t know His particular habits)  In retrospect, that sounds sacreligious.  I’m not saying He’d take a break from being God, but He is the ultimate multi-tasker.

I have a few more days before I go back to school.  I’m really not looking forward to it because I’m afraid it will be as stressful and unpleasant as last semester.  People say that these are the best days of my life.  If this is as good as it gets, I don’t think I want things to get any worse than they already are by growing up.

Where do you go when your soul needs to regain strength?  What do you do?  What do you read?  What do you pray for?