Monday, December 30, 2013

Almost A New Year

I do this every year and it challenges me and stresses me out and focuses me.  I love to hate it.

Last year's resolutions:
1) pray
2) praise
3) study
4) eat to live
5) sweat
6) teach
7) give love

They were basic.  And yet I failed them for the most part.  I did and do pray, but not enough.  I did and do praise, but not enough.  I did study, but definitely not enough - in fact I dropped out of grad school.  My eating was a roller coaster.  I did a vegan challenge and discovered how much my body wants to be healthy and then I started eating my stress again.  I did a month of the Shaklee 180 program and lost 6 pounds and several inches, only to gain it back in the next month by stress eating. I did not sweat very much, not enough.  I did teach, but the jury is out on whether I did so effectively.  And back in the summer I had several people tell me that I was open, warm, loving.  That was a blessing, because I didn't see that transformation happen.  The fruit surprised me.

Here are the things I did accomplish: 
1) Kids love me.  Not a day goes by that I don't believe I was born to be a teacher.  They confide in me, they connect to me, they ask me for help.  I wish I was perfect at teaching standards and scaffolding knowledge.  But there are plenty of teachers who are good at that but not good at relating to kids.  I'm glad to start where I am.  The skills can be learned, the love maybe not.
2) Finished my poetry book.  It needs an intro and cover art and it will be ready to print.
3) I got paid to perform twice.  I got asked to perform several times.  I have grown a ton as a performer, without slam.
4) I signed a contract for a job that I show up to everyday even when I don't feel well or don't want to.  In other words, I grew up a lot.
5) I bought a new laptop, a new phone, and a car.  I have a tiny retirement fund building.

This place in life is hard to be at.  Everyone acknowledges that adolescence is hard and smart people seek to help adolescents navigate through their hard time.  But people expect you to have a tight handle on all your coping and thriving mechanisms by 25 and they leave you out there to do it on your own.

I've spent winter break lamenting this. I don't feel like life should be hard, but it is. I don't feel like I should feel or be alone, but I am.  I should have accomplished a bunch of things by now that I haven't.  But I am determined to.

I am ahead of the game in some ways, because I know I'm doing at least part of what I'm supposed to - teaching, writing, performing.  Now I just need the other parts - where to live, how to make more money, what to do with my off-work hours, when to go to grad school and for what and where, whether to become ordained, whether to go to seminary (yeah, I said that), who to have in my inner circle versus who to love from a further distance, when and how to start traveling the world, whether to start slamming again, whether to marry...

And there is only one way to get the RIGHT answer to those questions. 

Society wants to tell you that there's no right way, no one answer, that it's all random, and life is a box of chocolates.  And I wanted to believe that for a while. Until I realized that the lack of purpose is what causes stress.  Maybe I have a deeper need for structure than other people, but I spend a lot of hours not at work, and even during the hours that I am at work, I spend a lot of time thinking about the bigger picture. And the bigger picture always always comes back to why.  Why is always supported or destroyed by how.  And I don't serve a God of uncertainties and questions and fear and anxiety.  I serve a God of answers and direction and order and peace.  So the only way to get the right answer to all of my questions is to go deeper into the Word, deeper into the personality of Abba God and the lover of my soul.

I said all of that to say this:
I only have one resolution in 2014: Give God the time He deserves.  A portion of everyday needs to be spent focused on God, His word, prayer.  Ideally, this year I will learn to tithe my time just like I tithe my money.  

I know to some this sounds crazy. Some of you probably think I already do "enough." I go to church almost every week, I serve at church. But doing things for God and knowing God are not the same thing.

I also realized a few things:

It really disappoints me that I haven't conquered my weight battle. For a week, I did yoga every day. I had a friend giving me accolades for it and that felt good.  But during those 7 days, I didn't spend adequate time with God.  I was so happy to be able to tweet #YogaEveryDamnDay but neither I nor anyone else cared if I tweeted about the revelation I'd gotten in the word that day, or the fact that I hadn't gotten any.  Not to mention, Jesus told us to go in our "closet" to pray, not for the purpose of being seen.  I decided after that week that if, this time next year, I was a skinny yogi who still didn't have the right answers to my questions then it was all in vain.

It really bothers me that I haven't accomplished any financial goals.  But I eat and I tithe and when I need something, as a general rule, I can buy it.  I could go get a second job and move into an apartment I'd never spend any time in, and infringe on my performance schedule, and my ability to support my kids at their games and extracurriculars.  Or I could stay where I am and seek God about how to get my money right.  Last semester I worked two jobs and I hated it. I was more stressed because my time was not mine.  And I was trying to work my plan instead of finding out what God's plan was.  Been there, done that. Don't want to do it again.

I didn't read enough books this year - I, the English teacher, and bibliophile didn't read enough books.  Because I was too busy working away at too many things. I was unfocused.  I could plan to read more books, but if I read all the books in the world but never finish reading the Bible than I am a phony.  The Christian bibliophile reads all the best sellers but has never read Chronicles, Lamentations, or Revelation? That is completely out of order and wrong.  In fact, I'm going to buy a Message bible - maybe I can find a Message-Amplified parallel.  I have study Bibles, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in studying that I don't take it in.  Pastor says "read the Bible like you're watching a movie" - imagine it, let it place vision in your heart.

I told myself I would learn Spanish by the end of the school year.  That was an arbitrary but understandable goal.  I want to be able to speak to my kids in their first language as well as the lingua franca.  But the original purpose of me learning Spanish (before I taught at a 75% Mexican school) was so that I would have two languages to minister in.  This goal dates back to junior high and high school mission trips to Mexico and the prophecy I was given a couple years ago that I would find my father's family and God would show me when and how.

And let's be real.  I am enjoying writing a book titled Christian Single Girl Swag.  I'd love to say it will be done in 2014.  I have been drafting it a lot over the last couple of weeks.  But I don't want to be single forever (the book is about living and loving to the fullest while you are single).  And I can't know who to love, who to steer clear of, who spend time with or give my heart to if I don't seek God about it.

I hope you see why there's really only one goal that matters.

Matthew 6:33 says "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things shall be added unto you."  I'm banking on the truth that God can't go back on His word, that I will seek the Kingdom and the weight, the money, the career, the ministry, the love will all fall into place after.  

I'm also starting the year with a Daniel Fast.

Here's to Him.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Day 2013

Today was the first snow day of my career. It started sleeting and snowing as we left school yesterday and schools around the state were cancelled today.

So I spent the day organizing my life - which I do every break I get - and getting ready to publish my first poetry book, The Risk to Bloom.  I am done with my part of the writing.  I have two people writing introductions, though I might only choose one.  I need to write an author's note and choose cover art.  I am scheduling a promotional photo shoot. I have appointed a creative director - my best friend, Jessica, who I don't pay, lol. Yet!  And I am overwhelmed in a good way.

I wrote and edited a poem for a show next week. Procrastinor, much? But I like the poem. Working sporadically on memorization.
The show is going to be incredible.  I'm excited for Soul Williams and honored that I was chosen to be a part of the magic.

I have realized that listening to poets - specifically The Strivers Row - on YouTube while I write, edit, and rehearse keeps me motivated. So while I was doing that, I heard this and needed to post it.

Alysia Harris is everything. Everything.

She loves Jesus, too, if you were wondering. Follow her twitter.