Graduate School


The creation of my bucket list has been a work in progress for a few years now and I found some reluctance within me to actually post it. I do not know why. Maybe, it was worry that my list was not good enough or that I would actually have to complete the items on it. The last six months have been dedicated to finally finish writing my list in December. I have already begun accomplishing and working on some of my goals (One was even accomplished a few years ago). The task of writing and completing my list has ushered me into a new season of new beginnings and adventures. My life the last few months has been cluttered with the first few steps toward one of my bucket list goals. Graduate School.

I feel as though there is no greater excuse for my lack of posting to my blog. In August I began my first semester. I do not think I could have anticipated just how much time that this goal would take up of my day to day life. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that I regret my decision to start my graduate program. On the contrary, I love it! I have always loved learning and I am a lifelong learner. I also know this is what I am called to do right here and right now. What I did not mentally prepare for was how much I could handle, and the amount of time graduate classes would take up in my daily schedule.

My first month of school I began accomplishing another bucket list goal and began teaching English classes in the mornings and I was still working at my other job in the afternoons. My schedule was literally wake up at 4:00 am teach till 8:30 am, nap, do homework, go to my other job, come home and crash, then repeat. In my mind, I pictured how wonderful graduate school life would be I would do homework and learn. Our house would stay spotless and clean. I would have time to be a healthy individual. I would grow the closest to God that I have ever been, and life would be near perfect. The reality, our laundry stayed in baskets every week. Our house was a disaster (Except for when my wonderful husband had time to clean). I was exhausted every day and struggled to make time for school which filled every waking moment outside of work and church. This season definitely did bring me closer to God but in a way, I did not expect it too. It was not in the pursuit of discipline and knowledge that I grew closer to God but in the desperate need of strength and rest. I had to rely on God daily. I went from having times set aside for prayer to praying continually. I was finding myself going from one task to the next asking God for rest, strength, mercy, and for my anxiety to be eased. There were times when I had an exam with hardly any time to study. I would pray for God to somehow allow me to do well. As time passed miraculously, I would receive good grades on of all my assignments.


The first few months of the semester it did not take me long to realize that I had taken on too much. Maybe, not more than I could handle but more than what was healthy to handle. I felt like I barely had time to breathe. I learned the hard way that I cannot do everything. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and I am not God. I cannot just speak, and things will be done. I quickly learned my limit when I began growing irritable toward my wonderful husband who I could not have survived the last few months without.  I realized it is ok to be imperfect. There is a deeper meaning to life than laundry. It is not worth trying to be superwoman and do everything. I do not know what it is about our culture that tells us an untrue and unhealthy narrative about women and what we are supposed to be in our world. I do not believe I was born to exhaust myself and do everything. I do not have it within me to live an existence of cooking, cleaning, and nothing more. I yearn for more and struggle with guilt that I am not meant for more. I already learned this lesson once. My life is an accumulation of teaching moments. I fail, reflect, learn, grow, and become a stronger and hopefully better person. During this season the pressure to do everything and be great at it was almost insurmountable. If God has taught me anything during the last few months, it is that I need him as the song Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher says;



“ Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You, I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You”


I knew graduate school would be difficult. I took measures to ensure that I would stay healthy. I asked my husband before the first day of classes to hold me accountable for eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep. He did a far better job than I had anticipated. My husband and I live our lives passionately and with purpose. We are both very hard working. We live our life on a mission and sometimes we both have a tendency to over commit. Before my current adventure ever began, we found ourselves at the end of a busy year. My husband just graduated and finished school while working full time. It had been a while since we had the opportunity to get away just the two of us. So, we planned a sabbatical to find rest, and spend time with God and each other.

We left the day after my first week of midterms as a graduate student. I learned a lot of lessons during our trip. This sabbatical led to a discussion with my husband about being healthier. I was doing great with being physically healthy, but my schedule was not allowing me to be mentally healthy. I needed rest. I needed balance. So, I started to choose to be healthy over constantly overworking myself and being stressed. I began saying “no” to things in my life. I quit one of my jobs. I even said no to some of the insuperable reading that was required of me and gave myself grace and rest. There is something freeing and powerful in saying the word no. I learned to accept my imperfections. I accepted my limits. I began to grow and find a balance.

 

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I think that schools have a double standard. I love to learn. I am willing to work hard and dedicate time to education, but I refuse to let it take over my life. I refuse to not be healthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the sake of a good grade. It is ok to not do all of the reading. Even though I am not able to cross this off my bucket list yet. I have a year and a half left in my program. I thought I would continue to share some of my struggles and thoughts as I move through what will be some of the most personally shaping years of my life. I write this at the conclusion of my first semester with the second semester beginning next week. I am proud to say that I earned all A’s and one B+. I have to admit that at first, having one B stung but the time I spent actually enjoying this new journey was more worth it.

 
Lastly, I would like to take the time to thank my amazing husband who cooked dinner every night, cleaned when he had time, made sure I put down my textbooks and went to bed, told me to exercise, and helped me survive the last few months. Thank you, Mr. Horton, for staying up late one night to help me search for the take-home exam that I lost after spending days working on it. I appreciate your efforts in digging through all of our garbage bags at twelve in the morning.  Even though we never found it and we both had to be up early the next morning. Thank you for making breakfast, packing my lunch every Tuesday, and listening to my thoughts about class discussions, different counseling theories, and annoying people. Thank you for praying for me when I was exhausted, stressed beyond words, and showing me grace when I was grouchy, tired and irritable. I could not survive this journey without you or live life without you. I love you. Everyone needs a spouse or person like you in their lives.

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An Existential Crisis and a Bucket List

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Last Christmas, I was given a bucket list journal. For the last year, I may have been putting it off… Attempting to list a hundred things I wish to accomplish before I die has proven to be a tediously annoying task. I find myself struggling to craft the perfect list. I write and then tear my list apart. Nothing I write down seems right. I might be overthinking just a little bit but I’m all in and committed to this adventure.

If God has taught me anything it’s that life is unexpected. We are not guaranteed anything. So often we try to control life and define normal. We take the brokenness of our experiences and try to control what we cannot. When I began researching how to write a bucket list I saw so many lists of outrageous accomplishments with items like bungee jumping and skydiving. I want my list to have meaning to make a difference in my life and in my community. I want it to help me and others grow and it needs to match the passions God has placed on my heart. Currently, my husband and I are reading through the book Love Does by Bob Goff and he says the yearning of my heart perfectly. “I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” I don’t want to accumulate experiences like we accumulate material things in our homes.

I also don’t want my list to be a collection of milestones that will just happen. As I sit here at my kitchen table trying to figure out this whole bucket list that is supposed to hold me accountable to live a life of meaning I can’t help but be moved by the scriptures I’ve been reading by Mary. In Luke 1:46-55 is Mary’s Song.

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

I can’t imagine myself in Mary’s shoes being fourteen or sixteen living in a masculine dominant society and pregnant. Yet earlier in the chapter, Gabriel calls Mary God’s highly favored one and her response to bearing the savior of the world knowing her context is “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Following the story God has planned for us does not mean everything will be easy. Yet we need to endure through the trials and crooked paths we face on our journey. It’s easy to be fooled about life’s purpose and to be motivated to live a comfortable life but Mary and this bucket list has inspired me.

 

So, often in my life, I have been left out and not made to fit in whether it has been my social class, gender, or personality. Sometimes I have felt below the world as if someone or something in our culture has placed its heel on me preventing me from leaving where I started. For so long I have driven myself to prove myself through my accomplishments. Reading about Mary has taught me that life is not about accomplishments and that I don’t have to prove myself to God. I don’t have to stress about my list because it doesn’t have to be perfect or brag-worthy. It’s for God and me. Its purpose is to hold me accountable to live a life on fire. Not a life of comfort or the typical American Dream.

One day soon I hope to have this list completed and to share it with all of you. Until then I am grabbing onto God’s love, the savior who loves me and created me the way that I am in all my imperfections for a reason. Today, I am letting go of the judgments and criticisms of this world. The path that God calls us to is not always easy. So I leave you with a quote from someone who inspires me and I hope to challenge you to live a life of purpose and meaning. How can we make a difference in our families and communities?

“Life is too short, the world too big and God’s love is too great to live ordinarily”

-Christine Caine

Our Valentines Day

Until I met my husband I hated Valentines Day in my millennial mind it was another day that our culture uses for commercialism. My husband and I have turned this superficial holiday into a stand a stand that our relationship is significant and has purpose. Instead of spending crazy amounts of money on each other we have set up a boundary every February. We find a day or weekend when we are both off of work and we are intentional about spending time together.

We spend time exploring and adventuring our world and our Jesus together. Valentines Day has become such an important day for us because it is a stand against our culture. In both commercialism and a workaholic society that screams the corporate ladder is our ultimate purpose. In other ways, it’s a yearly teaching moment for us. So, often my husband and I watch other couples let kids, work, and ministry become their idols and get in the way of their relationships together. Maybe we are young and naive but I am creating the habit now.

Our marriage should always come second before our kids (even if you don’t have kids yet) and ministry but right after our love and relationship with God. As I reflect on relationships that I have watched set examples before me I can not help but think what is the point of marriage? Is it to procreate? For financial stability? To fill lust? Love is an action and I refuse to believe that my relationship with my husband is nothing more than these reasons or a binding legal contract that I have with him. Marriage, serves a purpose, in life and ministry and it is for our enjoyment. I might be a romantic but my husband and I are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We are always pushing each other towards our goals. He is my greatest ministry partner. I do ministry better by his side. His weaknesses are my strengths and my weaknesses are his strengths. We challenge each other to be better and to grow. We are better together. He is the best friend I could ever ask or pray for.

My marriage is a ministry in itself. I married my husband to bring glory to God and demonstrate God’s love through our love for each other for others to see. My husband and I have always viewed our marriage as a team fulfilling God’s calling on our lives. We find ourselves in a season of constant busyness and I have been in awe of the beauty of our teamwork in ministry and at home. While James is doing homework I cook dinner. While he works on sermons I work on our youth group lessons. While he works I clean our house. While I work he picks up the duties I ran out of time to get done. The times we both have off? Are spent together in cozyness or sitting together in complete mental exhaustion from the week. We have a good life rhythm going.

Let me ask this question. How can a team win if the players don’t get together and practice? How can a team be on the same page or game plan if we don’t spend time focusing on God, our goals, and purpose? My husband and I don’t have a perfect marriage. We argue and disagree at times like everyone else. Maybe, if we were more intentional about spending time together and let go of unimportant things there would be less divorce. My goal is to live a simple life where our money and time is spent more on people and experiences rather than material things. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” How can we combat the stress and worries of this world together as a couple if we do not spend time growing together in life and with God. My husband and I guess are selfish with our time together. We make each other a priority even though we don’t have kids yet.

Every year we go on an adventure and spend a whole day or weekend alone together. For us days off together are rare. So, we plan out which day will work a month ahead of time. Last year we spent a weekend at a local hotel and went to a library and read the weekend away spending time recharging and spending time in prayer and with God together.

This year we explored some new coffee shops and the Franklin Park Conservatory. Spending our time at each coffee shop reading together. Spending time with God together. We met people and talked about God with them. We found a lost dog and returned it to its owner. We finished our night in a parking lot praying over our city. Finally, here is my challenge to you. How is your relationship with your spouse? Are you investing in life together? How are both of your relationships with God? I challenge you to spend quality time with your spouse this week or this month.

 

Goodbye 2017

It’s January, the first month of the year which means new beginnings and second chances. Last Sunday my husband and I squeezed in our annual date for our yearly reflections. We may have skipped last year… So, this year I was determined to make it happen. Among our constant commuting everywhere, work, school and other commitments, we made it happen.

In the past, I have come up with a word to define the past year. If I were to define 2017 it would be “comfortable”. I enjoyed the life I get to live every day with my wonderful husband. We have been able to have quite a few adventures. We traveled to San Diego, bought our first house, and adopted two hound dogs. We have planted our feet in a newish town hoping to start growing roots for what God has called us to do.

Spending the last few weeks reflecting on this past year has been a teaching moment. If I could change anything about the way I lived it would be allowing stress to shift my focus from what’s truly important. I’ve realized that instead of focusing on what I am called to do, I’ve allowed stress from different areas of my life to seep in and put me on autopilot. Instead of going through the motions this year I would like to take tangible steps towards my goals.

My goals for this year are short and I am committing to actually accomplish them. This year I want to grow. At my roots, I am a dreamer and a bit of an idealist. I have a tendency to want to do everything under the sun. By the end of the year, I am unmotivated because I have probably only accomplished a couple of my goals that I unrealistically set for myself. I want this year to be different. It’s so easy to focus on the wrong things. My desire is to actually complete these goals. This year I am taking a second chance. One of those second chances is with this blog. Actually posting more than a few times a year.

As we sat at Tim Horton’s before church last Sunday, we sat quietly evaluating what we really wanted to accomplish. Instead of making a huge list I found four really important goals. Goals that will help me further my calling in life and help me to be healthy in all areas of my life. I hope this year is even better than the last few years. I can’t wait for the adventures to come that I hope to share with you. Here is my list of goals for 2018.

Goals
2018

1) Focus on Prayer
2) Graduate School
3) Become a Runner…again
4) Write and Read more

Treasured

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I pictured the perfect day for our first thanksgiving as a family. In my mind I idealized pictures together, writing a blessings list, cooking in the kitchen and time hanging out with family. What actually happened? I found myself fighting off a sinus infection before returning to work the next day. My day spent with a nose stuffed with tissues, passing out on the couch, being resuscitated from a deep sleep for our dinner only, to return to more sleep after our meal. As I sit during the last few days of November and reflect on the last month I cannot help but be overwhelmed with blessings and thankfulness. Our thanksgiving might have been far from perfect but it was still our first Thanksgiving as Mr. and Mrs. and I am blessed with the life I have now been given. I thought I would share with you a story I am thankful for this holiday season.

When I was a girl I always prayed for my future husband. I believed that my prayers revealed a story where I would one day meet my husband and we would travel from place to place spreading the gospel to the world. I waited and did not start dating until college. My life could be epitomized by a Lewis Carroll story. I have always been too much or too little for people. I have always been too quiet, too serious, too awkward, or too different. I began to believe that I would never be enough for anyone. Four years of heartbreak and a life of letdowns I had no room left for any more wounds and my dream to live the calling God gave me was killed. So, I took a year sabbatical from dating to detox and spend time closely with my God. A year turned into two years and then I met James. Our wonderful relationship began. He awoke the little piece of hope in me still holding on to the belief that our world is a place where impossible things happen and he is the reason today why I have a thankful heart. Here is the story of our proposal…

Last February James was adamant that we go geocaching. I was shocked by his passionate resilience to my idea of a bike ride. I was so excited to have quality time with James. He was spending so much time at work that we both felt like we hardly were able to see each other. I wore my ruby colored dress and the ruby necklace that he got me for my birthday. I was dolled up and ready to go. On his way to pick me up James called me to inform me that he would have to talk to my dad before we left about his car.

When he arrived at the house James and my father went straight for the basement to talk. I waited for what seemed like forever not knowing what forever would soon feel like…. He made his way upstairs and asked if we could sit down for a minute. We cuddled on the couch and I intentionally placed my head on his chest and laid listening to his heartbeat. After a while, he said: “ Maybe we should just hang out here.” My heart sank a little. I had been looking forward to going on our date all week. His phone rang. He got up from the couch and walked to the hallway. I watched as he paced back and forth in front of the doorway. He ended the call and told me. “ That was my boss. I left my keys to the building in one of the doors. This is the worst thing any manager can do. My boss wants me to go back to work and talk to him. I could get fired.” I grabbed his hand to comfort him. They were all sweaty and his face was really pale. I was worried about him. I could tell he was stressed and I did not want him to get yelled at or fired.

At the same time, I was disappointed. James had been working so much that I felt like I never saw him anymore. My heart completely fell as I watched him walk out the door. I was filled with worry. James had asked me to cook us dinner so we could salvage the rest of our night. I began slathering chicken breast with seasonings and boiling water for the broccoli. I cooked and waited…and waited. Eventually being forced by time to put our dinner in the oven to stay warm and I waited another forty minutes. I would check the time and pray for him and his job. Finally, he walked through the door. He informed me that he wasn’t fired and the lost keys were not a big deal. We ate our dinner awkwardly. James kept trying to make me feel better. He ate fast. I ate slowly. Pouting. I didn’t feel like eating it was late and our day was ruined. James pushed me to eat faster and kept rushing me which I thought was weird.

We decided to go on a cookie run to the store and rent a movie. He kept rushing me out the door before my family came home, which again I thought was weird. As we left my parents pulled in the driveway. As we walked by their car my dad my dad asked, “Where are you guys headed?” I put my hands up in frustration and huffed. I have no idea where we are going!” On our way to the store, James insisted that we at least go to our bridge to find a geocache. We arrived and got out of the car. As we approached our bridge James said. “Hey look, someone put rose petals out again.” I thought to myself, wow people really do propose a lot here.

James took out his phone and he played our song. We danced on the rose petals like we did when we first started dating. He stopped and placed his hand on the side of my face and began to tell e. “ I love you so much. I am blessed among men and honored to have you as my best friend, favorite ministry partner, and my soul mate.” He got down on one knee and pulled out a little box with a ring. It looked gold in the poor lighting of the bridge and the lights hit the solitary diamond just right that it illuminated with sparkles. I thought to myself, he must really love me a lot. He asked me. “Christian Rose, will you marry me?” Immediately I replied with a yes. We danced again to our song and he lifted me and we spun around. We walked over to the bench at the end of the bridge and we kneeled and prayed together. We took turns praying for our marriage and our future. We danced one last time to our song and picked up some of our rose petals. We went for coffee and drove around town so we could spend more time alone.
I looked down at my ring and kept thinking about how much I love my James. I was in awe of the love James has for me. I couldn’t believe he could love someone like me. Despite my many shortcomings, he picked me. I was enough not too much or too little and he was just right for me. I couldn’t believe someone could lay down their life for mine. I felt treasured. His love for me is a reflection of the love God has for me. God treasures us. He wants to have a relationship with us and pursues us the way our dearest love pursues us. As we drove and cuddled in the car the words to one of my favorite flyleaf songs kept repeating in my mind

 

“Can I tell you a story as we dance while the sun starts to bleed. Trees rejoice with the wind here. Hallelujah, Yeshua. Tonight I’ve become the most dazzling precious treasure. I am treasured over all the earth. Just look at what he’s done. How he’s laying down his life take this life. Oh! Most dazzling precious treasure. I am treasured over all the earth.”

 

I sat in worship and reverence for my creator and the wonderful story he has written for my life. This past month marked our sixth month anniversary of being married. As I sit and reflect on the month of Thankfulness as it comes to an end. I can’t help but be overwhelmed with wonder  for the life I now have with my husband. I am beyond blessed to have this wonderful man in my life. This month we took a few minutes after a long and endlessly busy month and went to our bridge. We watched the moon and stars and danced to our song reminiscing of the happiest days of our lives. Happy six months dear husband, every day is an adventure with you.wedding10