Tag Archives: busyness

The Passion of Christmas

24 Dec

I love listening to Christmas music – not just because it puts me in the Christmas mood, but also because it floods my heart with the meaning of Christmas. This year, I am captivated by the passion behind historical Christmas hymns. The authors of these songs exhort us to adore Christ, fall on our knees before Him, and praise His name forever. They write of a world, weary under the burden of sin and guilt, that sees a new day, filled with hope, dawn with the birth of a simple babe. The Savior has come, the catalyst of God’s plan of redemption.

I like to imagine what it would have been like the night Jesus was born. Four hundred years had passed since God has spoken to His people. But God had promised a Messiah, a Redeemer. All of Israel was waiting for the Christ. And on that night in a little town of Bethlehem, a town “too little to be among the clans of Judah,” the long-awaited Messiah was born. Humble shepherds were at work in the field, watching their flocks in the moonlight, straining to stay awake. All of a sudden, they are blinded by “the glory of the Lord” and an angel tells them,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…”

So what did they do? They went “with haste” to where the angel had indicated – to Bethlehem to find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. This is what I find interesting: the Bible doesn’t say anything about them locking their sheep up first, or arranging for their care, or one of them staying behind. It seems that they just leave their flocks in the open field because they are so amazed and excited about what they were just told.

Does that go against common sense? Do I doubt that’s what actually happened?

Yes, because it seems so impractical, so irresponsible. I am challenged – what would I have done in that situation? Would I have been so consumed with responsibilities and practical concerns that I would think it foolish to abandon all and sit at my Savior’s feet? Would I be so captivated by Christ’s coming that I’d be willing to drop everything – abandon even my livelihood – and seek Him?

It’s easy to rest when there’s nothing pressing, nothing urgent. It’s easy to take a moment to breath when life’s tight grip on your schedule relaxes for an hour. But what about resting and breathing in the midst of the chaos? That’s what Christ came to bring us – His rest, a deep soul rest that can’t be touched by circumstances. What does it mean to have a deep soul rest in Christ?

Embracing the messiness of being human. Jesus Himself was born in a stinky stable surrounded by loud animals (not the serene night of perfect harmony pictured above). He slept on itchy, pokey hay and grew up as a pretty normal kid. Christ didn’t just experience what it meant to be human during His ministry. He lived his whole life as a human. He grew up with brothers and sisters as a human. He learned to walk, to talk, to laugh. He loved, he cried, he gave. “In every way he was tempted just as we are, yet without sin.” I love how Jesus embraced humanity – not just by becoming a baby (though that was big enough) but by also engaging in life. He wasn’t just alive – He lived. He didn’t view the basics of human existence as beneath Him – rather, He embraced those constraints. Instead of them getting in His way, He turned them into a source of blessing.

And all this, when He was the Son of God, the Most High, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, Author of Creation.

Pondering these truths, how can your heart not fill to bursting with the truth of Christmas? Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!

These wonderful songs celebrate that truth:

“O Holy Night”

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

“What Child is This?”

What child is this who, laid to rest,
on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
while shepherds watch are keeping?

Chorus:

This, this is Christ the King,
whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
haste, haste to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate
where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
the silent Word is pleading.

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
come, peasant, king, to own him;
the King of kings salvation brings,
let loving hearts enthrone him.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased as Man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Have a blessed Christmas!

Five Randos

21 Dec

1. We went to Zoolights last night.

It was way cooler than these pictures show – it’s just that our camera doesn’t take pictures of lights very well. We didn’t see very many animals – a snake, a hippo and a rhino was pretty much all but it was still fun!

2. I’ve felt on the verge of getting sick since Sunday but have so far successfully staved it off with eating more veggies and getting more sleep.

3. For the past month, I’ve been buying spinach with good intentions of eating salads every day at work. But every day I looked in the fridge and spinach didn’t sound even remotely appealing. This happens to me a lot – I go through phases of what I like to eat. For a while, I was eating spinach with everything – seriously. I served leftovers on spinach. I put spinach in sandwiches, pizza, smoothies. Now? Eck.

Luckily, I bought some romaine lettuce last week and am back to enjoying salads! Today’s has sliced deli ham, grape tomatoes, sliced carrots, cottage cheese, a tiny bit of feta and sautéed zucchini and yellow squash. I’m sad that I forgot croutons. But I did bring a hunk of French bread filled with refined white flour – redeemed!

4. This week has been the week of the slide. I’m not even trying to pretend to be motivated. I did get laundry done between Monday night and last night. And I made or helped make dinner (as easy as possible). But other than that, I’ve laid on the couch watching TV each night, slept in each morning (and sometimes gotten up to just take a nap on the couch), and eaten my weight in chocolate and cookies, in addition to not working out. And it’s been glorious.

5. We’re supposed to get more snow tonight – 4 to 8 inches.

While I love the snow, I wish I didn’t have to drive in it. It snowed Monday night and I seriously was so scared driving home in my little Ford Focus that I about cried, pulled over and asked Travis to come get me. Instead, I muscled through and once home, drowned my fears in Godiva chocolates. I swear, it seems like every year I get more and more paranoid about driving. If it gets to the point where I can’t handle driving anywhere in snow or rain, I’m seeking professional help.

Sleeprunning and Knowing When to Cut Your Losses

15 Dec

I just read this in an article about elite runner Tera Moody’s insomnia:

Sleep experts say adults should snooze about one hour for every two hours awake. Conventional training wisdom says to add one extra minute in bed per night for every mile run during the week. Not getting enough sleep builds up a so-called “sleep debt,” a term that also has its own rule: Every hour of sleep you lose is like a brick added to a backpack you must carry on the next workout.

I must have been carrying a 10 lb backpack during my sleeprun this morning. My legs felt like they would barely move, my eyes were watering, my feet were shuffling, and I zoned out several times, bumbling along in a daze. When I had a rare thought, it was, “Yeah, it might have been more productive to take today off.”

But my anal-retentive self won’t let me take a day off. In fact, I’ve been more dedicated to this training plan than any of my triathlon plans. I have fit in 95% of my workouts and even kept up with strength/weight training and stretching.

There’s a point in your training (and in your life), though, when you’re simply just trying to do too much. And by blazing ahead without heeding the warning signs, whether of being burnt out or on the verge of injury, you’re really just setting yourself up for a fall.

The hard part is that cutting back feels like weakness. It’s tempting to look at how many miles other runners run each week and think “I should be able to do my measly 15.” Or to look at all the activities and plans other women juggle and suddenly feel pathetic for struggling to hold my little life together.

But this is the trap I fall in to, time and time again: What I think I “should” do. This is what prevents me from being realistic about what I can handle. Some people thrive on busyness; others do not. I fall more into the latter. Whenever I am busy, I fight against the feeling with all of my being. I don’t like being busy. I’d rather be bored (and actually, I’m one of those people so good at entertaining themselves and finding things to do that I never am bored – well, unless I’m at work).

I find it somewhat amusing that so many people (myself included) complain about being so busy and stressed out, yet we’re the ones choosing to be busy and stressed out. After I said how exhausted excited I was about our holiday plans, and proceeded to schedule another dinner and New Year’s Eve plans, I took a step back and thought, What the heck am I doing here? I keep whining in self-pity about being “so tired” and “just exhausted” and wanting to do “nothing but lie on the couch all day” and then I go and MAKE MORE PLANS!

WHY? Why do I do this to myself?

It goes back to thinking that I “should.” I should be busy. I should have something to show for myself at the end of the day (no thanks to you, job). How often do you ask someone (who was not just on vacation!) what they’ve been up to and they say, “Oh you know, just a lot of reading and relaxing with my kids. A lot of sleeping in and going to bed early. Not much of anything productive.”

This is something that I’ve had to learn many times over the past couple of years (and am obviously still learning) – I don’t have to be productive to be a worthwhile person. Just like a person’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of their possessions, it also doesn’t consist in the abundance of things they do. Busyness =/= worth.

So what am I going to do about this in my own life?

I am cutting off 4 miles from my long run on Saturday, taking Sunday as a rest day, and canceling my entire week of training next week too. If I feel like working out, great. I’m not making a rule that I can’t work out. But if I’m busy with other stuff, perhaps watching cheesy Christmas movies and eating sugar cookies, I’m off the hook. After Christmas, my real marathon training starts so if I want a break in the name of mental health, I should take it now.

The other thing I’m going to do is Stop Saying Yes. Yes, I’ve read this in a zillion self-help articles and magazines. But I never identified myself with “those people-pleasers who can never say no” because the things I was saying yes to were 1) good things 2) things I wanted to do and 3) things I was good at doing. Why would I say no to something that seemed so perfect for me?

Because I go insane with a busy schedule, that’s why.

Joanna Weaver wrote something profound in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, something I am just beginning to truly understand:

…While there are many things that need to be done, things I’m capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them.

Ability and Desire do not mean Do It. I have to accept that right now, I am running on empty (unless you count all those bricks in my backpack). In my heart, I do desire to serve others, spend time in fellowship and volunteering, in addition to maintaining my household, working, and training. But right now, God is calling me to an empty schedule. To turn things down in the name of rest and relaxation. I feel like I am on the verge of self-destructing and that does not benefit anyone.

So after Christmas is over (and I guess now New Year’s too), I am going to guard my evenings and weekends. I am going to feel complete freedom to turn down requests and invitations in the name of my sanity – especially since I’ll be spending more and more time training for the marathon. I will end the Madness by telling productivity to take a hike and all other obligations to leave me the h-e-doublehockeysticks alone.

But until then, I am praying for grace and trusting that God will provide the energy and joy I need to enjoy the full schedule I have planned. 😉

Do you ever bite off more than you can chew? How do you fit in time for rest?

Life Is a Glorious Mess

13 Dec

For two or three weeks before my parents came out for Thanksgiving, I had gotten into a routine. Life was good. Predictable. Tidy. Organized.

But having out of town guests was just the thing that upset my routine and now 3 weeks later, I’m still not back on track. Too many nights of staying up late trying to get things done. Too many mornings of caring more about sleep than getting back on track. Too many days of trying to catch up on things that I bailed on in the name of relaxation (hello, house cleaning!).

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I woke up yesterday morning wanting at least 4 more hours in bed. Instead, I got up to make coffee – an hour after my alarm went off the first time. The kitchen counters overflowed with dirty dishes; the table drowned in Christmas presents, mail, and other things used over the weekend but not put away. The cupboards were conspicuously bare from my lack of grocery shopping. The fridge held potatoes from our garden and spinach from the store, wilting and rotting before I could use them. The dogs wagged their tails in hope of a walk. A temperature of 63 degrees revealed that the furnace wasn’t working again.

I was frustrated. Mad. Why is life so hard?

I do better when life is organized. When things are in their place. When I’m on top of what I need to be on top of.

I could have been there this morning – except I chose to relax and watch Christmas movies last night instead of doing chores.

And I’ve realized that my affinity for order and perfection has a price tag – it costs me Life. Joy. Peace. Patience.

When I admire people in movies (like J. Lo in The Wedding Planner) who have every piece of their life in place with predictable schedules and unvaried routines, I fail to realize that they’re paying for that perfection – with human relationships. I mean, how often do those same perfect people have an intimate marriage, loving kids, and open their homes to others?

To truly embrace the presence of others in my life, I have to let go of perfection. Because a life filled with relationships is messy. As Emily Walker wrote in her post The Messy Table:

My table is not perfect, but it has done the job it was meant to do very well. Life has been lived at it. Lessons have been learned at it. Memories have been made for decades, right there at that table. It tells the story of lives being lived, not life missed out on in the name of perfection.

That. Exactly.

When I think about what kind of mother I want to be someday, do I want my kids to remember how well-kept our house was, elaborate our dinners were, and how we were always running around doing stuff?  Or do I want them to remember how I played with them in our backyard, dropped whatever I was doing to listen or laugh, and didn’t get mad when they trampled little dirty footprints all over the carpet? Obviously, I want to be the latter.

And here’s what I’m learning: I don’t become the peaceful, patient, loving woman I want to be by being perfect and on top of things. Rather, I grow to be that woman as I learn to let things go. If I expect the house to always be orderly, I get frustrated when something is out of place. If I map out my schedule for the day and a wrench gets thrown in, I’m mad.

People who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit aren’t isolated from problems and frustrations. They have just learned to embrace the messiness of life. Be content in chaos. See each moment for what it’s really worth – not a time for getting things done, but a time to connect with and serve others, and to be filled with the joy of knowing Christ. Instead of running around checking off my own to-do list, I need to walk through each day with God, trusting that His grace is sufficient – He will provide the energy and wisdom to work when I need to, and to rest when I need to.

A comforting idea I’ve had in my head for several weeks now is that God is more realistic about my abilities than I am. Like QuatroMama writes in this post, I tend to set up my own (perfectionist) standards and then beat myself up when I fall short.

But God is realistic. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” He doesn’t ask me to be Mega Woman. He understands that I only have so many minutes in a day and if I spend time doing this thing, I don’t have time for that thing. If I’m exhausted and want to veg instead of clean, He doesn’t accuse me of laziness and not being productive, like I do to myself. Unlike me, He is full of grace, understanding, and patience.

This is where the Gospel makes all the difference. The Gospel allows us to admit that we fall short of what we wish we were, but reassures us that we’re loved anyway. And God’s love for us isn’t despite how we’ve disappointed Him, or failed to live up to His standard. Because when He sees us in Christ, He sees perfect beings. We are completely and utterly righteous in His eyes. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us.”

He doesn’t mutter “I love you” through gritted teeth while trying to not be mad over all the things we’ve done wrong. God’s love abounds for us. He lavishly pours out grace upon grace into our lives with delight.

In the words of John Piper, remind yourself, “I am holy and I am loved.” Even when life is messy.

Do you struggle with perfectionism? How do you remind yourself of God’s unfailing love?

Training Recap: 12/05 – 12/11

12 Dec

It was a good weekend, but as always, way too short!

I got to watch several cheesy Christmas movies on Lifetime and Hallmark – one of my favorite parts about Christmas! I don’t know which is more pathetic – the movies’ story lines or me laughing at their jokes.

I tricked my dogs into letting me sleep in until 8:00 Saturday morning (and by tricked, I mean fed).

The Christmas tea went well – I forgot my camera so I’ll post pics tomorrow but here is a pic of my inspiration for the table I decorated:

I got a lot of compliments (but I think that’s mostly because of my grandma’s gorgeous china!) and the best part was, all of the decorations together were only $17! (The mason jars were $10 of that.) More details tomorrow!

We had a lot of fun at a Christmas party yesterday afternoon.

And I still got in all of my workouts!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 25 min elliptical intervals, 20 min stationary bike, 20 min weights, 10 min stretching

For the weights, I did the following:

3 sets @ 15 reps of Bench Press with 10, 15, 17.5 lb dumbbells
12, 8, 6 Single Arm Row with 17.5 lb dumbbells
3 @ 12 of Bicep Curls with 10, 15, 15 lb dumbbells
3 @ 12 of Overhead Press with 10 lb dumbbells
2 @ 15 of Squats with 20 lb Kettleball
1 @ 15 of Alternating Lunges with 20 lb Kettleball
1 @ 15 of Static Lunges with 20 lb Kettleball, both legs
1 @ 15 of Glute Machine with 40 lbs, both legs
2 @ 10 Pushups on toes
1 @ 15 crunches
1 @ 15 bicycle crunches
1 @ 15 hip lift / toes to ground
1 @ 30 sec Plank
1 @ 30 sec Side Plank, both sides

I was so excited to be able to do bicep curls with 15 lb dumbbells! Little by little, I’m getting stronger (which still isn’t that strong but progress is progress).

Wednesday: 3.04 mile fartlek run (32:17, 10:37/mile), 10 min stretching

It was cold during this run – I had frost on my eyelashes and Katy had a white beard!

Thursday: 3.04 mile tempo run (33:12, 10:55/mile), 10 min stretching

For the last mile of this run, I felt like I was running so slow – like I was running through sand. But I pushed through and was pleased to see that I ran a sub-11 pace. And the sunset was beautiful:

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6 mile long run (1:09:25, 11:11/mile), 10 min stretching

This is what amazes me – I can go out and run 6 miles at an 11:11 pace very easily and comfortably, but just a few days before, 3 miles at a 10:55 pace seemed ridiculously hard. Running is such a crapshoot sometimes!

Sunday: 5 rounds of this workout (37:29) from Happily Ever After + 10 min stretching:

30 Jumping Jacks
5 Pushups
25 High Knees
7 Burpees
10 Crunches
7 Squats
5 Pushups
10 Crunches
5 Pushups
7 Squats
30 Jumping Jacks
45 Second Wall Sit
5 Pushups
25 High Knees
My thighs were screaming by the time I got done. Holy wall sits!
Only two weeks left before I start my marathon training plan!

………………………………..

As for all of the things I needed to get done last week, I got all of them done except for cleaning the house (I opted for aforementioned cheesy Christmas movies instead). I consider that a success!

Things I need to get done this week:

  • Address and mail Christmas cards
  • Finish buying Christmas presents and mail them
  • Clean the house 😉
  • Grocery shop

That should keep me plenty busy.

Do you like watching cheesy Christmas movies?

What is your favorite thing to do during the holiday season?

Christmas Festivities!

10 Dec

I tell ya, even when you try to not get too busy during the holiday season, it happens anyway.

Here’s our December lineup:

Nov 30: Operation Christmas Child (Ok, not December, but it’s related to Christmas!)

Dec 4-5: Minnesota trip

Dec 10: Christmas tea at church (set up in morning, tea in afternoon); baking sugar cookies, putting up Christmas decorations, and watching A Christmas Story (I’ve never seen it!) with Travis

Dec 11: Christmas party after church

Dec 17: Christmas Carol 5K in the AM; Dinner with friends in the PM

Dec 18: Going up to Evergreen as a birthday/Christmas/done-with-grad-classes celebration to go ice skating and have a nice dinner; hoping to watch another Christmas movie I’ve never seen like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street (I know, it really is tragic that I haven’t seen these classics.)

Dec 20: Zoolights at the Denver Zoo after work with friends

And then it’s Christmas! Since we’re not going to be with family, I’m voting for just staying home to do a whole lot of cookie eating, movie watching, and game playing on Christmas instead of going to any big gathering. Relaxing sounds absolutely wonderful right now!

Even though we have lots of fun stuff planned, for some reason, it’s been harder for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year than others. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas and I don’t know why. It’s probably something to do with feeling exhausted from being on the go and also the fact that we still don’t have our Christmas decorations up! I’m really hoping to get that done tomorrow. In the midst of the frenzy, though, I am striving to keep my focus on experiencing and savoring this season, not just viewing it as one giant to-do list.

What fun things are you doing this holiday season? 

Back from Minnesota!

5 Dec

Not so much MinneSNOWta this time but fun nonetheless!

I have tons on my plate this week and am trying to remember to take things one at a time, and to enjoy this wonderful season by focusing on what really matters.

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I’ve started going through Jesus’ genealogy and it’s been very interesting. I already learned that the Levites aren’t considered one of the twelve tribes of Israel because they were given the temple duties instead of land. Who knew?

On my list for this week:

  • Grocery shop
  • Pick up prescription
  • Pick up pooches
  • Put up Christmas decorations
  • Do laundry
  • Clean the house
  • Finish and order Christmas cards
  • Buy table decorations for Christmas tea on Saturday
  • Make tea snack
  • Make side dish for Christmas party on Sunday
  • Find or make small gifts for Christmas tea and party

I also have my book study tomorrow night and care group Wednesday night. So it’s a busy week!

Welp, I’m off to get crackin’! Hope you had a good weekend! I did (more on that later…)