Forced downtime

Since I am healing from a recent surgery, I’ve been forced into a level of idleness I usually avoid. The downtime is good for me, I know – I tend to rush through life, always pushing ahead, when sometimes God just wants me to slow down a little. While I tend to be good at caring for others, I’m not so good at always caring for myself, or even asking for help. In this, I’ve been incredibly blessed by friends and family who have not let me go unaided – and I am incredibly overwhelmed and thankful for all the love and assistance and prayers and offers of help that I’ve received over the last few days.

To keep my overactive nature under control, I’ve once again pulled out my needles and yarn. Being that it’s already the end of August, I’ve had to give thought to whether I will have handmade items ready for gifts for Christmas – but there are a few other gifts I’ve been working on in the meantime as well. My attention span tends to wander (if it surprises you that I have multiple projects going on at once, you should see how many books I am currently reading concurrently) but I did want to get started on a couple of special items. Right now I am working on something called Bowtie Pi – a crocheted shawl I am making from a multicolored fingering weight yarn. I started a different pattern with this yarn yesterday, got quite a few inches into it, and then decided I would run out of yarn before finishing the length I wanted. So today it has become something new, and I think this version will work out swimmingly.

Pardon the pink PJ bottoms, but comfort in clothing is paramount this week. :)

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I found myself standing before the king, explaining the situation. My heart was heavy with the news I was about to impart.

“Your majesty, as your majordomo, it is my duty to report a crime perpetuated by one of your advisors. The prized Oracle Medallion, which was to be covered in gold and protected from abuse by any human by a law enacted generations ago, has not been so protected. The outer layer was never placed on the medallion, meaning the Wizard of the time and all his successors have had free access to listen – no, to spy – on conversations all over the kingdom. I am not sure what limits the medallion may or may not have. The crime was recently discovered when we found correspondence between the Wizard and the court of Britain about actually selling them a duplicate of our national treasure.”

The king’s countenance grew dark, and he ordered his guards to bring in the Wizard. As I glanced at the tall figure being led into the throne room in chains, I noticed something astonishing — the man’s features shifted! He looked like himself, then one of the guards, and then even me! Angrily I strode over to the traitor and demanded, “Where have you promised to sell these fakes, these duplicates? To whom have you promised power that should not lay in mortal hands?”

The Wizard stood there and laughed. The king’s countenance grew darker, and he looked about to strike the criminal. Yet, before the king could approach the Wizard, I found myself becoming overwhelmingly angry, almost to the point of unreason.

“How many did you sell? Out with it! Speak, betrayer!”

“Why should I tell you,” scoffed the man. Well, I thought he was a man. Disconcertingly, he still held my visage as he glared back at me.

Angrily I threw him to the floor. I felt my anger rising and came close to beating his prone body, but forced myself to stop and step backwards. It would do no good to drive myself to the level of a thief and abuser of power. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and turned back to the king.

…and then the alarm woke me.

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Mismatched socks and a bloggiversary

Yes, mismatched socks. I’ve discovered that I have finally hit critical mass of single socks and can no longer find a pair to put together, even of white ones. Time to dump the sock basket and buy some new ones, because socks need to match, even if you’re just going to the gym.

At any rate, as it turns out, today is my bloggiversary! Yes, it was 11 years ago today (on another Monday, as it happens) that I started blogging. From a knit blog to a photo blog to just a mix of random thoughts and updates, this blog has been an adventure. It’s kind of fun to dive back into the archives for random dates to see what I was doing and see how my writing style has changed.

I’ve been more conscious of taking time to actually update my blog in the past year than I had been in the year or two prior – and this despite my Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr accounts. FB will probably continue to be my primary repository for thoughts, but it is nice to break out here with a longer stream of consciousness now and again. :D Let’s see where the next twelve months lead!


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Experiencing church differently

When it comes to church services, I will admit that I am very much in favor of the liturgical tradition. Without elements such as the confession and absolution, and the creed, it just seems incomplete to me. That being said, I recognize that we all have differences in how we are spiritually fed, and that some people get more from different worship styles.

This morning I was invited to attend church with my best friend and her family, so I agreed, although I knew that this church uses a much different worship style than I am completely comfortable with. And it was interesting. Yes, I missed those elements of the service that I have come to consider essential – and yes, I felt for the most part that it was more of praise and worship jam session than anything – but as I listened to the music and watched some of the others something struck me. Many of these people really do praise God with abandon, much moreso than I have ever been able to do. True, dancing in the aisles at church just isn’t my style, but when you see true joy on some of their faces and in their actions, it definitely seems as though the Spirit is at work in them.

It’s good to be exposed to different worship styles, if only to more fully realize why certain practices and traditions exist, and to find a more secure place in your own faith. God uses all these things for His own purposes. Soli Deo Gloria!

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One month in…

Four weeks ago I started a new exercise regimen – swimming laps at my local gym. Prior to that I had been primarily using walking as my source of exercise, attempting to get in a two-to-three mile walk most days of the week. However, as active as I was trying to be, I still found that I was not losing any weight or toning areas of my body that could definitely use the work. (Hey, I have fabulous calves, though.)

Four weeks later, I find that I’m still fighting to get just a few laps completed. I like to swim, but I am not motivated by the exercise itself to get myself to the pool at 5:30 a.m. Oh, I get there, but the motivation mostly comes from trying to prove that I can indeed do it rather than feeling any sort of adrenaline rush from the swimming — is there such a thing as a swimmer’s high? I do fight for those laps, though, and I am happy to be able to say that as of today I upped my completed laps to four in a session.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a co-worker who also swims for fitness, and he mentioned that part of my difficulty was most likely technique. Constantly taking quick breaths means you are struggling with your body to keep going and not providing the oxygen your lungs need. He recommended I attend the master class. Looking at the course description, I think I might first try the intermediate class, as I’ve never officially had any sort of swim course – my front crawl is, well, a crawl and I am not keeping my head down in the water when I swim. This morning I worked to focus more on keeping my head in the water longer (yay for goggles!) and evening out my breathing — and found that I tend to panic a little when holding my breath underwater. That was certainly a revelation, but it wasn’t so strong a reaction that it deters me from trying to overcome it. Plus, I can always flip over and finish my laps with a backstroke if I find myself having problems.

All that said, I haven’t yet noticed a change in the scale. However, I’m going to continue to increase the number of laps as I can – I’d like to be at least swimming ten laps by this time next month – and I will be looking into that class. They’re full up for May, but hopefully I can start in June.

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New month, new plan

For the last few days, I’ve been reviewing the past few years worth of food, exercise, and weight logs. To make a long story short, while I still have some habits that can be improved, overall I am doing what I am supposed to be doing according to various health-care professionals, and still not losing weight. In the interest of honesty, I will say that I am down 35 or so lbs from my heaviest weight, but still a good 75 lbs heavier than high school (where I thought I was fat, and yet, would love to be that weight again – isn’t that always the way?), and I’ve just wobbled around my current weight for quite a while now.

Due in large part to my back issues (and probably also the falls leading to the twice-cracked tailbone that contributed to said issues), I’m quite scared to take the steps necessary to find an exercise program that works and to which I will stick. When my back starts twinging, I have a habit of backing off what I am doing and relying on my walking — but while walking keeps me from gaining weight, it only maintains the status quo. I am quite sick of the status quo. New month, new plan – I’m joining a gym that has a pool this week, and I’m going to work with a trainer. Yes, I am still nervous as all get-out, but I’ve got inspiration from a good friend and encouragement from a few more. This will happen, and God-willing, the plateau will be defeated.

Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.

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Time to find a new blogging engine?

Just noticed that my two most recent blog posts are gone in the ether. One was posted in mid- to late-January, and the other was a couple days ago. The fact that they are AWOL is a little irritating. My full blog entries are more limited these days, so I try to add more meaningful content when I do blog.

Well, I’ve used Blogger and something else before that, so if WP is going to treat me badly as well I guess maybe it is time to explore new options.

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Improving prayer habits

One of my unstated goals for 2012 was to improve my prayer habits – to make moreĀ  deliberate time and effort for prayer. This was building on a stated goal for the prior year, which was simply to talk with God more.

(I cut out a long tl;dr backstory here – most of the people who know me well already know my history. :)

God calls us through the apostle Paul to pray without ceasing. Many times we forget this and only come to God when we feel a need. But what does it mean to pray without ceasing? I’ve since come to the realization that this means deliberately set aside time for prayer and devotion, and also to remember Him in all aspects of life.

The next question follows easily – which is, how should we pray? In current times, we have the benefit of years of Biblical scholars to help us out. Aside from the most obvious source of the Bible itself, we have men like Martin Luther who wrote a letter on the topic for his barber, called A Simple Way to Pray. (For a good simplification of the story, see the children’s book The Barber Who Wanted to Pray.) Luther’s booklet has been repeatedly brought to my attention in recent months, via different sources, and I felt it was long past time to give it my attention.

Luther states simply that we should focus our attention on the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles Creed – and by doing so deepen both our understanding of our faith and improve our prayer habits. The interesting thing to me that I found by focusing on these words is that Luther set out his Small Catechism in such a way as to follow these instructions. All those “What does this mean?”s that I felt tormented by as a youngster in confirmation class now show me that I had some of the basics all along.

Slowly and deliberately, then, I shall make my way once more through the Small Catechism, which apparently has the distinction of being considered one of the only pray-able catechisms.* I shall continue to set aside daily time for prayer, but remember to deal prayerfully with all areas of life. My prayers are with those who also struggle with this daily, for it is not an easy task.

*It has also been suggested that those seeking deeper faith resources in the Reformed tradition check out the Heidelberg Catechism. Personally I have much less experience with that document, but I do intend to read it more fully as well.

P.S. Several church bodies have published daily devotionals that are excellent resources, and I’ve found that using the digital versions helps me to retain that daily habit of devotional time. If you’re seeking such, Concordia Publishing House has Portals of Prayer, but there are several podcasts I listen to, both Lutheran and Reformed, that are good daily resources as well.

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A New Year, already?

Time is relative. The older you get, the faster it seems to go.

In a glance back through my Facebook posts, I see that not much has changed in the past twelve months. 2012 was not a banner year for me, but it wasn’t the worst of my years. There were births and deaths, changes and things that stayed the same. God continues to bless my life with good friends, and for all the ups and downs I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

My goals for 2012 were as follows:
- Keep up with the Bible verse memorization.
- Knit at least six pairs of socks.
- Write a journal entry daily.

To the first – I freely admit that I am terrible at verse memorization. I can memorize music up, down, and sideways, but straight memorization of anything else has never been my strong point. For some reason, this has been a particular stumbling block for me. Out of this, however, has come a more dedicated reading of the Bible – perhaps God limits my ability in this fashion in order to lead me back into reading His word more often. I’m still working on the memorization, but it isn’t easy.

To the second…yeah, that didn’t happen. The same pair of socks I started at the beginning of last year sits in my workbasket, unfinished. Granted, it’s been in time-out for a rather long time, since I need the recipient to try them on AGAIN (I ripped out the heel no less than six times before getting really frustrated with it). He’s home with his family again for a couple weeks, so I’ve got that set as a priority.

And as to the third…I must admit that my track record on journaling is poor. However, I’ve been blogging for several years, and although there have been sparse periods, I am still here. If Facebook counts, then yes, I journal every day, but those aren’t always what I would consider deep thoughts. :) A gem appears every now and again, though.

My goals for 2013? I think to continue working on strengthening my faith. To fully read the book of Romans (and then continue on through the works of Paul) – I mean with a good study as opposed to the surface reading usually given to it from a lot of Bible studies. To continue with my knitting and singing and photography, and to be as good a friend to all as I can.

For everything else, well, we’ll just see where God leads. A blessed 2013 to all. :)

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Wrapping up NaBloPoMo

This morning I had an elegant idea for how to wrap up my month of daily blogs – but this evening my brain is fried and I can’t quite recall what I was going to say.

Both the daily blog and the daily thankfulness posts have been interesting exercises, and good for stretching my creative synapses. Not every entry is literary gold, but I never expected they would be.

Will this exercise revive my oft-neglected blog? Only time will tell. However, I did enjoy the writing, and I think more of that will happen, upon occasion.

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