Inspired: July Goals

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As I sit here writing, I have an exam that is waiting for me.  I also have a huge (to me) paper to write and a final draft to clean up and submit.  The current term ends on Friday, and I am suffering from almost-done fever.

It will pass.

I will get it done.

But in the meantime, I read this post on July goals and felt inspired.  Thank you, Samantha.

We are halfway through 2015, and I feel as though I have reached some important goals and let others completely slide by the wayside.  Time to step up my game.

Let’s start with the picture above.  The huge pile of textbooks are to supplement the paper that is due Friday, so we will pretend that they are gone.  But the rest of the desk is an utter mess as well.  This desk is representative of a lot of things, and when I clean it up, the rest falls into place as well.

July Goals:

  • School and Self:  Finish the current term.  (Then I only have two classes to go!)
  • CLEAN UP THIS DESK.  That means frame the picture, sell or store the books, file the papers, shred the trash, take care of the unclaimed property paperwork.  The empty box lid?  It stays. It’s for the cat.
  • Marriage – At least one date a week, even if it’s an afternoon at Lowe’s.
  • Kiddo 1 – Care package on the way next week!
  • Kiddo 2 – Trip to see family, possible Six Flags trip during my break.
  • Health and wellness – haircut (mental health) and at least a long walk three times weekly.
  • Writing – Write twice weekly.
  • Reading for wellness – Do Over and create a master list of books like this so I read one per month.

One big goal is to clean up this blog and make it more visually appealing.  That includes my use of fonts, spacing, photos, and organization.  I have two weeks with no school and no work in July – I can take that time to do those things that matter, to build up habits for the rest of the year.  I’m just now learning WordPress and all of the bells and whistles that go with it, so please bear with me.

By the way, Samantha is another example of a new friend who I met because of the interconnectedness of the web.  She is married to a friend of mine from high school (and we really don’t need to get into how long ago THAT was), and posted in a Facebook “Hustle” group that branched off the Do Over book and blog.  She made a friend request, I accepted, and it just makes me smile how we can reach out and feel less alone sometimes, just because someone raised their hand in the dark and said, “Me too.”

Preaching From the Pulpit of My Life

I am absolutely not perfect.

I thought about this earlier this week when an…ahem…gentleman slid alongside me to the right, disregarding my right turn signal, and nearly hit the pedestrian I was allowing to cross.  I may or may not have said things I shouldn’t have. I may or may not have made a vulgar gesture to him (below his sightline).

Sigh.

Our pastor had a wonderful lesson for us this last Sunday.  He said we are all – no matter what we are doing or who we are – we are all preaching from the pulpit of our lives.  We are all preachers.

What are we preaching?

Now, I know Pastor Herb and I know he meant all Christians, but think about it- everyone is showing their understanding of good vs evil, heaven vs hell, redemption vs sacrifice, with nearly everything they do except, perhaps, sleep.  (And even that could be a sermon on self-care and the value of taking care of our health.)

We show it in the way we talk to our children, our spouses, the lady at the grocery store who is having a really bad day with her toddler. Each and every day we preach our beliefs to anyone we come across.

I wondered, just a bit, if we are still preaching if God is the only one who knows we did it, as in the case of the crude gesture. After all, I was alone in the car. And, sigh, yeah, I got it- I preached to myself about where my priorities lay when I got uptight at the rude driver.

Language is one area where I have always had a true weakness. Profanity and expletives have been a documented problem for me since I was (maybe?) three years old and at an ice cream shop with my mother. To hear her tell it, these sweet older women just oohed and aahed over this little blond girl with glasses who was just (sigh) so cute.  Until that cute girl with glasses dumped an ice cream scoop into her lap and loudly announced, “dammit!”

So it’s been a lifelong problem.

At work, at church, with some members of family and among mixed company, I probably sound well educated and I try very hard to keep my language appropriate to the circumstance.  But when I am driving, or hurting, or angry – the epithets come ringing out.

There are studies that say cussing can ease pain.  I don’t know if they do or not, because if I am suddenly hurt, the cussing just comes.   So there’s no real control test to see if a lack of cussing makes pain last longer.

Back to our pulpit, though. One of the reasons I try so hard to be careful what I say, despite a natural tendency to either say the wrong thing or to use casual curses, is because I am well aware that others are watching.  They see how I act, they hear how I talk, and even though the location or audience of my pulpit may change, I am still responsible for the message I am sending.

What is your message?  How can you change it to fit what you actually believe?

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Pastor Herb’s verses (both are New International Version, NIV):

Philippians 2:3 –

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.

Well, that doesn’t necessarily reflect the cussing problem, in that I am careful about my audience.  But it does give us a framework for our lives, and for how we treat others.

2 Corinthians 5:17 –

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I just wish my new creation didn’t still have a potty mouth.  Or didn’t secretly, still, enjoy it.

 2 Corinthians 5:18 –

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Reconciliation to God.

Reconciliation to each other.

Reconciliation with our own selves, as human and fallable as we are.

So I’ll keep working on it.  What will you preach today?

Easier – Is a LIE

It gets easier.

Is there any more toxic phrase in the English language?

Let me start by giving examples of when this sentence is offered. Deployments, friends moving away, children moving on to different grades, children moving out, losing pets, each day after a loss…

“It gets easier” is what military spouses are told, often by someone who should know better, when they are facing deployment or field time. Easier than what, exactly?  If, by chance, the well-meaning person means that it gets easier because we know what we are doing, or we know whom to call in case of emergency, or we know that we can handle waking up morning after morning without so much as a hello-there hug – sure, it gets easier.

“It gets easier” as we watch our children race ahead of us, growing so fast we cannot catch our breaths. Kindergarten, then suddenly middle school, then one is almost halfway through high school and the other has flown the nest.  We are supposed to become more comfortable, not less, with each milestone that draws them away from us. It is natural, sure. But easier?

“It gets easier” as our friends move away, as their boxes get packed and the signs go up at their homes and we give those goodbye hugs amidst tears. I suppose one might think it gets easier because we know, thanks to Army experience, that the odds are fairly good we will see these friends again. The Army is a truly small world. Perhaps it gets easier because we have Facebook and instant messaging, where before all we had were letters and sparse phone calls to touch base with friends who have moved.

Dear readers, I have had friends move away from me my entire life.  I grew up in one city, in one house on one street, and never left until I married. I had a God-given knack for making the very best of friends among the most itinerant of children. I have literally lost track of how many times I have said goodbye. I have also lost track of the times when goodbye, for whatever reason, has not meant “see you later”.  Because sometimes it doesn’t.  It does not get easier.

“Easier” is said by those who mean well, who mistake “strong coping skills acquired through time” to mean “easy acceptance or management of difficult situations and emotions”.

“Easier” is a lie we tell ourselves, too.  And then we wonder, in the darkness of night or the loneliness of a moment, what it is about ourselves that makes this still so very difficult.  Are we failures because it doesn’t feel easier?  Is the lack in us, that it instead feels…harder?

Easier is a lie.

The truth is, each deployment and each loss and each lonely moment builds on the one before. When we deal with one, we are also dealing with the accumulation of layers of loss. Deployments build on each other, field time builds on each one before. When we miss our Soldiers, sometimes we are also grieving for all the time that was lost before, or the struggles we faced those times before. When our friends move, we mourn their physical absence in our lives, but we also pay tribute to other lonely times.

It does not, ever, become “easier”.

The sooner we accept that there is no such thing as “easy” when it comes to loss or change, the easier a time we will have when those transitions occur. We will be more experienced.  We will be more sure of ourselves, because we have “done this before”.  And we will, in the end, be better off because we are honest with ourselves in the frank acknowledgement that there is no such thing as “easier”.

Don't Say It's Easier