this is the first time i feel like i am "wading" into a new semester. usually i feel like I am all in and all wet at once--i fly back to chicago from some break (be it christmas or summer) and i'm off the plane for a day, maybe, before classes start. this time around i came back the week before to work. a whole week before classes start. time to think, pray, wonder, prepare, clean, organize, unpack, order textbooks, and think about what *good* habits I want to initiate at the start of the semester.
mom and dad stayed a few days after dropping me off (sunday). they left tonight. we went to the museum of science and industry yesterday (it was a free day!) and the shedd aquarium today (also a free day!). we walked a lot, spent too much time in the bitter cold, but enjoyed each others company. i love my parents. a whole lot. we also had the whole drive down from the u.p. (about 8 hours). we shared good, much-needed, conversation during that drive. sigh. i am grateful for these days.
so yes, i'm "wading in." I have known for quite some time now that this semester will be a busy one. i mean, who really WANTS to take 19 hours, work, and volunteer teaching english all at the same time? not to mention balance church, personal rest and soul-development, friendships, and faith? sounds almost impossible, eh? well, not really. but the break was a good time of thinking about practical things like what Andrea actually can and cannot do, what she should and should not do, etc. I've come to the conclusion that I will be able to "do" the semester but I need to be, every minute, aware of why I do what I do here, and what aspects of what I "do" here are most important, if that makes sense...? I need to start out strong. I recognize a needed grace to begin well, with my heart in a place that only my Lord can teach it to be. So I've taken to prioritizing my time and commitments, sacrificing little "luxuries" (that are more like distractions anyway), like facebook (yes, I will soon be deleting my account for the semester). You know, we just fill our days with so much. An old friend of my parents said today, "I think one of the enemy's greatest weapons in this day and age is the promotion of the busy life." I'm glad he said that. I'm glad I heard that. and it got me thinking...
Is there a difference between living full and living busy? I think so but I'm right in the middle of learning it myself, so i can't tell you what it is.
I'll share a few of my ideas for "simplifying" life as I face a loaded semester...
talk with God. this happens naturally here when I am working--I think I've mentioned before how much I love using that walk to and from the train stations, as well as the jerky ride along the EL, to talk with God in my head. I am almost always full and contemplative during those times and it is wonderful to journey as if He were in the seat beside me or walking the same icy sidewalks through town.
write. i am a person who needs to write. some of you are, too, so you need to find ways to bring this delightful gift and "promoter of health" into your days. For me, this means writing on my blog, in my journal, letters to far-away-friends, and scratching down simple and messy prayers to a God that always hears, even when I deeply doubt that He does.
pray. and, specifically, i know that this semester I need to actually go to a place to pray...so I've determined to spend more time in that lovely little prayer chapel on Culby 2, because I love that room and I am at peace in that space.
craft. this will most definitely include knitting (hello, Founder's Week 2010!). I'm still working on the socks and i want to start a new hat pattern. luke also bought me some lovely paper for christmas--all kinds for collaging and creating :)
eat right. i learned last semester that i need to eat a lot of FRESH foods when 1) I am busy and or stressed 2) the world outside is dull, frozen, and grey. this also includes more tea than coffee and EVEN MORE water than anything else. Did you know that you work and move slower when you aren't s drinking enough water? I am dehydrated far too much of the time.
vitamins. plenty of Mr. C with a healthy dose of D thrown in (since we don't see the sun very much in these cold winter months).
exercise. I've wanted (at times even planned!) to run a 5k with Lacy for a looong time. I want to do it before graduation. Also, tiffany and I have excitedly decided to swim a few times a week. I am going to alternate with running (since I would rather swim than run, but i do want to run...). tiff has a toga dvd that i want to try to use twice a week or so for my back.
read. i know i'm not going to have any time for "leisure reading," but that's ok because a lot of my reading for classes this semester fits into that category anyway--I can't complain. with all the reading for my internship, my plate is full and overflowing. i have my heart weakly and haltingly set on a few different biblical books for the semester. I always commit impulsively to the study of a book (which i inevitably fail to follow through on, as a result) and this time i really don't want to do that. so i'm sitting quietly on the options for a little while.
sabbath. realistically, I know that i cannot say "sunday is my 'day of rest,' and i won't 'do' anything on that day." For more reasons than one, I don't think that is a smart or biblical approach anyway. but i do want to create some sacred space on my sundays, in particular. morning or evening, i haven't decided...
friends. these are both people that are here--i can sit and look at a face--and people far away--a voice will do the trick! i have people in my life that i love to live life with, and i won't easily give that up. God continually has to teach my how to journey with these people in healthy ways. i am grateful for coffee dates, holding hands to pray, listening, being listened to, adventuring through the city, long phone conversations, quick "i miss you" texts, and other expressions of life lived together--the happy and the sad, the carefree and the serious, the "deep" and the "shallow," dance parties and life lessons.
last but not least: MORNINGS. I have a 9am MWF but nothing till 2pm TR this semester. which means...i have glorious mornings to enjoy!! i absolutely love mornings. i like sitting with a cup of hot tea in front of the window--even if it's only for 5 or 10 minutes. silence and the stillness are wonderful company. please, invite them sometime :)
so...is that "too many" ideas? too much "structure?" I don't think so. I feel really good about this...and God's been whispering some of these things into me for awhile now. i think this is part of learning to develop a theology of rest.
i recognize the much-needed grace for the task. the Spirit is the most faithful One to journey with. and i am wading into an ending and a new beginning. i am well aware of how deep in need of Him i am.
What are ways that you know you need to live so that you might promote a healthier life--a rested soul?
[keeper of our steps, teach our feet the path. seer of our squandered love, ravish us again. healer of our secret wounds, remind us of your care. lover of our bloodied hearts, hold us in all our different moments.]
well, i need to go pop this mug of tea in the microwave. it has gotten cold :)
sending some warm love to you this cold january night!