daily life, God's goodness, paying attention, Uncategorized

Living Water vs. Stagnant Pools

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Awhile back we spent a beautiful day exploring one of our great Texas State parks. McKinney Falls has a diverse display of water, rock, forest, an wildflowers. We hiked, explored and marveled at God’s creation. We also took lots and lots of photos. We saw rushing waters cascading off the rocks and small pools within the mass of rock where water had collected and had no way out until it finally evaporates. The water at each of the falls shared some of the same characteristics. It was fast flowing, dangerous at points, rushing and swirling before crashing down into a clear and beautiful larger pool of water where children and adults played. The pooled water also had some shared characteristics. It was shallow, just a few inches deep. It was still. It was warmer as it remained in one place under the sun with no additional water being added.

Observing the different bodies of water got me to thinking about life and the direction it flows or doesn’t. While the rushing, flowing water undoubtably was somewhat dangerous and looked unpredictable, it actually was very predictable. After flowing over the falls, the water always lands in the clear, clean pool where it is calm once again. The shallow pools on the rock may look safe in their stillness, however, over time they grow stagnant and green with algae. They are no longer clean. They eventually dry up. The flowing water, while it looks out of control for a brief time is following a path. It’s journey leads to a new spot where it can continue to be useful. The stagnant water is no longer useful. While it looks safe when it first appears in the crater of the rock, time eventually reveals that the lack of movement causes it to become useless and something to avoid.

I hope I will never get over the wonder of God’s creation. Being out in nature, seeing his handiwork and attention to detail reminds me of his love and faithfulness. It’s such a gift and all we have to do is pay attention, open our eyes, and drink in His goodness.

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daily life, Lists, Uncategorized

Lister for a Lifetime

I cannot remember a time that I did not keep multiple running lists and scribbled notes to myself.  When I was teaching, each year all my lists would go into a new fresh notebook beginning midsummer when I would begin the multitude of mental “school” lists. That notebook went EVERYWHERE with me and barely an hour could go without the notebook being added to or consulted. When the notebook filled, it would be stored in one specific, special place so that it could be called upon when needed while the new notebook was being broken in. Nothing fancy, pretty or delicate about these notebooks. They were workhorses from day one. Not only do I still have most of them, I dug one out from three years ago awhile back and found exactly the information I needed in the form of a list.

I have always been very satisfied with my system of listing. My lists have worked. They have never let me down. And then the Bullet Journal was born. Bullet journals are EVERYWHERE. I have seen tutorials about bullet journaling, Pinterest boards, special tools, stickers, writing utensils. Naturally, as a die hard jotter/list maker, I figured bullet journaling would be a perfect fit. My utilitarian lists would be even better! Now they would even be attractive in presentation! NOT EVEN CLOSE.  I have failed every which way possible with Bullet Journals. I HATE them. It’s just too much! I do not have the patience or the foresight to index, organize or embellish my notebook of lists. I cannot handle the pressure of making my list attractive! And color coding…..NOT HAPPENING. I cannot commit and remember what each color is for and then remember to actually USE the assigned color appropriately! Just thinking about it makes me feel a bit ragey.

What is most surprising about this is that it surprised me. I should have known from my past failures trying to figure out the best way to set up a Writer’s Notebook each year for my 5th grade class. It’s a commitment problem, really. I cannot commit to the organization component of a bullet journal. I cannot commit to having a set number of pages for a particular topic (trust me, I’ve tried and it leads to anger and bad words) and I cannot commit to the beautiful writing and doodles I have seen on the the Pinterest boards of committed bullet journalers. It’s too much pressure and it takes too much time. If I cannot dump my thoughts onto the list when they happen, they have a sneaky way of disappearing. Give me my plain spiral notebook full of blank pages and a good pen  and I’m good to go.

I feel it necessary to pause and say I have nothing against people who bullet journal. I am actually envious because it seems so much brighter, flashier and more exciting than plain old boring list making. I just can’t do it. I fail. And I am finally, after MANY attempts okay with this particular failure. It doesn’t jive with the way my brain works. I’m officially moving on and I’m taking my plain old vanilla notebook with me.

I was thinking about the function of lists in my life today (beyond reminding me what needs to be completed) and realized this is a way for me to bring order to chaos, to make sense of what doesn’t always make sense, and to keep record of what is important in different seasons of life and take inventory of current life as it is. I found myself doing just that as I was contemplating some change that may be heading our way. I cannot control what may or may not happen, but I can plan ahead (my list!) how I might best handle the situation. Whatever happens or doesn’t happen is in God’s hands and I am at peace with that. How I respond to it is in my hands and it brings me peace to think about my response in advance, and list the components of this situation that I CAN control.

My list is in my head for now. It doesn’t need to go into the notebook just yet. For now it is serving it’s purpose just fine, bringing calm to a mind that sometimes likes to travel down the rabbit hole of worst case scenarios. My list and my faith are working side by side in the days of waiting to see which direction God has planned for me and my family.