The Case of the Missing Blogger

Hello blogging world- I know it has been quite some time. I had some major life changes that took place in the beginning of Lent that totally misdirected the focus of the last few months. The big news? I’m pregnant! I am 13 weeks (I actually found out 10 weeks ago today.) As you can imagine, even when you are planning for something like that the shock that it has actually happened is a little bit distracting. It completely threw off my path for Lent because I just couldn’t concentrate on anything else.

Over the last few weeks I’m way more used to the idea and better able to focus on things in my life again. We just got back from a vacation in Disney, the hours at work have simmered down, and I’ve even started attending a bible study at my friend’s house once a week. So yes, things are definitely getting back to normal, or at least, the new normal.

That’s all I really wanted to share for now. I will have more posts in the next couple of weeks I just wanted to explain why I’ve been on a hiatus and let everyone know I will be back.

It’s not about me

Last night I started The Purpose Driven Life as part of Lent devotional. Rick Warren suggests that you mark up the book and use it as a place to meditate on the things discussed in each chapter. While I can’t bring myself to do that, I thought I might use my blog as the place to process these thoughts. That way, I can pass the book along to a friend if they are interested when I’m done- and won’t feel bad for having marked it up so badly.

At the end of each day there is a summary, which I think I’ll include and then I’ll contemplate it’s meaning.

Day 1: Thinking about my purpose

Point to ponder: It’s not about me.

Verse to remember: “Everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” Colossians 1:16b (The Message)

Question to Consider: In spite of all the advertising around me, how can I remind myself that life is really living for God, not myself?

I almost feel like the point to ponder ‘It’s not about me‘ would better serve as a mantra than a temporary point to ponder. I feel like in some ways it is much bigger than a thought you consider for a day, but is rather something you need to constantly be telling yourself. I’m not saying to abandon all selfish pursuits because I think that those are incredibly valuable tools, but what I mean is that I think it’s important to focus more on the questions of what does God have planned for me, than what do I want to do with my life.

When an opportunity passes you by I think it’s important to contemplate whether it is something God might be asking of you. I can’t really figure out how to make this more tangible and easy to grasp. I guess it means that God created you with a purpose for your life in mind, and some choices you get to make, and others were set out by Him. So in addition to doing things that will enrich your life you need to be on the lookout for those things that you can do to please God.  

I think that in this day and age, where so many twenty-something’s are leaving college with the impression that they can have exactly their dream job, and to settle for nothing less, it’s hard to not become self-focused. It’s hard to not consider yourself first because we did grow up in a day and age where we got trophies for everything, where we were told daily how unique and precious we are, and where we are told to dream big. There is nothing wrong with any of those things except for that we were never taught how to put living for God first. Again, this is something that I find somewhat hard to reflect on because I feel like it’s just something you need to remind yourself daily, but I did want to try and contemplate it a little more deeply.

Let me know if you have any thoughts, I really would love to hear them.

 

Lent 2014

As I start this blog I can’t help feeling an overwhelming sense of deja vu. I feel like I’ve already written this post, which is odd because I most certainly have never endeavored to do anything like this project before.

As most of you know the Lenten season begins today, March 5th with Ash Wednesday. and goes until April 19th, Holy Saturday. It is common practice to “give something up” for Lent, a practice that even those who aren’t church go-ers often participate in. There are two beliefs for the fasting. The first is that you fast as a form of penitence for your sins. The second theory is that the fasting is a reminder of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert being tempted. I’m not sure that these two things really have to be mutually exclusive. 

This year for Lent I have decided to do two things. The first thing I am doing is giving up Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be honest these two vices are big distractions in my life. I am actually glad at the excuse to forgo them for 40 days. Granted, just because I am glad at the excuse, does not mean it will be easy. I do believe them both to be a source of negative energy in my life, and in many ways they ‘tempt’ me to sin. They evoke gossip and judgements about people in my life. They steal time away from more noble pursuits. And while it is never something I intend, they also may serve as a platform for boastfulness. So for these reasons, I am giving them up. I am allowing myself to stay on some social media (Goodreads, Instagram) because I feel like I don’t waste nearly the amount of energy or time on them, and I feel like they are positive outlets for my passions in life.

The next thing I am doing is a more ‘contemporary’ view of Lent

Instead of fasting, I will be indulging. Indulging in the word of God that is, and indulging in the interpretation of it by other spiritual leaders. Each day I will devote the time to reading the selected passages from my YouVersion bible app. It’s a program that will lead you through the Bible in a year. I’ve gotten behind so I’m actually only in Exodus right now (Pharoh Pharoh just let his people go!- please get the camp song reference there). The next thing I am adding is reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I knew I wanted to add a devotional type activity, and this book actually works well for it. It’s 40 chapters I believe.  And I believe the version I am getting (coming in the mail today) will have those little bar codes you can scan with your phone to get additional content online. I am a little tentative because I feel like I’ve heard negative things about Rick Warren for some reason, but I am optimistic about the experience.

I know that Lent should be a time of sacrifice and so I can’t help but feel like I’m doing it a little bit “wrong” that I am actually excited and happy about the changes this Lent season may bring to my life. It is what it is though. What are you giving up for Lent? Are you adding something? Please let me know what you’re up to and what you think of my plans. I’d love the feedback!

 

Scripture Challenge: Matthew 22:37-39

It’s been a while since I posted something on here and I now that i finally have the time to do it, I’m coming up short on what to write about. I thought I’d give another scripture challenge a try. Ironically, I’m pretty sure this particular verse was read this past weekend at church. 

Here’s today’s scripture off Bible Gateway: 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39NIV

 

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

To really understand this I decided to take a look at the 22nd chapter of Matthew a little closer. I wanted to know to whom it was Jesus was talking. As it turns out Jesus was speaking to the Sadducees. Since I’m not particularly strong in biblical history I decided to google these people. According to wikipedia, the Sadducees are a sect of Jews who were in charge of maintaining the temple. It also appears that they were of a higher and more prestigious socio-economic class. 

Jesus was prompted by one of the Sadducees to tell him what the greatest commandment of all was. The above was his response. But what does it really mean? Love your Lord your God with all your heart, means not to be a Sunday Christian. It means to love the Lord so much that each and every act is done with him in mind. On a personal level I equate it to the way that I consider my husband before I make household decisions. It’s easy to consider him because he is a physical presence in my life. What the first part of this reading is saying though, is to love God in that same way. Do things because they are what God would want. Do things because the being that loves you most in this world would want it that way. 

The verse goes on to say to love the Lord your God with all your soul. This is a harder one personally to quantify. What does it mean to do something with all your soul. To figure out what this meant I took to google. (What a handy little friend!). After looking at a few blogs it turns out that people distinguish loving with your soul from your heart by noting that your soul is a matter of devotion, your heart is a matter of affection. I consider my husbands wishes each day because I love him, the same way I suggested in the previous paragraph that I need to make decisions by asking myself if it was what the God who loves me would want. In this case though, it become a matter of doing things because you’ve made the commitment to do so. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you undoubtedly make a commitment to God. At some points it’s going to be hard to keep, but loving him with all your soul means that you do it anyway. I imagine a situation where God is challenging you. Maybe he’s telling you that you need to be kind or helpful to someone whom you have absolutely no desire to be kind and helpful to. When you love your Lord with all your soul, you do it anyway. Because pleasing him is more than a matter of love, it’s a matter of devotion. You do it because it is what He wants. 

The final part of the triad is to love the lord with all your mind. I’ll be honest, I had to take to google again and read the thoughts of some others here. I believe what the reading means when it says to love God with all your mind it means to think on the words of the bible daily. Share the words of the bible daily. Share your faith and beliefs with others. Loving the Lord with all your mind means to be cognisant of Him in all that you do. 

Then Jesus declares, This is the first and the greatest commandment of them all.

Jesus probably says this to emphasize the importance of this commandment. While it is important to follow the other teachings, it feels as if He is saying that if we cannot do this, we will some how be following the rest in vain. We need to obey this first commandment, so that we can have any hope of obeying the rest.

Finally, Jesus says, ‘And the second is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The interpretation of the last part of this reading is easy enough to understand. It’s been taught to most people since they were a child. Basically, treat others the way you want to be treated. But this is one that falls severely short in practice. It is one thing to be kind to another person. As a people-pleaser I find kindness towards other normally pretty easy. The problem is, the verse doesn’t actually say “treat others as you’d like to be treated”, it says love your neighbor as yourself. I believe this to mean that at a much deeper level we need to treat others with love. Love encompasses such features as patience, forgiveness, understanding, empathy, and kindness. This is very hard to do. And I believe that this in many ways is where loving God with all your mind comes into play. Some times loving your  neighbor is going to require a constant thought of God, and how he would want you to treat them.

This is just my few thoughts on the daily verse off biblegateway.com. I hope I did the verses justice and that somewhere, someone gains something from my consideration of the verse. God Bless!

2014

I find it fitting that for months I thought I left this blog in such a way that any one who read it would wonder where I’ve gone to and all along the last post actually makes it somewhat clear, that perhaps it was time for a hiatus.

However, I am starting fresh. It’s 2014 (how the heck did that happen) and it’s time for betterment. I’m going to do a few posts in the next few days reflecting on the changes I want to make, and doing a tell all kind of confessional, and then it’s time for improvement.

I just wanted to come here and let everyone who is still subscribed to this blog know what is coming.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and blessed 2014!

A Failed Experiment

When I was in high school (or even middle school) and I would write a paper or essay that I was particularly proud of, I’d ask everyone if they wanted to read it. I would be bursting with pride and just needed to show people what I’d done. I’ve become pretty proud of my blog. While most of it is just story telling, it is something I put my time and energy into. So on Friday, wanting to get more exposure, I decided to buy a 5  dollar credit on StumbleUpon. The way it worked is that I entered information about my blog, picked a target demographic, and it calculated how much it would charge me for each view it guaranteed. All in all I think my five dollars provided about 30-40 views.

I was convinced that getting people to interact with me on my blog was simply a matter of exposure. More people needed to see my blog, and then more people would stop by to comment and give feedback. It turns out I was wrong. On Friday I had about the 2nd highest views for one day as I’ve ever had, and not one person commented, liked a single post, or decided to follow my blog. In my head all I see is the saying, “Money can’t buy you friends.”

One of my inspirations for this blog, Rebecca Kelsey (see her blog here), told me to blog for myself and then the rest would fall into place. I should have listened to her advice.  People are only going to follow your blog if they like your voice and your content. I just thought I’d share the little lesson I’d learned with everyone else so that you don’t take for granted the power in any blog is the voice of the author, not the views.

My Happiness Project

I’ve made mention in a few posts that I am working of letting go of anger, anxiety, and depression (feelings I feel like I’m naturally inclined towards) in an effort to create a happy life. I have heard so many maxims saying things like, “You are in charge of your own happiness”, or ,”Happiness isn’t a moment in time, it’s a state of mind.” I never really thought much of them until I realized a few months ago that I simply was not happy. I don’t know that “unhappy” was the word, but happy was something I didn’t feel.

The week we came back from vacation I said, “That is ENOUGH!” I was done with the feelings of constant stress/anxiety. I spent half of our vacation wandering around our beach house because I simply didn’t know what to do with myself, I felt like I needed to entertain someone, or be in a certain room, and like I owed other people things at the expense of my own happiness. And it simply was not that serious.

When I got home from vacation I started taking ten minutes a day to write down goals for the day and to write down good, or simply positive things that happened. I tried to write down everything. If I put the dishes away before work, I wrote that down. It might seem silly but putting those dishes away was something that I accomplished, and it is nice to not come home to a chore, so it went down on the list. The goals were things like, “Go to Pilates” or “Start One Load of Laundry”. Honesty- the goals were normally small things that I could accomplish that would make me feel good about myself. In some ways, it has kept me accountable for my exercising too.

Another thing that I have started to do it taking yoga and pilates classes (in addition to spinning and running). I have always been interested in yoga, but my gym didn’t offer it. I had ignored classes like Pilates and Yoga before because they weren’t “calorie burners” When I got home from vacation though, I told myself, if I am going to the gym 4 or 5 days a week, versus once or twice when I was only running, who cares if I do Pilates and Yoga?

I think Yoga has really “calmed” me. Sometimes I just need someone to tell me, just breath. The class is a vinyasa flow, so it’s pretty easy on me, and I am able to take it at 6:30 on Monday nights. I am able to go into the rest of the week just feeling at peace.

I am still a major work in progress. I have a lot of work to do towards becoming truly happy and at peace with my life, but I am working on it, and that is a huge step. Some days (especially weekends) I have trouble remembering to write down happy/positive things in my journal. But on Monday morning, I don’t say, “Screw it I haven’t written anything down in 2 days.”, I do it anyway.

Do you have any recommendations for my happiness project? Any books you can recommend (I do want to read “The Happiness Project”)? Any activities you can suggest? Any mantras or quotes that might help me? What about other blogs? Any advice here would be great!

13 Things in 2013

A few weeks or a month, or two, ago I was inspired to start a bucket list for things I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2013. Two other people I follow on the internet are doing similar things. Project Light to Life has established blog for her project and Rubenesquex3 classified hers as a summer bucket list.

As it is, it took me literally weeks to come up with thirteen items for mine. I wanted to make sure that the items on it were somewhat attainable. I know the point of a bucket list is to do things you wouldn’t normally do- but I know in the next four months my husband and I won’t have the money or time off to fly to England, so I am not going to set myself up to fail. That being said, please enjoy my 2013 Bucket List. Let me know what you would have put on yours!

2013 Bucket List 

1- Go to a wine or beer festival

2- Buy my blogs domain name (www.thecoffeedaring.com)

3- Visit the Museums in Philadelphia

4- Meet my friend Jill from out of state, who will be visited a near by town late this year. (We’ve been internet friends for probably 3 years now)

5- Finish 13 More Books (I might do a separate post on which books I hope to read)

6- Bake a batch of cookies and just show up at a friends house to deliver them

7- Run another 5k

8- Introduce myself to someone who could become a new friend

9- Master a new cookie recipe

10- Master tree pose

11- Learn to crochet

12- Start an herb garden indoors (I’m thinking Basil and Cilantro if anyone has any suggestions)

13- Try a zumba class at the gym