Wednesday, February 17, 2016

fear and skiing

Last Friday we rose early, bundled up in our winter gear, and drove the two hours over to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort . This little winter paradise is stuck in the Mt. Rainier national park and on a clear day you have great views of the summit. We got a little nervous on the drive up when we saw signs that the Chinook Pass was closed for the winter.  Not knowing where exactly our turn off was, we were worried that we'd meet a road block before we got to the slopes, especially since we saw exactly zero cars on the road with us. Fortunately Crystal Mountain blvd was right where the Chinook Pass closed. It's still so foreign to me living somewhere that entire highways shut down during the winter months, but it makes you feel like a real Pacific Northwesterner to cross the mountain roads.
Unfortunately it was raining when we got out of the car but we plowed on, rented our skis and poles and hopped on the lifts and headed up an intermediate blue slope. It's been a while since I'd been skiing and I was feeling not so confident. In fact I was feeling downright fearful. I got off the lift and stood at the edge of the run and thought, "well, guess I'm going to live up here now."
 
I don't know when that happened, or why that happened. I know how to ski! Blue runs are my jam!  I remember going skiing when I was younger and loving the speed, the challenge, proving that I could do harder slopes. I guess it's a part of growing up, and it's a part I really don't like. This deeper awareness that bad things do happen, that there are things in this world to be afraid of, that I have more to loose, that I can't do everything, that I might get hurt. You just don't have that sense when you're a kid.You're either fearless or oblivious.
So there I am, standing at the top of the slope trying to work up the nerve to make that first move, to frenchfrie and pizza my way down. I know by now that T.J. must be wondering where the heck I am. And in my head I can hear my dad's voice. He was the one who taught me to ski and encouraged me to try harder slopes, and celebrated my victories. He was also the one who talked me in to going on one more run at the end of the day, which usually ended up being one run too many. And I inevitably found myself in a similar position to where I stood now, at the top of a tricky turn wondering how I was going to get down without dying (I'm a little dramatic, so sue me). But dad would stand below me, shouting, "Why are you crying?! Come on down! You can't stay up there forever! You can do it! Let's goooo!"  

So as a "grown up" I hear that now, in my head and also from T.J. my new cheerleader. But this time I didn't cry, thank you very much, and even though my legs were shaking, I made the first cut and slowly carefully made my way down. Then I tackled the moguls (that was a fun surprise...I feel like there should have been a sign) and when I finally reached T.J. patiently worrying about waiting for me at the bottom, I declared that it was green runs for me the rest of the day.
But all that aside, we had a really great day out in the snow. We rode the lifts together, then T.J. would hop on the next one to go higher up the mountain, and we'd meet back at the bottom. We wore ourselves out until the rain and fog made it impossible to see and we headed to the lodge for lunch. After a couple beers and a lot of actual french fries we opted not to go back out on the slopes. At the car we peeled off soaking wet layers, then headed home to take late afternoon naps by the fire. The perfect end to our winter excursion. 

And even though I was a bit of a chicken, I want to go back and do it again because I got back a little bit of that confidence I had as more reckless kid. And I realized something about my fear and I don't just mean fear of wiping out on the slopes, but real fear that I struggle with. Fear of the unknown, of the future, of feeling out of control, of getting hurt. I realized it all boils down to a lack of faith. God commands us, DO NOT FEAR! Easier said than done right?  But even though my dad isn't always standing at the bottom of the slope telling me I can do it, my heavenly Father is always with me, telling me I can trust Him. And I don't want to let my fear drown out that voice, and I don't want to miss out on the abundant life He has planned for us.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 
2 Timothy 1:7

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 
Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

meal planning reality check

Yesterday I planned a super ambitious meal for T.J. and I. I was craving king cake for a Fat Tuesday treat and decided to continue the Mardi Gras theme and also make gumbo for the first time. After work I did a big shopping trip to get all the fixings for dinner and headed home to make the dough for the cake. I had this vision in my head of T.J. coming home to a relaxed wife, clean kitchen, with gumbo simmering on the stove-top and a beautiful iced cake waiting for dessert. Instead things got away from me a bit when the cinnamon filling in the caked oozed all over the baking sheet, and the roux for the gumbo burned while I was taking the cake out of the oven, forcing me to start that over again (you can not take your eyes off a roux for even a second). Every surface in the kitchen was covered in mixing bowls and cutting boards, and it was all a bit sticky from the cinnamon sugar.
  
When T.J. got home I was not ready, the rice was still cooking, I hadn't iced the cake, and it was nearly 8 o'clock. Not exactly the picture perfect meal I had envisioned. T.J. snacked on the un-iced cake while I finished up the gumbo and we were finally able to sit down together.  After dinner he moved to the couch to unwind and I set about the dishes because I can't relax when there are dishes in the sink. It's a good and bad trait. But last night it was bad because all I really wanted to do was snuggle with my husband on the couch before he passed out.

Why do I create these plans in my head that don't allow room for messes or hungry husbands? I should just leave the dishes for later. T.J. doesn't care about the presentation, he doesn't care if the cake is iced, he doesn't care if the dog is licking cinnamon sugar off the floor. Yes, of course, he likes to come home to calm, clean house, that makes him feel more relaxed after leaving the craziness of his job, but really he just wants to be with me. Isn't that what meal planning is supposed to do for me? Isn't it supposed to take away the pressure of cooking dinner every night and allow more time to just enjoy dinner together?

But I got the snapchat posted to my story, and I already had a bunch of likes on instagram....um, wait... Was I cooking dinner for T.J. because I knew he'd enjoy it after a long overnight shift or was I doing it for the blog post?
(I made the traditional cinnamon sugar filling and left out the nuts. Be sure to really seal your edges so it doesn't all ooze out while baking.)

I'm giving myself some grace and trying again. Tonight I have a slow cooker meal planned- less dishes, a lot smoother. Though last night's meal was pretty convicting, it wasn't all a wash. The food was still delicious, there's plenty of leftovers for lunches this week, and T.J. still fell asleep with his head on my shoulder... while I refreshed my Instagram feed one more time ;) 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

delighting

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

How do I "delight" myself in the Lord?  What do I do to spend time with Him, that brings me joy and gives Him glory? Studying His word. Praying. Giving him thanks, laying my burdens at His feet and trusting him with my day, my heart.

But if I'm being honest, I don't always do this.

When there are struggles and my heart is heavy, I run to the water. I soak it up like dry ground in a rain storm after a drought. I jump and splash and allow myself to go under, to be overwhelmed by His love, His promises, my only Hope.

But just like a cliche, when the sky is sunny and all is right in my world, I forget who made the sun shine, I forget where my blessings come from, I forget to simply delight in the Lord.

So I want to do more than just read a chapter in the bible or a quick devotional excerpt for 15 minutes each day. I want to actively seek to know Him more and to meditate on His love letter to me.

I love this reminder from Lysa TerKeurst:

Seeking God — really seeking — is more than just reading a few verses from the Bible in the morning and trying to be a good person that day. Seeking requires me to sacrifice the things I feel compelled to chase so I can be available to notice God’s clear direction. Whatever we chase, like it or not, gains our full attention. 
 Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)


Enter bible journaling. If you're unfamiliar with this term, do a quick pinterest or instagram search and prepare to be inspired. I am a visual learner, I have to see something in front of me and copy it down myself to be able to commit it to memory. I've always been someone who underlines highlights and writes in the margins of my bible. I also have stacks and stacks of filled journals so this was right up my alley.

I picked up a new single column bible specifically for journaling - it has 2 inch margins, lightly lined - and some colored pencils and watercolor markers and made myself comfortable. No music, no tv on, a quiet house, my kitchen table and I went right to the book and chapter at the start of this post. It caused me to dwell a little longer, linger over a verse, and picture it in my mind. This seemed like the Psalm to start this new hobby that I hope becomes a habit.