Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Caffeinated Late Night Musings

Random trivia about me.  I am really sensitive to caffeine.  I do fine with decaf and if it is early enough in the day I can do green tea.  But any caffeine after say 3pm pretty much guarantees my brain will still be in overdrive at 1am.  I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking how weird because you can drink a regular cup of coffee at 9pm and sleep like a baby.  I know how that works.  In my 20's that is how it worked for me too. So if I may just have a health food moment here...you aren't immune to the effects of caffeine, your body is just so toxic with it that it doesn't react properly to it anymore.  Once you detox from it, suddenly it works very well. Sometimes my body will be literally buzzing from the drug.  I also sleep better than you and have less stomach issues.  Just saying.

So anyway, we went to caribou tonight and I ordered iced berry white mocha, decaf and soy but he accidentally made it with 2% instead of soy and so quickly re-made it and I think he missed the decaf the second time around because it is 2am and I am positively energetic right now.  Can you imagine if I detoxed from sugar and then drank a caffeinated, sugary coffee drink?  I think I would be buzzing so much I might literally explode.

I should probably just get dressed and go into the office now so I can come home at 4 or 5am when the buzz usually wears off and sleep in.  Or go for a nice evening stroll in the cool summer air. I live in a safe neighborhood. Or...write a blog post.  Since my mind is working so sharply and clearly right now.

This has been a good summer.  Not a relaxing, vacation kind but a slowing down kind.  I told John tonight it felt like the long, slow run kind of summer.  No races, no speed training or endurance drills.  Just a relaxing long run.  We haven't stopped running but it is a stress free kind of run this summer.  We are beginning to gear up for the fall training sessions.

John goes back to school this fall and after a couple different meetings at the U with his regular advisor who proposed a plan that sort of would work but we didn't like, someone in his degree department who confirmed that he did not  have to take a class at the U that he had already taken at Normandale (I know it sounds obvious but apparently it isn't), a visit to the admission office to confirm an addition to his transcript and then a bunch of research by me to put it all together and create a real plan and then a few phone calls and emails to get permission to take the classes he wanted to take, we are on track for him to graduate at the end of next summer. (Piece of cake.) Would have liked a spring graduation but it would mean him taking an unhealthy number of credits each semester which would have to include 2 lab classes at once and a senior project in his major.  That just seemed silly.  So he will add a couple summer classes and be finishing up his degree a year from now.

As we start this 4th year of full time school I think we finally are starting to figure things out.  Every semester we look at his schedule and try to plan the times he will study and times he will work.  Tonight I said we should plan the times he will prioritize the family.  Because he will always find time to prioritize homework but we often slip through the cracks. And I don't say that hurt or like I don't understand. We are just learning that we need to take a different approach.  One that doesn't assume that every free moment will be spent with us and he will plan his study but the reality that every free moment will be spent studying and he needs to plan his time with us.  Live and learn.  Save yourself a few fights.  (This is one  of the moments of clarity I had tonight while my brain was working in overdrive.)

In a way it is a shame that just as we are really starting to perfect this crazy schedule he is going to finish up. (This is one of those crazy things you say when your brain is working in overdrive.)  Of course then we have grad school...but somehow I suspect all the rules will change once we get there.

Topic Change.  (When your brain is in overdrive you go flying from one thought to the next.)  Let's go deep.

I am currently reading in Matthew.  I have had a lack luster quiet time most of this past year and was about to give up on it for a while but whenever I don't know where to go I read a gospel.  It just feels foundational, gets you back on solid ground.  Everything else in the bible is growth agent but it all has to start in the gospels.  Foundational.  I don't know that Matthew is my favorite one but it is the first one and the fact that I am reading it because it comes first should tell you a little bit about the amount of effort I have been interesting in putting into my quiet times lately.

I have had a few thoughts as I have read but when I try to write them down it turns out I just have thoughts but no points.  "Huh, interesting."  But nothing else.

Today I think I might be on to something so we will try it out tonight with my extra stimulated brain.

Storms.  I read 2 stories about storms. You know them.  The wise man builds his house upon the rock, the foolish one builds his house upon the sand.  The rains came down and the floods went up and the sand house came tumbling down but the house on the rock stood firm.  If you were in sunday school in the 70's you are singing in your head now.  sorry.  Story two is of the storm that came up in the boat while Jesus slept. The disciples were afraid and they woke him up because they just didn't understand how he could sleep at a time he should be terrified with them.  And Jesus rolled his eyes, calmed the storm, wondered when they would figure out what was really going on and went back to sleep.  You have the part about him rolling his eyes in your bible too, right?

OK so, going with the idea that last year we went through a storm and applying the ideas to my life then and today.

So first of all, I always think of the rock that the house is built on as Jesus, but really he is talking about something else.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."  Matt 7:24-27

Now Chuck Swindoll likes to say, "when you see a therefore ask yourself what it is there for."

So this build your house on a rock passage is the end of this long bunch of teachings that Jesus gives, I think it is the sermon on the mount.  So a brief overview would be: watch for false prophets, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, don't judge others, don't worry, store up treasures in heaven not here on earth, give to the needy, pray, love your enemys, be nice to each other, be salt and light, and all those blessed are..

So if we hear all he says there and put it into practice that is our rock upon which we build a house and when a storm comes it does not fall with a great crash or even a small shudder.  It stands.

What I got to thinking about was that although my house still stands, it took on some damage.  My roof has hail damage, there are cracks in the siding, I discovered a few rocks made of sandstone rather than granite after the outer coating washed off.  When the storm comes, our house may still be standing but it might need a little maintenance.  You don't get to come out of your cozy house after a storm and keep moving forward without stopping to assess the damage and make repairs.  If you don't then the next storm will make even more damage and eventually you might find that a little storm causes your house to crash to the ground.

Lets be honest, maintenance work is not fun.  Spending money to replace a roof after a storm, not fun.  Walking around the yard picking up all those broken branches, repainting the siding, filling cracks.  Tedious and time consuming.  Blah.

And if I am honest, that is sort of how I have been feeling about the whole thing this summer.  Standing outside my broken house and unsure I really have it in me to fix it.  I have done a few little things.  Walked around picking up a few branches.  Filing a few holes that seemed to need immediate attention.  But mostly just standing there staring at it.  I am unwilling to walk away.  This is where I want to be, I am just...

Standing in the boat trying to figure out what happened.  So there was this big storm and i was totally freaked out and I woke up Jesus.  In the disciples story he calms the storm.  Before hand he says to them, "you of little faith, why are you so afraid?"  But I think to myself, if they were afraid before he calmed the storm, imagine how they were feeling after!  As if the storm wasn't scary enough now you realize you are in a boat with a guy even more powerful that a very scary storm!  What do you do with that information?  (Even my hyped up mind can't quite grasp that, although at 3am it is starting to slow down so my brilliance from here on might start to wane.)

Anyway, while I am finding this story interesting I have to admit to myself that I am secretly thinking, "good story bro but Jesus didn't calm my storm."  Sometimes I think we need to pull our secret thoughts to the front so we can set them straight.  I mean this is not my first run through the bible, I know what Jesus is really trying to say here.  It isn't that he will always calm our storms but that he is more powerful than anything we have to endure and we can lean on him.

After I had that thought I responded with another thought (my thoughts talk to each other), I did not see Jesus present in my storm. And I sort of wanted to cross my arms and stick out my tongue as I had that thought.  Possibly stomp my foot.  But as I looked back at each major lightning strike in my storm I saw Jesus' presence.  Some more clearly than others, one particularly bad strike I really had to struggle to find him but I did eventually see him when I took my eyes off the bad and allowed myself to see the whole picture.  Blessings everywhere, even in the storm.

Anyway, I guess I still don't know if I really have a point to all that. I am still healing. I think I want to forget that.  I want to come out of my house and just pick up right where I left off when the storm started. I don't want to be broken and need to heal. And I think I felt a little betrayed by Jesus.  I think as Christians who know the truth we don't want to admit we are hurt by God or feel betrayed by Jesus because we know those aren't truths.  But that doesn't mean we don't feel that way and if we can't admit we feel that way we can't move past it.  So I admit, this storm may not have crashed my house but it did do more damage than I would like to admit.  However, while I struggle to find enthusiasm for the repairs most days, I am making them, I can't imagine doing anything else.

We are coming up on a year since we packed up everything we owned, sold our house and moved into my parents basement in an effort to re-structure and re-build our finances so we can complete this educational journey.  As if that wasn't enough to throw me off track, so much insanity followed.  But I think as we begin hitting some of these year marks it is freeing me.  We are feeling settled for the most part in our new home.  We bought this little condo thinking we would only be here a few years but we love it so much we might stay forever and buy a cabin or retirement home when John goes back to work instead.  And we are making some serious headway on emptying out our storage locker.  Had hoped to be out of it by the end of June but now thinking end of August will be more realistic.  Last week I found something in storage that we feared we had lost in the move.  Some pictures we have had done on our milestone anniversaries over the years.  They are irreplaceable.  We had come to peace with their loss but are overjoyed at their return. Hey that sort of makes them sound like the prodigal son!  I could do a post just around that.  But I won't because it is almost 3:30am and I don't think I have a new thought left in me.  Anyway, truth be told we have stuff in 2 other places as well.  We have a lot of stuff.  I keep asking myself how this happened.  The storage we are trying to get out of is the one with all the household stuff.  Non-essentials that I either need to let go or accept the fact that I am going to have to find a place for it in my home or pay to keep it.  You really discover what is important to you when you downsize.  I recommend the experience.

OK lots of mind wandering happening here.  Less razer focus.  I think I might be able to fall asleep. I was just looking at my post screen and discovered 4 partially written posts that I managed to summarize in this one post. But I will not say that the caffeine helped.  It was more the time I got tonight with nothing else to do.  But it is over now. Good night.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Bloom of the Present Moment

A couple years ago when I first started working I was reading, "Life in the Woods" By Thoreau.  I was going through some old notebooks yesterday and noticed a couple quotes from the book I had jotted down.

"There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether head or hands.  I love a broad margin to my life."

I wish I could have pulled this quote out a few weeks ago when the ducks were walking through our courtyard.  It was this very idea.  I couldn't afford to do anything else but experience the bloom of that moment, watch those ducks.
But in that moment, as I was about to jump up and capture it for all to see I stopped.  Because the down side of becoming a reporter for the world is that sometimes we completely miss experiencing the moment for ourselves.  So I continued sitting still and watching these two companions come across the bridge, walk across the grass, pause on a path near a second bridge to enjoy the view.  They weren't in a hurry, seemed to have nowhere to be but here in this moment, in this place, together.  And for a few minutes I got to join them, share in their contented morning stroll and enjoy this place God put me today.  Eventually the waddled off out of my sight to carry on with their day and I had to get up and begin my day.  But for a moment, I got to stop the crazy of life with Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and just be present.

Hey!  I just quoted myself in my own blog.  Is that allowed?  How fun for me.  I am easily entertained.

Anyway...Today, don't sacrifice the bloom of the moment to work, or picture taking or rushing down the highway and miss experiencing the life God has placed before you, the people, the places, the joys and the sorrows.