Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Week Ahead

As we transition from September into October this week, I'm spending time thinking about what I want to accomplish in the month of October.  There's some things I want to do personally, but also some things for work, for our apartment, and just general big idea things I'd like to do.  For this week, while I'm thinking about it all, I'm going to focus on what I'd like for the week ahead.  I happen to have a very odd work schedule this week which amounts to me only working one full 12-hour shift, which I will be leaving for in about two hours!  I'll be at work Tuesday to help with interviews for a new-ish position on our floor and then will spend Wednesday and Thursday working some 4 hour shifts covering lunch breaks on the unit.  I had already scheduled a PTO day off for this week since Scott and I were hoping to head out of town for a bit for his fall break, so it should be a light work week! With all of that in mind, I've decided to make some weekly goals to work through as I continue contemplating the big month-long October ones.

No. 1: Finish reading a book. My September goal of finishing 2 books didn't even come close to happening.  I have 2 or 3 chapters left in the short little e-book I'm reading called Writing to Find Yourself.  It was part of my research process for writing and I have just loved it, but sadly haven't put the time into finishing it.  I plan to do this on my lunch break tonight if all goes well (now that I've said that, I probably won't even have time for a lunch break tonight.  That's how it goes!).  I was talking to Scott about how bummed I was about not reading books much this month, and he responded, "well, you may not have read one but you sure did write one!"  Which is mostly true.  I started writing one.  Which leads me to my next goal

No. 2: Write three more chapters of Small Joys.  I wrote a chapter last week  in the car while we were on our way down for an impromptu trip to Nashville, but since then I've been working and taking lots of classes at work, so writing has been minimal!  If I could do three more chapters this week (I already know the three I want to write, just need to put the words on paper!) I think I would feel much better about book progress.

No. 3: Finish staining our coffee table. We've talked about staining our coffee table for a while, but I thought it was too big of a project to work on until later this fall or winter.  Well, Scott got a new sander recently and I came home to find out coffee table half stripped down a couple of weeks ago, which indicated to me that the coffee table project had begun, whether I was ready or not!  I had practiced staining for our TV mount project (I'll share pictures of this in a later post) and felt comfortable doing it on our coffee table, so the project is on!  The table has two coats of stain on it currently and basically just needs a clear, water-proof coat now before it's a done deal.  The color looks amazing, and some of the details up close look a little bit less than perfect, but I think overall we've enjoyed the project and will surely do more staining in the future.  It's kind of nice to think that this project is basically completed, as it was something I've had on my mind for a while but didn't think we would get to until October or November.  It's finished just in time for my dad's visit from NC to Indiana next month!  

No. 4: Cook/eat meals at home.  We've been on the road a bit lately and also have just generally been quite busy, so we've eaten out more than we usually like to.  This week, I should be home for every dinner and should be able to spend some time crafting a meal in the kitchen.  I get so giddy over cooking and baking, I am excited just thinking about what we've got in our refrigerator and pantry and how I can toss things together for a new, delicious meal.  Updates to come on what we make!  Right now we've got chili going in the crockpot because it's Sunday, there's football on all day, and I had to sleep some for work and couldn't be pouring over the stove all morning.  

No. 5: Spend quiet time with Jesus each morning. This would be my goal for EVERY morning but I often fail.  My days are so much better when I start them with Jesus; it just gives me the right perspective for the day and sets my heart where it needs to be to serve others well.  I'll be spending time with the She Reads Truth studies this week, and if you are looking for some good studies of the Bible and don't currently know of any, I'd start there! They have an iPhone app now and everything.  

I think that'll do for now.  Lots of love and hope you all have a great week! Today is my Monday, technically, but also my Friday, with only working one full shift.  I'm thankful and excited for some respite this week.

XOXO,
C. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stepping Outside the Door

Source: Skjersaa Group


Happy Tuesday, friends!  And Happy Autumn Equinox (or first day of Fall)!  I hope you are celebrating Fall's arrival with pumpkin treats and drinks (we're already 85% finished with our first twelve pack of Sam Adams' Octoberfest and I'm 4 pumpkin spice lattes into the season), scarves, crockpot meals, and costume planning for Halloween.  I was determined to buy a pumpkin on the first day of Fall but ended up spending too much money on things we actually needed to purchase one. Talk about self control.  It felt like all of the pumpkins were staring at me with sad, weepy not-yet-carved-or-painted eyes as I walked away from them and got into my car.

Do you know what the hardest thing is for me on most days? It's getting out of my house.  On most days, today included, I have the hardest time stepping out of my front door.  In our apartment, all of the little comforts of our life together exist and have melted into one another to make this feel like a real home to me.  And when I wake up in the morning, all I want to do is sit inside with my coffee and a good book while I peer outside at what everyone is doing on the other side of my window.  But actually leaving the apartment?  Nope, not for me.

That's my introverted nature, I think.  I like to see what's going on in the great big world outside, but sometimes it seems scary to participate.  Sometimes I fear what's on the other side of my front door, and it seems so much safer to just stay inside.

More often than not, when I do step outside the door, I'm immensely glad that I did.  Some of the very best parts of life happen on the other side of the door.  My career takes places on the other side of the door, as do get-togethers with friends, movie dates, my favorite restaurant outings, weather (particularly, Fall weather).  But sometimes, it takes a lot of building yourself up and being brave to open that door.  Sometimes it's pushing past insecurities about yourself, doubts about if you can make it, worries about traffic and weather and what other people will think.  But once you're past all of that, it can be so beautiful.

Today was one of those mornings when I just fretted over leaving the house.  I was supposed to have a checkoff for something at work, and as silly as it now seems, I just didn't want to go.  I was worried that I hadn't prepared enough, concerned about parking-- what if I couldn't find a spot??-- and just generally thinking it would be better to stay inside and watch Fall happen from my bay window.

But when I finally left my house, I was so glad that I did.  I saw smiley, friendly people in the class that I went to, had a nice conversation with the man in Trader Joe's about brussels (yes, this word is supposed to be pluralized. I checked for good measure) sprouts on the stalk, I got lots of things accomplished on my to-do list, and I was able to feel the gentle breeze of Fall that added a little cheer to my steps today.

The biggest step I have ever taken outside of the door was when I moved from North Carolina to Indiana.  I was pretty terrified about the whole thing, especially with my lack of a job (which I proceeded to call funemployment for a few weeks before it got old), but every time someone would question me or raise concerns about me going, I would dig up every brave fiber I had to speak and to say that I was not going to live in fear of the unknown.  On the other side of the door of our little green house in Durham was a great, big, scary unknown.  I had no idea what was in store for me in Indiana; after only visiting a few times, how could I know what to expect? But I've never been happier than I was on that November day last year when I stepped outside of that door.  What was waiting for me here was far better than I ever could have imagined, and for that I am thankful.

I have found this same phenomenon to exist in my faith life, too.  Sometimes I like to sit back and watch what God is doing in the lives of other people, and I thank Him for all of the blessing that He is pouring upon someone.  But then He calls me to step outside the door in faith and do something in His name, and I freeze.  Wait, me? I'm not ready for that.  I'm not holy enough or spiritual enough and I haven't memorized enough Bible verses this week (wait, I don't even know where my Bible is right now, is it under the bed??) and God is probably looking for someone different for this.

But He's not.

He's looking for me, and I have to decide to trust Him and step outside the door of the box that I have built for myself.  I have to depart from the self-centered life I've pursued and focus on someone outside of the box, someone who needs a friend or a cup of coffee or a smiling face in the grocery store.  And I can't do any of those things if I don't open the door and step outside.  I can't love other people from in here in real, tangible ways.  On a superficial level, maybe, with texts and letters and phone calls.  But the real work of loving people-- helping them move their sofa out of their apartment, or bringing them food when a family member just passed away, or buying a cup of coffee for an unsuspecting person in line behind you-- these things all happen on the other side of the door.

Don't fear the other side of the door, as I so often have.  Be brave.  Turn the handle and step outside, and prepare to be amazed at all of the wonderful things that you'll encounter on the other side of that door.  Sure, there's a lot of scary things, too.  But mostly, I think you'll be glad that you stepped outside.

Wishing you all the very best this week, and please feel free to contact me if you're in need of prayer.  My little prayer book is getting quite full and that's exactly how it likes to be.

Lots of love,
C.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Liebster Award

Hello friends! Happy Monday to you.  I hope your weekend was full of rest and good friends and the beginnings of fall weather. The weekend has been interesting and quite spontaneous for us, actually.  My work week was quite busy, and on Thursday, when I was supposed to go into work, I was really not feeling well.  By 2PM, I had only slept a grand total of 1 hour due to lots of tossing and turning and just generally feeling badly.  I felt like I had been hit by a train-- horrible headache (maybe from lack of sleep?) in tow and just feeling crappy.  So I didn't go into work on Thursday night, unfortunately.  I'm not one who calls in sick very often or at all for work, but sometimes you just have to listen to what your body is telling you.  Friday morning, feeling much better and definitely well-rested, Scott and I woke up and drove to Nashville for a spontaneous less-than-24-hour trip to visit my brother- and sister-in-law as they celebrated their one year wedding anniversary in Nashville.

It was a seemingly crazy decision considering we arrived at 1PM on Friday and left at 8AM Saturday morning, but we got a chance to see downtown Nashville, go line-dancing at the Honky Tonk bars on Broadway, and spend time with some of our family members away from home.  We always have so much fun with Ashley and Chris and were happy to be able to share in celebrating their anniversary with them.

In any case, I was nominated by my sweet friend Shannon Weynand of Kaplo in the Little Things for something I have never heard of-- the Liebster Award.  The idea behind this is to share blogs that you read with other people to introduce them to new blogs/topics.  There's also a series of questions to answer when you're nominated to share a little bit about yourself with those who read your blog... so here goes nothing!  These questions were selected by Shannon and will be answered in the spirit of honesty!  Also, I wrote a post about blogs I love a few weeks ago but I will try to introduce you to some different ones for this post.

 
I like the pink one better. I'm a pink girl, though. 


1. What inspired you to start blogging? I originally started blogging to keep a record of my runs when I first started running.  Each post was titled with the number of miles I ran that day (starting with 0.3miles or 0.5 for my first few! My, how far I have come from that first run around Gimghoul Lane in Chapel Hill), and I also chronicled how running was changing me.  Honestly, I can't really find that blog site anymore and am wondering if I may have deleted it at some point.  Now, I blog in mostly small essays about life around me, different things going on in my life, etc.  I've found it to be an easy way to keep family and friends at home updated on what's going on when I'm miles away.  Also, I think my inspiration for switching from blogging about running to the type of blogging I do now came from Shannon, who I talk about frequently on here.  I love her little blog so very much.

2. Coffee date with your favorite author-- How do you take your coffee and with whom are you sitting? If we're talking all-time favorite author, then I'm sitting with Jane Austen and we are likely drinking decaf Earl Grey tea with a splash of honey, and I honestly am not sure what we would discuss, but I like to think it would be some sort of literary items that we were discussing, and just how much I love Mr. Darcy.  Modern day, I'm sitting with Shauna Niequist  in Chicago drinking a hazelnut coffee with stevia and some half-and-half; we're discussing books (as we both love reading) and writing, as well.  I'm asking her for advice on publishing a book and how to not get discouraged while writing and how to leave the truest form of yourself on paper instead of selling out and people-pleasing.  I'm also talking with her about how she's been hurt by the church in the past, the grace of Jesus, and best places to visit when I'm back in Chicago for a weekend trip (local, insider kind of places.  I feel that she knows these well).

3. If approached by someone who self-identifies as "hating reading," what book would be your go-to recommendation? Truthfully, I rarely come across this problem, as most of my friends LOVE books. But, in a stitch, Oh! The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.  It has pictures.  It has rhymes.  And it's altogether lovely and inspiring.  I also happen to have most of it memorized, but that's not important to know, is it?  For someone who hates reading, why not offer them something light and fun if they don't like the heaviness of reading?  I was raised on books, sitting in my closet late at night reading Harry Potter with a book light, so the idea of hating to read is foreign to me.  But I try to sympathize as much as I can.  Once you've read Oh! The Places You'll Go, Harry Potter is a good next choice.  I think these are super addicting and I know several friends who despise reading but who devoured these books.

4. What do you enjoy most about where you live right now? Oh, so many things.  Scott and I live right on the edge of downtown Indianapolis and have a bay window with a gorgeous view of downtown Indy.  I love sitting at our kitchen table while drinking coffee and overlooking the sunrise or sunset that day; Indiana sunsets are actually quite amazing.  The other thing I love about where we live is that we are right off of the Monon Bike Trail that runs through the city and therefore do a lot of running and biking to different places.  We ride our bikes to meals sometimes, to get ice cream, to study, or just for exercise.  But we're a fifteen minute bike ride to the very heart of downtown and fifteen minutes in the other direction for Broad Ripple which is an area with tons of local restaurants and coffee shops.  I will be sad when we leave Indy, I have come to quite love this place.



5. Do you ever order cocktails? If so, what is your go-to? Rarely.  Cocktails are so overpriced, in my opinion.  I usually go for wine, beer, or a margarita when I'm out.  I don't really do things like Vodka cranberries or cosmos or anything like that, unless I'm out somewhere where I'm feeling that I should be sophisticated (which is never).

6. What is your favorite dog breed? Why? My family had one dog growing up, after thinking we would never ever own one (my mom was against them for a little while).  She was a chow/wheaten terrier mix named Hope and she was lovely and sweet.  Around the time when I was leaving North Carolina, my mom got a golden retriever named Gracie Lou and my roommate got a golden doodle named Penny.  I think I have to choose some sort of golden retriever mix as my favorite dog breed, as I have found these creatures to be so lovable and fun-loving.  They are so friendly, forgiving, and inquisitive, and I think I will definitely be wanting some sort of golden mix one day.

7. If you're being honest, what is the best means of getting in contact with you?: text, email, phone call, Facebook messenger, Skype, or something else? Because I work night shift, texting and e-mailing seem to work best for me.  I often can't answer my phone during the day if I am sleeping for night shift, and I can't answer it at night when I'm working.  On days off, I'm pretty available by phone, but the most consistent way to get in touch with me is text/e-mail, and you'll have to have a little grace and patience with me since I may not be able to respond right away.  For non-urgent needs, snail mail is a lovely way to communicate with me and I am always sure to respond with whatever new stationery I've run across.

8. What is your go-to questions when in the midst of an awkward first-meeting? I don't think I have a go-to question for this.. but I usually make a lot of small talk about jobs, school, where they're from, what college they went to (if we have Carolina as common interest I'm in).  I can't say that I truly have a "go-to" question, though. I mostly continue to act awkward and thus make the interaction even more awkward.

9. What possession in your home are you most proud of? This is a tough one.  When I first read this, I read it as which possession is most valuable to me.  But after re-reading and realizing it's the one I'm most proud of, I'd have to go with my desk.  It's a pretty little thing from World Market, and when I first moved into an off-campus apartment, it was the first item of furniture I bought.  I lived by myself for that summer and decided I needed a desk.  I had selected this desk and drove 30 minutes away to get it at the only nearby store that had it in stock; it was pouring rain when I walked out with it, and a nice man offered to carry it for me in the rain, but being the self-sufficient woman I typically try to be, I kindly declined and stumbled to my car with the heavy box.  I made it all the way home, carried it into the house while it was still raining, and put it all together by myself.  It was my first big-girl piece of furniture, that I had paid for with my own money and put together with my own hands.  And it's where all of my dreams have been lived out-- it's at this desk that I've studied for nursing school and nursing boards, applied for jobs (both in NC and Indianapolis), it's where I sit sometimes when I write my book, and it's where a lot of wedding planning took place.  It's a place for dreaming and loving.

10. In less than 10 words, describe what you've been learning from a spiritual perspective recently. Focus on the present and practice waiting on the Lord. There's my 10 words, I think that's all I'm allowed to say about it!

And now for the nominations! The following bloggers are lovely, sweet, and kind, and have a passion for what they do and what they write about.  These ladies are all relatively new to blogging (within the past year!) but are off to a great start.  I love reading their blogs and hope you will, too.

1. Laura Jasmine (who just got married, so I believe her last name is Saunders now!): http://weddingbellesblog.com/
2. Caitlyn Carroll (soon-to-be Morrison): http://www.adashofcharm.com/
3. Adriana Poveromo (my sister!): http://saved-by-grace-adriana.blogspot.com/
4. Donna Poveromo (my mom! Yep, we're a family who loves to blog!):  http://dlpov.wordpress.com/

Questions
1. What inspired you to start blogging?
2. Coffee date with your favorite author-- how do you take your coffee, who are you sitting with, and what are you discussing?
3. What do you enjoy most about where you live right now?
4. Your boss calls to tell you that you need the day off; you've been working too hard lately. What do you do on your spontaneous day off?
5. What one possession do you cherish most?
6. What's your ultimate travel destination? Money is not an object.
7. What five things make you the happiest?
8. What does the world need more of?
9. Favorite recipe?
10. Describe what you have been learning from a spiritual perspective, recently.

Lots of love & happy writing!

Also: shameless book update.  46 pages and 6 chapters! Slowly but surely.  And with lots of coffee.

XOXO,
C.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On Savoring September and Not Coming Down.

Whew.  September is whizzing by, which is really all the better to make way for sweet October.  But September has been pretty good so far, and I am doing my best to savor the sweet moments from this month.  Scott and I are moving through our monthly goals list while also finding time to do fun things and enjoy time with each other.

I'm happy to say that I am ACLS certified spending after entirely too much time studying; I've gotten back on track with  Med/Surg studying and will be taking that class at the end of October.  Several people have told me you don't have to study for that test but it's not in my personality to not do that.  Plus, I'm finding that as I study, I'm getting a refresher on certain diseases that I see often but never have time to research at work.  So it's all good learning, really.  I'm also still torn on which exam I am taking (there's two you can take to get the certification as a Med/Surg certified nurse) so I figure it's better to prepare for both!

As for things around our home: the TV mounting process has turned out to be.. long.  The wall that we really want to mount our TV on has some sort of weird internal architecture that doesn't include many studs, so we are having to mount two pieces of wood on the wall to then attach the mount to.  We've been having a little bit of fun with this-- Scott found the wood and sanded it and I've been staining it.  I really enjoy this and find it to be good practice for our future.  Being budget-minded, DIY sort of people, we are really hoping to build some of our own furniture whenever we settle down in a more permanent location.  I think this is becoming a trend now, so hopefully by the time we are actually able to do this there will be lots of tutorials and neat furniture designs!

We've also done a few other things to the apartment that have made it feel a bit more homey.  After we mount the TV on the wall we should have plenty of room to put our new chair that we bought off of Craig's List for our living room, and late one night last week I decided to move our bookcase into our bedroom and moved a smaller shelf out into our hallway, which makes it feel homier.  For some reason we always choose to do these things at odd hours and I'm always left laughing at how ridiculous these things end up seeming the next day.  But for now we're happy with home improvements until we have a more permanent settling-down place.  Small furniture projects make me feel a little less nomadic and more like this apartment really is home for us.

As for writing this month, things have slowed down a little bit after having one SUPER productive week.  I think I wrote 25-30 pages in one week, and now I'm up to 40 total.  But the extra 10 came from a week when I am working 52 hours at the hospital and have become ACLS certified, so I think that's not so bad.  Shauna Niequist wrote a blog post today that I totally identify with about writing (The Bends, the Shouting, the Real Work).  I'm experiencing what she writes about-- about having to create silence and quiet to write.  It's so easy to let the busy-ness of your life take over and take the place of sacred writing time.  The dishes pile up in the sink and the floor desperately needs vacuuming, and bills still wait to be paid and birthdays still come and go.  You want to present for all of these things-- the cleaning, the financial responsibility, and the celebrating, but you have to quiet it all and say that you are in the midst of doing something very important and that you cannot split yourself into so many pieces.  Leave the dishes in the sink and go celebrate birthdays, you'll be glad you did.

But what it comes down to is the dream-chasing.  I've wanted to write a book for so long, and now I'm actually doing it, and I cannot let other things get in the way of it.  I have to carve time out of this busy, noisy life to be a dream chaser, otherwise my dreams will be easily lost in the hustle and bustle of living.  It takes discipline to sit down and do this, but for the sake of chasing my dreams, I must do it. I'm reminded of Nehemiah when I think about this.  I did a study a few months ago with the She Reads Truth community on Nehemiah, and I remember one of the studies really stuck with me.  In Nehemiah 6, Nehemiah is being called upon to do some other thing while he is trying to do the work of God in rebuilding the wall.  As tempted as he might be to run off and take a break from the wall, his response shows his steadfast love to these people and his dedication to completing his work.  In verse 3, he says to them, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.  Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?"

That's what I'm doing.  I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.  I am not of the type who likes to say I have been called to do something, but I do feel God's hand on me as I write every day.  I feel His Spirit leading me and helping me with the words I want to say, the stories I want to share, the joy and grace I want others to feel when they read.

I hope that this week has been good to you all and that you are finding joy in September.  Savor it and be thankful for it; it's that time of year for changing seasons and with that, a changing attitude about what is ahead.  And whatever great project you are doing right now, whether it's something at work, a school project, something in your personal life, decide whether you need to turn down some other things around you to accomplish your great work.  And if you must say no to a rampant cleaning spree and organizing or if you must say no to things that you don't need in your life right now as you're working away, don't be afraid to say that you are doing a great work and cannot come down.  There will be a time when you can come down.  And maybe you can now, but be sure you prioritize the busy-ness of your life so that it doesn't consume you.

Lots of love,
C.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Ode to Fall

Chapel Hill, NC in the fall, where I spent last Fall and many before that!
Photo credit: NC State (?)

Some people love Spring because of the new life that it promises.  Spring is when we see the world around us waking up again after a long and bleary winter.  It's when we decorate our homes with bright colored wreaths and plant new plants in our yard, or perhaps watch the old ones come back to life.  It's when shorts and sundresses are ok, when running feels like a dream and you can feel that hint of summer in the air, with the promise of beach trips, salty ocean air, ice cream, lake trips, tan lines, and as much time in the sun and away from work or school as possible.  It's when we celebrate new life in Jesus rising from the dead and when we start to think that maybe winter was worth it after all if we get to experience all of the goodness of the world waking up again.

But I'm not a Spring girl.  Though I have an April birthday and now an April anniversary, I'm a Fall girl through and through.  I like the different kind of promise that Fall brings; instead of prompting me to wake up and start things anew, it's a gentle reminder to take care of the old.  Fall gives me permission to rest a little bit, as the plants and life around me are starting to wind down for the season to take a break from all of that growing and living until the Spring comes again.  I need a break from all of the growing, too.  Summers are usually exhausting for me; I love them, but they're so stuffed with weddings and traveling and trips that I often welcome Fall as my time to breathe in all of its delightful smells, bake some pumpkin goodness in my kitchen, and take a break from all the crazy.  For inevitably, the winter is coming, which means Christmas and more chaos with shopping, baking holiday treats, going to Christmas parties, and traveling back home to visit family, if I'm so lucky. 

I love Fall for more reasons than I can count; I love the crisp, autumn air.  I love that pumpkin madness ensues and that it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy pumpkin drinks from September through November (and sometimes pumpkin season even overlaps with peppermint season which is pure delight).  I love Carolina football in the fall (even though I now have to watch it on TV instead of in Kenan Stadium) and memories of how beautiful Chapel Hill is in the fall.  I love hot apple cider, Octoberfest beer from Sam Adams, Halloween decorations and Fall-scented candles.  I relish in this season of wearing leggings and boots and scarves.

In the Fall, I watch When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail repeatedly.  Tom Hanks seems to agree that Fall is quite wonderful.

"Don't you love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.  I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." You've Got Mail

Oh, he gets it.  He gets that Fall has all of the charm that the other seasons lack.  He gets that there is a different kind of freshness to Fall than what we see in the Spring.  Spring is beautiful, but Fall is beautiful in a million different sorts of ways.

Fall in Indy is here and I am soaking it up.  Sure, I'm a little bit sad that we didn't have an awesome summer for sunbathing and laying by the pool with strawberry margaritas; but since we didn't, it makes it that much easier for me to welcome my favorite season.  I'm not mourning the loss of my tan lines or beach days; we had very few of beach days this year, and as for tan lines, mine have already faded.  I've heard Fall in the Midwest is beautiful, too, so I'm hoping it can hold a candle to Chapel Hill's beautiful fall scene.  I'm craving apple picking, orange and golden leaves, and more pumpkin than I've ever had before in my life.  I'm craving friends around my table enjoying these treats with me and the rest that is coming after a busy, exhausting, and difficult summer for our family.

So come on over.  There's pumpkin scones to be had, crockpot pumpkin spice lattes to be made, and conversations to be had on the Chancey couch or at our kitchen table.  There's chili bubbling on the stove and cornbread baking in the oven.  And there's the invitation for rest and a friendly face and the promise for all that is good and quiet and restful ahead.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Discipline of Not Doing

This week has been the dream.  My schedule has been very lovely, and I almost feel like I've had a staycation for myself even though I am still technically working my full-time hours.  Though I sometimes complain about working night shift and don't always love the long 12-hour shifts, every once in a while the nursing schedule can be dreamy.  Sometimes, I schedule myself for three shifts in a row at the beginning of a week (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) and the next week I'll do three in a row at the end (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), and I'm left with 8 days off without having to use vacation time.

This week, I worked Sunday night and will return to work Friday and Saturday night, and it's been so refreshing to have all of these days off in between.  Other weeks, I have too many shifts clumped together and resent the night shift, or sometimes I have meetings or classes during the day which makes the switching back and forth between days and nights difficult.

But this week, I like my schedule.  And this week, I am thankful for it.

I'm having to teach myself some discipline, though, with all of this time off, and that has been tough.  I'm juggling maybe too many things right now in my life.  I'm trying to take several classes at work, some of which require studying in advance, and I'm also studying for my Med/Surg certification test, trying to read books both for knowledge and for fun, writing a book, trying to run a household while my husband studies for important tests, and trying to make sure I have time to relax somewhere in the mix of all of that too.  Some days I do a whole lot of everything and feel totally worn down by the end of the day.  Other days I am so stressed about all of the things that I do nothing at all.  I mope around, make the bed, and call it a day.  I start to self-destruct because I can't even think about where to start with everything, so I do nothing instead.

Neither of these are productive or helpful; there's got to be a balance somewhere.  I'm so amused by how distractible I am when I really want to be writing or cooking or cleaning.  I woke up this morning knowing I wanted to spend time with Jesus, to write/edit a chapter of my book that I'm really struggling through, to study Med/Surg, and to clean our apartment.  It's now lunchtime and I've done one of those things: spend time with Jesus.  It took me forEVER to actually sit down to focus because I was doing everything I wasn't supposed to be doing.  I was responding to texts and e-mails, trying to make a fancy breakfast that ended up tasting not-so-bueno, reading blogs, staring out the window watching the rain, responding to more texts, making our Christmas budget with colorful pens, looking up new She Reads Truth studies that I want to do next.  I was doing all of the things, but none of the things that I was supposed to be doing.

So when I finally roped myself in and focused, I felt like I was coming to Jesus with broken, distracted pieces of myself.  I'd rather come to Him with my morning self, the self that hasn't yet been annoyed by e-mails and texts about things that need my attention, and the self that doesn't yet realize she's hungry or thirsty or that there's a stain on the carpet that needs to come out.  I'd rather start my whole day with the discipline of spending time with Jesus, taking care of the "to-do" list, and then having the rest of the day ahead of me with which I can complete more items on the checklist, or with which I can spend time and energy on other things, whether it be friends, family, more writing, crafting, reading, running (which, at some point, needs to become part of my morning discipline instead of something I toss in when there's time), pen pal letters, rearranging the kitchen, etc.

I'm working on the discipline of not doing just as much as I need to be working on the discipline of doing.  Things I should have done this morning were writing, Jesus, cleaning, and studying.  Things I should not have been doing are all of the other things I did that did not accomplish much of anything at all and left me feeling like I had already wasted the morning.  As a morning person through and through (part of my challenge with night shift: normal Cristina likes to be in bed at 10. Night shift Cristina goes to bed well after midnight and on workdays, at 8AM), my best self is present in the morning.  My best thinking and writing and worshipping and giving of myself occur in the hours between 7 and 11AM.  Everything after that seems like a spent version of me that is just trying to push through until it's bedtime again.  How sad that I only have 4 hours of real productivity in my day, isn't it?

Maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit.  I think that really, I can do things later in the day, but it just all depends on how my morning starts.  Today I will wallow around the house, mad at myself for not doing what I should have been and for doing what I shouldn't have been.

And so goes my focus on not doing.  I need to implement the practice of not doing the unimportant things so that I can do the important things, thus leaving time for doing.. both unimportant and important things later in the day.  Does this make any sense at all to you?

So with that, I think I should probably be not doing this right now, and should instead go empty our dishwasher and change clothes.  At noon, I'm still in my PJs, but at least the bed is made and our Christmas list is in the works, right?  Blogging has been something that I've been doing a lot of lately when I want to be writing but am not quite ready to be writing back in the book yet.  And it seems that on some days, I only blog and do not work on the book even a little bit.

Back to the book.  Back to the not doing.  Back to the cleaning and studying and all of the things.

C.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rambles about Wandering

I can't believe Tuesday is more than halfway over already as I'm writing this.  I planned today a little ambitiously which left minimal time for writing.  I woke up early after going to bed sometime in the 2 o'clock hour last night, my body's way of protesting night shift; I quickly addressed a few more thank-you cards, stamped them, and packed my bag to leave.  That's correct, I packed a bag to leave the house today.  Not an overnight bag, thank goodness, but a pretty large reusable bag (a TJ Maxx reusable bag, for anyone who can understand this reference).  In it: packing tape, extra stamps, a Sharpie, various sized bubble envelopes, two packages, "important documents" for the bank, my new signed lease (dear 5 South friends who tried to convince me to leave my apartment: I've committed to Hood Kroger for yet another year.  I just love my apartment too much to leave the hood), my to-do list, and lots of ribbon.

It was a bag full of lots of nothing yet everything I absolutely needed for the day.  I brewed a quick cup of hazelnut coffee and headed out the door.  I passed the gentleman who is always cleaning the entryway to our building and waved hello as he said his usual "Hello, lady! Have a wonderful day."  Neither of us know the other's name, but he always calls me "lady" in an endearing sort of way and I always respond accordingly. I'm not sure what this man thinks of me-- he often sees me carrying way too many groceries (enough to feed a family of 12) because I refuse to make two trips from my car, and he often sees me carrying things from the trash back to my apartment.  Yes, you read that right.  Not carrying things from my apartment to the trash, but vice versa.  Scott and I have some awesome furniture and kitchen appliances that we have rescued (and sanitized) from the communal trash area.  We don't talk often about the Dyson vacuum we missed out on one day; we still refer to that one as "the one that got away."

I digress.

I hopped in the car with my bag of treats for the day and drove straight to Target.  My day was both very specifically planned and also not planned at all.  I had four places I wanted to go to: Target (but not the one near my house, it's disappointing at best), TJ Maxx, the post office, and the bank.  But beyond those places, I had no plan for the day.  I needed to change my name at the bank, look for birthday presents for September birthday friends at TJ Maxx and Target, and mail off thank-you notes/birthday presents/pen-pal letters/ the next Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Club book at the post office.

I went to all of these places and more.  I just got in my car and drove to wherever I wanted to within the vicinity.  I was in the mood to wander.  With Scott being busy, friends mostly at work, and two more days ahead without work, I had no agenda.  I made several wrong turns because I have no internal compass, but I found that even with the wrong turns, I landed back on familiar roads and kind of knew where I was going; I ended up traveling down a very busy highway that I did not mean to get on (I was trying to go to the mall, but turned too soon and ended up on interstate 465) but recognized enough exits to know where to get off again.

It was so nice to have no real schedule today and to just be wandering.  I bought a lot of things that we have really needed for our apartment-- a new colander, a strainer, Halloween dish towels (NEEDED these), and some items with which I will assemble our fall centerpiece for the table.  Scott doesn't even realize how much we needed some of those items, but he sure will be glad (read: mad) when he sees them.  Thank the good Lord for Home Goods/TJ Maxx gift cards from our wedding!

I spent time wandering in Paper Source, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, and Anthropologie and bought not a single item (though I came awfully close to purchasing the Rifle Paper Company recipe tin I've been eying for months.  Definitely going on my Christmas list).  I bought all of the birthday presents I wanted for friends and mailed some of them off (some are sitting to-be-wrapped in my apartment).  And then I came home and realized I was ravenous.  I had left the house without eating breakfast this morning and really got so into traveling about Indy that I just forgot to eat.

So now it's 2PM and I'm sitting on my living room floor eating homemade chicken salad, noticing that new blinds were installed in our apartment while I was out, and they are very lovely and like ones I have long dreamed about (faux wood ones).  And free, because we renewed our lease.  I'm also slightly embarrassed because I left our apartment a DISASTER this morning so that I could spend time cleaning when I got home, not realizing anyone would see the chaos and messiness.

And that's Tuesday so far. I'm signing off soon to whip around the apartment and clean before Scott gets home this evening, and I will hopefully be spending this evening writing another chapter in Small Joys.  ALSO it's the best week ever.  Because Shauna Niequist announced ANOTHER book that is being released THIS spring to hold me over until Present over Perfect comes out in 2016.  It's called Savor and it's a devotional book.  Oh. my. word.  So excited.  Click here to read her announcement for it.

I'd better head out before someone else surprises me in this disastrous mess of an apartment; to Ben Rector Pandora and cleaning!

Love,
C

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Small Joys. With no volume number.

Oh, hello there friends, happy Sunday to you! I hope you have had an enjoyable weekend, or that a weekend is coming for you soon (I say this for the nurses in my life who sometimes work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and then get to have a weekend of their own for the remainder of the traditional workweek)!

I hope you won't take my silence over the past few days as anything personal (most of you stuck with me for weeks of silence back when I was wedding planning.  I guess a few days seems like nothing at all to you now); truthfully, I have actually been writing, just not on a public forum.

Today I am officially announcing my book to you, in hopes that you will pray for me through the process of writing it and that you will be understanding when you don't see frequent posts on my blog.  I've mentioned my book a few times, and there's even a tab for it on my page.  Until this point, I have been "writing a book" in very vague ways.  I've come up with a list of titles, written a few chapter names.  I had an intro at one point, as well as one or two chapters.  But it was all starting to sound like a self-help book which is not at all what I wanted.  I wanted more of a memoir, real-life tales and stories about grace and hurt and beauty and tears.

So I scrapped everything from my "book" and put it away in a word document to be dealt with later.  I started a new one with blank pages and the hope for something new, something better, something authentic and palpable.  I was done with the vague, elusive, self-helpy, shallow sort of thing.

I bring to you now something that my entire heart is in, a book about finding joy in the midst of the ordinary and sometimes mundane, about finding joy in the midst of immense heartache and sorrow.  You've read these words before on my blog, but now you will read them as the title of the book I am writing.

Small joys.

I'm very committed to the writing process and have been doing extensive research about writing, publishing, etc. in order to bring my best and truest self to this book.  This week was huge.  A funny sort of thing happened that I think is important to share.  I had just finished Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (my spirit animal, if you will), and I was feeling very inspired to write.  There are certain authors and bloggers who give me this spark of inspiration, and she's definitely one of them.  So I pulled out an index card and started jotting down all of my thoughts about my book.

I wrote down words. And I just kept writing words.  When I was finished, I looked down and realized that this was my chapter list.  These words were haphazard and seemingly random, but they were the things that I had struggled through and labored over, things that brought me to understand how to find joy in the midst of the chaos around me.

Feeling excited and ambitious, I opened the new document on my computer and typed out all of these words.  I wrote the title in bold italics,


Small joys 
finding joy in the midst of the ordinary
by Cristina Helena Davis


I needed more inspiration, though.  Now that I had the chapters and the title and the ideas, I needed to know where to start.  So I went to Shauna Niequist's blog, thinking that she probably had this problem at some point and she likely blogged about it.  She probably once had an idea but got stuck there at the beginning with it, so maybe I could sift through her old posts to find a time when she wrote about this.

What I found was lovely.  Before I could even begin the search, I saw that she had a new blog post: her book announcement.  After reading Bittersweet, I was craving more Shauna.  I had read all of her other books. I wanted a new book from her, but didn't think there was any sort of plan for this in the near future.  What a huge huge blessing to find that she was writing a new book.  The same week that I was both craving this and that I decided to write one of my own.  

So I have been laboring over words and sentence structure and writing from my heart for the past week or so, and I find that it's all I want to do.  I understand now why people quit their full-time jobs to write a book.  It's so consuming, in the very best way.  It's not a dreaded task, but something I genuinely look forward to every morning when I wake up.  It's all I want to think about and do and dream about.  And 20 pages into writing it, I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.  

I'm thankful that I have the kind of job that gives me a lot of days off in a row (if I choose to schedule myself this way) and that I can find the energy and motivation on those days to harness my creativity and my free-floating thoughts into something semi-productive.  And I won't be quitting my job anytime soon.  Out-of-state dental school loans prevent me from that, as does the realization that I am writing mostly for myself and not necessarily for an editor or publisher.  I have not a single prospect on this front, to my own choosing though.  I want to write my entire manuscript before I consider what to do with it.  

Maybe I will decide to have it bound as a coffee-table book to have in our home.  Maybe I'll send it to friends and family to thank them for their constant support of my writing.  Maybe I will pursue a big-time publisher and have my dreams crushed when it ends up in a pile of "not good enoughs."  Maybe I'll self-publish or make a free e-book out of it.  But I'll never know until I try.  And I love writing so very much that I have to give it a chance.  I owe it to myself after years and years of sharing little bits of my heart with you to put it all into something bigger than just the few paragraphs I give you per week on here.  

I hope you will bear with me through the process, and that you'll keep me accountable so that it doesn't  become something vague and far-off and ignored.  I want to be intentional about writing every week.  My sweet friend Shannon, an excellent writer, will be editing material for me each week which will hopefully help to keep me on my toes with writing and editing.  But your accountability will be lovely and needed as will your prayer.  

And there it is.  I can no longer hide behind the curtain of "what ifs" and "maybes."  The curtain is drawn, and I am standing before the window looking out into the hope of what is ahead.  Will you stand there with me? 

Lots of love and grace and peace,
C. 

My scribblings. Note: not all of these will be
chapters.  I can't possibly write an entire chapter
titled "Sweet tea!"


Friday, September 5, 2014

The Poang Chair

I'm writing to you from the comfort of an Ikea Poang chair that has quite the story behind it.  Firstly, I will tell you that this chair is INSANELY comfortable.  Scott told me it would be, but from the looks of it, I just didn't see how that was possible.

The Poang chair was introduced to Scott in college while he was studying at his good friend Laurie's house.  He recently told me stories of him falling asleep while studying biology from this chair and told me that he really wanted one.  We looked it up on Ikea and found that it was over $200, which is completely out of our humble budget.  So we started keeping an eye out on Craigslist for one, and quickly found one for $30.  Steal of the century? I think so.

The adventures this chair has brought to our lives already are stories worth telling.  Yesterday we met a young couple in the Whole Foods parking lot in Carmel to exchange goods: chair for cash.  Before we left, I asked Scott if we should take my car since it has a slightly bigger back seat area, but he said that the chair would fit fine is his car.  So off we went in the podracer (his car really does sound like a Star Wars podracer right now. I tried to find a good Youtube video so that you could identify with the sound, but you'll just have to trust me when I say it's not a sound you want your car to make); we arrived at Whole Foods and within minutes the young couple showed up with the chair.  They went off to grocery shop in Whole Foods and we sat outside trying to fit the Poang chair in Scott's car.

It wasn't fitting.

I held in every "I told you so" that I wanted to blurt out and helped Scott dissemble the chair to put in the back of the car.  We didn't have any tools with us so he had to run inside to borrow some from the front desk at Whole Foods.  I was so embarrassed when the couple came back out of Whole Foods while we were STILL trying to get the chair in the car.  This has been life with my husband so far.  He is ambitious and optimistic and passionate, and I am realistic and doubting.  I'm learning to meet him in the middle with these things though; my negative comments about how we should have done this or that never change the situation, so I'm learning to keep my thoughts to myself while trying to be as helpful as I can be with problem solving.

Often I get frustrated and end up saying, "Well, if we had just done X then this wouldn't have happened," and the look I get from Scott when I say that is worth me never wanting to make a comment like that again (though, I inevitably do).

The good news is that I'm writing to you from the Poang chair right now and it's the most comfortable thing I've ever had in my home besides the Chancey couch (which basically means we now have two awesome seating options in our apartment and are waiting for them to be filled with friends and family coming over for meals and coffee and desserts).  I learned that most people use this chair in their nurseries, which is not the current plan for this one.  There are no nurseries in our very near future at all, but maybe it'll hold up for that 5 years from now?  With a new slipcover?

Photo credit: Ebay.com

Lots of love and hope you all have a great Friday! Our's started off with reblending a free Salted Caramel Frappucino from last night and now I feel ready to tackle anything today! Writing! Cooking! Cleaning! All the things! 

Love,
Cristina 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

On My Nightstand



This used to be one of my favorite posts to write on my old Grace and Peace blog, and I feel like it's been a while since I've shared one of these on here.  I've kind of kept you updated with reading progress in my posts about goals, but here's a little something extra to munch on.  Truth be told, many of these aren't on my nightstand per se, as they are online reads, but I still find them to be highly significant.  As you may already know, I am writing a book.  I declared yesterday my official first day of writing the book (even though I have had some haphazard pages of it written for a while) and now have a header on each page, a title page, a chapter outline, and the beginning of the first chapter.

I've already learned something interesting about writing.  My first chapter was titled Altar Run, and I knew exactly what it was going to be about.  But as I started writing, I realized that this chapter wasn't about an altar run at all (if you're confused by the term "altar run," you'll soon learn what it means).  This chapter was about my favorite place on the planet to run: Gimghoul Lane.  Altar Run would have to be moved to a later chapter, and this one could not possibly tread under the waters of that name; hence, chapter one is now called Gimghoul Lane.  Writing is such a transforming process, and so far, I'm loving the blank page.  A lot of my reading lately has been research for my book, and I've read many things about writers feeling anxiety about the blank page before them.  One day, I anticipate facing this challenge; for now, I will enjoy the sense of wonder and anticipation that I feel when working with the blank page.

I'm digressing, aren't I? This post was supposed to be about what I'm reading lately, not what I'm writing.  Here's what's on my nightstand these days.

1. Radical by David Platt.  Are you tired of hearing me talk about this one? I'm a little tired of reading it.  I had high hopes for this book when I started it, but I think that the fact that I've dragged it out for so long has made me uninterested in it, which is no fault of David Platt's.  Truthfully, this book challenges me in many ways and makes me rethink how I approach Christianity and sharing the gospel with others.  I want to continue with this book but need to renew my perspective on it.  Just because I've been reading it since May doesn't mean I should be bored with it, right?  I do think it's worth checking out, but just know that you'll want some time to process each chapter and really chew on what David Platt is saying.

2. Writing to Find Yourself by Allison Vesterfelt.  This is an e-book that I shared a link for a few days ago, and I have found it to be SO good for writing. So good.  I subsribed to Allison's writer's list while reading this book and received an e-mail last night that was so encouraging for my writing process, and it was entitled "Stop Waiting for Someone to Tell You that You're a Writer."  Here's a few lines from the e-mail that I loved and totally identified with:
Writing is incredibly healing. It is beautifully calming. It can help us find our way home.
So these days, when I sit down to write, I don’t wonder to myself who is going to publish my writing or who is going to read it or if it’s going to make me a bunch of money. I remind myself how writing is the only thing that has ever made me feel like myself.
All to say, her book is as lovely as her e-mails.  If you need some creative inspiration, if you love writing, think you want to write, etc., check her book out! It's free (how is this even possible?).

3. Shauna Niequist's blog.  I said her name again, sorry (but not really).  I am particularly loving this post called On Editing, Heavy Lifting, and Great Writing.  But I love all of her blog posts.  Because our writing styles are so similar, I've been reading a lot of what she writes as far as books and blog posts.  Which leads me to another book on my nightstand, which is actually one I am reading for the second time around.

4. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  So good.  Great recipes (I love her Green Well salad in here.  It makes me feel so fancy yet healthy).  Great writing.  Great research.  If you like food writing, you'll adore this one.  It's about cultivating relationships through life around the table, inviting people into your home and caring for them with a meal, whether it's take-out, pizza, or a homemade casserole.
5. Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker.  I've loved Carlos Whittaker's writing for a long time; he has a blog called Ragamuffin Soul which is quite lovely.  I first became interested in reading it when he began telling his family's story of international adoption, as this is something Scott and I are very interested in.  I was so excited when I learned that he was writing a book, and even more excited when I learned that it was $0.99 on my Kindle last week.  It's about making each moment meaningful, which I kind of identify in a "small joys" kind of way-- making the most of each moment and finding joy therein.

Those are the books/blogs I am currently reading.  And these are some I hope to be reading soon.

1. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I was gifted this a few Christmases ago by my roommate in the Little House, Amy Gwynn.  I always meant to read it but have yet to crack it open. After reading Blue Like Jazz, I'm certain that I will love this one, but just need to get started.  We're doing a little remodel of our apartment space where our bookcase used to be, so I've got this one in a box right now until we reassemble the bookcase.  Hopefully this can be a nice fall read, though.

2. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp.  I've wanted to read this book for a while as well and just need to go ahead and do it.  I'm thinking it might become one of our Sisterhood of the Traveling Bookclub reads as it was mentioned recently by Shannon via text, so I'm hoping this to be true.  If not, I might declare it one myself!

3.  Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  I have been told that this is similar to Gone Girl, which I adored, so I am hoping to check this one out sooner rather than later.  Might also have to make this a book club read since Gone Girl was one of our first books we read.  I'll have to head to Half Price Books to see if they've got this one in stock! (sidenote: Half Price Books is one of my favorite stores up here.  It's a lovely store for recycled books that are extremely inexpensive.  I feel badly because it doesn't support the authors who write the books, but for a lady living on a tight budget, this has been a good place to feed my book-hungry self).

4.  If I Stay by Gayle Forman.  I don't like reading a book just because it is being made into a movie, but I also refuse to see a movie until I have read the book version of it (the books are ALWAYS better with one exception: The Notebook.  Loved the book, but loved the movie infinitely more.  Good job, Hollywood).  Several girls at work have recommended this one to me (sorry for all the sidenotes, but I must say that I love working with people who love reading! They always have great book recommendations) so I think I will check it out.

5.  Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer.  This one is inspired by the lives of Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell and was long ago recommended by my favorite blogger, Annie B. Jones. I'm pretty sure it's been on my to-read list for far too long, and this year is all about taking back reading and moving through this list.

There's also a few series I want to check out at the recommendation of friends, including the Outlander series, The Mortal Instruments, and a really sappy series that I'm almost embarrassed to tell you about, Nora Roberts' Bridal Quaret.  I bought the last series from Half Price Books while engaged and thought it would be fun to read before getting married, but who has time for that when you're planning a wedding? I'm finding that all of the books I thought I HAD to read before getting married can be read quite enjoyably as a married woman as well.  Who knew? More proof that we idealize weddings too much in our society, but I won't go off on that rant today.

One more small list of recently read books, in case you haven't seen my updates on them.

1. The One and Only by Emily Giffin.  Total chick lit.  But I can never put her's down.
2. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.  I consider this a must-read, as I consider all of Shauna's books.  Check her out and tell me what you think.  Love her as much as I do? I'm pretty sure you will.
3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.  Takes place in Italy.  Near Cinque Terre. Beautiful writing, beautiful story.

What are you reading these days? Blogs, websites, articles, books, magazines? I'm interested.  Got an all-time favorite book that you think I'd like? Please share! I'm hungry for more books.

Lots of love to you all on this Thursday!

Cristina

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Goals

This is how my Val Marie prayer journal describes September. Wishing
for my September to be quiet but anticipating that it won't be!


I've mentioned in previous posts that September is a little bit crazy with work.  I'm taking two classes in addition to my usual work schedule and am also working a little bit of overtime, so I'm setting the bar low for September goals.

One: Mount our TV on the wall.  We attempted this as a "study break" recently for Scott, but we got frustrated with some hardware issues (impossible to find studs, even with a stud finder) and put it away for another day.  We are now having to build an apparatus to help us mount the TV using two by fours, and since it will be visible, we've decided to stain it.  We have high hopes for my staining abilities as we also have a coffee table we would like to stain.  We will see if my staining abilities are all we hoped for them to be, but this goal is a hopeful one for September that may eventually get pushed back to October depending on how much time I have to stain the wood.

Two: Continue to limit Facebook time to 30 minutes per day or less.  My goal was originally to depart from Facebook altogether, but we use Facebook for work a lot to communicate different things going on and I didn't want to feel disconnected from that. I've had so much time for other things with my time away from Facebook and am enjoying time to read and write.  I feel so much more productive, and I love not being on my phone all the time feeling that compulsion to see what other people are doing.  It's freeing.

Three: Read two books.  Just two.  I have a feeling I will find time to read more, but for now, I'm going to strive for two.  One will be Radical and the other is... not yet determined.  If you consider the e-book I am reading, Writing to Find Yourself, then two might come easily.  I finished Shauna Niequist's Bittersweet in like three days and that was supposed to be my main read for September. Any book suggestions?

Four: Focus on quiet time with Jesus.  I'm picking Acts as my book of the Bible to focus on this month and I hope to find time to read from it daily.  I've read through Acts before, but I want to read it with the intention of understanding the mission of the early church and understanding how my mission today is not that different from their's.  Please hold me accountable in this.

Five: Mail out thank you notes from the wedding.  It's killing me that it's been almost 5 months and I haven't mailed these yet.  Killing me.  They are mostly done, but I keep thinking of other people to thank and gestures to thank people for instead of just gifts.  

Six: Become ACLS certified.  I have spent a lot of down time over the past couple of days reading through the manual and I'm feeling like I am ready for it.  It's not as hard as I once imagined, and having been a nurse for two years now helps me to have a better understanding of what's going on.  Having been in multiple codes also helps, so I'm feeling more optimistic about this class and accomplishing this goal than I once was.

Seven: Pick up Med/Surg studying again.  Get back on schedule! Our class is at the end of October and I need to begin studying again, once my ACLS class is over, of course.  (Too many things.  Why am I doing all of this again?)

Eight: Write. A lot. I finally have a general book outline as far as chapters go (it has 40 right now.  40 seems like a lot, but since they will be short essays, I'm thinking each chapter may only be about 5-6 pages), and now the writing will begin.  I'm not really giving out details until I've written a few chapters, because I don't feel like I'll really know what to tell you about it until the writing begins.  I'm feeling especially inspired knowing that Shauna Niequist (sorry that I talk about her ALL the time) just started writing her new book today, and perhaps this will be good inspiration for me to write as well.

PS: Here is her blog post about her book announcement for Present Over Perfect. Can. Not. Wait.  Also, who wants to go to Chicago with me when it's released for book signings? Anyone? I'll drive by myself and pay for $50 in parking garage fares again if I must, but company would be so lovely.  Spring 2016, be there or you'll be sad.

Also, Grace Like Rain will possibly be undergoing a major facelift and may even be moving to a new online home soon.  More to come on this later, but know that some behind the scenes planning is currently taking place regarding this.

Lots of love and hope you all have a great week! Today is my Friday since I've worked the past two nights (sometimes this nursing schedule has its perks), so I'm looking forward to a lot of time to cook and write and read later this week.  Also, now that fall officially starts this month, I'm all in with the pumpkin madness, watching You've Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally, and doing anything and everything related to Fall.

Love,
Cristina