Monday, August 31, 2015

Endurance: An Update

Big Sur, California

Holy tomatoes, I can hardly believe that tomorrow is the beginning of September (also when I start "officially" celebrating fall, in an outward sort of way.  I've been celebrating in our little apartment for weeks now with pumpkin bread, mulled cider candles, and crockpot chili).  I've abandoned writing for the greater part of this month and am finally pulling myself together again to write a little something for you.

I've spent most of the morning writing a post for one of my grad school classes; it's supposed to be a simple discussion board post yet everyone is writing what look to be full-blown scholarly papers so I dove in and tried to do the same.  Is this graduate school now? Undergrad discussion boards were a joke, yet here I am stressing over APA citations (APA, 2015).  Oh wait, you're not requiring citations from me.  Let me wipe the sweat off my brow for a second.  My back is aching from sitting in weird positions and pouring over the multiple textbooks I'm required to incorporate into my writing, and honestly it's nice to sit back in a comfortable position and casually write to you while listening to the new Ben Rector album (RUN, do not walk, to get this album immediately. It's beautiful).

My word that I picked for 2015 was endurance, well before I ever decided I was going to attend grad school this year.  The word has challenged me in more ways than I imagined it would this year; I sat in a crumpled mess on the couch the other night sobbing, telling Scott that I was probably going to drop out of grad school and that we should find out immediately if we could still get a refund on my tuition.  Today, I'm a little more clear headed and am realizing that while it won't be easy, I must endure through this season of working full time and going to school.  It's going to take long hours of reading and writing papers, and it's going to mean less time watching Gilmore Girls and baking pumpkin bread, but in the end it will all be for the best.

Did I mention that we're buying a house, too? We're buying a house.  In Indianapolis (meaning you should come visit IMMEDIATELY, after October 14th of course).  I have a really bad habit of looking at a stack of really good cards and feeling like it's too much for me, like I am just overwhelmed by it all.  That's how I'm feeling these days.  There's a whole heap of blessing surrounding me and instead of being thankful, I'm complaining.  I'm trying to be more conscious of turning to God in praise and thanks when I start to feel that crumply feeling again, but I'm not always very good at that.  I've even tried to make a practice out of not complaining or talking negatively at work recently, and on the days that I succeed, it's life-giving.  Try it one of these days.  It totally transforms your thinking and how you feel about your life/day/week/month.

I think adding a little perspective into the mix has been helping me to endure lately, as well.  I was on the phone with my mom yesterday while I was driving home from work and she started telling me about a little girl that she was buying things for who is alone in a hospital in Richmond fighting cancer.  She's six years old and sits in the hospital room by herself as the chemo infuses, never visited by her parents or family.  I couldn't stop thinking about this for the rest of the night.  Laying my judgment aside, I thought about how different my life could look and how ashamed I was of the things that I had been complaining about throughout my day.  And I thought about my mom buying little slippers and PJs and toys for this little girl and was pressed with a feeling of how I need more of that in my life.  More selflessness and more serving others around me in real, tangible ways.  And less of me, less of the complaining and looking at the half empty glass.

That's all I have, really.  Just a lot of conviction about the state of my heart and how it needs changing, and how I can't do it on my own.  What's on your heart lately, friends? Or what's motivating you to be less selfless, less you-focused?  I'd love to hear it.

Lots of love,
Cristina.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A New Season



I've sat down to write a post about five different times over the past few weeks, and each time I close out of the screen feeling less than inspired.  Despite feeling renewed by the adequate amounts of sleep I'm getting on day shift now and the ever so slight changes in the temperatures outside, I haven't wanted to write much of anything lately.  Sometimes when I write, I stop because I feel like I'm writing nothing of substance, like my words are just like what everyone else is saying on their own little space on the internet.

But today I woke up and brewed a pot of coffee, and I pulled out a little of this and that to throw together pumpkin spice french toast, and the pumpkin brought me back to where I live in the fall.  I live in cookbooks and recipes oozing with pumpkin, apples, cinnamon.  I live in pashmina scarves and knee high boots.  I run by little houses downtown decorated with pumpkins and crunchy leaves on the porch, with candles burning inside.  My crockpots (all three of them) are bubbling with homemade apple cider or a fresh batch of chili.  I rotate burning the candles in our our home with Warm Apple Pie scents or Mulled Cider.  And I relish in breathing in autumn air, chilling and crisp and refreshing all at the same time.  Autumn is my most creative season, and I don't see that changing any time soon.  I thrive in the fall, whether it's from cooler weather or the slower pace of life that seems to come with the season.  Something about it rekindles all of the words I've been missing for months, it brings forth a newness in my spirit.

I'm used to battling the lovers of summer on this one, and I know that for someone who claims to not wish moments away, it sure seems like I'm wishing away entire seasons.  But summers are different these days, without Wrightsville Beach sand between my toes and runs at the Loop.  I'm missing Trolley Stop hot dogs and the smell of Ocean Potion sunscreen, the taste of salt on my lips after swimming in the ocean.  I've missed my North Carolina summers, and so far, Indiana hasn't shown me a nice, hot summer.  And who knows? Maybe we have had that sort of summer, and perhaps I missed it while working night shift or studying for classes at school.  But any way I look at it, I'm ready for fall.  I won't wish summer away for those who love it so dearly, but I'll wait with hands folded for my favorite season to lure me in again.

This fall, I'm wishing that we'll move into a home of our own in Indy; I'm dreaming of coming back from the pumpkin patch with armfuls of pumpkins to sprinkle around our front porch.  I'm smelling an entire house filled with the scents of my fall candles as that crisp, fall air seeps in through the open windows.  I'm imagining the neighborhood kids playing in the street outside as I pull into the driveway from apple picking again, racing inside to stir the cider in the crockpot one last time.  I'm hearing the sound of a dog barking in the yard, waiting for us to let them inside to snuggle up on the couch and keep me warm while the fire crackles in the fireplace ahead.

All things that I am patiently waiting for. All things that I'm grateful to be able to enjoy on this side of eternity.  All things that come with a new season.

Hope your weekend is beautiful and that you spend it outside as much as you can, friends, enjoying whatever season you declare it to be.

Lots of love,
C