rules for someone who doesn’t like rules

my ideal quiet time location

I’m so excited about the Rule of Life I’m developing I could burst. I’ve discovered over a long period of time that me and habits are a bit like oil and water, but paradoxically, I also need structure and rules for myself if I’m going to do anything worth doing. Prayer, scripture reading and journaling present an even trickier problem: I’ve always approached my times with God in a very heart-based and therefore loosey-goosey way. Reading schedules just cause me to quit when I don’t like the book I happen to be in, and cause me to lose sight of why I’m reading the Bible in the first place.

I also need to confess something. It’s been a really long time since I’ve had a quiet time more than a few days in a row. I’m not even sure how to do it anymore. In college, I took a New Testament Scriptures class in which we read Paul’s letters in a very methodical way, from a historical perspective, which was really interesting but had the effect on me of undermining all that I knew about reading the Bible. I haven’t fully recovered. This isn’t to say that a single class at SPU robbed me of my faith entirely: I just got off the horse and never got back on. I know I need to find a way of bridging the gap between my “heart”-based and “head”-based understanding of scripture, and I know this will take time, and I know that I’m ready. I also know that reading God’s Word is very important, but it’s not the only thing I do to encounter God and invite Him into my space.

This article (click on “Creating a Rule of Life”) on developing a rule of life divides the process into several steps, the first being taking an inventory of what you already do to nurture your spiritual life. In reflecting on this for a while, I’ve come up with this list.

 

I already nurture my spiritual life by:

going to church, specifically worshiping God through song.

being active in Creation.

praying throughout the day and thanking God for his hand in my life.

reading the Bible or a devotional (occasionally).

talking about faith with my husband.

being in community with other believers.

listening to beautiful, or “spiritual”, music.

reading blogs about different aspects of faith.

working hard at my jobs with an attitude of service.

making (and keeping) our house into a beautiful, clean home ready for friends and neighbors to come share life at.

keeping a Sabbath for a few hours on the weekend.

 

The next step is to take this list and prayerfully shape it into tangible practices, honing in on how to do these practically, often, and in ways that are sustainable (and flexible) for my whole life. I hope to have this done by next week.

What do you do to nurture your spiritual life? What would you like to be doing?

Advertisements

three things

Okay, here we go. I’ve made my decisions and here are the three goals from my list I’m going to be focusing on for the rest of the year and into 2011. I’ll introduce each today, and give you my plan in general, then start a weekly-ish post on each to keep myself accountable and y’all updated.

One: number 9, develop a Rule of Life and stick with it. Our home church in Seattle, Bethany Community Church, has been focusing on Rule of Life for a couple of years and I love the idea, I just have procrastinated on actually making it my own. The idea is all about cultivating habits and spiritual practices to deepen one’s relationship with God and walk with him on a daily basis. From these habits and this relationship will also stem habits of service and connections with one’s neighbors. Over the next week, I will be taking inventory of what I am currently doing in terms of spiritual disciplines and deciding, prayerfully, where I want to be and what God is calling me to. I won’t be making it too rigid so I don’t set myself up for failure, and I will be selective with what I share on this blog; after all, this is between me and God. I will write about my journey with this Rule of Life on Mondays.

Two: number 10, perfect my aria package. Lately it’s been easy to forget that I’m a singer. The process of moving countries and working 5.5 days a week has robbed me of my stamina in the singing realm. I have so many desires and goals, but no practice regime to speak of at the moment. So here’s the process: first, I will make room in my life to practice four days a week. Ideally, I’d be singing every day, but I just know this isn’t possible right now. Once I get there, I’ll figure out ways to make use of other time, but first, I just need to get my chops (and high notes) back. Second, I will find a teacher in Vancouver. Money is tight so I don’t know how often I’ll be able to take lessons, but I need guidance and someone else’s expertise. Third, I’m going to choose the five arias I want in my audition repertoire and work them to death until they’re perfect. For those of you who aren’t classical singers or opera geeks like me, an aria is a song from an opera, and I need a bunch of them ready to sing for auditions. So ready that I could be shaken awake at 2 am and sing them with such perfection and passion I could make a statue cry. I’d love to be there by next fall for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. We’ll see. I’ll write about singing on Thursdays.

Three: I want to be at my goal weight by March 1st. (Okay, this isn’t on the list, but I’m breaking my own rule and I’m totally okay with it.) I started losing weight by exercising and using an iPhone app called LoseIt! in May, and I’m halfway to my goal, but I took a break from actively working at it while I trained for the half marathon. I will (starting TOMORROW, really) get back to tracking what I eat and working out to lose weight and get my whole body, not just my running legs, in great shape. I’m planning to kick off with 30 days in a row of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (lame, I know… but SUPER effective) and running 3 times a week with one long run on weekends. I may be setting myself up for failure with Christmas just around the corner, but I’m sure going to try! I’m deliberately not sharing my exact goal weight online, by the way. Everyone’s body is different and numbers are only partially useful. I’m also going by how I feel in my clothes, and how much energy I have. I have a number in mind but I want to remain flexible about it. How’s that for a wishy-washy goal? but I know what I want and how I’m going to get there and that’s what’s important. I’ll write about eating and exercise goodness on the weekend.

Can I do it? Only time will tell. Stick with me to find out! Happy Thanksgiving to my lovely friends, family and readers in the good ol’ U S of A!

why I’ve been a bad blogger

Here I am again, and it’s already been over 2 weeks since my last post. Sorry people! Seems life here is busier than I ever imagined. It’s busy in a good way, though… not just working and studying hard (which we are!).

We started attending our new church at the beginning of October, and it’s going really well. Neither Nate or I have ever been to a church this small (3o people on a good day) and our paradigm of what “church” is supposed to be is shifting quite a bit. As the new worship pastor, Nate’s only the second staff member, and even the teaching pastor is only part time. The focus is so much on community, and not so much on program, which is truly refreshing. Already, I feel like we are getting to know the other members and they really want to know us. It feels so obvious (like every other aspect of this journey so far) that this is where we are supposed to be for this time of our lives. I expect to learn a lot from being a part of such a small community, and I anticipate that God will use this time to prepare us for whatever is to come after.

We’ve also been busy with visitors, which has been so much fun! It’s been all too easy to get settled into our routine and forget that we live in a vibrant, beautiful city with so many places to explore, so when people come, we have to show them around! We’ve been to Stanley Park and Lynn Canyon, Kitsilano and Main, downtown and even along the sky-to-sea highway to Squamish. It makes me feel a bit less isolated to know that good friends and family have a sense of our home and where we are. More visitors are always welcome!

And, I’ve been busy with new friends! I’m blessed to be getting to know some lovely ladies from all over the world whose husbands are also studying at Regent. My new friends from South Africa have helped me put this transition in perspective: we still have all our belongings, our car, and the same time zone and currency name that we had before. Vancouver isn’t so far away from home.

In fact, it is quickly becoming home.

nothing's better than a visit from your best friend!

October sunshine

the beautiful Howe Sound

the little monkey I watch 3 days a week

good friends at Prospect Point