the great balancing act

Three months ago, I wrote a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. I really like the list I came up with, and I was feeling very optimistic about my prospects of meeting these goals, but optimism alone isn’t enough to get me there. Item number one, ‘run a half marathon’, is imminent at this point; but it’s taken a LOT of work to get there. A lot of work, plus some organization, plus some accountability. It seems to me that if I’m to succeed at the rest of my list, I need to take some cues from how this whole running thing has worked for me.

It’s easy in this life to lose our balance somewhere between the day-to-day activities and what we really want to be doing. Saturday morning rolls around, and the laundry, errands, or leftover work squeak squeak their way toward the front of the line, and the practicing, working out, writing or calls to friends get put off again. I’ve been letting things slide for far too long and not regularly acting on any of the things I say are the priorities in my life. Laundry is definitely NOT a priority!

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m picking three items from my list. They will be different enough to keep the spice of life abundant, attainable enough to keep me from giving up, and interesting enough to not bore you to tears. Then, I’m going to give myself a specific deadline for each, and make a plan. Finally (this is where you come in) I will be writing about my progress, struggles and victories right here. Accountability is key! And what’s more public than my very own bloggy blog?

Here I go to choose 3 things from my list! Anyone have ideas? Expect my plan by Saturday! Oh, and on Sunday, I WILL check off the first item! Wooohoooo!!! Wish me luck!

Does anyone want to join me on my goal-getting challenge? Let’s do this!

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can’t buy me love

Last night, we wanted to watch a movie, but didn’t feel like braving the streets of Vancouver to pick one up. Since we’re the last human beings on the planet without Netflix, we watched one from my collection: a lovely little movie from the 80’s (the outfits give it away) called It Could Happen to You. I love everything about this film except the fashion. A good-hearted policeman wins the lottery, insists on splitting it with a waitress because he promised her half his earnings as a tip, and spends the rest of the story defending his decision and generously and creatively giving his earnings away. His wife, meanwhile, spends extravagantly and becomes obsessed with wealth.

This message of generosity and contentment comes at the perfect time for me. We are having to learn how to live on one paycheck, and my life-long definition of the word “need” is being called into question on a daily basis. I’m doing my best not to become frustrated or indulge in self-pity, which would be so easy; we chose this road, and the consequences are going to refine us into better people. People, I hope, more poised and ready to live out God’s Kingdom in our city.

This is all so easy to say, though, and much harder to do. If I were to put a hole in my favorite jeans today, normally I would go out and buy some replacements. Wouldn’t you? Instead, I need to look at our other needs, my wardrobe, and decide how important the pants really are. The easy thing would be to just go jeans shopping (well, sometimes it’s not so easy…). Marriage adds another element entirely: what if Nate needs pants too?

I’ve been dwelling lately on Jesus’s sermon on the mount in Matthew 6. The picture here is so poignant: if I believe that God is big, and loving, enough to feed birds and clothe flowers, why don’t I trust him to take care of my needs? When I worry about whether I can afford my favorite lunchmeat in this expensive city, or wonder when I will ever be able to go shopping again, I’m taking matters into my own hands and there’s really nothing I can do about it aside from act out of my own lack of trust. This is and adventure, though, and I truly desire to learn how to live simply (in a real, tangible way) and trust the Lord, Jehovah Jirah, to provide for His child. From this trust, I hope to develop a generosity that doesn’t look back, that causes me to find pure joy in providing for the needs of others, no matter how small.

Besides, the Beatles were right, weren’t they: money can’t buy me love. And love I’ve got.

september in a nutshell

I’ve been meaning to write all this time, I really have. But somewhere between diving headfirst into multiple jobs, figuring out a transit system, and finding soy ice cream that fits my standards it’s been hard to find the time to distill our experiences the past four weeks into a little bottle of blog.

So I’ll give you the run-down: Our neighborhood is adorable, and our little basement suite is so cozy that I hardly wanted to leave it our first week here. It’s a perfect little getaway from the chaos of a new city and it already feels like home.

My jobs are great: bosses who treat me with respect and care about my well-being, not to mention financial security and emotional health.

I finally have a phone, debit card, social insurance number, driver’s license and our health cards are on their way. Looking back, I really wish we had given ourselves about a week to get all those details taken care of; it made for a very stressful couple of weeks trying to get all that done before, after and during work and school. But I can really say, we’re about as Canadian as we’ll get in the eyes of the government!

We’ve begun to really explore Vancouver now. We finally made it to Stanley park last weekend, and in the rain no less, making for a truly Vancouverite trip. I’ve been taking runs all through our area and finding the parks and some really cute houses (I finally signed up for a half marathon, by the way– more to come!). We even found a corner with a checkerboard the size of our bedroom paved into the ground!

It’s been hard to feel alone, because we’ve made friends at Regent already. There are some really wonderful couples I’m excited to get to know more. So far, it seems like a phenomenal place with phenomenal people; some who are a lot like us, but many who are quite different. It’s refreshing to be surrounded by accents and worldviews that aren’t exactly like everyones’ that I’ve ever known.

It turns out when I take a month off from blogging, many things crop up which I will need to cover shortly, so look forward to:

the amazing multi-cultural maze of Vancouver mass transit

my first running injury… while training for my first 1/2 marathon

beautiful, beautiful Horseshoe Bay where I nanny

the adventure of living on a student budget in an expensive city

photos to come too! toodles!

we all live in a yellow Penske truck

Said truck is parked illegally in the fire lane next to our nearly-vacant apartment. Inside it: everything we own other than the odds and ends that are left for morning (you know: the jar of pens, cleaning supplies, printer and computer sitting on the floor waiting to be swept up with the rest). Tomorrow, we brave the open road and hope that the Canadian customs officials don’t find anything suspicious about us!

I’m so tired, but it’s starting to sink in that tonight is really our last night in Seattle. We can’t go long when our silverware and my espresso machine are lost in a pile of brown cardboard boxes, can we? Seriously, this is it. All our hoping, dreaming, and penny pinching comes down to a leap of faith that begins tomorrow. I’m clinging to this truth tonight:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

We appreciate all the prayers and support more than you know! I’ll keep you posted, dear readers, as we get settled into our new city, country, and lives. Here we go…

hey, Canada: here we come!

It may take a while before I have the emotional bandwidth to write a real post. I’m a little all-over-the-place this week: goodbye parties, final service at our church home, packing our belongings and goodbye hugs are taking it out of me. In talking with a friend this morning, I realized that this moving process has been much like getting married last year. We’ve known for months it was happening, on a certain day. We’ve had time to process, to prepare, to take care of the many (many, many many) logistics of actually relocating to Canada and yet… and yet. Nothing we can do will prepare us for what it will actually be like when we wake up this Sunday morning in a new home without phones, friends, or the knowledge of the location of the nearest grocery store. Just as we prepared, dreamed and hoped for our new marriage last spring and summer, and woke up on August first to a whole new reality. Things have changed, drastically, and now things will change again. I’m excited for this reality, and I’m hopeful for the growth the joys and tears and adventures of the next three years will bring us. I have no idea what it will be like. I can’t wait to find out. All we can do is trust in the Lord, who has brought us this far, and who goes with us no matter where we are.

Bring it on, CANADA!

marital musings

I found out last night that a woman I respect deeply is in the process of becoming divorced. This was hard to hear, especially from her; they’ve been married for many years, built a life together, had children, and from the outside, it’s looked like perfection. After hearing her tell me that it’s been far from perfect, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a marriage solid and what I can never take for granted. Just because right now I can’t envision that happening to us doesn’t mean we aren’t immune to the innumerable things that can tear a relationship apart. The statistics alone are enough to instill some healthy anxiety (is there such a thing?) in me, even while in newlywed blissful dreamland.

I told this friend last night that I feel so lucky to be married to someone who truly makes me want to be a better person. The way he does this most is by drawing me deeper into my relationship with God. I believe that keeping God at the center of our marriage will strengthen us for the difficult times (which I know will come), but the “how” of this is pretty complicated. We pray together sometimes and worship side by side frequently (when he’s not playing guitar up front). On so many levels, though, we experience God so differently that it’s hard to do together. I expect it to become more difficult still when he starts seminary in three weeks and is immersed in an intense, academic view of theology, scripture and deity.

This friend encouraged us to keep a date night tradition, and to take picnics, even especially when life gets busy and everything seems to be getting in the way. I think this is some of the best advice out there, but so hard to implement on a regular basis.

You married folk: how do you do it? What have you done tangibly to strengthen your marriage and put your spouse first? Or if you’re single, what have you seen in marriages you admire?

30 things

I’ve been inspired lately by a few other bloggers’ lists. They have taken different forms and sizes, but all have something in common: goals and dreams. Since I’ve been thinking so much about goals lately, and having decent success with one in particular, I decided to take on this task. So, here we go:

30 things I want to do before I turn 30

1. finish a half marathon 11.21.10 in 2:14:13

2. audition for a real opera company

3. plant a garden

4. keep a garden alive long enough to harvest it

5. make new friends

6. keep the old

7. commute entirely by bike and public transit

8. read my Bible more

9. Develop a Rule of Life and stick with it

10. perfect my aria package

11. compete in the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and NATS Artist Award

12. have a baby

13. continue learning how to be a good wife to Nate

14. see the Aurora Borealis

15. hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail

16. ride the STP (Seattle-to-Portland)

17. start a music school (or at least write the business plan)

18. star in a local opera

19. raise a puppy

20. become a local-ivore

21. become more politically aware and active

22. cook my way through a classic cookbook- Julia Childs or Mark Bittman?

23. see NYC

24. attend a professional conference for teaching voice or Kindermusik

25. start a neighborhood gathering or community dinner in our home

26. become a better piano and guitar player

27. write songs and play gigs

28. discover how to live more simply

29. learn to live in the moment

30. write more letters and cards

We’ll see how it goes! 5 years and a few months. Can I do it?

P.S. I know you’re reading this… but I don’t know who you are! Leave me a comment, ’cause I want to hear about you, too! What’s on your list?

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