Project Summer

Photo credit:  blog.mambaby.com/bid/6163/Summer-Time-Fun

Whew. It’s been a while.

Since I’ve had a real summer, that is.  Everyone thinks that teachers are so lucky because we get the summers off.  While that is true, that hasn’t been true for me. I’ve been teaching for 12 years, and I’ve worked for 11 summers. I realized pretty fast that I couldn’t afford to not work a summer. Unlike our other LI teacher counterparts, we do not receive a bulk paycheck at the end of the school year – or any paycheck at all over the summer.
Well, in the fall, I decided to save my pennies and put aside a little stash so I wouldn’t have to work this summer – or at least, not work as hard.  While it was tight throughout the school year, it paid off (no pun intended).  So, this summer, I’m doing a little Bible curriculum writing, which will generate some cash, but it’s not the same as having a get-up-get-ready-put-in-a-day-at-the-office kind of job (the doctor’s office, that is – which had been my part-time second job for about 9 years).
So. It’s summer.  While I dream of the day when I can have a leisurely vacation and just wake up when I want, stroll to the beach, shop to my heart’s content…umm, that will not be this summer. And let’s be real…who actually does that? (Beside the L.I. Princesses?) Already, I have a feeling that my summer agenda might be a little ambitious.  I know I’m lucky compared to most people who just have a 2 or 3 weeks of vacation a year, but when I look at my Summer Project list, it feels like summer is too short.  However, I do have a few goals and things to accomplish, and I am beyond excited to get going on it.  True, it’s only July 3, but I know how fast the time goes.  Chop, chop – not a day to be wasted!
Here are my goals:
Project #1: House Clean Up:  We have been in our house for three-and-a-half years, so we haven’t had too much time to accumulate junk, but we have our fair share.  So, cleaning out the office (i.e. the-room-for-things-with-no-home room) and the basement are on the list.  We have a shed that is yet to be put together, covered with tarp, sitting in our yard; once that is assembled, lots of the stuff in the basement will be moved there. I would love it if I could transform the basement into some kind of usable, livable space by the end of the summer.
Project #2: Minor Re-models: Our bedroom needs to be painted and decorated. I haven’t done too much with the bedroom besides paint, hang curtains and put up our wedding picture. But the room is small and doesn’t have a lot of light.  The current colors and decor are a little too claustrophobic for that space.  I also want to paint the kitchen and see how I can spruce it up.  Those 80′s formica cabinets are tying me down a bit, but I’m exploring how I can work around it.
Project #3: Yard Sale-ing: Already started this one with some friends, and I’ve gotten the bug.  Because of the Project #2, this is a valid use of my time (she said, as she tries to convince herself).  However, if I’m not careful, it actually could nullify Project #1.  But I’m optimistic.  There are a few pieces I am looking for, so if I can discipline myself to just focus on what I need, I think it will be time and money well spent.
Project #4: Menu Planning and Cooking: I’m a terrible cook, hand’s down. I try, but if a recipe can be messed up, I’ll be sure to find the way. Regardless, I’m determined to give it a college try. I’ve already made a few desserts from Pinterest. I know, not ‘real’ food –  but the ball is rolling, and I feel less guilty about the time I waste on Pinterest if at least a dessert can come out of it.  I’ve got a few good apps to help me organize my recipes and form a menu (Pepperplate is one of my favorites right now for gathering recipes and making a menu.  Ziplist is another great one to gather recipes as is Pinterest).  The school year is too crazy to spend energy learning all this, so if I am going to get a handle on this, it’s gotta happen this summer.
Project #5: Landscaping: My green thumb is about as good as my cooking thumb.  My friend Karen LOVES gardening and landscaping and planting flowers.  Me? Not so much. I don’t enjoy it, and I’m not good at it. I am all about the perennials.  Our front yard is pretty shady, so I’ve had some trouble trying to find flowers that are shade-friendly. Again, my goal is to get them planted this summer so next summer, they will take care of themselves.
Project #6: Blogging: Again, I’ve tried this so many times that it is embarrassing.  But today is proof that I’m not giving up.  I’m going to keep writing on this blog, although my master-blogger sister has been helping me come up with ways to really nail this down.  I’m back and forth between a few names, ideas, etc.,but I don’t want to wait until it is solidified. I am going to write anyway and deal with the  secondary stuff…secondarily.
Those are my big projects – too ambitious???  Probably, but go hard or go home, right? I have a few other smaller items on my to-do list…hanging out my nieces, working on some school projects, getting in a good work-out schedule, getting a handle on clean-eating, catching up with some friends, exploring some cool features of L.I. that I pretty much ignore through the year.   How am I going to get all this done, you ask?  I’m not sure. I know that being organized and planning have to come into play, but who want to plan out their whole summer? Well…me.
So, we’ll see how it goes.  But at least for today – Project # 6: check.

report on resolutions

It’s officially halfway through the first month of the new year, and before it escapes me, I need to put some resolutions to the proverbial paper.  I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and prayer, and while I don’t think I’m done reflecting – heck, who says I can only make resolutions in January?? – I do think I need to formalize this in some way, or it will be 2013, and not much will have changed.

I’ve hesitated because I still have reflecting to do and my list and plan aren’t perfect, but that actually leads me to one of my first goals:

Resolution #1Let go of perfectionism.

I’m a pretty driven person – not ambitious as much as I am disciplined. I can’t stand half-assed work or attempts at things. I believe that when you do something, you do it excellently. However, if something isn”t perfect, I won’t consider it complete. Obviously, excellence is not a bad standard, but perfection is, only because it is unattainable.  So, this year I am going to strive to do things excellently and do my best – but that doesn’t mean I can’t be satisfied with less than perfection. My blog posts do not have to be perfect before I post them; my lesson plans every day do not have to be award-winning for their originality and innovation; all of my down time does not need to be spent cleaning, cooking, planning…in some attempt to make my home and life perfect. I used to get so mad at my students when I found out they actually did a story or assignment but it sat on their desk at home because it wasn’t perfect in their eyes. Or they would leave a series of assignments incomplete, stuffed under their beds, because they couldn’t get it perfect and wouldn’t turn in what they had. But, I can kinda relate. So, in a word, I am giving myself permission, this year, to be human.

Resolution #2Get healthier.

OK, this typically is code for ‘lose weight.’ And I concur. Yes, I’ve gained 10 lbs. since being married and I’d like for that to come off. But I don’t want to try a new ‘diet.’ I know I have to make some lifestyle changes – like, cut the sweets and sugar, stop the frantic grazing between meals, and start exercising with some regularity. And, I know I need to be holistically healthier – mind, body, soul, and spirit. I still need to formalize a plan for this,  but a good beginning for me on the physical side is to just get the unhealthy food out of the house and plan my meals ahead of time to eat better – to eat thoughtfully and intentionally, and not emotionally or hurriedly. And, this actually leads to my next goal:

Resolution #3: Slow down.

Another buzz word I hear alot is to simplify.’ I’ve struggled with this. I have given this lots of thought, and honestly, I don’t know what I could cut out of my life to make it simpler. I work two jobs, I have a husband and a home, I go to church, and honestly, there are not a lot more extras. We don’t run around and go out a lot (well, for QT for us, but not just to be busy), our calendars aren’t full with family and friends, and we aren’t formally in ministry. And actually, there is a lot more I would like to be doing, not less – like getting together with friends, visiting my sister, seeing my family, going to local event in my community. But I feel drained almost daily. My job is super-demanding and I’m spent by the end of the day.

However, I realize I need to still slow down a little more internally somehow. And for me, I think that is just the key – to remind myself, after I’m running full speed on the hamster wheel, to slloooowwwww dowwwwnnnn. Even if it means I walk slower around my building instead of racing around, or pause when I feel myself getting swept up in the frenzy and breeeaaaaathe. Or stopping to count my blessings and remember Jesus in my life. But somehow, I’ve got to live life within the speeds limits. Internally, I often feel like I’ve surpassed ‘reckless driving’ and I’m about to red-line. Not totally sure how to accomplish  this, but I’m OK with figuring some of this out this year. And some of this might come via my next goal:

Resolution #4: Manage my time better.

Because of all of the above, some extra planning can go a long way. I have since made a schedule for myself and a list to start the week. It’s OK if I don’t keep it perfectly, but at least I have some kind of map and I’m not last-minute-cramming.  Already, this has helped…clipping coupons and seeing what stores have sales, planning which days I’ll do my errands, exercising and cleaning based on my work schedule, penciling in some tentative outings. Even if I have to cut some of those things off my list for the week, I have a feeling I’ll actually accomplish some of the others. I’ve read about some women praying about their daily schedule in the mornings, and I think this would be a good idea for me too – to let God help me orient the order of my day.

I feel pretty good with this start to my resolutions; it is a work in progress, as am I. I have a few resources I’m working through to give my life a little more focus. And I have a few other goals to consider:

  • How can I grow spiritually this year – in ministry and in my relationship with Jesus?
  • How can I incorporate friends and some mentoring relationships? 
  • Where am I heading professionally – in education, for further education, in writing?

But in light of Resolution #1, in the convoluted words of Joyce Meyer – I’m on my way, and it’s OK.

why i think god is a broncos fan

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/tebow-time-three-3-16-references-boffo-tv-172145772.html

This is kind of an odd experience for me because I’m really not a huge football fan. But every time I watch the replays or hear the stories on the news, I seriously get chills and can’t wipe the huge cheesy smile off my face.

And here is what I think I love about it. Tim Tebow is a stand-up guy – poised, humble, always has taken the high road no matter what has been said about him.  Clearly, he is unashamed of his devotion to Christ.

From my limited understanding of football, the Broncos have been something of an underdog most of the season, and it has been these crazy miraculous wins that they manage to pull off.

Tebow has gotten just as much attention for his faith as he has for his football ability. And I think that people are beginning to really wonder if the two just might be connected.

And I think God has Tebow’s back because of all the attention Tebow gives God. You can’t really separate Tebow from his faith. It’s as much a part of his game as his actual ability.

And I think God is OK with helping Tebow pull off these crazy wins because, while the whole country is pointing to Tebow, Tebow is pointing to God.  The renewed attention and fame Tebow is bringing to Christ is astounding…He is being brought to the forefront in a way that hasn’t happened around here in a long time.  In fact, I read in a Yahoo! Sports article:

“The fact that Tebow had 316 yards passing and averaged 31.6 yards per pass in the game didn’t escape notice on Sunday night. Tebow wore “John 3:16″ on his eye black in the 2009 BCS Championship game and has since become identified with the famous Bible message. The coincidental stats caused millions of fans to perform Google searches on the Bible passage in the past 24 hours. Here’s one more unbelievable stat: John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that the final quarter-hour television rating for the Broncos-Steelers game was, you guessed it, 31.6.

(John 3:16 reads: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”)”

Not that God needs help being made famous -He certainly can take care of His own name. But I think it makes God happy to have his boy be a part of this almost magical phenomenon because Tebow is not about his own glory. It’s like He takes a real joy in making this I’d-never-believe-it-if-I-didn’t-just-see-it type of endings happen.

You can’t stand up and take notice of Tebow with taking notice of who Tebow is devoted to – namely, Jesus Christ. And everything we love about him is just an image on a smaller scale of the God He serves.

So, I don’t know if you can love Tebow without at least asking if there might be something to this God he serves and loves and honors with every play on the field as well as who he is off the field.

I feel pretty sure that if God wasn’t off His throne and on His feet cheering at the end of that game like the rest of us, He was sitting back, nodding his head with a huge, satisfied smile on His face.

never say never

I know next to nothing about football, but since being married, I’ve learned a little and can follow a game or season without sounding like a complete idiot.

I told him today that I thought the Bronco’s were going to win.  He sort of chuckled, knowing my lack of expertise concerning the intricate details pertaining to all things football.  Only a complete novice would say such a foolish thing.

Well, to all you other non-believers out there, feel free to watch it again  here for yourself.

nothing’ like a little divine intervention

I’ve been giving lots of thought to this whole resolution thing.   I don’t want to be lumped in the statistics of people who make resolutions but fall off the wagon. I really want to be thoughtful, strategic, focused on actually seeing things change.  Seeing me change.

This morning in my prayer time, I threw this out to the Lord: God, what areas do You want me to focus on? Where do I need to grow and change?

I think He gives us freedom to set some goals ourselves, things we want to explore and experience and ways we personally want to better ourselves.  But I think He has an agenda, too. Too often, I kinda set my own course in my excitement, just assuming that all my ideas are His ideas. Sometimes they are, but it’s a pretty big assumption to make.

After a somewhat stressful morning, I rushed off to work, lost in my thoughts and not really giving much attention to my prayer. Where I work, we start our day with faculty devotions, and the teacher sharing ended with a few phrases like “He can take your mess and make it your message, take a test and make it your testimony…

Later that day, in my email inbox, I got an advertisement for a book by Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave.  I’d heard of it, but I wasn’t particularly interested. Being the equivalent of white noise to me, it was sentenced to the Trash bin.

Fast forward to my drive home, and I put on the radio and happened to catch Focus on the Family’s  ‘Best Of’ programs. Well, none other than  Miss Lysa TerKeurst was being interviewed, talking about her book Made to Crave.   And she said something that sounded oddly familiar: “The first four letters of the word Messiah is mess.  He can take your mess and make that your message…”  And I began to wonder if God was saying something…

So, I arrived home shortly after – and sitting on my kitchen table was a catalog from Christian Book Distributors. I don’t even need tell you what book was on the front cover.

I think I got my first clue for my 2012 Treasure Map.

I love it when God breaks through into my world, gets my attention, connects all the dots in my day.  He doesn’t always do this; sometimes, I really need to do the work of  seeking  Him with all my heart. But man, the times when God seeks me out, gets my attention, actually points me in a direction…there’s nothing like it.

He is so good like that.

 

(**Have you ever experienced a moment of divine intervention? I’d love to hear about it!**)

Introductions

To all who find their way to my blog: welcome.

Part of my resolution for 2012 was to try my hand at blogging. Again. After abandoning a few other blogs in my wake, I’m giving this another shot.

My last blog, ‘One Girl’s Journey to the Altar‘ was a spin-off of my blog before that, ‘One Girl’s Journey.’  Somewhere in there, I started  ‘Project 365′  (the-picture-for-everyday-of-the-year-blog). As you might guess from the name, ‘One Girl’s Journey to the Altar’ was the blog my younger sister, (alias ‘The Girl Creative)  convinced me to write about my engagement and upcoming wedding.  The adjustments of being married were a bit much for me at the time to keep up with blogging,  so about six months after the wedding, I let all of them die a somewhat natural death. However, my enjoyment of blogging didn’t.

So, I’m at it again.

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Kate, and I turned 38 yesterday, New Year’s Eve (some years a blessing, others a curse – but mostly a cool birthday).  I am a high school English teacher at a private school on Long Island. This is my 11th year teaching – and I’m starting to feel every bit of my age; the kids are 17 and 18 years old every year, but I keep getting older. Before my very eyes, I am slowly turning into the cranky teacher in the faculty room who just doesn’t understand what’s up with ‘kids today’.

I’ve been married for almost 2 years to a wonderful, darling sports addict, who has enriched my life in many ways, not the least of which is my understanding of football (I’m pretty proud of myself that I can now list several starting quarterbacks – and the teams they play on, to boot.)

I am # 3 out of 4 girls in my Italian family; I have 5 nephews, 3 nieces, no kids of my own (yet), 3 cats inside, and another 2 and half outside (one only comes around sometimes) – and they would be inside, if my husband had his way.

I am fiercely devoted to my faith – and not really my faith but the object of my faith, Jesus Christ – and I am not ashamed to say so.

So, this blog will be about just what the title says: life on this side of Eden – post-Fall, pre-Eternity.  We are in a precarious position, somewhere in between. There is so much beauty and tragedy to our human existence.  Daily, I see things that anger, frustrate, annoy, and depress me; but on any given day, in the midst of those things, I see things that impress, amaze, humor and move me, restoring my faith in humanity.

It is quite a story we are living  – with all the drama, tension, heartache, suspense and wonder of a meticulously-scripted epic (which, actually, I believe it is).  So, this is my place to reflect, ponder, vent, share on any and all aspects of the scope of this human experience – and I hope this might be a place for you to do the same.