Candles, Leaves, and Home

Have you ever looked at the leaves on a big tree and noticed the way the sun shines differently on each individual leaf? If you haven’t, you’re really missing out. I’ll be bold and say it’s my favorite sight in nature. Apparently I deleted a photo I had taken that would have been a great representation of this sight, so I shall resort to google images.

Notice how each leaf is a different color depending which way it is facing and how the sun is shining on it. Not as good as seeing it first person, so please go outside tomorrow when the sun is just barely beginning to set and find a tree with smallish round leaves and enjoy in awe as the sun shines from behind it. (The specificity is worth it.)
Notice how each leaf is a different color depending which way it is facing and how the sun is shining on it. Not as good as seeing it first person, so please go outside tomorrow when the sun is just barely beginning to set and find a tree with smallish round leaves and enjoy in awe as the sun shines from behind it. (The specificity is worth it.)

Today marks my second official day of nannying. The past two days have been wonderfully new yet perfectly natural. Truly, I suppose, I am meant to be doing this work at this point in my life. Obviously, though, I am still figuring everything out. For example: how do you make and warm up a bottle while holding a whimpering baby who really wants to play with said bottle? (Answer: you put the baby down. I’d rather hold a crying baby than make her sit alone and cry, though. Maybe that’ll change once I’ve done it a million times.)

But anyways………..

Today the nanee and I (I’m the nanny, she’s the nanee. Maybe I’ll just call her Nee from now own. That’s kind of cute.) spent quite a bit of time outside on a blanket under a big tree. At one point, I laid down next to her to see the world from her point of view. The tree, from below, had that whole sun-shining-through-and-lighting-up-the-leaves thing going on. For some reason, though, it was better from below. Fuller.

After a day of playing, giggling, sleeping, eating (a lot), and pooping (also a lot), I went “home.” (a.k.a. third floor of the house). I had no plans for the evening. Then I remembered that candles exist, so I lit one. Lights turn off, music turns on. For some reason, just like earlier in the day, I ended up laying on the ground. (I wasn’t just laying there, I was stretching. Eventually the stretching stopped and the peace began.) I felt incredibly at home. Maybe it was the way the candlelight was ever so slightly reflecting on the wood floor. Maybe it was the open space of the room I was in. Either way… I felt home.

All day long I felt home (home meaning where I am meant to be right here and now) but I felt very small. I could feel the big room around me, the big world around me… Such is life. We are small. Maybe this is just a taste of how it will feel at the passing of this life- at peace, at home, but ever so small.

Have a wonderful week, friends.

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Be There Soon

In my mind, there are two types of people in the world:

  1. People who are early.
  2. People who are late.

Specifics of these categories: if you’re on time, you’re late. If something starts at 5:00, you need to arrive before 5:00, so that said event can begin on time.

I’m an extreme #1. Which type of person are you? Now, in no way is this categorization meant to make anyone feel guilty. Life happens, traffic happens, sleep happens, people run late. It happens. The categories above refer to an overall tendency, giving the benefit of the doubt to people who sometimes are late because of extenuating circumstances. It happens to all of us.

For some reason, I am highly bothered by #2s. It’s something I need to work on. While I do understand that life happens, I get frustrated when I get left waiting, my schedule changed by someone who claims that they’ll “be there soon.” Soon? Or worse, when late people say “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” Thirty minutes pass. Still no sign of life from the person. *Sigh*

Most accurate thing I've ever seen
Most accurate thing I’ve ever seen

The most common bothersome situation that I encounter with a PLP (perpetually late person) is that in which the PLP is expected to meet me somewhere and/or pick me up at a certain time. When I am expecting someone to pick me up at 5:00, I am ready and waiting at 5:00 out of respect for that person, our plans, and our schedules. If the person is a PLP, I am often left waiting, and often for a significant amount of time. In an ideal world, I would have no problem with this. We do not live in an ideal world.

When you don’t know how long you will be waiting, what do you do? Start something you need to do? Sure- with the accompanying knowledge that you will have to drop it as soon as PLP arrives.

Yes, I am aware that I can, with previous knowledge that someone is a PLP, expect them to be late and therefore not be left waiting. Just wait longer to start getting ready. People have even told me to do this. But doesn’t this just perpetuate the problem of perpetual lateness? And even worse, if the PLP by some miracle is on time, I then will leave them waiting if I am not ready, therefore labeling myself as a major hypocrite, which I hope to never do.

Over the years, after having dealt with my fair share of perpetually late people, I have thought a lot about this frustration that I often encounter. Why do I care so much when people are late?

Upon further analysis of this personality quirk (my deep irritation with all things late), I realized that the root of the problem is that I hate waiting. As mentioned above, waiting is awkward. You can do something while you wait, but you must be willing to give it up when your true obligation is ready. Often we don’t know how long we will be waiting. We need to be okay with that.

Overall thoughts thus far:

  • I still believe that people should be on time and stick to their word and their plan. This is simply because I believe in caring for others by respecting their schedule.
  • Caring for people also means upholding your word and plans with them in order to show that you genuinely want to spend time with them.
  • We need to learn to accept imperfections in timing. We must learn to wait with grace.
  • Deeper: We should be willing to submit to God’s will as it comes and when it comes, not only if it comes on our timing.

Not only should we try to stay on time to honor others, we should also try to stay on time (while remaining flexible) in order to honor ourselves and honor God. (The following thoughts are based on a talk by Fr. Mike Schmitz.) We live in a culture that normalizes the “snooze button” mind set. If we allow ourselves to continually push back our obligations, our entire lives will began to be run by a “not now” mindset. If we let ourselves say “later” to every day decisions and tasks, we are training ourselves to be okay with saying “not now! Later!” to life. Why would we do this to ourselves!? Because it’s comfortable. That’s why.

Greatness

Next time you find yourself waiting, whether you’re waiting to go to lunch with a friend or waiting to discover your vocation in life, know that although your friend or your future is speaking “be there soon,” God is whispering to your soul, “I’m with you now.”

Joy & Thanks

That which is about to be disclosed may or may not come as a surprise to you.

I like to write.

In my first post ever, I encouraged you to think about what makes you you. Did you think about it? Some things that make me me are that I like to write and I like to validate others. In this post, I am going to challenge you to both of these things. If you don’t like to do them, that’s ok. You don’t have to. If you choose to bear with me, though, I think you will be glad that you did.

I’m at this point in life in which most of my friends are spreading out throughout the country for various jobs. For me, however, I’m staying put. I’m going to be a nanny for the year, which I’m sure you’ll be hearing about in these blog posts. With all the goodbyes, however, my sentimental side is getting even stronger. Didn’t know that was possible, to be honest. This rainy day was spent making cards and writing notes to friends who will no longer be living withing walking distance. I was on a roll.

P1040773

After four years spent trying to figure out how to express my gratitude to a certain influential person in my life, I finally decided that it was time to write a letter to her… because sometimes tomorrow is too late. Writing a letter to someone who has been influential in your life is really a great thing. In doing this, you are loving them by affirming their role in the world and in your life, you are pointing out their God-given gifts and talents, and you are also giving yourself the opportunity to reflect on memories and on how you have grown.

And then I remembered this video and realized the potential for a blog post. A story, a challenge, and an awesome video… makes for a good post.

Ahhhh. Pure joy. Wouldn’t you enjoy to get a phone call like that? Or perhaps… a letter? Take Jesus’  “golden rule” to heart and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Spread some joy and share some thanks today.

Free to be

Imagine this: you’re walking down the street on a hot, sticky, sunny afternoon. In the crook of your right arm are three slightly worn library books. There aren’t too many people outside, probably because of the weather. You’re walking to the nearby library to return those dang books that you had gotten bored of within the first 10 pages.

Maybe a visual would help.

P1040761Now imagine that you’ve been thinking about starting a blog for quite some time, and while you’re walking down the street to return the library books that you didn’t read, it finally hits you- the name of your blog (which, like the library books, will probably never be read… I hope you haven’t given up on me yet.)

You guessed it: that was me. Good job with the imagining. You’ve successfully put yourself in my shoes. Metaphorically, that is.

Along with the three library books I was returning, there were several others at my apartment that I hadn’t started yet. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, on the other hand, was a book that I had read in high school and had checked out again. Walking to the library, I was reflecting on Gretchen’s first commandment: “Be Gretchen.” Or in my case, “Be Jacqueline.”

“Be (insert your name here).” Do you find this easy? Honestly think about it. When do you find yourself not being you? Is it easier at times to compromise your individuality, your likes, your dislikes to please others or fit in?

… I kind of feel like I’m giving a motivational talk to a group of 7th graders right now…

American culture emphasizes individualism: it teaches that life is about living for ourselves and our pleasure. I’ve found (and maybe you have, too) that it’s also easy to live for our own comfort: to focus on bring accepted rather than to live in a way that allows us to embrace who we really are.

Okay- vulnerability time. I don’t really like animals all that much. I mean, I love them (seeing that they are beautiful, purposeful creations) but I just have no particular fondness of them nor do I desire to spend my free time playing with them. Sure, they are super cute (especially baby animals). Naturally, I’ll play with them, pet them, and feed them when it is my responsibility to do so. I just don’t enjoy being slobbered on, sat on, and/or peed on without my consent. Not sorry.

-End rant-

Yes, I am aware of this mindset.
Yes, I am aware of this mindset.

So why is this relevant? For a long time, I wouldn’t admit this to myself or others, but recently I’ve been embracing the whole “be Jacqueline” mindset. So, in thinking of a title for my blog (which only exists because I was able to think of a title for it), I decided on this whole “Be you” theme. #cliche

So now enter the whole ” waling to the library” scene. Here’s what was going through my mind: what does it really look like to be fully, unapologetically, unashamedly ourselves? That’s kind of a big question, and it evoked another question. Who am I? This question must be answered before we can choose to be fully ourselves.

We are all unique and have special gifts, talents, preferences, and identities. One thing we all have in common, however, is that we are all children of a King. No matter our special gifts, talents, preferences, and identities, being children of the King is the highest and most valuable identity that we hold. In Him, we are free to be completely ourselves and embrace the fact that we don’t like animals, but we love babies; that we only really eat vegetables to balance out all the baked goods we eat; that we’re outgoing introverts. (And by “we,” I actually mean me.) Along with being able to be unashamedly ourselves, we must also remember that we sin. So although I may love and enjoy cookies, this part of me does not give me permission to be a glutton and eat 12 dozen cookies in a day. (Dream. Life.) The reason that I don’t have “permission” to eat those cookies is because my identity as a daughter of the King trumps my identity as a cookie-lover.

Shoot. YAY! Ugh…

Have you guys ever heard the idea that freedom does not mean that we can do whatever we want to do, but rather that we are free to choose to do what’s right. Usually this idea is shared in a Christian context (at least in my experience). Well up until this point in my library walk, I had completely hated disagreed with this concept. Every time someone would mention it, I would think “NO! Freedom is the right to do whatever we want, and morality is choosing to do what’s right.” Well, the whole glutton and cookie lover analogy pretty much threw that mindset out the window. Hence the “Shoot. YAY! Ugh…” which was my initial reaction to the fact that I finally figured out the whole freedom thing and then realized the implications: I need to be striving to be the best version of myself. To do so, I must be fully myself: a sinner, redeemed by grace and mercy, who has plenty of quirks and imperfections, and is continuously being called to be loved and to be a saint.

So, readers, I challenge you. Take time to reflect on what really makes you you. Once you’ve done that, make a conscious effort to live those things out. Do things that you enjoy. If you find yourself doing something that doesn’t line up with who you are, stop doing it. Unless you’re in the middle of a highway and you remember that you don’t like driving or something. Please don’t stop. Please be safe. (Wow, I definitely did not plan for this post to end so morbidly.)

Remember folks- you are free to be you.