The New Testament in 8 Weeks – Week 1

Last week I embarked on a new adventure to read the New Testament in 8 weeks.  Aack!

About 60 people from Culpeper Baptist Church are on this journey with me.  The study lets you read the Bible in a new way – the books are arranged chronologically and are written without chapter and verse markings.  You read it like a novel.  And honestly, after just 1 week, I have realized a few things about the Bible.

Week 1 was the book of Luke.  And while I had read many of the passages, I had not read the whole thing.  Here is the quick look at what I learned:

1.  There were passages I had never read before.  For instance, after being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus went to Nazareth and his hometown tried to kill him.  They tried to throw him off a cliff.  (I know…right?)

2.  Being able to read the book from start to finish allowed me to get a better sense of the flow of Christ’s story.

3.  The loss of chapters and verses meant that I saw the bigger picture of some of the stories I thought I knew.  Being able to see what came before and after the parts I knew well made those stories make more sense.

4.  Jesus was a lot more stern than I remembered him being – and certainly there was a lot more tough love aimed at those he spoke to.

5.  I have a lot more compassion for the day to day life of Jesus after reading how day in and day out he told the story of his impending death and tried (knowing he would fail) to get the masses to follow Him.

6.  It is very easy for me to get lost in the language – especially in the parables – and I have to read many of them over and over to get what He was trying to say.

7.  Finally, something I knew but that came more clear the more I read – the disciples really didn’t get it most of the time.  Like me.

I am looking forward to week 2 – Acts and 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Letter to Myself

Dear Michelle,

It has been quite the 2014!  You accomplished a lot this year and you should be very happy with the direction your life is taking.  It was certainly not without its hiccups.  But overall, the year was pretty darn fantastic.

So in looking forward to 2015, there are a few things I want you to remember:

  • You are more than capable if you put your mind to it.
  • It is possible to achieve what you want if you work hard enough to make it happen
  • Don’t give up or give in when things get difficult….if it is difficult it is probably worth it
  • But be good to yourself – reevaluate what you want often to make sure it is the right thing (rather than struggling for no good reason)
  • Let love into your life – let others love you and make sure you love others as much or more.  Mostly love yourself.
  • Finally, you need to fully participate in your own life.  Have opinions, don’t be pushed around, do the things you want to do without apology, and don’t have regrets at the end of the year.

Here are a few things I wish for you for 2015:

  • Since your word for 2015 is CONNECTIONS, I want you to make some friends this year.  I know how hard it is for you to do but make the effort – it will be worth it.
  • Find some balance between work and life.  2014 was difficult and you never had a chance to really get used to anything before it was upended.  So this year, make sure that you are able to settle in and find normal (whatever that looks like).
  • Reduce stress.  You need to sleep more, rest more, give yourself a break more.
  • Be willing to try things that scare you.
  • Be learning everyday.  Whether it is about work or art or history or literature – learning will never be a bad thing.
  • You need to move more and eat better.  You have done a great job with eating less – now you need to make better choices.  And moving some everyday will eliminate some of the issues that 2014 revealed.  So continue with Zumba and use the Wii that J got you to move around the living room daily.
  • Its been 5 months – its time to get the office and the craft area organized.
  • You need to be creative this year…the journal project will be key.   Make sure you keep up with it – and set aside time each week to make it happen.  Never let 2 weeks go without completing a page.
  • Trust your instincts.  When it comes down to it, your gut is the spirit leading you where you need to be and away from the things you don’t need in your life.
  • Finally, pray more – for the needs and for the praises.

I know you decided not to set any resolutions or to do lists for the year….good.  They just make you feel bad when that is not how things turn out.   So take these wishes and make the year everything you want it to be.  And if it is not, so be it.  God has a plan Michelle.  And there are great things coming for you.

Wishing the best year yet for you in 2015,

Making a decision

I rarely shy aware from making a decision.   There have certainly been times when I have struggled with what is the right way to go, but I usually do not let myself sit on the fence too long.  I muddle it over, I agonize, I talk it out and then I make a decision.  One way or the other and then the issue is just dealing with the decision I made.  I can’t predict the outcome and there is something that makes it ok to just learn to live with my choice.

And, I am not often in a position where the opinions of others really matters in my decision making process.   But I usually am someone who needs to talk through an issue and so I involve others (to varying degrees) in the issue until I get some personal resolution.   It means that many people know bits and pieces but rarely is there someone who lives with the issue in the way that I do.  I don’t have anyone to talk to daily, so even my closest friends, know just a portion of what I know.

However, I have recently had to make a decision that was more difficult that usual.  This particular issue was such a big deal that I started to see a therapist.  And every week we would talk about issues surrounding this situation – how I felt, what it meant, how I was coping, how it affected and effected me, and mostly what did moving forward really mean – what did this choice would do to my life and what would it mean to me now and later.

The final decision was not easy and a large part of what made it so is that I was afraid that it would mean I could lose some people in my life due to the fact that they do not agree with me.  At the end of the day, I had to choose, and I will have to live with the consequences.  I will be right or I will be wrong.  I can only hope I don’t have to walk this path alone.

Christmas Manifesto

Every year I am overly ambitious in November trying to plan the perfect December and by December 3 those plans have gone astray and I just give in to another year without that thing – whatever it was – that I thought I needed.  So this year I start the season with a manifesto.

This Christmas I will not over plan,  I will enjoy each day and not worry about all of the things I SHOULD be doing…and instead enjoy the things I AM doing.  I will document what I can about the holiday, I will embrace the newness of my life situation and I will take a moment each day to reflect on what made the day great.  Most importantly I will let myself off the hook if one or more of those things becomes too much to handle.  I will enjoy Christmas this year – all of the craziness, busyness, and the joy of it.  And when this Christmas is over, I will remember it fondly as a first.

I hope you too will find some peace and joy this Christmas – or at the very least – you will allow yourself to give in to what Christmas is and stop worrying about what it should be.




On this Thanksgiving Eve

This year has been a roller coaster of ups and downs – a wild ride to be sure.  I have much to be thankful for and I wanted to take a moment to list some of those things.

1.  I am thankful for the people in my life.  My family, friends and co-workers who make my daily life better.  The wonderful office staff here at Round Hill Meadows who don’t make me feel bad for the sheer number of times I have to go to the office to get a package from them.  My new Sunday School class and the wonderful church people at CBC who have been so welcoming.  And for J who, despite everything, has been a wonderful friend during a very difficult period in both of our lives.

2.  I am thankful for my new apartment and the chance to strike out on my own and start over.  I never knew how much I needed this to work.  And I am happy to report that it does.

3.  I am thankful for my job and the flexibility that working at home has given me.  I am continuously amazed at the ease of which that happened and the stress relief it has provided – even while I still have stressors in my life.

4.  And most importantly, I am thankful for a God who forgives me over and over again.   I need more forgiveness than I think is possible sometimes and He always amazes me at his grace and mercy.

One Little Word 2014 & 2015

This time last year I was preparing for 2014 by picking a word for the year.  Normally, I pick a word that I want to strive to.  Something I am hoping will inspire me throughout the year to do better, to try harder, to be the person I want to be.   Last year I chose a word that I was pretty sure was God trying to tell me something.  I chose change.

I like most people am not a huge fan of change – at least not a lot of changes in a small amount of time.   And 2014 has had some major ones.  If I thought for one second it was not God giving me that word, he proved me wrong for sure.

So I have been thinking on what changes I made in 2014 – and what changes were thrust upon me.  Its a pretty big list:

  1. Job changes
    1. new supervisor
    2. losing a client
    3. gaining a client
    4. new contact at the client (leading to new challenges)
    5. pay raise
    6. working from home full time
  2. Personal changes
    1. Moving
    2. New furniture
    3. Living and working in the same space
    4. New town
    5. New people
    6. New church
    7. New choir
    8. Living alone for the first time ever
    9. New relationship
    10. Ending of said relationship
    11. First relationship where it did not end with one or both of us being angry
    12. First time someone made me feel loved like that

Those were the big things – and there are countless little things that have changed this year.  I have picked my word for 2015 and as much as I wish I could blithely pick something that is easy for this year – I know where God is leading me.  So my pick for 2015 is connections.  Can’t wait.

What type of Facebooker are you?

I used to love Facebook.  It was a place to reach out, keep up with, and in a very passive aggressive way, get some things out (those annoyingly vague posts – usually something I wanted to say but had no one in particular to say them to…one of those things about being single that books will not tell you).   I spent countless hours checking my wall and responding, liking and adding new content.

But in recent times, I have fallen off the Facebook bandwagon.  I still check it..many times a day in fact, but I don’t write a lot anymore.  And I have realized a few things about how I use Facebook to keep relationships moving….and how I let them stall.

I feel like we live in curious times.  We use Facebook and Twitter and SnapChat and other forms to social media to “keep in touch” but truthfully if you look at most people’s feeds, it is really just a way for each of us to talk about ourselves…the things we love, the thoughts we have that normally no one would care about, the things that make us laugh or cry or make us think, and an abnormal amount of “everyday life” photos – have we ever in life spent so much time talking about and photographing our food?

Lately, I tend to read my feed, check in on the 5 or so people who crossed my mind lately and then move on.  It means there are lots of people in my life that I don’t know what is going on with…and/or I don’t see in my feed and I don’t take the time to reach out.  And I rarely send a message to sometime specifically.  It happens, but rarely and it is usually sharing something I saw and not a personal message I post on someones wall.

At the same time my interest in social media is waning, I am more and more wanting real contact and connection with people – not virtual ones. I love my Facebook friends – I can’t imagine cutting off that part of my life – but it is time, past time really, to get out there and meet some people.