in this storm.

After having four interviews at four different schools, I received my fourth rejection email last night. Immediately upon opening it and seeing the words, “our school has selected two other candidates for our available positions,” I hit a brick wall. Rejection, confusion, and discouragement swam around in the air. Tears leaked out of my eyes. My husband tried to kiss me but I pushed him away, wanting nothing. Nothing my own sadness and feelings of defeat. Fingers shaking and eyes blurred, I stumbled around the kitchen to finish cooking the spaghetti. We ate dinner with minimal conversation, my husband trying to lift me up with his words. Although I appreciated it, I just didn’t want to hear it. I suppose I wanted to believe that I really wasn’t good enough to be hired as a teacher. A soft blanket and a favorite movie was all I wanted. We watched Benny and Joon underneath a fleece blanket that reeked from being in the closet too long. I went to bed in a slightly better mood but still couldn’t shake the tears once the lights turned off.
Six o’ clock woke me up with gray skies, harsh winds, lightning, and the rain swirling around in circles on the rooftops across from my window. I slowly went through my morning routine, wondering what today was going to bring. Today wasn’t a day I dreaded, actually, but a day where I wanted to see what was next. Where to go from here? Will I get another phone call? Will any school want me?

I drove to work in the rain. The music played as it always did. Then a song came on that I’d never heard before. I glanced at my phone to see what it was called. “Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns. At the stoplight, I looked up the lyrics. Oh how so appropriate for what I was feeling that day, along with the rain. Just perfect. It was what I needed to hear to remind me that God has a plan. I need to count on him. He will bring me where He needs me to be.

Sabbath Sundays.

One thing I’d like to start doing this year is implementing a Sabbath day in my week. Since I work Monday through Fridays and usually run errands on Saturdays, Sunday is the perfect day for my personal Sabbath (and when my husband doesn’t work on some Sundays, this is a great time for us to relax together). Last week Sunday was New Year’s Day, and the perfect Sabbath kick-off. We slept in late, spent a lot of time talking about the future, did a little bit of cleaning, lounged around on the couch, and went out for dinner and a movie. I don’t advocate cleaning or going out much on Sabbath days, but it was personally a good start for us and every moment was full of joy. It was a day that we truly needed.

Actually, my entire first week of January was incredibly relaxing. Work wasn’t terribly hectic and every evening was free for me to unwind. I can’t remember the last time I had a week with no evening commitments. What a glorious thing to have sometimes. I am cherishing every moment while I can, because I know not every week will be like this. I’m also looking forward to using some of those evenings to reconnect with my friends.

Today was absolutely lovely. I slept in a little bit, worked out with my husband, enjoyed a simple breakfast with him, hung out with my cats, washed my clothes, continued reading a couple books, drank tea, texted some friends, cooked a light lunch using leftovers, listened to music, and wrote this post. I know I will go to work tomorrow feeling refreshed!

I highly recommend you carve out some time for a Sabbath if you haven’t already. Your week probably seems busy with work, school, appointments, kids, errands, driving around, and other commitments. Then you have to cook/eat, clean, find time to sleep, maintain relationships, and overall just never get a chance to rest! Resting is just as important as being productiveWithout rest, your body works and works until it burns out. With rest, your body is recharged and ready to dive back into your busy schedule! Find one day you can keep to yourself. If a whole day just isn’t feasible, carve out a few hours in an afternoon and slowly increase the time.

What To Do On A Sabbath

  • Read a book.
  • Write.
  • Listen to music.
  • Play a board game.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Play outside.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Take photographs.
  • Create something.
  • Make love.
  • Spend time with your family.
  • Pray. Meditate. Spent time in quiet.

What NOT To Do On A Sabbath

  • Anything work-related. No emails. No phone calls. No thoughts.
  • Cleaning. Create time to clean the day before.
  • Laundry. Make sure everything has been done earlier.
  • Working on the house or in the garden (unless that’s your hobby).
  • Shopping. Do your shopping earlier in the week.
  • Finances. No paying bills, balancing checkbooks, nothing.

What to Limit On A Sabbath

  • Time on the Internet and within social media.
  • Your phone. Putting it away or turning it off is best.
  • Cooking. You obviously have to eat, but try to prepare meals ahead of time if you can, or make this the night you throw a frozen pizza in the oven.
  • Cleaning. Cleaning a recent spilled mess is fine, but try to avoid whipping out the vacuuming or giving your bathroom a complete scrub-down. Have dirty dishes? Put them in the dishwasher or clean them right away. If you’re not cooking on Sabbath, you shouldn’t have too many dishes to clean anyway.
  • Workouts. Sometimes your Sabbath seems like the best day for you to work out, but your body really needs to rest. Try not to make it a habit of working out on your Sabbath day. Some relaxing yoga might be OK.

Of course, no Sabbath has to be perfect, and we all have different things we enjoy doing, so create your Sabbath to make it the day you want it to be. What could you add to the list above? If you already have a Sabbath day, how do you spend it?

love and grace.

I’m currently reading Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson. Whitehead is one of the teaching pastors at my church and I had the pleasure of hearing Tyson speak at my church and a three-day retreat. When Tyson spoke, I felt like he was speaking directly to me. Never have I completely agreed, related, and understood a pastor as much as him. This book reaches out to me even more. I feel like it was written just for me.
What really struck me was one of the stories they shared in which a protester yelled out at a Christian group, ”Aren’t you supposed to be defined by love? Where is your grace?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be defined by love? Where is your grace?”

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. One of the things I struggle with as someone who is trying to grow as a Christian, is the reputation that much hatred within the religion has built up. I know that Jesus wants us to love others as they are without judgement. This is how I want to live. This is what I believe. Yet, many of my non-Christian friends abhor religion because of the negativity that conservative Christians have brought upon certain members of society. They are all about the fire and brimstone, not the love and light. Too many people have stood on street corners, preaching hell instead of preaching love. I can understand why this would scare people away. It made me turn away, too. Years later, I was finally exposed to the light and love of God. My heart turned around. I only wish my friends could do the same. I guess I just have to pray for them and continue to show them light and love.