Ever since Ben Rector’s new album “The Walking in Between” came out just last week, I’ve been listening non-stop. Give his song “Sailboat” a listen! It won’t leave my head. And I’m not unhappy about it.
Buy it. The whole album. You won’t be sorry.
I’ve officially moved to Wheaton! Believe it or not, I’ve already been here for a month. I’ve moved in with my sister, started my job, and am anxiously awaiting the start of my program in just a few weeks! My little “break” before my program has been wonderful, but to be honest, there are a lot of challenges that come with moving to a new place, starting a new job, and preparing for an intense program. In fact, I’m realizing how much pressure I can put on myself – and I’ve been feeling it now probably more than ever.
Whether we can acknowledge it or not, we have all set a bar for ourselves. Let me show you mine:
- Because I’m a doctoral student, I should always sound intelligent when I speak with others. Doctoral students don’t fumble over their words, they articulate themselves well, and they should be able to keep up with practically any conversation – whether it be about politics, history, psychology, sports, pop culture, etc. Doctoral students keep up with it all, and should be able to carry on a conversation regarding just about anything.
- Because I’m on my way to becoming a psychologist, I should have good relationships with each of my family members. Psychologists have healthy relationships, they are emotionally balanced, and they are always able to read others well, understand others’ emotions, and they are always empathetic and caring. Psychologists are also even-keeled and steady at all times.
- Because I’m nearly 23, I shouldn’t have problems with silly things like directions, technology, parallel parking, or running into everythings. 23-year-olds don’t turn the wrong way down one-ways in downtown Chicago. They have maps in the back of their heads. In less than a month of living in a new location, they should be able to name all of the streets in the area, and know all of the popular places to go. They are also always graceful (they’ve been walking for quite some time now, after all). 23-year-olds don’t find bruises all over their legs from running into things, and they definitely don’t drop or spill things. 23-year-olds have grown up with rapidly evolving technology and understand it all. Hand them the latest iPhone or five different remote controls and they’ll automatically know exactly how to work each one; they can also show you all of the shortcuts and little tricks.
- Because of the cost of my schooling, I should always be fiscally responsible. A responsible person doesn’t ever spend money on frivolous things, like new clothes, restaurants, movies, and trips to the city. She rides her bike everywhere so as to save money on gas (and to save the environment). She works full-time so that she doesn’t have to take out loans unnecessarily, while at the same time always keeping up with her studies and acing every one of her classes (she is a doctoral student, after all). Her savvy ways, hard work, and many scholarships all allow her to finish her $100,00 program debt-free!
- Because I’ve been known to have healthy habits, I must always maintain those without fail. A truly healthy person doesn’t ever eat junk food, and exercises on a regular basis. She eats 1200-1500 calories a day and maintains 115 pounds. She can rock any outfit she tries on and has achieved the envied “thigh-gap.” Love handles? What are those?
- Because I’m attending a Christian school, I shouldn’t have problems with cussing, pride, impatience, lust, selfishness, envy, lying, greed – or basically sinning, in general. A good Christian girl just doesn’t struggle with such things. She has it all together. She spends an hour (sometimes two!) in the Word everyday. She has nearly half of it memorized from all of the time she’s spent studying and meditating. She prays for all of her friends, family members, coworkers, her church, the government, the poor and suffering, and the “nations” on a regular basis. If she has time and remembers, she might pray for herself last. She attends church every week and spends hours volunteering there, as well as in the community. She and Jesus are best buds. She can spend hours everyday just meditating on Him and delighting in His very name. Her daily prayer journal just gushes with her love for Him. She never doubts that He’s there and that He loves her.
Because she knows that Christ loves her, she loves others with the same unconditional love. She is always in a positive, even bubbly, mood. Working in customer service, she always has a bright-eyed smile on her face. Introverted though she may be, she loves every single person she encounters with a Christ-like love. Her 12-hour work shift and tired feet have no effect on her countenance or attitude. In fact, she remembers Christ’s death on the cross and rejoices in those blisters on her feet and the spilled food on her apron – it just means that she gets a small part in sharing Christ’s suffering.
- Because I’m a Nebraskan, from a small town, a college graduate, a Chi Omega, attending a Christian school, and living in Wheaton, I should be married with a child on the way. A true Nebraskan/small town girl/college graduate/Chi Omega/Christian/Wheatie would have met her sweetheart in high school. She will have dated him all through college until they got engaged their senior year. Immediately following graduation, they will have had a beautiful wedding. Since they are both good, small-town Christians, they would never even consider using birth control. They will have settled on using natural family planning. Just as planned, they will have conceived the following year after she turned 22 and hope to have a big family in a big house in the suburbs.
Every person has his own bar. Like my standard, it should always be easily attainable. People who set their bar too high are only setting themselves up for failure and self-doubt.
More well-adjusted people, like you and I, realize our limits. We realize that we’re sinners in need of a Savior. We understand the power of Christ’s death on the cross and its implications for us. We’re content with who we are because we realize that Christ made us in His image; therefore, He didn’t make any mistakes in making us. We know that we are beautiful in His sight. People, like you and I, don’t care about society’s standards because we know that we are not to be in the world, not of the world.
We have lives marked with freedom and peace.
Giving your life to Christ doesn’t mean that all imperfections, impossibly high standards, and all pressures go away. Dying to yourself so that He can reign supreme in your life is a daily task. We need the constant reminder of who He is and what He’s done so that we don’t forget that we’ve been called according to His purpose – not ours – and that we no longer have to be slaves to sin.
Need that reminder today? Here:
Romans 10:9 – “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”
Romans 8:1-2 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 6:14 – “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It’s easy to forget.
A few of my friends here in Norfolk have recently (and by recently, I mean several months now) decided to switch to a vegan diet. Julie and Jocelyn are two friends that I really admire and have had the pleasure to get to know a bit better since I’ve been back in Norfolk the past year. They are two of the healthiest people I know, and also amazing athletes – in fact, they both just completed their first half Iron Man just a few weeks ago! Both of them also being doctors in town, I wanted to learn from them and hear about their “food journey.” Another friend of mine, Melissa, and I have both been on a similar food journey, although we have not “converted” to a strict vegan diet.
A few months ago, we all decided to have dinner together and watch “Forks Over Knives,” a food documentary, which I have previously discussed. Each time we get together, we make vegan food and watch a food documentary. I have since dubbed it “Vegan Night.”
The other night, we had our 2nd vegan night, of which hopefully there will be many more! Take a look at our delicious food!
In case it all looks foreign to you, we ate a stuffed spaghetti squash, black bean and mango salad, a fruit salad, a leafy salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, and of course WINE. The black bean and mango salad was THE BEST, by the way. I’ll have to post the recipe once I get ahold of it. I don’t think I’d ever been so excited to eat a meal, or felt SO good afterward!
After our delicious meal, we watched “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.” It’s a really interesting documentary about an Australian man, overweight and sick, who decides to drink strictly juice for 60 days. I don’t mean store-bought sugary juice, but push-fruit-and-vegetables-through-a-juicer-real-healthy juice. He’s basically drinking fruits and vegetables ONLY for 60 days. He not only loses 90+ pounds, but dramatically improves his health and adds years onto his life. If you’re interested, you can stream it for free on Netflix, watch the trailer here, or read testimonials, find recipes, and learn about the benefits here. The point is not to starve yourself, but to reboot your system, which has likely become addicted to processed, sugary, and nutrition-deprived food. Although I have yet to invest in a juicer, I’m strongly considering trying it our for a week to reboot my system!
Thanks, friends, for a great time, great food, and great company! Let’s plan another night soon.
Do you have a home away from home? That place where you can always find peace, where all of your cares are gone and you can just rest.
When my mom was 14 years old, her parents bought this little 3-room cabin. Every summer since that time, our family has taken trip after trip to this cabin. It’s my favorite place in the world. That one place where you can go, take 3 naps a day, eat way too much food, read books, play cards, tube down the creek, go for a hike, star gaze, bike, play, and rest and not feel a tinge of guilt about any of it!
This is what it looks like today. Still a work on progress – still my favorite place in the world. During our most recent trip to “Hidden Paradise,” I decided to research a bit of the history of Long Pine, NE. I found a website with loads of old pictures that make me wish I was alive in the early 1900s. Some of them date back to the late 1800s! Take a peek.
Now do you understand what I mean? I’ll have to share more pictures sometime soon. This doesn’t even begin to cover it. At least now, you’ve gotten a glimpse of paradise!
Photo Credit: Suni Danielle Photography
Today my wife Lindsay and I celebrate our two year anniversary. Two years ago, we tied the knot and took the plunge. Two years ago, the cutest girl in Indiana was taken off the market! Two years ago, we launched the beginning of the rest of our lives. Two years ago…
And after two years, there's no hiding behind the dinner-and-a-movie façade of dating life any longer.
I’ve been thinking about this idea quite a bit lately. I may often struggle with my job and not necessarily be in my ideal location (in a small Nebraska town…living with my parents), but our environment is what we make of it. If we choose to find the positives in life, if we really invest in those we love, and make the most of the opportunities we have – our environment will reflect that attitude. If I expect that my 8-hour visit today is going to be incredibly long and awful, then it probably will be. If I expect that my weekend will be boring and awful because nobody lives in this town, then it probably will be. Instead, if I choose joy; if I choose to invest in the people here and make the most of the free time that I have (and will probably never have again – grad school!), then I think life will be a lot more enjoyable.
So today, I choose joy. I choose good books, long walks, good conversation, great time with family, and healthy living. I choose to make my environment a healthy, fun, restful, happy place where others are welcome.
Make your environment, don’t let it make you.
Let’s just be honest: I have always struggled with being consistent with exercise. However, since I’ve moved back home, I’ve become more consistent than ever before. In fact, two (sometimes three!) times a week, you will find me rolling out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to attend my 5:15 a.m. Body Pump class. You get that? 5:15 IN THE MORNING. Before the sun comes up, this:
…is me. Well…close. Okay, not really. I also find that when I’m pumping (yeah, it’s a thing) consistently, I am more consistent in doing other types of exercise as well.
Never heard of body pump? Basically, every three months they come out with a new track. For each song, you do multiple reps to exercise a different body part. So, after the warm-up song, we spend one song doing squats, then another song doing chest, back, shoulders, triceps, etc. You get the point. By the time you’re done, you’ve done about 800 reps and gotten a full body workout! Interested? You can find out more about the class here. On that same website, you can type in your zip code and find where classes are being taught in your area!
Little factoid: you will actually continue to burn calories after the class is over – it’s called the “afterburn” effect.
After the first class, keep in mind that you’ll probably be sore for about a week, so I recommend trying it out at least twice. Don’t worry – you’re never as sore as that first time if you keep it up!
I’m so sad that there are no Body Pump classes in the area where I’ll be moving and I’m seriously considering getting trained just so I can keep doing it! Anybody have any other weight training classes that they love? Maybe it just means it’s time to switch it up!
I’m excited to announce that my friends, Crystal Davy and Melissa Taylor, have a new music project and play! Please consider backing “Sincerely, Dorothy.” You can check out more information below:
If you’re not familiar with Crystal’s previous work, check out her solo album, “Immigrants and Strangers” here:
They’re both incredibly talented artists and I can’t wait for this new project! Check it out for yourself.