Words by Paige

A place to retreat for a little refreshment and encouragement

"Pillows in a Pandemic, Interval Running and Your Work"

I just heard my washing machine go off. The towels are done. I will put them in the dryer before I go for my run. I am going to do interval running today. I have set a goal to beat my latest time – 10:33. I enjoy working out to beat my latest goal. That is something I am working on too – learning how to set goals. I have started to do this by writing down what I have done and then reflecting on it so I can get a gage on what some realistic goals could be to make for the next time.

I need to put the towels into dry before I leave for my run. Our dryer is old and towels take the longest to dry. I also want to wash some other things today. I need to decide between a new sheet set I got last weekend at Aldi and some new pillows I got yesterday at Costco. I had tried to order two from Walmart through my grocery order last week but they were out of stock when I did my pick up. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Are people really hording extra large pillows? Possibly. I am sure that sleep is something people are doing more of these days. With less time needed to be out of the house for work, errands and/or entertainment there is more time to sleep in, take a nap or go to be early. I secretly hope this is true because I know this pandemic is causing various types of stress for everyone and sleep is a great way to help your body reset so that it can be equipped to handle what the next day or moments will bring. Or maybe it is like the employee at Aldi said, “The warehouses are prioritizing sending essential items right now.” She's probably right but does that mean Costco has chosen to make pillows a priority?

Ok, so that last part was a bit of a digression. Back to running. I run but I would not call myself a runner. I run for the physical and emotional benefits. Recently I decided to start trying to improve my time (or so I thought). I use the Map My Run app. After a few times of noting how I did I noticed there were three things that the app marked for me – my time, my pace and the distance I ran. Time is the one that tells how long the entire run took. Pace is the one that tells how long it took to complete a mile. Distance, well you know, how far did you go? FYI - I run a little over a mile each time. I’m still trying to determine what I should focus on in order to improve. Should the goal be to make my internal run in less than a mile? Should my time be less than what it was before? Should my pace be faster too? Do I need to choose one or focus on all three? As I pondered these decisions I thought about my writing.

I recently joined an online writing community called hope*writers and now I am in the process of transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing for my reader. (By the way, thank you for choosing to be my reader today.) During this process I have been considering my pace.

I have noticed since I’ve joined hope*writers that I am doing more reading/learning that writing. In fact, in the last two weeks I haven’t written or shared anything but I have had a lot of ideas that I’ve noted. My reasons has been homeschooling during the pandemic. I don’t know how I can do both.

This week I have also been reminded of the encouragement that “your pace is your pace; you’re not behind” and “what you share doesn’t have to be perfect before you share it” (from Emily P. Freeman and others during this past week’s Tuesday Teaching). I hear the first one easier than the second. So here is what I have to share for this week. My goal for next is to share at least one thing that has encouraged me so that it might encourage some one else.

The last two weeks I have woken up and gone to sleep more excited than I have in a long time. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about something. Maybe when I was planning my wedding or when I was about to finish with school (any season!)? The feeling of excitement makes me feel like I am about to go on a roller coaster. The best example I can give is Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It is one of the few roller coasters I can stand to ride as I succumb to being a woman in her mid thirties. Ironically this ride is not like most roller coasters. It starts off slow and then shoots you off down a track that leads into a pitch black tower of twists, turns and drops that come unexpectedly, even if you’ve ridden it before because you can never quiet remember when those moves will occur.

While I am excited these days, I am also nervous. Similar to how the roller coaster slowly pulls out of the station are the first few steps of how my writing life has begun. It stared with creating a blog a little over two months ago. Then, just under two weeks ago, accepting the invitation to join hope*writers. Next, I started to read a book called the book “The Right to Write”, which I learned about from being apart of hope*writers. Then, embracing a challenge given at the end of the first “chapter” in the book to write until I filled three pages (although I stopped when my timer of about 15 min. went off because I had to tend to some other things) I felt like the “ride” was about to shoot me off down the track.

I feel this way because ever since I spent those few minutes writing that morning the ideas haven’t started coming to me. I feel so excited about them I can barely type them into my Evernote app because my hands were so shaky! Thank God for the person who created auto correct so that I don’t have to do as much of it myself and can try to have my hands keep up with my the words in my mind!

I also feel a sense of joy and peace that I have not experienced before. While I look forward to sharing my words with an audience one day, the sheer pleasure of letting them out and putting them together was a gift in itself. It breathes life into my soul. It connects the dots of thoughts that swirl around in my mind. It brings peace.

Continuing on this path and looking ahead, I am wondering if this is how God intended our work to feel. I know that those who read my words may not be called to write but I hope that my words will plant seeds of ideas for you to take time to see what your work is and allow yourself to spend some time doing it. You may not always feel the sense of joy, peace or excitement at first but I would encourage you to keep searching and working until you find it. Trust the process. It may start out slow, like Verbolten, but just be ready for it to take off!

P.S. – When I got home from my run I discovered that my dryer was broken. This slowed down my pace for the day and change my plans. This took some extra steps such as texting my neighbor and friend to ask if I can use her dryer. I had to choose to vulnerable and admit my need for help. I also had to make a service call to schedule a repair. Upon the reply I found out I would be waiting a few days for someone to come. It makes me wonder if everyone else is using their dryers to dry the pillows they bought up at Walmart! No matter. There will also be a bonus to this change of pace. Now having to cart wet loads of clothes over to her dryer just means I will get to see my friend more! Let’s face it, still being in the middle of this pandemic, any excuse to see friends is great! I wonder how this may look in my writing this week? To be continued…

P.P.S. - Here a video link to Verbolten for the visual learners out there and also for those who just like videos ☺

https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/roller-coasters/verbolten/

What I Learned in April 2020 - STILL IN PROGRESS

In the past year I have been encouraged by my favorite author, Emily P. Freeman, to spend time each month considering a few questions and see how that information can help me move forward into the next month with some idea(s) for how to approach it. 

This is the first month I have spent time each week reflecting; probably because it was so crazy and I know that writing helps me process through craziness.  The questions I considered were - What was life draining?  What was life giving? What’s one thing I want to leave behind going into May?

For this month I found that doing so much for my kids was draining.  The school managment, trying to support the emotional adjustment to staying at home, figuring out what we would eat together for three meals a day and how to teach them to be more responsible to tend to the messes that insued from all of us being home all the time.  While some things were necessary, like feeding my people, I realzied that some things weren’t as necessary; at least not to the detail I initally thought they were.  It was that, doing more than was necessary, that drained me.  As a result it also made it hard to rest at night.  

On a brighter note, I did experience some life giving things this month. 

It is actually a list.

1.  "be relentlessly kind to yourself".  I am quoting this because it is from a podcast I listen to faithfully called "The Next Right Thing.  I believe it was in episode 120: What to do When The World Shuts Down that Emily P. Freeman shared how important it is to practice this during such a unique season in out lives.  While I agree, I am also learning that this is a practice I need to do daily not just during a pandemic.

Additionally, in this episode, she shared some more words of wisdom  - name what is true. What do I notice around me?  I took that step further to  ask myself "What am I thankful for?"  This is a practice I have tried to develop over the years but it has grown stale.  However, after hearing this podcast my energy to consider such things was renewed.  I took a few moments to ponder, in the midst of the uncertainty, what could I be thankful for and it helped me see that there are many things in my life that have stayed the same and some that have even improved!  A few of those are - more family meals together, the joy of seeing my kids do crafts, play outside together and build amazing forts with almost every blanket, pillow and matress we own.  Last is a scripture from Psalm 16:9-11.  I won't quote it here but I highly recommend that you take the time to go back and reread it yourself.  

INSERT PICTURE HERE

2.  Plan in small bits right. I am slowly learning that it actually helps to guide what could come next.  There are additional pieces of encouagement in Psalm 16, verses 4-8 and 11 that speak to this truth.  I recommed you read them for yourself. 

3. Call, text or Marco Polo someone.  Both giving and recieving these helped lift my spirits.  Often I would think that I didn't have time for them  because I had so many tasks on my to do list.  However, this month, noting how much better I felt afterwards helped me understand the value of choosing to give my time to it.  More to be said about this can be found in Psalm 16:3. :)

4.  The reminder to have a daily “rest” time.  I am currently writing this blog post as a part of my rest time for today.  I have been able to get a lot of writing done during these times.  Still, I would  like to add that my house is not perfectly peaceful at the moment.  My kids have gone from playing "..." and getting whipped cream all over themselves to playing on the piano with deep passion (aka at a pretty loud level) making it challenging to concentrate even while my peaceful guitar plays on Spotify. I will need to go back and read Psalm 16:9 to remind myself to continue this important practice in the midst of the caious.  :) 

5. Do something for someone.  After some inspiration from a friend I have started this with my family.  One Friday morning I chose to ...

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6.see what they’re may be to look forward to Ps. 16:11

What’s one thing I want to leave behind going into May?

Leaving the heavy “no’s”/refusal bc my hands are already full of my own worries and fears; walking lighter so I can say yes more to what opportunities may come next How to pull a muscle in your back while carrying laundry and turning out a light at the same time...

Hope Realized - STILL WORKING ON THIS ONE...

In the middle of this unique season I am leanring that I can't rush things that are intended to be finished yet.  In response to call from my church's homegroup, I recently began reading a book called “Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family and Church”. I like to sing. Please don’t read that as the ability to sing. I do not posses that!  Instead, I have learned the gift of adding sign language to the lyrics of songs.  So when I am alone, as I sing freely because I think no one is close enough to hear me, I sometimes also sign along with the songs.  It creates another level to express the message the songs provid.

As I read chapter two in this book I was reminded that singing in the sense of worship to God is something that Christians are commanded to do. I will admit that I had a hard time seeing the words “sing” and “command” in the same sentence. I like to sing and have never thought of it as a command. The truth is I don’t want to think of it as a command. When I heard the word “command” I think of something that must be done without the element of desire involved. However, as I kept reading I learned that the Bible says in James 1:25 that this command is given not to bring me into captivity but to give freedom. I hadn’t given much thought to the truth that in connection to the command to sign, when given from God, are meant to be used for our good.  

It reminds me of the command you may hear from a doctor that you should exercise to provide your body with the physical input it needs to experience physical benefits; the command to sing is intended to also given to provide our souls with the spiritual input needed to experience spiritual benefits. I am not a doctor and do not claim to have an understanding of all the reasons why one should exercise but I do know that there is great benefit to it for overall physical, mental and emotional health. On another side of the same coin, it is important to note that it is something that should be done not to expect immediate benefits from, though they may occur, but rather to experience benefits later on.

In the reading of this book and verse I was reminded that singing provides the same opportunity. Additionally, the freedom that singing brings also provides cleansing. Just like exercise can clean someone of the physical excess that weighs the body down, singing cleanse the soul from the excess that is weighing it down. While I know that cleansing is ultimately good for me, the process is not always enjoyable. Still, the truth is that the cleansing process cannot happen without first my acceptance to the fact that it is necessary.

As I read and reflected on the command to sing, a song came to mind that I heard recently.  It is called “I Shall Believe”. I actually heard Sheryl Crown sing in on a T.V. special in an alternative for the American Country Music Awards. With the requirements to social distance, all the artists performed songs from their homes. I am not a country music fan but I enjoy listening to these performances.

When Sheryl Crown introduced her song she said that during tough times she often turns to her faith. As she sang it reminded me of another song I had heard. After a quick Google search I learned that another musical artist named Matt Brouwer sang a song with the same title. As I researched it more I learned that the majority of their lyrics were the same except for the third line in the first verse.

Sheryl’s version says,

“Come to me now

And lay your hands over me

Even if it's a lie

Say it will be alright

And I shall believe”

Matt’s version says,

“Come to me now

And lay Your hands over me

Will You find me tonight

Say it will be alright

And I will believe

In Shreyl's version calls out for comfort, even if it isn't lasting while Matt's version calls out with confidence because he is asking the faithful One. 

Just like I don’t like the idea of the command to sing, I don’t like the idea of singing songs that are not to my liking. This book shares the idea that gratitude is what produces song. When I think about gratitude I think about things I enjoy or like. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary gratitude means to be “appreciative of benefits received”. It is rooted in the Latin word “gratus” which means, “free”. It is in the expression of what I enjoy that I find freedom. What about the things I don’t like? Should I be grateful for those too? Latin gratus — more at GRACE Like exercise, I enjoy singing once I start doing it. When I am riding in the car or working around THS house and it is my choice as to which song to listen to, I can easily be tempted to spend time looking for the perfect song, rather than just listening to and enjoying the music that plays. I’m working on listening. Why do we want to stay in the same place? Why does it take hard things, like a pandemic, to open our eyes to the need to move into a new place? Proverbs 20:27 - The spirit of You is in me, as a simple light like a single candle, used to give light to the inter parts of my heart, deep within to my gut. I honestly felt stuck in many ways in the “old” way of life; wished for a way out, for “permission” to do things differently Sing along the way... As I meditated on things I was https://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-signs/b/believe.htm https://socratic.org/questions/where-is-your-stomach-located https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grateful https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk01qxwhJKx0ypXKf5OAOBqgI1TBn8g%3A1586444183356&source=hp&ei=lzePXru0Ev-qytMP1pyuoAQ&q=what+does+latin+word+gratis&oq=what+does+the+Latin+gratus&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgAMggIABAWEAoQHjoECCMQJzoECAAQQzoFCAAQgwE6AggAOgkIIxAnEEYQ-QE6BQgAEJECOgUIIRCgAUoqCBcSJjBnODdnODRnOTdnODlnODJnMTA0Zzc0ZzY2ZzczZzY5ZzBnMTAzSh0IGBIZMGcxZzFnMWcxZzFnMWcxZzFnMWc1ZzBnMlDHBlj0NmCORGgBcAB4AIABgQGIAaAJkgEEMTUuMZgBAKABAaABAqoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab


My COVID-19 Blog - how it all started...

When the idea of starting a blog first came to me I jotted down these thoughts.  They aren't very cohesive but the they're real.  I'm sharing them for two reasons.  I want to be able to look back and remember the development of my writing.  I also think it's important for the readers to know how the wrtiting began, so here you go... 

Week 1 -

On one hand it feels like someone is trying to turn the Titanic (all the hustle and bustle of daily life is slowly coming to a halt). On the other it feels like I was running a marathon, my heart rate was at a steady, calorie burning level, and something came up in the road that caused me to come to a complete stop; not good for my heart rate. Sudden adjustments like that are unexpected, uncomfortable, unwanted, unprepared for.  But what about the kids? How are they doing?  On the bright side they're learning technology ediquette (Ex. How to write a clear message to a teacher.  A  challenges I feel like we're facing - what’s the point of a schedule? As a ridiged, rule following 9 on the Ennegram (ignore that last part if your unfamiliar with the Ennegram), I love routines and scheules (and lists and almost all things organization, until I get overwhelmed.  Then I love snacks and sleep more.)  Yet, I can’t help but wonder how beneficial they are during this time?

Week 2 - I googled "how to let your kids play in the rain".  This idea came to me after writing a familiy member an email expressing my concern of "stay at home order" + rainy day #1.  If you can't tell by my Google search, I'm kind of a rule follower.  Okay, there's not "kind of" about it.  I am a BIG rule follower.  The rule is - if it's raining outside the kids should play inside."  However, giving the current pandemic most rules are going out the window, including playing inside on a rainy day.  My kids must have known I am a strict rule follower because when I told them they could go play out in the rain they were extatic.  Ha!  While they played I got prepared for the inevitable mess that I knew would ensue.  I grabbed towels and composed a plan for them to reenter the house being soaking wet from head to toe.  They had a great time and I was learned that sometimes it's ok to let your kids play in the rain. 

Week 3 - see weekly review prayer...

Week 4 - see "Whispers of Hope" post


Whispers of Hope

4/7

Yesterday was the first day of spring break for the boys. It’s different this year. In case you’re reading this 20 years from now, our world is going through a pandemic. Nothing like this has happened in over one hundred years or so. But enough about that for now, because it is such a life shifting event, I don’t think much explanation is required to explain it’s effects on daily life. I’m don’t want to give time elaborating on what is seen in what can feel like overwhelming waves. Rather I want to share about a new experience that my boys and I had as a result of this historical event.

Since all the typical spring break destinations, both local and abroad, are closed, social distancing is the expiation and a stay at home order is in place, limitations are thick to find a place to go to just breath. Thankfully, I was introduced to a “new to me” park in my local area. New Quarter Park is an amazing little oasis; it has several biking and hiking trails along with several other amenities to enjoy. A unique amenity this place offers is a butterfly habitat. The idea of seeing something like this sounded intriguing on a normal day but more so today because, well I’m not exactly sure why yet. So the boys and I went.

Since this park was new to me, I had a difficult time locating the butterfly habitat. Thankfully, after making a couple of phone calls, a park guide came to meet us and point us in the right direction. As she explained where to go my unawareness of the terrain created anxiety for me. She sounded so confident in description of how to get to where I wanted to go. She sounded so familiar with the area and her description made the walk ahead seem so easy.

I felt like she could sense my uneasiness and did her best to calm me with more than one way of explaining how to get to the destination as well as an attempt to point out some of her directions on my map. Unfortunately I could not receive this aid due to the six feet of social distancing requirements. I felt guilty as I had to step back as she moved towards me. “I don’t want to seem weird but…” I said. She replied, “Oh yeah. Sorry.” With that I had to take her words and the map I held in my hand to forge ahead.

Leading my boys, we began to walk. I didn’t like the trail that the map had planned out. It looked longer than I wanted to walk.. I just wanted to take a few minutes to see some butterflies and move on. It also had a deep curve to it that I was nervous to take. I wondered why it was designed that way. It upset me somewhat. It seemed so unnecessary. It seemed like the trail could have continued on the straight path it initially set out for. It wasn’t until I walked on it that I saw why it was designed that way.

As we came to the curve I wasn’t looking forward to, I noticed that the terrain next to the path grew steep. It was then that I realized that the if path would have continued straight we would have had to walk down a steep grade, risking unnecessary dangers. Rather, the path’s curves lead down a gentle descending curve that eventually came to the destination I desired.

At the beginning of this post I didn’t want to focus to the current pandemic the world is in. There is so much about it that I would prefer not to acknowledge – it’s unpredictability, it’s unfamiliarity, it’s impact on life and death. Specifically this week’s news has posted that it will be the hardest week yet. Not something I want to hear. For my family personally, we have not experienced a great impact. I do not know anyone who has died from this virus but I do know a couple of people who have gotten sick. Even still, their level of sickness was not to the extent that required hospitalization, thankfully! Still, I don’t like that this week is predicted to be the hardest thus far.

This week is also Holy week; the week before Easter. This year we won’t gather in church buildings to celebrate the greatest event in history. This is a mark in history. It is a curve in the path of what has already been laid out for us to journey down.

Like the beginning of the trail I walked on yesterday, I didn’t like the unfamiliarity of it but the idea of seeing the butterflies pushed me on.

That same path has caused me to consider this path were on with this virus. It is new. It is uncomfortable. It requires walking a way that is uncharted (social distancing, staying at home for an unforeseeable amount of time). It is sad. We were not designed to walk alone. But just like I walked on that path, taking one unfamiliar step after another, I began to notice something. Intermittedly I began to see one butterfly go past me. I hadn’t even arrived at the hoped for destination yet. Still, the butterflies showed up unexpectedly. It gave me hope to keep going even though they didn’t show up all at once or even more than one at a time. They flew alone as in small waves of encouragement. “Keep walking. Come this way. Where you seek to go is just ahead.”

As I reflect on this experience of a new trail to hike to simply see some butterflies and experience some fresh air I can’t help but sense God gentle whisper, much like the flutter of a butterflies, as they gently moved past me on the path; “Keep walking. Come this way. Where you seek to go is just ahead.”

As we go into what is predicted to be the hardest week thus far I am reminded of the similar words He speaks in His word “Come to me, all who labor and heavy laded, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn form me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Keep walking down the path, not only will he meet you along the way with gentle whispers of hope but remember you can trust that He is leading you is to a place of rest. 

Thanks for giving of your time to read this today,

Paige
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This is my blog.  It's brand new to me.  On here you can know me as Paige.  I plan to share my thoughts as I process the world around me.  I'll add more to this later.  Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this!