In case you don’t read my blog, which is fine, I have been spending Lent doing a bunch of things I call my LOR: Lenten Observation Routine. Why do I care so much about Lent? As a life-long Presbyterian and life-long very serious taker-of-obligations, it’s just something I do. Trying to explain is futile; it’s just what I do. In college, I had three major LORs go down: over three separate Lents I gave up that blasted time sucker Solitaire (on the computer), AOL Instant Messenger, and — in a drastic attempt to lose weight — carbohydrates. Each of these experiences left me with beneficial consequences and I actually was successful at upholding my promise to myself (and I suppose to God) to go without these things for my own betterment.

This Lent has been unlike any other Lent ever in my life. I feel like the last 40 days (I am including Sundays so I have 7 days to go) have been life-changing. For something that was concocted, honestly, very quickly and slap-dashidly, it sure cut to some of my issues.

I feel like a much healthier, balanced version of myself after the patterns I have been upholding for my LOR. Each night I record in my journal whether or not I reached each of my four goals to drink a gallon of water, not watch TV, walk at least a mile, and read the Bible. I also write down activties of the day and how I am feeling — not with a lot of detail as there is very limited space, but enough to observe patters later on. I am very honest about my feelings, which is important, as I am perfectly willing to lie to everyone and say I am fine, and I even lie to myself when I don’t really check in.

I was frustrated at first that I didn’t seem to be losing weight, but that is because I was being impatient. Which is a trait I have, and I own it. I can be really patient about some things and bend over backwards for people all the time in order to make them happy, but when it comes to trying at my own happiness, my patience is very limited. I sincerely felt so gross and fat the first half of Lent. But, not vegging in front of the tv really has paid dividends. I used to come home after work and turn on HGTV, eat a snack or two, eat dinner, and then It was suddenly 8:00 and I hadn’t done any laundry, dishes, walked the dog, or anything else I wish I had accomplished. Little by little, spending this time not hanging out on the couch has helped me get a lot done and I am indeed finally weighing less. All told, I think I have lost 5 pounds. I was carrying a lot of water weight at first, because, duh, I was drinking at least 8 pounds of water each day and goign to the bathroom wasn’t enough to satisfy me on the scale. All the walking as well as the water intake has made a big impact on my overall happiness and I am more comfortable in my own skin and clothing.

Some sidebar things have happened during Lent this year that have also greatly impacted me. One is that I’ve gone on sabbatical from my a cappella group, as a way of determining that I really am a busy person without my group in my life, to the point that I know I can offically quit as I don’t know how I will have time for it anymore! Plus, now that I am working with my super awesome voice coach, I don’t need my group to satisfy me vocally.

The other sidebar thing is a source of huge sadness for Josef and me. Some of our friends, because of something unfortunate that went down, have been going through a bad time and the way it has to be handled means we can’t really see them anymore (at least so far). Sorry to be so vague, but I can’t really come up with a clever comparison to offer to help you understand the situation. Basically, though, we are really sad that our friends can’t be part of a certain part of our lives anymore. While we hope that we can still be friends with them despite this circumstance, we know it may never be possible to have something similar to what we had going before. Sadly, we have to accept it and know that they are handling everything as best they can and even though we have told them how much we love them and want to see them, we have tp be accepting that they aren’t necessarily going to want to see or be comfortable with us yet. Again, sorry to be vague, but it’s a situation that happened to coincide with Lent and I can’t help but align the timing with this separation and subsequent pain and its many questions. In a way, the bleakness of the outset of Lent and the subsequent hope-filled progression toward Easter has help me to personally deal with this experience.

I fully admit that this is probably a really bizarre way of dealing with things going wrong or as a result of making changes in my life, but I do feel as though this particular Lent has been the most personally meaningful one to me yet. It makes me really grateful to those who decided long ago that we needed to observe the major events of Christ in the human confines — and attention spans — of one year. And even more truly, we liturgial-minded Christians make a bigger deal about Advent through Pentecost, which, being generous, is about half a year. So what is the other half? How should the other half live?

I have two new goals, somewhat related to this other half.

My college’s motto was “Dum vivimus servimus” which translates to “while we live, we serve.” It’s a faith-filled, works-based approach to life. I knew over a year ago I was way too comfortable with my routine. I knew I had some aspirations of giving to others, but it simply was not my routine to make it happen. Each day I pass twice a group of buildings that house life-changing ministries., yet I never step in to help. It’s embarrassing to think about the help I’ve withheld. So one of my new goals is to incorporate an active form of service into my life. Today was our church’s annual day of service and this point hit home to me once again: I find the most joy in the core of my being when I am serving others and really helping them. Today we prepared two apartments for two refugee families that will move here in a few weeks. They will have nothing but the clothes on their backs. They won’t know English or anything about Atlanta. But they will have a support system thanks to the company we worked through today, to earn a living, learn the language, and live a life of freedom unlike anything they could have ever imagined. We prepared these apartments so lovingly, all day long today. We cleaned, we arranged, we daydreamed about what would make them happy in their new home. How humbling to serve these families who have been through untold horror. I hope that the love we feel toward these families, whose names and faces we don’t know, can somehow lift them up as they live in the space we fixed up for them today. So, I need to figure out a way I can serve on a more regular basis.

My other goal is to get a new job, either where I work or a place like it. I need to work hard and be in a position that is mine all year long. It is very hard to me to have to figure out each year how to bridge the gap during the 4 months I am not in my admissions role. Thankfully, I have been able to find something each year, but this does not ultmately provide the job security I should have. I am very grateful that God has provided for me all this time, and I have complete faith that the perfect opportunity is out there waiting on my phone call, visit, or email.

Alright, it is bed time and we have new sheets on our bed! The master suite renovation is so very close to being done. It’s so very exciting and I can’t wait to show you pictures for the big reveal!!

Hope you are having a great weekend! Thanks for reading!


4 thoughts on “LOR

  1. It’s very inspiring to read about your Lent experience so far. It is definitely making me think about some of the changes I should implement into my life.

    Also, I’m glad that your sabbatical has let you see the other side of your life in the a cappella group. How has Josef dealt with you not watching television? Was it something you guys used to do together? Or has he started to fill his time with other things too? I’m curious.

  2. Thank you!!! I hope these habits will “stick” at this point. The hardest part has actually been drinking the water. There have been several days I haven’t made that goal, but everything else has been consistently accomplish-able. When I told Josef I was sad about Lent ending, he said I don’t have to stop doing these things — which is of course true! My main problem through life is thinking I’ve done enough, and then I would just sit around, when there was a lot to be done in general and other ways to spend this precious time we call life. The fringe benefits have been amazing — closer relationship with my dog, a healthier me, Josef’s proud of me, closer relationship with God, closer relationship to my community. I feel very fulfilled, which furthers my confirmation that life post-a cappella is very sweet and full. I will always cherish that experience and will always find those women to be amazing people and singers, of course!!

    So what areas would you implement some change in? I think when you get your bike you’ll start enjoying that and making time for riding it, but what else might you change?

    Josef still watches tv. I think he may be watching it less, though. We really didn’t watch it too much together, except for DVRed episodes of Undercover Boss and SNL. Sometimes I’d rope him into my HGTV shows or he’d rope me into his cop shows. Josef’s a much more motivated person than I am, generally, though, so he is able to exhibit more restraint. 🙂 Thanks, by the way, for getting the spelling of his name correct — good eye for detail!

  3. I wish I lived closer to you, I love being friends with you (& Josef, of course). I’m proud of you for coming in to your own, you will so much more over the next few years. I was there (a loooooong time ago :-)), still working on it but life is a journey, not a destination. When we reach the destination, we’re done hear on earth.

  4. Thank you, Jackie, that is such a sweet thing to say — and the feeling is mutual!!! I love that we’ve hung out a few times and that we can stay in touch over the web. 🙂

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