Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Multitudes on Mondays

I'm a day or two late but won't ever come up short when it comes to pouring out my thanks.  The author of this new favorite blog of mine encourages "Multitudes on Mondays." And I'm thinking my participation is necessary.

For a long time now, I've kept a small notebook that, at the top of each page, I write, "What Was Good About Today." I keep a list for our family of the things of the day that were good. It was a practice I started in order to encourage a "Eucharisteo"-perspective to our life--granted I didn't call it that, then.  We often forget to write in it. The dates of the entries are staggered, skipping places  here and there; sometimes a day or two, sometimes a month or two.

Keeping up with rote tasks--even good rote tasks--is not my strong suit. But I recognize, admit the importance and the necessity.  A new beginning, then:

*A child I call mine--even if she is the only one I ever hear call me "Mama," I am blessed by her existence.

*A husband whom I cherish from the deepest part of my heart; who I'm learning to love properly--he can't fulfill me in ways that only God should.

*A place to call home--not just my house but a community; a church; a belonging.

*A summer that has seemed too long, borne me down rough paths, overwhelmed me with expansive and routine-less monotony and frustration but has stirred in me deep, heart-longing desires that won't go away when the leaves of the trees begin to fall.

*Friends upon friends upon friends...far away friends who keep in touch, nearby friends who reach out--my life is fuller because of you.

*Opportunities to be thankful...when I can count them, I know I am blessed.  I find myself looking for them and I don't want to forget.

*Stirring reminders of what it looks like, sounds like, feels like to live my faith...what it means, truly means, to follow Christ.

Anticipating next Monday...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Practice of Habits


That's the only way I could honestly begin this post.

I have been reading a blog I find so very inspiring.  The author of the blog penned a book which I find to be equally inspiring. In fact, it was her book that lead me to her app and subsequently, her blog. Funny how technology works. Today, she challenged her readers to share thoughts, stories, and ideas concerning, "The Practice of Habits." So here I am:

In a communications class during college, a professor used the text, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as a supplement to our text book. I remember it being very interesting. The Seven Habits include: Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand then to be Understood, Synergize, and Sharpen the Saw.  Glancing at these habits, it is easy to see just how potent these could be when put into practice in all sorts of contexts.  And to consider habits in this way helps us understand their efficacy (or their harm). Granted my prof was using these to teach us about communication within organizations but they strike me as all-encompassing where habits are concerned.  Probably should've have kept that book...

So when it comes to keeping certain good habits, I would not refer to myself as Highly Effective.  I have such favorable intentions; such grand ideas about how new habits would benefit my heart, my mind, my physical self.  But somewhere around Think Win-Win, I falter, blunder, and trip myself up on none other than my own two feet. Oh, how that speaks volumes! Not even remembering what this book had to say about the 4th Habit of Highly Effective People, also known as "Think Win-Win," I can say without a doubt that this single Habit of a Highly Effective Person has everything to do with perspective, the power of positive thinking, all those things involving my mind being set on the task; the hinge, as it were, of success or failure; triumph or tragedy. And this place is where I can most of the time lay claim to my defeat.

I get caught in a trap of my own construction...I convince myself that it just won't happen; that is, cultivating this new matter of course; that I should just give up and start over again some other time when it will be easier, when I will be better prepared, when I feel like doing it more.  Weak arguments, all, because it will never be easy--most things worth doing just aren't. I will never be 100% prepared; at least not in the sense that I can foresee every.single.obstacle and shift myself around thusly. And there will be a part of me that won't feel like doing whatever it is sometime.

Dilemmas and conundrums.  I must vacate this awful cycle. It is destructive and even more than that, keeps me from perceiving just how valuable to my life, these good habits truly will be.

So I will start again soon. I will attempt to be proactive. Put first things first. Begin with the end in mind. I will pray for a change in my frame of mind as I round the bend of Habit #4.  I will pray to trust in the Lord with all my heart; I will pray to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.  And I will hopefully let the Holy Spirit do the work of transforming me into someone who is highly effective--not just by society's standards but effective by the standards of the Kingdom.  Will I form habits?  I can't yet say but I am hoping, trusting, praying that God will change me in my attempts. And if practice makes perfect, perhaps I can get there after all.