The Problem of Reading

I have a problem. In fact, my husband and I BOTH have a problem. 

The problem is this: our reading lists have grown so long that I don’t know if we will ever catch up. I have, in fact, proposed early retirement in order to devote more intentional time to reading- since there is no end to our list. The annoying thing about reading is that there’s always a new book, and there’s always a new author, so our lists are constantly growing. [When we got married, my husband actually was actually giddy when he learned about a Crutchfield Family Christmas tradition: books on Christmas Eve. The origin story of that tradition will have to be for another time!] My sweet husband has reminded me that if I wished to retire and devote my days to reading, I should have married someone in the medical, law, or financial vocations. But that’s not what I did. I married a man pursing God’s calling on his life (a 2nd masters and the mission field) and 30k deep in debt. [To be clear– I made the right choice.]

Since it seems to be me vs. the hourglass, I am a chronic over-estimator of how fast I will read. I have an annoying habit of checking out multiple Kindle books from my local library, and then I am forced to keep my Kidle on airplane mode for months as I fail to even begin a new book, because I am crippled by the fear that it won’t be as enjoyable as the last book I read. You don’t have to tell how ridiculous that is, believe me, I know. 

My mother is a oxymoron to me; I am truly befuddled by a simple fact of her personality. She is both a do-er (I don’t know if she has ever sat through a movie without multitasking and working on a project), and reads more books than anyone else I know. I consider myself a do-er… but as soon as I sit down with a book, I am shocked and awed by how filthy my house is. How can I possibly engage in a relaxing activity, such as reading, when there is a tissue on the floor RIGHT NEXT TO THE GARBAGE CAN, but not actually IN the garbage can, because my husband and I have a perpetual game of basketball going on in our living room, but we are both miserable players when said “ball” is actually a loosely crumpled tissue?!?!?!

The thing is this: I have convinced myself that reading is being lazy. (Please, dad, don’t disown me.) I have allowed myself to choose less stimulating entertainment (lookin’ at you, Netflix) and convinced myself that reading can be “too much work” or isn’t “time effecient” because I can’t read AND do something else. I’ve relied on Podcasts and Netflix for too long! [I picture this to be a inspiring speech, but since it’s just all 5′ 1 3/5″ (ever bit counts) of me standing up from my desk in our study….it’s… just… not.] 

In all seriousness, I decided I had a problem with reading when I realized that my habit of not reading was impacting my spiritual life. Here’s an obvious thing: God did not make a podcast. He did not make an original Hulu series (though if you’re looking for one, The Mindy Project is my choice). He gave us His Word, comprised of 66 books. Since I’m pointing out the obvious, I shall continue by saying BEING IN GOD’S WORD REQUIRES READING. As I pondered this (truth ad conviction) and the strong shift in my entertainment, I decided that I needed to make some radical shifts. I think most cleanses are utter poppycock (guys isn’t that what our kidneys and liver are for?), but I do think “boot camps” can be helpful. Thus, my Bible Bootcamp was born. My mission (sorry, Josh finally got me to watch Star Trek and now Jean-Luc Picard narrates my life): to read through the entire Bible in 6-8 weeks. Why 6-8 weeks? Because that’s how long of a break I have from work. I now have the BEST job in the world, and I am a nanny! I watch 2 boys (5 and 2 years old), and a sweet little girl is about to join the family! So while momma is on maternity leave, I some free time- and I want to be intentional with it. 

I’m not following a reading plan, I am making it up as I go along. As I write this, I haven’t actually told anyone about this plan, because I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’ve been spending a lot of time considering what failure would mean in this scenario, and I don’t think failing to finish the reading by the time I go back to work would be “failure.” While I was in college, we had a frequent guest speaker, and every time he spoke, he said “We don’t read the Bible to finish, we read the Bible to change.”

My mom always asks “What’s the goal?” So here it is: the goal is to put myself through a Bible Bootcamp for the purpose of change. I want to change my mentality not only about reading, but about reading God’s Word. I want to be marked as a woman that treasures God’s Word, and frankly my life is not reflecting that I AM that woman right now.

Hopefully I’ll have a follow up post with details about how it went, and ways I’ve changed… even if I don’t “finish.”

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Holiday Recap

December feels like a distant dream. We had my company Christmas party (yay for free margaritas and steak), and the next day Josh and I headed to Myrtle Beach for our annual anniversary trip. We scored a super sweet ocean-front hotel Groupon that meant we could afford to stay there for 4 nights! Unfortunately, we quickly discovered why the hotel was so cheap… and had to change rooms because I found long, black hairs everywhere. In the shower, all over the bathroom, in the bed, on the pillows… it was like no one cleaned the room, and I got grossed out. We switched rooms, ended up with a better layout and a better room, and we were happier. ūüôā The first night, we decided to run to Publix to get some groceries… and a fun anniversary treat. We got our wedding cake from Publix (highly recommend), a grocery store we don’t have in NC (at least anywhere close to us), so we got a little cake for our anniversary treat. It’s been a few weeks, so honestly the trip is a blur of eating out, and enjoying the hotel’s cable (HGTV)!!! We had all sorts of food- wings, breakfast, Mexican, pizza… watched two movies- Hunger Games (SO GOOD) and Ricki and the Flash, played board games, went to the aquarium, walked on the beach, read, and slept in. It was so refreshing to have a break from cooking, cleaning, working, commuting… and so nice to be on a vacation alone.

Next, we headed to Columbia for Christmas! It was hot and muggy our entire stay in South Carolina. “Welcome Home,” right? My mom blew us away with her cooking, and Josh got to experience all our “weird” traditions including glow sticks and books on Christmas Eve. We decorated gingerbread cookies, exchanged presents, ate a ton, and watched the¬†neighbors’ house burn. In the middle of Christmas dinner, fire trucks rolled down the street and stormed the house two doors down. It was incredibly sobering, and I gained renewed respect for fire-fighters. The owners of the house were out of town, and the fire was started by a heat lamp for one of the reptiles. The owners are avid animal lovers, and we saw two dogs and a cat be carried out of the house, then watched the workers attempt to revive them… and cover them with a white sheet. It was so hard to walk back inside, knowing this family’s Christmas was ruined and forever marked as a sad occasion.
In contrast, our Christmas was a joyous occasion. We went on tons of walks, ate tons of food, laughed until we hurt, and I am so thankful my entire family was able to be together. Every time we’re with¬†with my parents, I am so encouraged by the ways they invest in and love people. I’m so thankful for the hours they spent with us talking, processing, and advising. The most hilarious moment was when Josh opened a pair of shoes… and we realized that instead of putting an adult-size 12 on his list, he put a child-size 12. ūüėÄ Since Josh is a detail-guy, my mom figured he had the right link on his wish-list and didn’t even double check what she was ordering… we all laughed until we cried!

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New Years was spent with our BFFS the Gilmores. We celebrated Joseph’s birthday with an amazing meal at Outback, introduced him to fire works (his birthday is New Years Eve!), turned his high chair (and his body) blue with acrylic paint- he really liked painting- just not the aftermath (also now mommy and Aunt Deborah know that acrylic paint stains BADLY), decorated for and had a Winter Onederland (get it?) birthday party,¬†stayed up late playing board games and laughing hysterically, doing ridiculous things to get a laugh out of Joseph, and wishing we could stay longer.

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My birthday was simple: we got Taza Grill and Cheesecake for date night, then on my actual birthday we made cheese fondue (wasn’t awesome) and Josh surprised me with a beautiful book of letters from my friends and family. I cried and cried and it was basically the best birthday gift ever. YAY for 25 years! The guys decorated our house to replicate an episode of The Office where Dwight decorates with balloons and streamers that match The Office. Spoiler: it looks like crap. I walked into the house after a long day to the hilarious decorations and it made my day!

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We’re on week 3 of my goals, and I have to say I am getting pretty consistent. The best thing I did was download a checklist app… I kept forgetting (thanks, 6:15 am) if I had taken my vitamin, and always felt like I was forgetting something. If you’re a list maker like me, and trying to form a habit… get a checklist app. It is a game-changer.

One of my goals for this year is to add recipes to my arsenal. I tried my hand at pot roast, without a kit, and it was AMAZING. Huge huge hit with the boys. I threw a bunch of potatoes and carrots in the bottom of the crock pot with some water, with the roast, packs of brown gravy, Italian Dressing Mix and Ranch Mix on top and let it cook for hours. I made a delish ravioli dish, and made the easiest, most addictive ham and cheese sliders of my life. This weekend I am going to try a baked potato soup, since it is supposed to be insanely cold and they are calling for snow. When it snows, I need soup. It just makes sense.

Dear Josh,

I am so thankful for all the happy memories we made over the holiday weeks,¬†but I am also thankful we are able to enjoy some time at home now. Thanks for always being enthusiastic about new meals, getting up early so I can do my quiet time, and bringing me coffee while I do my devotions. You’re the best.

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2016: Looking Forward

As I reflected on last year, I saw a common theme… doing things for others. I’m not trying to puff myself up, but it was a year of sacrificial giving and I have found myself saying (more than once) “I’m taking care of everyone else… who is taking care of me?”
I started this year saying this HAS to change. My goal was/is to establish habits and routines- no matter how small- that make me feel like I’m taking care of me. Josh and I hope to have a family in the next few years… and as wonderful as that is, I know even more will be demanded of me¬†since babies need a little bit more attention¬†than the people I have in my life right now. ¬†ūüėČ I want to be purposeful in establishing some self-care habits this year. So, this is what I am setting out to do.

  1. Take care of my body.
    That includes using lotion after a shower, washing my face before I go to bed, brushing my teeth twice a day, taking a daily multi-vitamin, continuing to put good food in my body, and make exercise a priority. These may seem like obvious things to do… but there are so many times I feel like I can’t slow down and take care of myself. That’s going to change.
  2. Take care of my brain.
    That includes reading. I realized I only read like 4 or 5 books last year! This year, my goal is to read at least one book a month, or 12 books in the year. Hopefully I’ll read more, but I feel like one book a month is at least achievable. I want to keep challenging myself by learning to make new things…. new recipes, new sewing projects, I want to keep learning. I also want to say nicer things to myself.
  3. Take care of my soul.
    This is probably the most radical change I am making, but the most important. I have struggled with having a quiet time. I have tried doing it during lunch, I have tried doing it before bed, I have tried doing it when I first get to work. Those worked, for a time… and then I would skip a day because I was tired, stressed out, or some other stupid reason. Because Josh and I have been talking about the next 5 years and when we want to have kids (not any time soon, people), I have been thinking about habits I want to carry into the season of Motherhood. A daily quiet time is something I know I need for myself, and I want¬†to serve as an example for my children. Growing up, I saw my mom sit at the kitchen table every morning with her coffee and her Bible. We knew that a day wouldn’t start without mom spending time with the Lord, and I am so thankful for her dedication and her example. I was thinking about this the other day and realized that it is only going to get harder to establish that habit. If I want my kids to see my start every day with the Lord, I need to make it a habit now. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m getting up 20 minutes earlier… sitting down with a book, journal, Bible, and coffee and starting my day the right way. Today was the first day of this habit, but I’m excited about it continuing.

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How are you taking care of yourself? What goals have you set for this year?

Spring Cleaning

Perhaps you have noticed some changes around the blog. I’m trying to make things more organized and visually appealing. The truth of the matter is that when I started it, only I could read it because it was on lock-down. Then, I decided (from the encouragement of my mom) to start blogging for real.

Honestly… I figured no one would read it.

BUT, obviously a few people are (20 on an average day, up to 75 on a good day… so there’s that). So, I decided it was time to do a little cleaning of the blog. It’s time to make things a little more organized, put a little more effort in the “About Me” section, as well as telling our story (see tabs above) because this blog is all about our story…. sometimes there are adventures, and sometimes life is mundane. My goal is to be real. My goal is that my marriage would bring Christ glory, and also be a source of encouragement.¬†So, if you’re not married– I hope that I am able to offer just a glimpse of the joy, challenge, and beauty of marriage. If you are married, I hope that this is an encouragement… that you’re able to relate to our struggles, joys, and that you are inspired to invest in and strengthen your own marriage.

In my eyes, neither blogging nor marriage is for the faint of heart. It is¬†hard to admit you’re wrong and ask for forgiveness when you’ve hurt your husband, to compromise, and to offer forgiveness. It is¬†also hard to hit that publish button when I am blogging about the sinfulness of my heart, when I am writing about the things I’m struggling with, and when I have to say “we didn’t have a date because we had a fight instead.” I believe both (blogging and marriage) are completely worthwhile, and that is why I take the time for both.

The other day, I said I was re-evaluating things. Yes, part of that was evaluation was asking myself the question “why do I blog about mundane things?” and even “why do I blog at ALL?” Hopefully I’ve answered that question.

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Salsa Galore

First off, Friday was my first Chipotle experience… and I must admit, it was wonderful. ¬†Moes is still wonderful, but Chipotle? I get the hype.

Friday night, the guys made dinner. Shrimp fried rice, salad, and french bread. Good job, guys! They did such a good job planning, budgeting, and executing.

I must say… weekends are hard. I am a verbal processor, and I am also a solitary processor. If I don’t have time to sit, think and process, alone, then eventually it all comes in a flood… usually a flood of tears. Usually it happens on the weekend. I feel invaded, I feel overwhelmed, I feel torn by things I¬†need¬†to do, and things I¬†want to do. Saturday it all flooded. I was so angry, I was so overwhelmed, I was so disappointed, and had to make a lot of apologies. We had a late late dinner… of corn dogs.
I am trying to identify ways to improve… and I probably had too long and ambitious of a to-do list. I probably should have asked for more help.
Weeknights are easy. I’m home for such a short amount of time. If I need space, I go to my room. Weekends are different. There’s a lot more noise… and I need quiet to recharge. There’s a lot more instruction needed, and there’s a lot of times I have to¬†confront. It’s hard not to focus on what we’ve lost, and easy to become resentful and angry.¬†Lord, change my heart.

Sunday, we went to church, cleaned the house, the guys played frisbee, and we had a party. Chips and salsa, cookie dip with graham crackers, ranch pockets, pigs in blankets… oh my. And I got to hang with my little friend Evie. Gosh. Sometimes you just need to play with a 1 year old.

It’s a rainy Monday, and I have begun the gradual increase of my Fitbit goal.
I’m claiming some time tonight to do some things I want to do.
I am trying to find time for everything, and it feels like either I don’t have enough energy (emotional or physical), or I don’t have enough time. What are my limits? Should I be allowed to admit them? How much do I push through?
I still haven’t had my review at work… and that is frustrating me.
I made WAY too much salsa for the party. WAY too much.

 

Dear Josh,
Thank you for being on my team. These past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster, good times, hard times, tears, and laughter. It feels like every step we take forward means we have to take two steps back.
I’m sorry for the way I handled- or didn’t handle- my emotions this weekend. I’m sorry how small things got blown way out of proportion, and how victories were overlooked.
I love you. Thanks for bragging on me, letting me process, and for making dinner when I can’t get it together.
Love, Mrs. Cornelissen