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Monday, January 14, 2019

My Word for 2019: Discipline

I have chosen a one word for the year for the last few years. I chose the word brave for 2015-2016, which I blogged about quite extensively, and delight was my word for 2017-2018. I didn't choose a new word in 2018 because I felt like 2018 was side B to 2017 and I had only just gotten used to it being 2018 when we turned the corner into fall. All four of those years were nothing like what I thought they would be. Each of those years had been their own flavor of very hard and with a heaping dose of it wasn't supposed to be like this. And so, in an act of rebellion, I'd decided to give up on the practice of praying for a word for the New Year, at least for this year, when suddenly this one word just suddenly dropped into my heart one morning and clicked into place - and so I have a word for the year - and it is discipline.

Here is what I mean by the word discipline - for one thing, I mean adopting practices (especially spiritual ones) that bring strength, and also noticing and changing my heart posture to bring joy. Discipline - practices, and postures that bring strength and joy. This is my word for the year.

I grew up using the vocabulary of "spiritual disciplines" but I've started reading some books about ancient "spiritual practices" and the mentality seems to be different - I'm still new at this and it's hard for me to articulate the difference - but after a long season of re-learning how to think about and practice my spirituality/faith it feels good to also be re-learning the spiritual disciplines/practices of a more mature faith.

One of the practices that Daniel & I adopted last year was the weekly date night. We go out every week, no matter what. Some nights it has been dinner and a movie, some nights we just drive around and listen to a podcast. Some nights I have not wanted to go - I've felt numb and foggy, or I've felt raw and fragile and I just want to hide in my comfy spot on the couch. But over these last months of weekly date night, we have accumulated an emotional reservoir that has been worth it. Not every date has been memorable, we don't always have intense emotional conversations or feel a deep connection on every date, but we spend the time together, and we catch up with each other, and we have received what only spending quantity time together can offer a relationship.

I want more of these practices in my life.

I learned about the value of noticing and adjusting my heart posture at the beginning of the school year. I was reading The Ministry of Ordinary Places in car line every day, where I was feeling a lot of big feelings. Mostly hating car line and the nearly two hours in the car every day. It was wearing me down and there were days I'd literally be crying because I was so frustrated and exhausted with this. There were a couple of things I could do about this - I could take my kiddo out of the charter school he was loving and have him ride the bus (and I honestly did think about this) or I could change my attitude towards car line. So I started making "rules" for the car line: this was my time when I did not do anything I "had" to do in car line, I only did things I wanted to do, or that brought me joy. Mostly that has been reading. Occasionally I spend that time emptying out my inbox or scrolling through Instagram and I've used that time to work on my next project. Grayson spends that time napping (happy toddler= happy life) and Eli spends that time reading quietly. We have experimented with bringing his electronics into that time but mostly that has backfired. Now, as we turn the corner into the second half of the school year car line has become my favorite time of day. Sometimes I find myself looking forward to that time and rushing towards it because I know that I can finally get some peace and quiet and do some reading and Bible Study.

One of the things I've started noticing my heart posture has been about feeding my family - that it's been mostly resentment, exhaustion, and burn-out. I don't like having to pick what we eat, and I don't like the time I spend in the kitchen. Often I feel scatter-brained, and bored in the kitchen and rush through. I love good food but I hate eating. I resent the fact that I have to eat every single day and I suppress feelings of hunger with coffee. I seriously dislike all of the decisions that are around food, and all of the divided opinions around the subject of nutrition. But I also have three teenage daughters and we all are working on making healthy choices about food. So I am trying to remember that these ordinary places are holy ground and I have started listening to podcasts while I prepare dinner. I put one air-pod in since I can't hear the audio well enough with just my phone's speaker over running water, sizzling onions, and whatnot but I also don't like to completely block out what is going on in the other room because I depend on being able to hear the kids more than see them when I'm in the kitchen.  I choose short, mostly light-hearted podcasts that I don't mind pausing often and it is lovely. I have even found myself looking forward to making dinner because I enjoy that time so much more. Change of posture brings tweaks of behavior and changes the way the whole thing feels.

I want more of that.

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