Saturday, September 20, 2014

sleeping with smartphones

I'm sure you've seen those studies that say our smartphones make us tired. Because they're attached to our faces even while we're trying to sleep, our brains don't go into proper shut-down mode and we have a harder time falling and staying asleep.  (This is a very scientific and technical explanation. You're welcome.)

My roommate (and fellow coffee slave) uses his smartphone as his alarm, and so he has to keep it plugged in next to his bed.  I, however, am old-school, and have a digital alarm clock that awakens me long before the crack of dawn with the sweet sounds of whatever crackly top-40 or country twang station I can pick up with a crappy clock-radio antenna in the middle of nowhere. (I think waking up to the radio is better than the traditional beeping noise, though the other day the first song that came on was that wretched "turn down for what" nonsense and that's a tough call.) But I have been in the habit of using Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest as my bedtime stories, not-lulling me to sleep with their glowing electronic nonsense, and have kept my phone by my bedside.

But for about a week now, I've been leaving my phone to charge in the kitchen at night. And shockingly, I do think I sleep better! I'm still a little worried that I might miss a phone call from work if I oversleep, or the power goes out and resets my alarm clock. I get up super early to caffeinate the rest of the world on their way to work... But really, it's just coffee. And they'd probably just call my roommate to wake me up anyway.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I got a tattoo a few months ago.

*this is not my tattoo*
I think tattoos are cool.  When I was younger -- when I would have needed a parent's permission to get one -- I swore that as soon as I turned 18 I was going to go out and get all tatted up.  But as cool as I thought they were, I'm not a terribly impulsive person, and I actually understood the permanence of a tattoo.  I could never come up with the perfect location, or the perfect thing for my tattoo.  So I never got one.

Fast forward to a few months ago, just before my 30th birthday, I realized that I had been wanting a tattoo for more than 12 years, and still didn't have one!  Thirty is kind of a milestone birthday, and I decided it was time.  I pondered it for less than a week.  I went to the tattoo parlor by myself one Saturday afternoon, and just did it.

It's a song lyric on the inside of my arm.  It didn't hurt that bad.  If you can imagine someone drawing on your arm with a needle... That's pretty much what it felt like.
I'm very happy with it, though it turned out to be much more visible than I originally wanted.  Part of the reason I waited so long to get a tattoo was because I couldn't come up with that perfect location:  easily coverable, and equally show-off-able.  In the end I think my arm was a good choice.  If I wear a normal tshirt, it's slightly visible.  But I've been on the hunt for summer-ish shirts with elbow-length sleeves, because I prefer to keep it covered most of the time.

I realize that seems silly:  Why did I get the tattoo in the first place if I was just going to cover it up?  But I want it to be my choice.  In the end, I didn't get the tattoo for anyone except me.  It makes me happy, and that's enough.  If I'm honest, sometimes I'm hoping that it will impress people.  I have to keep it covered at work, which doesn't bother me much, except that I had to get rid of a few polos and I sweat a bit more wearing long sleeves in 90 degree heat.  I also have a part-time office job, and I try to keep it covered there because it doesn't seem professional to me.  But I'm starting a leadership position at a children's ministry in a couple weeks, and I realized that I'll keep it covered there, too.  Not because it's required (I haven't asked),  but because I realized that I really don't want to be told that I have to cover it.  I like having it as a fun secret that I can reveal if I so choose.

Maybe sometime I'll show you a picture of it... :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

start living now

A few days ago I was having one of those awesome, deep road-trip conversations with my mom. We were talking about the college ministry I work with, and all the transition we've experienced this year. And I started freaking out and crying because while sometimes I feel certain that God has called me to this work and this place, other times I am terrified that I've made a huge mistake and I have no business trying to do what I do. I don't know what I'm doing, the guy I've been coleading with is transitioning out of leadership and what happens when I mess it up and the ministry dies because I'm lazy and I hate talking to new people?
My freak-out isn't that uncommon. Every few months it seems like I start second guessing my choice of career and then consequently all my life choices. I'm almost 30. I'm single and I have a super messy roommate who drives me bonkers. I don't have any major debt but I'm also constantly broke. Things have been weird with my best friend since she started dating someone. I get paid next to nothing to wake up at 3am to go make coffee for people, and the rest of my salary is me asking people for money (also known as support raising).  Life is hard.
So I freak out for a while, but in a few days I manage to sort things out, to remember that I love the work I do, both with coffee and with college ministry. My family loves me and is incredibly generous with me. I love my house and I have a pair of very affectionate cats to keep me company at night. I am satisfied with the life I've been given. 
Today the sun is shining, and I got a few extra hours of sleep because my roommate volunteered to work the opening shift. I've been working out and eating healthy. Life feels good today, and I even started to dream about the future. What is my dream for the college ministry? What are my dreams for myself? Turning 30 in just over a month feels like a big deal, because I thought I would feel like a real adult, and that I'd have my life together. But the more I talk about it, the more people keep telling me I'm so young. I guess it's starting to sink in. I look at the older people around me, my parents and the ladies in my Bible study group (some more than twice my age!) and my aunts & uncles and the people at my church -- and they are living. They are enjoying a full and happy life.
I've always kind of looked forward to being old. Having a lifetime of experiences and the wisdom that comes with it is terribly appealing. But I won't have rich experiences and learn from my mistakes and become wise and deep without LIVING a little bit before I get old. So instead of thinking about how I've failed, or how my life is still a mess at 30, I'm starting to think about what I can do from here. How else do I want to grow professionally? What's my dream for the future of my ministry? What have I always wanted to do?  What things bring me deep joy, and how can I do more of them?  How can I live fuller NOW?