Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Invigilation as Spiritual Discipline?

All three of my children have participated in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in high school. As part of my responsibilities as a parent volunteer, I have spent a number of hours over the years invigilating. (Go head and look it up!)

This afternoon I was one of two invigilators for Spanish examinations. Although I have always put my cell phone away during the exams I've been assigned to oversee, this time the program coordinator specifically requested that we do so. I'm sure she made the request so that we could more effectively fulfill our responsibility — which literally, from the Latin verb vigilare, was "to stay awake."

What this meant is that I had over two hours during which I did almost nothing besides stand or sit or pace in a quiet room with only my thoughts to keep me company.

We live in an age when it's nearly impossible to find anyone waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in a doctor's waiting room without a smart phone to occupy their hands and minds. I even find myself reaching for my iPhone at stop lights. Checking text messages and email might be productive use of our time, and the Kindle app can both inform and entertain. But just how beneficial is "just one more game" of Threes or mindless scrolling through Facebook?

Forced to "be still" (Psalm 46:10) this afternoon, I first prayed for each of the test-takers — that they would be able to do their best, that they would take the opportunity seriously, and that they would each be a contributor to a better world as they grow into adults. For a brief time, I tried to clear my mind and focus on my breathing, but mostly I let my mind wander through my current goals and hopes and desires — books I want to read, trips I'd like to take, words I'd like to write. I also counted the weeks between my son's graduation and his entrance to the university and considered what I'd like his summer break to be.

A list-maker and calendar-keeper by nature, I rarely just think about things without writing them down. I'm a big believer in the power of records, including journaling about impressions from the Holy Spirit. But today — as during my prior experiences as an invigilator — I felt the benefits of simply pondering in the stillness and being open to personal revelation.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

One-Sentence Journal Entry

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of entropy — that inherent condition of our humanness, the "natural man [or woman]" (Mosiah 3:19) in us — only one difficulty of which is that even if I have a good hair day today, tomorrow can be an entirely different story, and — no matter what — before long I'm back, as I was tonight, at the hairdresser for a cut and color.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

One-Sentence Journal Entry

Credit: Nate Edwards/BYU Photo

My daughter Erin, who is a junior at Brigham Young University studying neuroscience, was featured in an article on the university's website today and also got to take over their Instagram stories for the day — so I had a lot of fun sharing my #MomBrag with a bunch of family members and friends, because I'm so proud of the incredible young woman she is!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Beauty, the Beast, and Me

I became a mom for the first time in 1990 when my daughter Elisabeth was born. The following year Disney released its animated version of Beauty and the Beast.

As one might suppose, Elisabeth and I — and later my younger daughter Erin as well — watched that film on VHS dozens, if not hundreds of times over the following decade.

We were scared by the wolves.

We despised Gaston.

We wanted Belle's magnificent library for ourselves.

Before long, we knew the words to all the songs, so we sang along and sometimes even danced.

Years later, Elisabeth would play in the orchestra for her high school's production of the show.


Last night I got to revisit all those memories when my husband, our son, and I saw the new live-action adaptation of this "tale as old as time."

I loved every minute of it!


By the way, two retellings of this story that I enjoyed reading are Beauty by Robin McKinley and East by Edith Patton.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Creativity and Rest

I've been thinking about both creativity and rest for some time, especially since reading Alexandra Kuykendall's book Loving My Actual Life last year, in which Alex makes the case for, among other things, a life with more creating and more resting. (I posted a review here.)

This morning, when I opened the IF: Gathering App on my phone while getting ready for work so I could continue with the Enjoying Jesus study I'm currently doing about spiritual disciples, creativity and rest came together again for me in the image that went along with today's reading.


I almost had to catch my breathe as I felt (again) the rightness of my desire, as a daughter of God, to be more like Him by creating and by resting.

I long for more time spent both creating and resting — and while I've yet to figure out exactly how to actually make that happen (although The 100 Day Project should help), I will continue longing.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

One-Sentence Journal Entry

Making the time to write for even just a few minutes every day is going to be hard, but I'm determined to do it — even on a day when I didn't get home from the office until almost 10 o'clock and all I want to do is get some sleep (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I did sleep in a little this morning — if one can call 6am sleeping in — and take my son, who is out of school this week for the last Spring Break of his high school experience, to The Original Pancake House for breakfast before I went to work).

(For information from Gretchen Rubin about one-sentence journals, click here.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

#The100DayProject

The first quarter of 2017 has already passed, and I've still not felt that I've started the year off right. Traveling back from a holiday trip to Japan on New Year's Day, I needed to hit the ground running — but life happened.

Winter storms resulted in complications and delays during the first week of January, and during the second second I spent one day home with food poisoning and another day on pain medication from a diagnosis of sciatica. Throughout January and February I was dealing with a difficult situation at work that was straining both my physical and mental well-being and pretty much sucking the joy out of my life, and now that the difficult person has been fired but not yet replaced, I'm putting in way more hours at the office than I'd like. I'd planned to start a bullet journal in 2017, and I had other big ideas about places to go, people to see, and books to read. Instead, for the most part, I've just been trying to remember to take life one day at a time, one game at a time, one bite at a time — and to "just keep swimming."

Of course, none of this means that the past three months have been without joy, without fun, without accomplishment. It's just that I'm working too much, not sleeping enough, and neglecting many of the things that matter most to me.

With that as backdrop, I've decided that over the next 100 days I'm going to spend a little time writing every day!

Tuesday, April 4 - Wednesday, July 12
#The100DayProject