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A Morning Ride

Daniel and I get up anytime between 5:45 AM and 7:00 AM, depending on when we go to bed and how motivated we feel when we get up. We do actually end up getting up between 5:45 and 6:15 more often than not, which allows us to work out for half an hour and spend some time in devotions before getting ready for work. While it can be difficult, it has also been freeing to rise so early, and comforting to let the peace of God take hold of our days before they even start. We use a bikeshare program, which allows us to take bikes for half an hour at a time and drop it off at other bike docks – we normally do yoga and calisthenics in the morning and then a bike ride in the evening.

This morning, however, we decided to get up at 5:45, without allowing ourselves to sleep in at all, and take a bike ride to the Jefferson Memorial and do our devotions there watching the sunrise above the Potomac. It’s about a half hour bike ride, so longer than our normal workout, but we thought it’d be a nice change of pace and get in our full workout in the morning rather than saving half of it for that night. And we actually did it, despite getting to bed at 1:00 AM (school is killer, FYI).

We rose without an issue other than keeping our eyes open, got on our bikes and headed out. I know I don’t talk about it that much but, despite my wish to move to Florida and/or Colorado at some point, living here is rather incredible. There is no way to describe what it is like to watch the Washington Monument appear and then reappear in front of you as you bike up and down hills on the trail. And then, as you go down one particular hill, and round the corner, you see the capital on the right side and the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial a little ahead to the right. Combine that with the Potomac at your side and a slowly lighting sky, and you feel rather like you are in a movie.

Until a bug or dirt or something flies into your eye and you spend the next half mile trying to rub it out without tipping over on your bike.

When we stopped for some water, Daniel used his flashlight but still couldn’t locate what was bothering me and no amount of water appeared to flush it out, so I continued to ride, blinking somewhat continuously until the wind dried out my eye enough that it temporarily didn’t bother me.

Once we reached the Jefferson Memorial, the bike dock was full, so we ended up going 10 minutes past that fully into DC to find another one, refreshed the time, and headed back to the Memorial itself, where we sat in front of it, right next to the Tidal Basin and watched the sun finish coming up as Daniel read out loud from Luke. Well, Daniel watched it – I closed my eyes and listened to him read. Which would have been so much more peaceful and picturesque if I hadn’t been closing my eyes just to try to work that piece of dirt out of it (ironically, he was reading from the passage that talks about taking care of the plank in your own eye before the speck in your brother’s eye). The bike dock was still full once we finished, so we biked back and paid the extra fee for the extra time we had them.

All in all, what sounded like it was going to be a peaceful and, if I may use the word again, picturesque, plan turned into life. Dirt, full bike docks, extra time, and ultimately late to work. But you know what? It is a good life. I love seeing the symbols of the free world around me as I exercise, and being able to do random things like devotions in front of one of them in the morning before work. And annoying little things like full bike docks and dirt in the eye shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying them and realizing how much God can bless you through the little things.

In case anyone is wondering, my eye stopped hurting about 4 hours later, and the eye doctor said it was fine – just irritated.

Picture below from previous bike ride:

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Life of a Masters Student

I am a little afraid to look at how long it has been since I have posted anything. But I have an excellent excuse. My husband and I just started a masters program! I won’t spend too long on this, since all my friends have already heard my numerous complaints, but it has essentially sucked away any and all free time that we had. Life has basically been a mix of Exercise>work>cook>study>sleep-for-5-or-6-hours>start over. Not that we’ve given up all fun – we are going to the normal every other Tuesday game night tonight and it will be a welcome break. But it still feels like we are stealing time we should be using to study.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also signed up for the Arlington Citizen’s Police Academy, which takes place every Thursday night and is a three-hour class basically teaching you the ins and outs of how the Police Department works. The first class was last week and extremely interesting, so I am glad we signed up – it just takes away another night in which to do things.

I took all my breaks at work yesterday (which has also been insanely busy) to catch up on all my messages I’ve been ignoring for about two weeks and my poor friends and family finally heard from me! It took all my breaks and more to catch up. ūüėõ I think that is what I hate most – my inability to respond to messages in a timely manner anymore – I do so pride myself on timeliness.

I also have been doing absolutely no writing. Which might be why I feel so completely overwhelmed and like I have no life at all anymore despite the fact that I love learning.¬†Don’t get me wrong – this class¬†has an insane amount of work – which I hear is typical of masters’ classes – but¬†it occurred to me a couple days ago that if I actually made time to write as well, I¬†would feel more fulfilled. Not picking up a pen in two months¬†is a little rough. So I am establishing a new goal of writing 15 minutes a day¬†no matter¬†what. I did it¬†that one time for a week straight – perhaps I can do¬†2 weeks this time?¬†Maybe I’ll make it three weeks – the rest of the class – let myself have 15 minutes in another world a day.

find time to write

We were supposed to be booked solid last week between me getting back from Cleveland and a variety of engagements throughout the week, but somehow or another, we managed to get two evenings (mostly) free. It was delightful. Last Tuesday we biked to the library. Daniel doesn’t quite understand the concept of just browsing all the beautiful books, so he selected one book, and sat down and read for a couple hours while I took my time perusing all the shelves. Blissfully talking-free, quiet, and rejuvenating. I may have come away with 12 books. I am not sure I will actually get through them all, but it was just lovely to take any book I felt like. Our library seems to have a propensity to murder mysteries – I swear, a majority of the shelves were murder mysteries – and almost no inspirational fiction, but I still managed to find a lot of intriguing covers, including murder mysteries related to baking and disowned gentry.

I came home and pulled out all the books, showing them one by one to Daniel, and then informed him that instead of starting one of them, I was going to start on the book I borrowed from my sister “Princess Academy”. But he just started laughing. He pointed to the book that I was going to start reading and several of the others, many of which related to fairytales in some way, and informed me that I had very specific tastes. I didn’t deny it, but it did get me wondering. Why do I read so many fairytales-based books, yet I don’t write fairy tales at all? I noted this to Daniel, commenting on how I loved being transported into the alternate worlds of fantasy and fairytales, but most of the books and short stories I write are¬†– not necessarily gritty, but underlined with hardship and sorrow. The only fantasy book I’ve ever written has very little lightheartedness in it, and focuses more on him getting through trials than fairytale aspects.

Daniel thought about it for a moment, and then said, quite eloquently, I might add, “The books you write are where you are from and the books you read are where you want to be.”

I think he is a right, to an extent. I am a firm believer that everyone is a maker of their own destiny (with God’s guidance, of course) and that while your past/childhood can inform choices, it should not be used as a crutch, nor is it to blame for choices currently being made. However. I still thought he brought up a good point. I’ve made a lot of hard decisions in the past, grew up pretty fast, and have had a fair share of difficulties. They helped make me into who I am, and I don’t regret any of it, but it still has impacts you don’t even think about. Like the stories I write. Stories of people “growing up”, no matter how old they are, and learning how to deal with difficult things. Learning the world isn’t about them. Learning to grow out of their comfort zone and forge ahead into a better life. They do relate to my past whether I realized it before or not, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means I am taking lessons I have learned and showing them to the world, hoping to ease someone else’s way.

Someday, though, I will also write fairytales.

strong person

It has been¬† long couple months of travel. From May 25 to date, I have traveled to Oklahoma, Florida, Kansas, New York, Minnesota, and Cleveland and have another trip to Orlando scheduled in 12 days. Needless to say, I am beginning to feel a little exhausted. Today, especially, having worked 23¬†hours in the last two days, I am feeling¬†just plain weary as I try to work through 12 pages of meeting minutes, reports, documentation that has fallen behind due to my trips, and prepare for the next trip.¬†Energy seeps out of me at every additional outing, however small. But, life goes on and I would rather try to enjoy it than live for a time when I can just sleep and not move for a week. Thank God for the staycation earlier this year, though. ūüôā

I have not touched my writing since sending that simpering, weak¬†romance out for people to review – and no one has said anything about it yet. Thankfully I’ve been too busy to dwell on that too much and when I do think about it, I rather easily convince myself that they are simply too busy to read it yet. I’ll give it another couple weeks and then send out follow-ups asking for feedback, dreading the response. But it is time to get back to it. I am sure some of my weariness is due to not having put a pen to paper and letting out some of my emotions in my stories. And my mind wanders back more and more to Picture of the Past. I am ready to be done with it – eager to be done with it – and more than that, almost looking forward to the rest of the process of tearing it apart to make it better.

There are so many stereotypes and lessons learned and suggestions and best practices for writers that, when one does enough research and reading on it, it is enough to make even a hardcore writer give up with hands in the air. I try to follow them – sometimes. I have yet to be able to complete a profile on a character – because I feel like I am still getting to know them myself while I write it. And, as you all know, I keep starting, stopping, and re-starting an alternate blog dedicated to writing, since that is what all the experts say to do to “make your social media footprint”. Have a blog dedicated to one subject. Keep your readers coming back. Keep a schedule. Make it something that benefits them. And on and on. Ugh. No wonder I can’t keep it up. It drains me just thinking about it. So, after talking it over with my friends, I have decided to give it up. I am going to throw caution and best practices to the wind and do what I want to do. I am going to just keep this blog, because this is the one I like. I like the server, I like the audience, I like being able to write about whatever I please in any format I please without worrying about making it beneficial for the reader.

So, instead of continuing my blog in blogger (Ha! Continuing – I don’t think I’ve touched it in months), I am going to break down some more of my shell – and post this link in my social media profiles for people to find if they so desire. Someday I may even advertise it. Maybe. But above all, I am going to enjoy myself. Because that is why I write in the first place. I love writing. And I write for myself and my God, not for my readers. Why should I keep a blog for my readers?

Although that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment I feel when my posts get “likes”. So don’t stop. ūüėõ

forget-all-the-rules-forget-about-being-published-write-for-yourself-and-celebrate-writing-quote-1

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” Acts 13:22

I am reading in both 1 Samuel and Acts these days, specifically about David, whom God called a man after His own heart. I don’t know about you, but every single time I read one of those verses where God says David is a man after His own heart, I feel my own heart reaching out in yearning. It is instantly the cry of my own soul,¬†Please, God, make me a woman after your own heart. Say that about me too.

What a wonderful thing that would be, wouldn’t it? To know God looks at you and says, “Now there is a woman after my own heart” or “There is a man after my own heart.” And you know the most miraculous thing about it? David wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t the first Jesus or anything – he made so many mistakes. Yet, his heart longed for God, followed God, was pure enough that God could still look at him, and say, Yes. He is a man after My own heart.

I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to want to be perfect. To want and aim to follow the path of righteousness. To learn and follow His commandments. To strive to be a woman after His own heart. Yes, God wants us to strive for perfection but He doesn’t demand it before loving us. He doesn’t look at us and say, no, you cannot possibly be someone after my own heart until you achieve it. He sees our attempts, our prayers, and yearnings, our striving. And it is good.

Praise God for His goodness, his perfection. His patience. And make me a woman after Your own heart.

“And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the¬†Lord¬†thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the¬†Lord¬†have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.¬†But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the¬†Lord¬†hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the¬†Lord¬†hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which he¬†Lord¬†commanded thee.” 1 Samuel 13:13-14

I know I don’t write as often as I have been recently, but I have been busy with editing my book, which I FINALLY titled God’s Masterpiece. I am still not sure I like it, but it is better than not having a title. I have sent it off to about five people to read over and edit which is a huge step for me. I am both terrified and hopeful at the same time.

I have been traveling a lot for work and even now am on a train ride back from New York City. There is a man, a client, in New York who intrigues me. Not in a romantic (as in consisting of or resembling a romance) way but in a romantic (as in¬†marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized) way. He has this aura of sorrow around him, but is still strong, gentle, and commanding all at once. I think I will base a character on him someday. In addition, there is nothing like a train ride to awaken one’s imagination.

So after forcing myself to work awhile, I finally took out my computer and jotted down random things, which I have decided to post below and may eventually use in a story.

Random #1:

She almost forgot the world around her when she looked at him. She forgot her own sorrows and background in the sudden desire of wiping out that morose expression that always lurked in the depth of his eyes, even if he was smiling. But the somber attitude that defined him did not stretch as far as his son. Just pictures of his son made his shoulders lift a little, his eyes open up, and the sadness disappeared. Talking about him made him almost a different man entirely. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder what it was that had caused the atmosphere of despair that otherwise encompassed his frame. She smiled up at him, hoping to erase some of that burden, hoping to make him relax enough to maybe let her in on what had so shaped his life.

Random #2

She danced with herself in the cold but soft rain. Oh, she knew how cliché it was, but she didn’t care. If they could do it in movies, she could do it too, especially when there was no one to see her. For just a moment she was a princess, long estranged from her family but to be reunited with them someday and restored to her rightful life. She was a damsel in distress, waiting for prince charming. She was an 18-year-old instead o fa 30-year-old, all her dreams still bright and cheery in front of her.

Random #3

The sweeping scenes passed by her like a fast-moving picture show as the train rumbled down the rough track. The rickety houses, green, swaying trees, multi-colored apartments, cars of every shape and size, abandoned and littered areas that had once probably held life and joy. There was nothing like a train ride to bring you all the aspects of different life ‚Äď both the areas you avoided if you didn‚Äôt want to be jumped and the elite who likely never took this train because the Acela was better. And, of course, the in-betweens, who were neither rich nor poor, but lived their lives, hopefully happy and content, in the arms of someone they loved.

And then I also wrote a poem that in no way rhymes or has rhythmical qualities, but I like anyway.

Eyes wide, hands still, breath quiet

Moving pictures, brand new scenes

Trains hurtle on, worlds collide

 

Trees of green, grass that sways

Forests filled with dreams

Wires cross in between

 

Broken windows, broken dreams

Heartache, disaster, quiet scenes

Abandoned houses, littered streets

 

Glowing windows, brand new dreams

Lighted walks, hopes and schemes

Pretty houses, streets swept clean

 

Old bridges, unused roads

Broken cars, glittering streams

Dirty ditches, animals abound

 

Eyes wide, hands still, breath quiet

Moving pictures, brand new scenes

Trains hurtle on, worlds collide

A Clover of Hope

I know – it has been forever since I have posted. It’s just been one of those months. I have slowly been working on editing the sappy romance novel, for which I still do not have a title (this is new for me – I normally have pages of titles and not enough books!) and wavering between wondering if I actually have a chance of getting it published and telling myself over and over again how much it sucks and how I should just give up on it now – and yet, I keep going.

So, true reason I decided to post. I found a four-leaf clover.

2018-05-20 19.02.07

Now, I have a story about a four-leaf clover.

Once, years ago, my best friends were girls I knew from an online forum called the Gibson Girls. They are still my best friends, but back then, we had never actually met in person despite being friends for years. So, one day, we decided we were going to copy what we wrote in our fictional stories about each other and go on a “Gibson Girl Vacation” together. We were all going to fly somewhere and stay together for a week and meet in person for the first time. I was so excited – like – beyond ecstatic. Plans very slowly began to progress and then – it all just fell apart. There were a number of things, but the bottom line was that no one could afford it.

You have to understand – I was at a stage in my life where I didn’t allow myself to hope for much because I knew from experience I was bound to be disappointed. So when this fell through, this thing I had finally allowed myself to get excited about, I was completely devastated. I remember when the final decision was made not to do it, rushing out of the house and to the back yard, hiding in the shadows where no one could see me and just sobbing. There was a lot going on in my life with family at that time, and I think, in retrospect, that it just felt like the final straw. After I got my tears out, I prayed desperately to God for comfort, and asked Him if I would ever get to meet my best friends. I pleaded with Him to let me meet my friends someday. And at that moment, my eyes fell to the grass and immediately lit upon a four-leaf clover. I took that as a promise from God that His hand was on me, that it would all work out and, yes, that I would someday meet my friends.

Well, I did. And we’ve been on more than one “Gibson Vacation” together and the core group of us are still “besties” and keep an online chat going at all times. I feel like that was a milestone in my life. Like I was at the cusp of either breaking down or moving forward and God gave me a push forward.

So, lately, I’ve been rather down – or maybe confused is a better term. For the first time in my life, I don’t have a clear direction I am heading in career-wise. I can’t figure out my exact next steps and if I should be moving forward or happy where I am, and whether I should just concentrate on writing, or try to get a new job in the intel community, or what – and most of all, why God hasn’t been giving me a clear direction, the way He normally does.

And, this may seem minor, but what has really been depressing for me is how impossible it seems to actually lose weight, no matter how hard I try. I know a lot of it is my lack of self-discipline, but that makes it almost more depressing for me – that I can’t make myself lose it because I find it next to impossible to say no when someone asks me to go get a drink, or my amazing husband hands me ice cream. Or that I can be super good for a few weeks and all it takes is one meal to gain everything back. And then, I just spent two weeks [almost] strictly on diet and working out regularly, and the scale barely moved.

So, Sunday, we were on a long bike ride, and as we biked, I was contemplating life and weight loss and kind of thinking that I might as well just give up even hoping for losing weight because it was just too disappointing and maybe I should just sit back and see what happened in life and weight loss. And then we pulled over for a breather, I jumped off the bike, and my eyes instantly landed on a four-leaf clover – in the midst of a huge batch of clover. What were the chances?

I felt like it was another reminder from God. The same gentle touch He gave me years ago. He is here for me. He has a plan for me. Life will move forward, I will move forward, and, yes, it is possible to lose weight, even if it is slowly. And, yes, I may not know exactly where I am headed right now, but He still has a plan, and He will reveal it when He is ready. It just felt like a breath of encouragement. A symbol that I have just reached another stage of life and will continue to walk forward in His path.

Now maybe I am reading too much into a simple leaf. But hey, if God decides to use the leaf to remind me of His greatness, who am I to argue?
Image result for quote four leaf clover God