Monday, February 28, 2011

Lisa Birle's Day Off

"The question isn't 'What are we going to do?' The question is 'What aren't we going to do?'"

Today, I had a much-needed day off. Here's what I did:

Hit the Chicago Stock Exchange
Made it to the Skydeck of the Sears Tower
Hung out at the Art Institute
Caught a fly ball at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field (I heard it was televised!)
Sang on a float in the Von Steuben parade

Oh, wait...wrong person. Sorry. Here's what I really did today:

Watched some Academy Award fashion-related news on E!
Finished writing an article
Went to Starbucks and read The Hunger Games
Cleaned my bathroom
Straightened up my room
Put away dishes
Folded clothes
Went through mail
Washed my hair
Took a quiz online about Catholic Reform for school
Did reading and homework for school

Nothing adventurous or exciting or extraordinary. I didn't put on makeup and wore pajamas most of the day. I woke up without an alarm clock and did everything slowly and without any sense of urgency. And I feel amazing--rested and refreshed and ready for the week. I've recently mentioned how I've been struggling with time management and feeling stressed lately. Sometimes I feel so busy that having time to do this kind of stuff feels like a complete luxury.

It's so nice to have time to catch up on the lame stuff sometimes. It helps me enjoy Life a litle bit more, to breathe a little bit easier.

Life moves pretty fast, you know, and if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Painted Lady

Today I got a spray tan. I know...who am I?

Let me explain: My pasty German-Irish skin cooks in the sun like bacon fat in a frying pan. Because of this, I eschew sunlight like a Twilight vampire and have the pallor of a corpse.

I'll also be a bridesmaid for the first time on Friday--which means a LOT of photos. Blonde dress...and the complexion of a ghost? I don't think so. And since I'm psychologically incapable of being okay with exposing my skin to UV rays in a coffin-shaped tanning bed, a spray tan was really my only option.

The "tanning" process was a bit intimidating. I went to the salon where I get my hair done and was led to the secret back room (!!!) with the hidden shower. I'm not going to was dark and weird in the small room, which didn't create a super ambiance for the twenty-minute process of being sprayed down with COLD, wet, smelly bronzer.

But...creepy shower and awkward process aside, it's worth it. You probably won't even be able to notice that I got a spray tan. I don't resemble any electric orange people from the Jersey Shore or anything. I just look...normal. Healthy. Nice.

So bring on the wedding photographers. I'm ready for my close-up!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stressed < Loved

I've recently been reminded of how poorly my mind and body handle stress.

I'm a very busy Lisa Bee: I work full-time, go to seminary, try to work out a few times a week (major FAIL), and do some writing on the side. I'm struggling balancing my time between church, relationships, responsibilities, and down time. Unfortunately, I haven't been very good at time management lately; I find myself wishing I could wash my hair more often and read Entertainment Weekly, like, weekly.

I’m pretty sure my tolerance for stress is lower than the average bear’s. Outwardly, I generally don’t convey a high-strung demeanor or uptight tendencies, but I am easily overwhelmed by busyness, deadlines, confusion, and strife. Last week, I let the stress take over. I lost my appetite (the bulk of my food intake was a Girl Scout cookie here and there. Yeah, yeah, I know…don’t yell at me). Exhausted each night, I’d try falling asleep but would toss and turn into the morning, waking up a couple of hours later, starting each tomorrow more exhausted than its yesterday. Overwhelmed, my nerves sometimes caused my body to tremble uncontrollably. A heavy, hot ball of panic churned in the pit of my stomach. The dearth of sleep, peace, and nutrition helped me catch a head cold, too, so that was awesome.

It's times of stress like this that make me realize how much I covet feeling in control. I love when Everything Is Fine. The less unknown factors in my life, the better I am able to operate. Problem is…Life is unpredictable. We live in a changing, unstable, moving world, full of imperfect people, less than ideal circumstances, and unanticipated situations. The times that I am able to find a false sense of momentary security or comfort in feeling in control are so fleeting that I often fall on my face trying to chase after them and hold on to them.

Why do I let stress and fear paralyze me, drive my decisions, and destroy my body? God has been reminding me that the reason my mind and body are so burdened by stress and anxiety is because I’m not designed to harbor them. God tells us to cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for us. (2 Peter 5: 7) Wait…all of it? Are you sure, God? Can you handle it? Are you sure your grace is sufficient for me?

There is one good thing about all this stress—it reminds me of how helpless I am without God. My heart is so prone to wander away from God's truths, yet he is the one source of real strength and power, of peace and comfort.

No matter how often my heart does wander, my shepherd will always, always draw me back to a place where I can set my heart at rest (1 John 3:18). I feel lighter just thinking about how sovereign and in control he is. And how extravagantly he loves us…how extravagantly he loves me.