Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Two College Football Seasons.

Yesterday at school was Fatima Family Day. It's pretty much what it sounds like -- each student brings a family member or family friend to school. They spend an hour doing a lesson in class, and then we all go to an assembly in the gym.

Yesterday's assembly was about character. At the end of the assembly, the presenter told a short story. In a nutshell, a teacher wanted to teach her students about patience, so she put a jar on her desk and told the students that if they were patient and waited till the end of the year to look in the jar, they would each get a diamond. One student couldn't wait, and he knocked the jar off the desk and saw it was full of coal. The teacher, of course, puts all the coal back in the jar, except one piece, and, at the end of the year, every student received his or her diamond, while the student who knocked the jar over had to keep the coal. This story was told to illustrate the virtue of patience: the students who were willing to wait each received a diamond in the end.

And it hit me, I waited for Joe (sometimes not so patiently), and I got a diamond in the end too.

And I don't mean my ring, although it is beautiful.

I mean him.

This post is a couple of days late, but on September 11, Joe and I celebrated (although long-distance) the fact that we have now been together for one year. On September 11, 2016, Joe and I met for lunch at Black Sheep Burrito, which turned into a long walk in Ritter Park, which then turned into a very long talk in my living room. All in all, it lasted 9 hours, and it was the last first date I would ever go on. I think I even knew it that day.

Because Joe doesn't live here, we had to celebrate a week early, when he was here over Labor Day Weekend. We recreated that date, eating lunch at Black Sheep and walking in the park. (We recreated it so well that I put on what I wore on our first date, which Joe remembered I wore, and then I saw he was wearing what he wore that first day as well. :) ) Of course we had many conversations about how different our lives were last year, how quickly things can change, and how we can't wait to get married.

I think my favorite part, though, was this:

Me: "Can you believe we've been together for two college football seasons?"
Joe: "Is that how we're going to measure this? 'How long have you two been together?' 'Well it's been 13 college football seasons now.'"
Me: "YES."

Joe has said to me before that he couldn't believe I was still available, and I have said as much to him. And then we both agreed that we've just been waiting for each other.

And waiting.

And waiting.

But as I told him once, I'd have waited even longer for him.

But I'm glad I didn't have to.

The truth is, there were a lot of times in my life when being single was very hard. It was hard to watch friends couple up, get married, and have children, while I just got older. I didn't always handle it gracefully, and God and I had many talks about it.

And then, about two years ago, I just decided one day that if this was all my life was -- this school, this apartment, this rabbit (rest his sweet soul) -- then okay. I was good.

And I was.

And then I met Joe.

And then I realized what God had been doing for me all these years. He had been keeping me away from people who weren't right for me, while preparing my heart (and Joe's) for real love. The kind of love you hope for.

Joe is a good man. His aunt (my second mother) described him as "loyal and good-hearted," and that is what he is. For sure. He gives and gives and never asks for anything. He listens to me when I am happy, sad, frustrated, upset, and not being nice. When I get short or salty with him, he responds in kindness. Always. He's never been short with me. Not once. He's never even gotten an attitude with me. Never anger. I've never seen him angry. (Except when he's in traffic. He hates traffic. :) ) He doesn't raise his voice, and he's not scary. He's calm, he's constant, and he is whatever the opposite of volatile is. (I just looked it up. It's "steady," "enduring," and "steadfast." And that's what he is.)

The truth is, I could go on and on about him.

The truth also is, I do not deserve him.

But, he doesn't deserve me either.

And what I mean by that is that we are two imperfect people who are trying to do our best with this relationship that God has entrusted to us. (Originally I ended that sentence with "blessed us with," but I don't think I like that because I'm not sure it's okay to make people feel like God "blessed" me with a husband but is withholding that blessing from them.) Love is not something that you earn or deserve (truly, I know many women much more deserving of a man like Joe than I), and I have no earthly idea why God saw fit to bring the two of us together. But I hope and plan to spend the rest of my life not making God sorry. In fact, the Catechism tells us that the purpose of marriage is to get the other person to Heaven. (Amongst the many other things it has to say about marriage!)

When I was in elementary school, I remember that a teacher once told my class that God has our futures written on our hearts before we are born. She said that our hearts said things about what we'd be when we grew up and who we'd marry.

And I smile when I think of little first grade Anna who had no idea her heart said "Teacher" and "Joe."

Joe, you are magic. I love you so much.

Incidentally, I saw the following online today. I sent it to Joe. Isn't this written so beautifully? 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stuff and Things.

I hope everyone is settling in nicely to their fall routines. It's been a bit crazy over here, getting back into a routine with school, the Junior League, exercising, and mainly just being back in town after a summer away. Here are some things that have been happening!

1. I would be totally remiss if I did not start with this.

So, last Thursday night I was anxiously awaiting Joe's arrival in Huntington for the holiday weekend. He had been sending me texts as he crossed various state lines, and, finally, I got the one that said, "West Virginia!" Having already send him a text stating that West Virginia is the best Virginia as he crossed the Virginia state line, I decided I need a fun gif to send. Therefore, I hit the gif button on my iPhone's text message app, and, naturally, I searched "West Virginia."


That, my friends, is my sister Emma, playing air sax, as the TOP CENTER iPHONE GIF on the West Virginia search. She's before the dang team!

Naturally, I text Erin and Emma immediately, asking them if they knew about this, etc. To make a long story short, this is a gif Erin created from Emma's WVU marching band hype video they made her senior year and showed before football games at Milan Puskar. Apparently Erin posted it on Imgur once, promised Emma she'd delete it, and that, "No will ever see it, Emma."

I pretty much lost my mind. The funniest part of the conversation is when Emma sent this text to Erin and me ...

... and literally one second later I get a private text from Erin that says:

Are you guys dying? It's pretty much the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. If you have an iPhone, you must search West Virginia in the gifs, find Emma, and send it to everyone you know. (Sorry Emma.)

2. It is no secret that I have encountered my fair share of wildlife in my current living situation. My most recent thing was that a squirrel had her babies in my bedroom window (a VERY long story for another day). They were eventually removed, only to be replaced by wasps building a nest. (The word nest now makes me want to vomit, by the way.) So I said to Joe the other day, "Do you think the wasps will keep the squirrels away?"

Then I said, "Do you think I'll ever get to a point in my life where I will look back and laugh about the fact that I was living in a place where I was hoping that the wasps building a nest in my window would help keep the squirrels away?" Like those are my options.

Maybe. Maybe I will.

3. Some ridiculously kind, thoughtful, and generous soul left this in my school mailbox yesterday.

There was a note, but it was typewritten and unsigned, so I figure this person wants to remain anonymous. At any rate, it totally has made my week. This person even marked a couple pages about writing, which I plan to share on the blog soon, as they really spoke to me. People are so cool.

4. I'm a couple weeks late on this, but I got my wedding dress! As I said on Facebook, because appearing in the doorway to walk down the aisle is the fashion moment of my life, the dress is staying under wraps till the big day! I took a cue from one of my peers on this -- Kate Middleton's dress was kept secret till the big day also. And since our lives are so similar, I thought I should do the same. :)

5. Speaking of the princess, Colleen and I can't wait to find out if we're having a new niece or nephew.

6. I have been known to enjoy a good murder or two in my life. In fact, it's become a joke among the students I've had for a couple of years now that the biggest thing I ever taught them was how to murder someone and then hide a body effectively. (Before you get too worked up, it's literature! Is it my fault that Agatha Christie, Natalie Babbitt, Robert W. Service and others love this topic? Is it my fault that researching the effects of cyanide on the human body is considered an English/Science cross-curricular learning opportunity? It is not.) Maybe I didn't realize how insane this had become until this interaction in eighth grade the other day:

A: *Tells a story about a golf match gone wrong, in which a goose is accidentally killed by a golf ball hit too hard in the wrong direction.*
Me: No!!! Don't tell me about animal murder! I don't like it!
L: But Miss Lafferre, you like human murder.
Whole class: Nodding.
Me: Point taken.

7. There is nothing that gets me going like a good West Virginia football hype video. "This is who we are."

"Almost Heaven. West Virginia. Welcome home."

Cue the chills. And the tears.

8. And, finally, just a note that I still come home every day thinking someone will be here. I miss Snicks as much as I ever did. Sometimes I talk to him when I get home, falling back into my old pattern -- "Baby Snickers, mommy's home! How was your day Baby Doodle?" -- before I remember. What a sweet, gentle soul he was. I desperately miss his company, and I have a very big little rabbit sized hole in my heart. Love you, sweet boy.

So this post doesn't end on a sad note, here's a funny Snicks story: I took a framed photo of him to school to put on my desk. Clearly the students aren't behind the desk often, so they're not seeing it from the front. A week or so ago, one of my students ends up on my side of the desk, and goes, "Miss Lafferre, I thought that was a photo of your fiance!" Nope. That's Snicks. (Love you, Joe.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

How are You?

Do you ever feel like you just want to give everyone a hug? Maybe sit down with them as an individual and just listen to them?

This was not the blog post I was planning to write tonight. I sat down to write about change -- and that post is coming -- but as I went to begin, my attention was diverted to a show on PBS called "Journey to Recovery," described by the network as "An examination of the opioid epidemic." The show is set in Kentucky, but it talked about counties that are very close to mine. (It was KET (Kentucky) and not PBY (West Virginia); here in Huntington we get PBS out of both states.)

According to the CDC West Virginia has the highest rate of death due to drug overdose. And there has been story after story after story about Huntington basically being the "epicenter of opioid epidemic" in the United States.

I have never written about drug use or overdose or anything like that, and there are several reasons for that, namely:

  1. I don't know much about it; I'm not an expert
  2. I don't want people who do not live in Huntington or who have never been here to think we're a drug-ravaged hell-hole (excuse my language) because we are not
  3. There's been so much written on the topic already that I'm not sure what I could add
However, as I mentioned, my attention was caught by the documentary I am currently watching on PBS. Something hit me as I watched, so I decided that, instead of writing about what I sat down to write about tonight, I wanted to share my thoughts on what I'm watching.

Two of the first interviews in the documentary were with a young man and a young woman, unrelated, but both had lost a parent to an opioid overdose. (The young woman lost her mother, and the young man lost his father.) Although the two teens would go on to detail their lives watching parents struggle with, and ultimately die of addiction, they both started by saying basically the same thing -- 

My mom loved me. I know she loved me.
My dad was a great dad. I loved him. 

Two teens, two children, who had watched their parents become addicted, steal money from their families, be strung out  -- The girl details having to pick her mother up off the floor and try to get her into bed many times after she'd passed out from drugs on the floor. Her father was in Afghanistan at the time. She also details how she would never, ever spend the night away from home, for fear her mother would die. One day, she finally decided to spend the night with a cousin. Her mother died that night. --  wanted to begin their parts in this documentary by telling anyone who would watch that they thought their parents were good parents and that they know their parents loved them.

Not that I haven't thought about this before, but it just really hit me tonight that people who are addicted to drugs and/or die of drug overdoses belong to someone. They all do. They are someone's mother or brother or cousin or son. Once upon a time they were just little babies in someone's arms. Somewhere along the line, something -- an accident, a mistake -- happened to them and put them on the path to addiction. Something in their hearts hurt so badly that they felt that drugs were all they had. 

In the September Issue of Vogue I just read, there was an interview with Oprah Winfrey. I know people have a lot of opinions about Oprah, and I'm not even sure how I feel about her as well, but she said something in this interview that struck me and that I really agree with:

"There's not a human being alive who doesn't want -- in any conversation, encounter, experience with another human being -- to feel like they matter. And you can resolve any issue if you could just get to what it is that they want -- they want to be heard. And they want to know that what they said to you meant something. Most people go their entire lives and nobody ever really wants the answer to 'How are you? Tell me about yourself.'" 

Isn't that the truth? Don't we all just want someone to listen to us?

I recently told Joe, because I just recently realized it myself, that I am already far less tired this year than I was last because I have someone to listen to me. I have Joe. He listens to me every night. I don't have to carry burdens alone in my heart because someone hears me. (This is not meant to make any of my friends or family members feel bad; I know you also hear me!) 

How often do we go through life -- and I'm pointing the finger at myself here -- saying, "How are you?" to people but not really meaning it, just hoping they'll say, "Fine" so we can move on with our shopping or get to why we started a conversation with them to begin with. I know I do it all the time. 

I wonder if we could just sit down with each other individually -- everyone on earth -- and just LISTEN to each other, how much better off we might be. How many kids may no longer lose parents to addiction. I know hugs and listening won't solve the addiction problem, but I believe our hearts heal when we can unburden them to someone who REALLY hears us. 

So I'll tell you this: I am going to work on truly asking people how they are doing, and not expecting/hoping them to say fine. I need to figure out a new question to ask that's not "How are you?" because we are so programmed to answering, "Fine" whether we are or not. I am going to try to do a much better job of truly listening to people and not trying to rush on to the next thing. Because every time someone talks to us about anything, they are sharing a part of their heart or their brain with us, and -- wow. How humbling is that? I have friends and loved ones who have seriously struggled with something this past year or who are currently struggling -- one beloved friend got some heartbreaking news today -- and I bet if you asked her or any of these people, it helps when others listen. 

Below is a preview of the documentary that I watched. It's a quick 3 minutes, but the first 30 seconds will be enough to get you. 

I love you, friends. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Self-Help ... Books: Summer 2017 Edition

If Summer 2016 was The Summer We Read Austen (as if my whole life is not Austen), then Summer 2017 would most accurately be called More Alive and Less Lonely. Yes, I stole this title from a book of essays by Jonathan Lethem (more on this book at the end of this post). I saw it on the "new books" shelf at my adopted library Sharon Forks, and, although I don't read a lot of nonfiction, I couldn't help but pick it up because, upon reading the title, I thought to myself YES. Yes, that's it. "Anna, why do you love books?" "Because they make me feel more alive and less lonely."

Once again, I've decided to share the beauty of books this summer by compiling in a blog post some of the things I found and was inspired by. I hope you find something beautiful here as well. (I read fewer books this summer than last, but I think -- and told Joe -- it's because he's so cute and fun.)


Those imaginary people, to whom she gave their most beautiful ideal existence, survive to speak for her, now that she herself is gone.

Read Jane's novels. They're there to speak for her: love stories, yes, though not always happy ones, but also the productions of an extraordinary mind, in an extraordinary age. Read them again.

- Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

He understands that they want him to be special. It's important to people that he be special, because we need special things in our lives. We want to believe that magic is still possible.

- Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible summer. 

... we all know that you can't judge a book by its cover. You'd miss out on some very good books that way, all those Penguin classics with the orange covers for starters because they all look alike ...

The great surprise of the adult world had been that no one really knew what they were doing, and especially not the people who exuded impenetrable confidence.

- Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Hello, frozen burrito, old friend. How I've missed ignoring your suggestion that I cook you on high for three minutes, flip you over, and cook you on high for three minutes again. 

Humiliation: what a salve for pain. Someone should just bottle Embarrassment, sell it next to the Advil, make a fortune.

... libraries were like doctors: it was time to see a specialist. 

In the past forty-eight hours, Victor had developed the swagger of someone who had no idea what he was doing but who had made a real commitment to doing it. 

It was a relaxing love, a love in his blood that was nowhere and everywhere at once.

- The Clasp by Sloane Crosley

Later, she'd be a girl you'd want to hang out with for an entire story, a girl you could love.

Hunter used to know what she meant about being in the wrong place; he used to understand how you just needed to be held util the feeling passed. He didn't have the right words for it any more than she did, but sometimes he called himself misshelved. 

That's the worst part of a book ... when you know nothing new can happen.

... certain lines of certain books ... he reread like prayers. 

I'd ask if you ever couldn't find the right words to say. I'd ask if you ever wanted a do-over. I'd ask, If you could go back and change something you said -- something that would make everything different afterward -- what would it be? 

... that's what all heroes are like -- so gung-ho about the saving that they don't always think about what it might take. 

... memory being a tricky thing that sometimes filled in gaps with exactly what you needed and sometimes what you feared ... 

... it seemed to me like cheating that the writers tricks looked like magic but now i think id rather have a story lie to me without my knowing it than have to keep sitting through explanations of how the tricks r done. sometimes you just dont want to know ur being tricked. [sic -- the speaker is a high school-age girl writing an email]

i get ur point about how people cant save each other for real. but I still think we need stories that tell us we can. just so we wont stop trying. 

... hugging a book to his chest as if there's safety inside it.

-  How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson

"I don't know a thing about wine."
"You don't have to unless it's your job. You just have to know if you like it."

- Restoring Grace by Katie Fforde

Austen, I realized, had not been writing about everyday things because she couldn't think of anything else to talk about. She had been writing about them because she wanted to show how important they really are. All that trivia hadn't been marking time until she got to the point. It was the point. 

Those small, "trivial," everyday things, the things that happen hour by hour to the people in our lives: what your nephew said, what your friend heard, what your neighbor did. That, she was telling us, is what the fabric of our years really consists of. That is what life is really about.

I was a regular person after all. Which means, I was a person.

You don't 'fix' your mistakes, Austen was telling me, as if they somehow existed outside you, and you can't prevent them from happening, either. You aren't born perfect and only need to develop the self-confidence and self-esteem with which to express your wondrous perfection. You are born with a whole novel's worth of errors ahead of you.

Feelings are also the primary way we know about novels -- which, after all, are training grounds for responding to the world, imaginative sanctuaries in which to hone and test our ethical judgments and choices. 

The job of a teacher, I now understood, is neither to affirm your students' notions nor to fill them with your own. The job is to free them from both. 

Adults are boring, Austen seemed to feel -- or at least, they all too often let themselves become so.

... the wonderful thing about life, if you live it right, is that it keeps taking you by surprise.

Austen is saying that it's important to spend time with extraordinary people.

Histories tell us what happened, but novels can teach us something even more important: what might happen.

... no one, before they do it, can imagine what it's like to fall in love. We can never reach the end of what's inside us, never know the limit of our own potential.

She knew that our stories are what make us human, and that listening to someone else's stories -- entering into their feelings, validating their experiences -- is the highest way of acknowledging their humanity, the sweetest form of usefulness.

People's stories are the most personal thing they have, and paying attention to those stories is just about the most important thing you can do for them.

For her, I saw, love is not something that happens to you, suddenly or otherwise; it's something you have to prepare yourself for. ... For Austen, before you can fall in love with someone else, you have to come to know yourself. In other words, you have to grow up. Love isn't going to magically transform you, make you into a better or even a different person ... it can only work with what you already are.

You never know the moment that you fall in love, in Austen's vision; you only discover you already have.

True love takes you by surprise, Austen was telling us, and if it's really worth something, it continues to take you by surprise. The last thing that loves should do ... is agree about everything and share all of each other's tastes. True love, for Austen, means a never-ending clash of opinions and perspectives. If your lover's already  just like you, then neither one of you has anywhere to go. Their character matters not only because you're going to have to live with it, but because it's going to shape the person you become. 

The essential requirement for love, in Austen's view -- before the work, before the courage -- is simply to possess a loving heart. And not everyone, she thought, is born with one of those.

Had she married Tom or Harris, she might have been happy, she might have been rich, she might have been a mother, she might have even been long-lived herself. She might have been all of these things -- but we would not have been who we are, and she would not have been Jane Austen. 

- A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz

All the stories, he thinks to himself, the world is full of stories.

- I Found You by Lisa Jewell

... but instead she was just ... herself. No, not even herself, because really, somewhere inside, she was someone else entirely. She just couldn't seem to let the person she was on the inside, out. 

Love songs fueled the music charts, but it was friends who were so often more deserving of the phrase. 

Maybe there are two kinds of change. One is the kind that involves transitioning toward something new. And the other is more like peeling away your own layers to find what has always been at your core. 

- Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

In any era, we get the Batman we deserve. 

... and if you want to tell me that I'm yelling at kids to get off my lawn, my only defense is that I've been wanting them off my lawn since I was a kid. In other words, I know it wasn't better before. But it's certainly worse now. 

- More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers by Jonathan Lethem

And, finally, exactly what this post is about:

I followed the higher principle of pleasure, tried to end where I'd started: with writing I loved and wanted to recommend to someone else. That is to say, you. 

More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers by Jonathan Lethem

I think because I was outside of my normal reading environment this summer (shoutout to the Cabell County Public Library), I made the mistake of not taking pictures of or writing down the quotes I liked from some of the books I read this summer. Oh well, I guess that means I'll have to reread them at some point! Also, some books might be great but don't really have a quotable quote. So on those two notes, here's a list of books I read this summer and liked, not listed above. I won't subject you to the ones I didn't like, although you might like them I guess! For more info, follow me on Litsy at annawhoismagic

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (I think I liked it better than her follow up, The Woman in Cabin 10
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Bones of You by Debbie Howells
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Place(s) I Belong.

At the beginning of the summer, on my first solo trip to the Walmart in Georgia, I ran into someone from West Virginia. Today, on what will probably be my last trip to the Walmart in Georgia, I ran into someone who wants to go to West Virginia.

The cashier who checked the birth date on my license today said, "Oh West Virginia!"

"Yes!" I replied.

"It is really beautiful there."

"Oh yes, it is. Very beautiful. I love it there."

"I've never been there, but I know two people who are from there, and they tell me how beautiful it is. I hope to go someday."

This exchange really made me smile. I'm very much caught between two worlds right now: my life in West Virginia, where my friends, family, and school are, and Georgia, where Joe is. It's a hard place to be in. But after I spoke to this woman today, I realized -- how lucky I am to have two places I want to be so badly. I am lucky to have West Virginia, my home, the place I was born, the place I became a teacher, the place that raised me. I am also so lucky to have Georgia, where Joe is, where Asha is, where sunshine and warmth are, where my future is.

How many people are so lucky to have all that love stretching from West Virginia to Georgia? (Via Michigan, where Joe's from, the place he loves and calls home, the place that raised him.)

So, although leaving here will be heartbreaking in so many ways (more on that, I'm sure), I am choosing to be joyful that I am returning to a place that I love so much. I am joyful that I have a place to return to.

This is a picture of West Virginia I took back in April on my evening flight from West Virginia to Georgia to visit Joe for Easter. (What would turn out to be the trip during which we got engaged.)

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Lesson in Poo.

I've written before about the many times in my life I've been responsible for picking up someone else's poo.

(Look, I hate to be crude, but what else do I call it?)

There were a few times I had to pick up random stray animal poo outside my apartment (hidden in the leaves ... sigh) and many times, especially toward the end of his life, that I picked up the poo of my best friend, Baby Snickers.

This summer, I've picked up a lot of poo belonging to Asha, Joe's (and now my, too, I suppose) dog. So he didn't have to get up extra early all summer to walk Asha, I have frequently been walking her in the mornings. I meet her downstairs, clip her leash on her collar, and get going. There's a path around the neighborhood we follow every day, and almost every day she goes to the bathroom and I pick it up.

Now, if you'd asked me if I'd prefer for the first thing I do every morning to be picking up dog poop, I'd probably have said, no thank you. And, although I do love Asha, it's not as though picking up poop thrills me.

But here's what I realized the other day.

Picking up dog poo is humbling.

We're the masters of the dogs/they're our pets/they belong to us/they live on our schedule. None of that matters when it comes to picking up their poo. They poo, they watch us pick it up.

(I don't know about you, but no one picks up my poo. Just saying.)

And as I picked up Asha's poo the other morning, I really thought about how humbling an action it is. It doesn't matter how cool I am (I'm not), what job I have, what I think about myself, etc., when Asha poos, I have to pick it up.

Starting your day every day by picking up poo is incredibly humbling. It's been an outstanding reminder (which I need) that the Son of Man came to serve and not to be served. Which means that I, too, am here to serve and not to be served. I am especially thankful for this reminder as the school year is getting ready to start.

None of us, including me -- especially me -- is too good to serve. No matter what that service is.

And that's the lesson in dog poo.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Feet in That Moment.

I climbed a mountain on Saturday. A literal mountain, not some sort of figurative challenge to overcome. Joe and I went to Stone Mountain in Georgia. Joe is a really outdoorsy person, and I am ... well, less so, but the weather was really nice in the evening, and we decided to give this a go.

There are a couple of trails you can take, but Joe doesn't like them because they are crowded, so we took the road less traveled that Joe is very familiar with. Now, Stone Mountain is granite, so the possibility of it being slippery is high. Also, the path we took was steep and definitely presented a challenge, at least for me.

While climbing, I realized I was spending most of my time looking down. It felt safer to me, to keep my eyes on where I was, making sure I didn't trip over anything or miss a step. It occurred to me that so often we get advice about keeping our eyes on our goal or looking ahead. But in this case, if I had kept my eyes on my goal (the top of the mountain) all I would have seen was the steep terrain -- the major challenge -- between me and the top. However, keeping my eyes on where I was allowed me to stay in that moment, to tackle my goal a little bit at a time, to not get overwhelmed by all I had to do. And I feel that there is a lesson in that. God tells us in Matthew, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Keeping my eyes on where my feet were in that moment allowed me to accomplish what I needed to accomplish in that moment. I didn't worry about how I was going to make it to the top, I just concentrated on taking the step I needed right then.