This was premeditated.

Willful, premeditated, purposed. Three fabulous words, all with one meaning: intentional.

This word has come up a lot lately, and at first I was chalking it up to random happenstance -- but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I'm hearing it so often because it's what I need to work harder to be. Intentional.

The irony is that even typing that word forces me to watch what I'm doing -- to watch my finger placement, to type deliberately, and not just let my brain trick my fingers into writing "international", which they just did so freely. I find it amusing that the word itself causes me to be so.

Being intentional is something that we take for granted. In a world full of flashy electronics, busy schedules, and go-go-go, we so often just find ourselves going with the flow of the current, confident that it will have us pass by the things that we need to see and do. And, because it's a powerful force, it does. We follow the flow, bobbing here and there as required, and then continue to float about on our merry ways.

But soon we find, as I am right now, that we are missing things. We are not giving the care to the people or things in our lives that they rightly deserve, and they are becoming more of a "have to", rather than a "get to". I am so unbelievably guilty of this. I sit in the living room of my house, happy to be spending time with my husband, but realize that isn't really what I'm doing. I'm spending time with my phone, or my iPad, while my husband does the same thing in the same room. That's not spending time with each other -- that's spending each other. Using our time together up on nothing important and nothing that matters. That's not to say that we can't enjoy people's company and not have to say anything -- that is completely legitimate. That is comfort, true comfort, when you are able to do that and not want to fill up the empty spaces with meaningless thoughts and words.

But if I am gifted an evening with my love, it would behoove me to put down the phone, the iPad, the book... and spend some intentional time with him. Start an intentional conversation on the goals that we may have personally and jointly. Focus some time specifically for him, and on interacting with him. Give him a real conversation and a real slice of my time, because he deserves that. Our marriage deserves that.

This idea bleeds into my whole life. I am so blessed to have a job that I adore, and to have coworkers that I adore as well. I get to interact with 200 little people every day - I hear their jokes, give them band aids, and giggle to myself when they say "Ms. Harter - I mean, Mrs. Marcellis!!!!!"... But there are days when I feel like I'm on auto pilot, and my intenationality (is that a word? It is now.) slips out the window, or doesn't even make it into the building with me. It can be hard to be intentional I've noticed in the last few days, and believe me, it's going to be an uphill climb to devote myself more to this. It's the look in a person or child's eyes when they are talking to me, giving them my full attention. It's putting down the pen or stepping away from the computer when someone comes to talk to me, or calls me.

Think about this: If every person that you met treated you like you were the only person in the world, wouldn't you start to feel great about your role on this planet? So why not help make that a feeling that someone in your life experiences.

Being intentional. It's such a simple idea, yet world-changing. And although it's difficult to direct yourself to being more intentional with the people and world around you, it just makes so much sense. Why shouldn't we all be doing it? It's going to take a lot of diligence. We will literally have to be intentional, about being intentional. What a sneaky little word that is.

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to be intentional with one area in your life this week - to get the ball rolling. Whether that's carving out time for a friend you have been wanting to visit, or making a long phone call, or just being an aware driver who isn't distracted by the radio or other things... Just try it, and let me know how it goes. Because I can tell you this -- I'm going to need all of the help that I can get with this challenge.

Intentional. Need more ways to say it?

Mandylightfully yours. :) 

The Eternal To-Do List

I like to make lists. There - I said it. Are you happy? Maybe some of you are because you realize the joy of taking one of your favorite pens and jotting down things that you need to take care of... then (hopefully) accompanied by the pure bliss of crossing things out, checking them off, erasing them, scribbling them away, etc. Then you get to throw it away and start a fresh new one tomorrow! It's like the gift that keeps on giving - a game that never ends - a party on a notepad!

I give myself a label that I'm not sure many others would ever give me... but because I'm the person who knows me the best, I can openly say that I am a control freak. I'm not your typical control freak type - I don't critique people's outfits, or get mad when things get put out of place, or alphabetize people's placements at dinner parties. I just have an incredibly difficult time with the unknown, and with giving up control. (Read: control freak.) 

I have battled off and on the last few years with depression and anxiety. And although I am not incredibly high on the spectrum, I still struggle. I'm sure that this was a problem that was going on much longer than when I realized it, but it took physical symptoms for me to wake up and be aware of what my body was trying to tell me - to just let go a little bit. I had just taken my youth group on a huge mission trip to San Francisco, and when I came home to my toxic roommate situation, I just could not handle it. I was convinced that I was having a heart attack - that my heart was doing something terrible to me. After 2 ER trips and much reassurance, it was determined that I was having anxiety attacks. I started medication and counseling, and eventually started to notice the signs of my anxiety levels rising, and was able to deal with them. I was surrounded by wonderful friends and a great family who helped me out as much as they could, and I'm forever grateful for their guidance and support. 

But there is still part of me that has such a hard time giving up things to others. And the silliest thing is that I'm not giving up something major, or life changing. It is usually really small things, and it would be given up or assisted by people who are my closest friends and family, but I still struggle. And part of the reason is the vision that I've built up in my head of the task at hand... I know how I want it to be and go, but what if it's a little different? Well, then I am convinced that it won't be as good as I've dreamed it to be. I know - stupid, right?

These blogs always taken an erratic turn I feel... Writing is so cathartic for me -- I can just blah it all out and hope for the best. :)

Planning a wedding when you have a hard time giving tasks to others or getting help from others is probably just about the stupidest thing ever. I have NO doubts about the abilities of people in my life, nor do I question their motivations for offering their help. So why can I not just say "yes! that sounds awesome! I would love your help - let's do it ______.?" Again - it's that dumb control freak in me, and the fear that the vision that I have will pop. So, so silly. Even typing it makes me realize how dumb it is. 

I have come to realize that one thing that is impervious to my control issues is being in love. No one wants to be in love with someone who wants to micromanage their every move. I know that I certainly would not want that for myself - so how could I expect anyone else? People don't generally think it's "cute" when you are running their schedule, and are poo-pooing activities because you don't know how they will go. Falling in love is one of the most amazing things that I have ever done. But also (for me at least), erratic and at times a little scary. You are literally exposing every inch of your heart and self to another person -- and you HAVE to do this in order to make it work. But what if you expose it all and then they shy away in horror, or they decide it's not worth it? These are the fears that would keep me awake before I found David. The idea of putting myself out on the line like that and having no control over the outcome TERRIFIED me. And for good reason - it's a monumental thing! But I found that the more we progressed in our relationship, the more I was able to start loosening my grip on my reigns, and then eventually cautiously started to hand them to David. I had to let him drive sometimes... and I had to trust that he wasn't going to steer me into an embankment or off a cliff. But I found that the more I sat back and let him drive, the more comfortable I became. And I knew that he would not hurt me... And I wasn't in charge, and that was okay. It nice sometimes to give up the control so your mind and soul can take a little breather, you know? A little TLC, if you will. 

My fear of giving things up can only take me so far. I realize my limitations, and realize what I hold onto - and I have to just let them go. I can't think about it, or make a list of pros and cons - if I don't just go cold turkey, leaps will never get made, lines will never get crossed, and world peace will not be accomplished (that's obviously the next thing on my to do list.) So I vow, from this point forward, to give up the reigns more often. I pledge to let people help, and be aware that even if it's not like the picture in my head, it was made/created/done/dreamed up/accomplished/assisted with nothing but love and care by the people who I hold the most dear. And that, my friends, is worth a little bit of anxiety, don't you think?