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My future???

Hello All!

Sorry for the amount of time since the last personal post. I was crazy busy with classes, and then crazy busy celebrating the end of being crazy busy with classes. (Does that make sense to anyone besides me?) Anywho, I decided that today, with having chats galore on a plethora of topics over the past week or so, that I would share some (tentative) dreams for my future. I know, you’re probably thinking ‘what happened to becoming a pastor?’ and don’t worry, that’s still nestled in there, right smack dab in the middle of the dream for my future. Now I know that it’s been said that when people plan, God laughs. I agree. Crazy, right? But this isn’t really a plan, so much as some desirables that I’m thinking about. No plans, just possibilities. I’ll leave the position of Head Planner to God. (Smart idea, eh?)

With that being said, here’s some possibilities I’m toying with:

1) I’d love to have a huge garden. I’ve tried my hand at the whole plant growing thing over the past semester or two, and I have to say that I haven’t done half bad. At the moment, I currently own a variety of non-edibles, including: lucky bamboo, spider plants (ahh! spiders!) various cacti and some weird (but really cool) purple leaved viney thingers that have yellow flowers. I also have an assortment of edibles, including: three zucchini plants, four tomato plants, four lettuce plants, two spinach plants, and a mint plant. A little note on the lettuce and mint- they’re going CRAZY! my one lettuce plant is encroaching the top of the window (which is almost five feet high) and the mint plant is well over a foot high, nearly two. In any case, I’d really love it some day if I were able to grow a huge garden and have all sorts of edibles and inedibles out there. In addition to that, I’d love a house full of plants, possibly some pets running around, and DEFINITELY a partner to enjoy it all with-bringing me to…

2) Find that Special Someone. Right now it seems like it would take a miracle to find that special guy that I can spend the rest of my life with. Someone who will love me for who I am, encourage me to be even better and expect that I’ll do the same for him. Despite the seeming impossibility of it all, I still hope that God will grant that to me someday. Maybe not this year or even this decade, but hopefully someday. If not, then it must not be meant to be. A dear friend-make that several dear friends have told me that I’ll find that special someone when I stop looking. Trouble is that every time I do stop looking, I suddenly think that maybe that’ll mean I’ll find him. Which puts me right back at square one. So I’m putting it in God’s hands.

3) I’d love a little house with a big yard. Or even just a little house with a little yard. Growing up, it was great to be able to explore the house that I grew up in. We always had plenty of space and yet not enough. I think part of the problem was that it was big enough that we could push things elsewhere (out of sight, out of mind) like the basement or garage, and not have to worry about it. But then when it came to cleaning it all, I’m not sure we ever really managed to get the whole way through before having to start over. after a while you just learned to ignore parts of it. My dorm room here isn’t that big (but also not that small) and works great for me. It’s big enough that I can have a place for everything, but small enough that even when it gets crazy dirty (like now) it only takes a couple of hours to clean. That’s what I’d want in a house. cleaning is a great way for me to blow off steam or battle worry/stress, but it would be great if I didn’t have to sustain a week-long worry binge in order to whip the place into shape.

4) Be debt free. I know this isn’t going to happen overnight, but I’d love to be debt free-the sooner the better. Now, right now I understand that’s not really an option. But I’m trying to decrease the amount I have to add to that ever-growing number so as to keep it more restrained. A major shocker for me was looking at my student loans. The interest is updated daily, and right now I’m getting charged nearly a dollar a day on interest alone. As of now, before taking out loans for next year’s tuition (I don’t even want to think about Senior year) it has it figured out to $292.91 a month for payments, starting July 21st, 2015. I’m hoping that by then I’ll have a call to an amazing congregation (perhaps have a month or so already down) but I worry what that number will look like in the future. That number is bigger than most of my checks from when I worked at Festival. Scary!

5) Tithe freely and from the heart. I know this may seem like a total contradiction from the last point, but I don’t see it that way. Whenever I attend worship now, I always make sure to give at least something. A 10% tithe while I’m working at work study is easy. #7.50/hour and ten hours makes $7.50. Sometimes I give more, sometimes less. Either way, I feel that if I’m giving freely and from the heart, it will make me think more consciously about other money matters. Besides, it’s not even really my money. It all belongs to God-I’m just the one put in charge to be a good steward of it. Keeping this in mind will only help me to be debt free faster. The way I look at it, the more debt I have, it’s like the more debt I’m giving God.

6) Never be too busy for the small stuff. The past few days, with no classes and only sporadic obligations have been great. I went out for lunch today, was able to get some great reading done and start on even more, and finally broke out the yarn again. But I tried to make sure my days weren’t all about me, either. I asked people if they’d like help, listened to other peoples’ stories, read some of the Good Book (which is also personally rewarding) and tried to be out there in the community for others. CPE will no doubt be great practice for this. When I walk into those hospital rooms, I won’t be there for me. I’ll be there for that other person AND for me. I include myself in that because the moment I feel like I’m just there to give and not receive anything in return is the moment that I put the other person down. It’s like I’m saying they’re not good enough to teach me anything or help me. I’ve never found this to be true. No matter how young or old, educated or not, female or male, rich or poor, black or white, you name it, they’ve taught me something. Sometimes it’s something about others, and sometimes it’s something about myself.  In any case, I want to make sure in life that I’m always able to stop and smell the roses, and to make sure that if at all possible, I bring someone along to share it with.

Now it’s your turn!

What would you like to possibly do with your future? What are some possibilities you’d like God to maybe grant to you? What do you think about my desires for future possibilities? I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Let me know by commenting, sending me an e-mail at pjohnson@wartburgseminary.edu or calling me at (563)589-0242. I even got an answering machine! (I hope it works, why don’t you leave me a message and try it out?)

As Always,

God Bless!

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Update on Goals!

Hello all! If you’re new to the blog, thanks for joining! If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember that I posted 17 goals at the beginning of February and promised to post an update. Just a reminder, the goals were:

1. Lose Weight

2. Take a close look at finances and spending

3. EXERCISE!!!

4. Study my brains out

5. Build up my self-confidence

6. Sing. Loudly.

7. Sleep ;-)

8. Grow more plants

9. Write a hand-written letter and mail it

10. Honor the Sabbath

11. Get outside more!

12. Pray more often

13. Make a stranger a friend

14. take my bike out for a ride

15. Tell them I love them

16. Thank others

17. Get (and stay) organized!

I must definitely say it has been an amazing experience, and I’m proud to say I accomplished many of my goals.  I’m very proud to say with #1 that, since the start of the year I have lost over thirty pounds. Unfortunately the last week and a half haven’t been very productive, since I not only didn’t lose any more weight an even gained a pound or two back. Still, I’m hopeful that I’ll soon be going in the right direction again. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve been this weight. I’m sure it was probably well before College,probably some time in high school. It was extremely embarassing for me when I had to buy a 4x shirt for a wedding, so it makes me so happy that I now fit into 2x shirts and have already lost 4 inches from my waist since coming to seminary. I’ll definitely need continued support, and thank all who have been doing so. It really means a lot to me. How exciting when people see you and go “Paul, are you losing weight? It really shows!”

#2 has been going well for me as well. I’m spending within my means and was even able to turn down a portion of government loans for this semester. Most of this is due to the amazing support of my congregation back home, and I can’t thank them (you) enough for all that you have done! I have definitely been wowed. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

#3 Exercise is still in the works. I can’t say I’ve figured out a routine yet, but I’m going on a lot more walks and even started asking others if they wanted to go on walks instead of the other way around. I am so confused and surprised by this weather lately and hope that it stays nice. I can’t believe I’ve been wearing shorts for the last week! It’s not even April yet! I am also proud to say that I’m able to do more crunches and pushups than before (which is still woefully inadequate) and hope to get even better at them. This is definitely going on the “continued goals” list.

#4 I am proud to say that this semester seems to be going really well. I am up to date on all the reading for all but one class (which is…interesting) and definitely feel like I’m gaining a lot of information and knowledge that will be great for the future.

#5 Whew, this on still needs a lot of work. It’s getting better with the whole weight loss bit, but I still have a ways to go. These days I seem to be in a constant struggle with wanting a significant other in my life and feeling like I’m not good enough for one. It’s also still hard for me to take a compliment in academics. Part of me wants to hear more, and part of me feels like they’re “just saying that”. Another one for the “continued goals” list.

#6 Wow. I may not have a very beautiful singing voice, but I’m definitely getting better at singing. I’ve even caught myself singing in my room and not even realize it. It’s definitely easier when the other people around me are singing, but even at church services where others aren’t singing, I’ve been doing my best to still sing. Is it perfect? No. But then again they never said you had to have a good singing voice to be a pastor.

#7 Hmm. Sleep has been…interesting. I’m getting better at going to bed at a more decent time (which I’m sure makes my neighbor Tammy happy) but I’m still feeling a bit sleepy during classes. I may have to start pouring the coffee on a more regular basis.

#8 I have been rocking this one! I have some spider plants in water that are about ready to be planted. I also have some tomato, lettuce, spinach, strawberry, mint and zucchini seeds started. I have two lettuce plants that are already getting big (mmm, homegrown lettuce) and plan on sharing a majority of the plants with the parents for their garden this year. I just feel better having things that are green and growing around me. I guess I have a bit of a green thumb. Who knew?

#9 I’ve written the letter, I’ve even put in an envelope, but I haven’t sent it yet. Gotta work on that. It’s just that I’m usually in such a rush that I forget. Hopefully I’ll remember after writing this update to go mail it. But hopefully it won’t be too long!

#10 Boom! If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that I started fasting for the Sabbath and am loving it. I feel that it definitely helps me feel closer to God than I have in the past. Last Saturday (a day and a week ago, not yesterday) I forgot and I think it threw my whole week off. It’s definitely a bit more interesting now with the longer days and the springing ahead in time, but I’d say it’s still going well. I’m sure there will be more to come.

#11 Bingo! I am rocking this one! I’m loving the weather outside, and can’t wait to get out there! I think I may have to take a stroll outside after this post (and mail the letter of course). I can’t wait until the thunderstorms start rolling again though, the snow storms was, though pretty, too peaceful and quiet. There needs to be Thunderbolts and Lightening (very very frightening) to light up the sky and drench the grounds. I love a good thunder storm, so I say bring them on! I’m definitely looking forward to running out in the rain(NOT when there’s lightning) and jumping in puddles! (Mom would be so proud!)

#12 This has been going along (as Dr. Persaud would say) quite smartly! Connecting with God over the last month and a half has been really important and helpful with all the questions and problems. For one, I’ve gotten a lot better at praying before meals. I’m hoping this is another thing that will continue to grow over time.

#13 and #14 definitely need work. While I’ve met some lovely people and had nice chats, I don’t know that I would call any of them a “friend” yet. As for the bike, I need to get out there with it again and feel the wind! Someday soon. Maybe Wednesday. I’m thinking that sounds good. Unless it’s thundering and lightning. I don’t really want to be riding a big piece of metal in that kind of weather.

#15 and #16 I think are going along well. In fact, after calling up my Grandmother and telling her I loved her, she made sure on Valentine’s Day to call me bright and early (6:39 in the morning, Early) an wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day and tell me that she loves me! It was so great to hear, and I’m told it made her day to tell me. I know it always makes me feel better to say it to others, or even just to thank them. Despite how good it feels to hear the words, I think it’s an even better feeling to say them!

Finally, #17 is halfway there! I did update and fill in my huge binder of cards and letters (It’s a monstrous 3″ binder) but I found a new problem. It’s Full! I love that the binder didn’t even make it a full year! I love looking through it and seeing all the thoughtful words and notes of encouragement. As far as the rest of being organized, I’m still in the process. I have my books organized (in a very OCD fashion from big to small, with books of the same size ranging from older to newer) but my desk in my room still needs a bit of attention. My room is clean (woo!) and my laundry is up to date, but my papers and desk drawers still need some TLC. Maybe after sending the letter and taking a stroll outside, I’ll be able to tackle that job. Then again, maybe not.

WOW! That was a LOT of writing. Thanks for sticking it out to the end. I am so thankful for all the people who are supporting me through this journey, and I want to make sure I do right by that. I really do appreciate each and every person who sends me letters, calls me, reads my blog posts, posts on my facebook, prays for me, encourages me, and everything else! Thanks for all that you do, and thanks for reading!

God Bless!